State and local governments have a legal duty to address issues like environmental poisoning, healthcare fraud, opioid painkiller addiction, consumer fraud, and other issues. Previously, many governmental units lacked the resources to expose large-scale corporate wrongdoing, identify the remedies available, and obtain these remedies in court. As a result, citizens were often exposed to danger.
Our professional team faced a similar crisis. We live here and work here as well. The aforementioned dangers affect us and our families as well. In mass tort actions, we often use class actions and multidistrict litigation to obtain compensation and justice for a large number of victims at one time.
The public client practice group at Napoli Shkolnik combines these two needs. State and local governments need to preserve the health and safety of all citizens. And, we need to obtain justice and compensation for as many people as possible. With your dedication along with our experience, resources, and tenacity, we can make your state, county, or city a better place to live and work. And, since we charge no upfront fees or costs, taxpayers bear none of the financial risk.
There is an old legal axiom that for every wrong, there is a remedy. This apothegm is also a roadmap to justice and compensation.
First, we determine the nature of the wrong. In many cases, such as large-scale Medicare fraud, the harm is mostly financial. In other cases, such as environmental water poisoning, the harm is personal. Either way, there is a remedy available.
When chemical or other manufacturers carelessly poison the environment, they are generally strictly liable for damages. Our public client lawyers need only establish causation. Negligence, or a lack of care, is more appropriate in other situations.
Increasingly, our professional team uses public nuisance theories to obtain compensation and justice for our public clients. These theories often apply in situations, like the opioid epidemic, which harm a significant number of people in about the same way at about the same time.
These cases are quite complex. Most judges only allow these claims if the plaintiff suffered a particularized harm which differs from the public at large. Additionally, only public authorities, mostly federal or state agencies, may bring public nuisance claims in court.
Our approach is simple. If your authority has a problem, our public client practice group looks for a solution.
Some Successful Case Studies
At Napoli Shkolnik, our public client practice group is more than ideas on paper. We have an established track record of success that goes back several decades. Here are a few recent highlights.
A 100-word letter to the editor in a 1980 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine might have sparked the opioid epidemic. Over the next several decades, drug manufacturers began selling ever more potent prescription painkillers. Many of these drugs were more powerful and addictive than heroin.
While drug manufacturers and drug shipping companies made record profits, counties, cities, and municipalities picked up the pieces. These cash-strapped entities were forced to provide services, like addiction-related law enforcement and medical care, they could not afford.
There are several ways for these public authorities to recover these costs. Drug manufacturers arguably sold dangerous products and deceptively marketed these products. Additionally, shipping companies freely transported these controlled substances and ignored their responsibilities under federal law.
The federal Clean Water Act allows “any citizen,” including cities, counties, and municipalities, to seek redress for environmental damages in court. This redress usually includes financial compensation, permanent injunctions, and other relief.
At Napoli Shkolnik, our public client practice group primarily focuses on a number of environmental contamination issues, such as:
- PFOA Water Poisoning: Many Air Force bases and private airports used firefighting foam laced with perfluorooctanoic acid. This dangerous chemical is highly carcinogenic. Additionally, once this chemical seeps into the soil, it remains there for years, continually contaminating the water supply.
- Roundup: A growing body of evidence links glyphosate, a key chemical in Monsanto’s residential and commercial weed killer, with cancer. In 2017, California was the first state to issue an official warning concerning the use and sale of glyphosate and Roundup.
- Lead Poisoning: Flint, Michigan was just the tip of the iceberg. Many companies used substandard plumbing materials in public housing units, particularly in New York and New Jersey. These residents now must deal with the crippling physical and mental effects of long-term lead poisoning.
We also focus on oil spills, hydraulic fracking, and any other environmental pollution which affects a large number of taxpayers in a specific area.
Generic Drug Antitrust Litigation
In 2017, two high-ranking Heritage Pharmaceuticals executives pleaded guilty to fixing generic drug prices and agreed to cooperate with an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into this matter. That investigation now includes over a dozen companies and three hundred different generic drugs.
What does this mean to local governments? Their group health plans usually rely on less-expensive generic drugs to reduce costs. When these drug prices are artificially high, the counties, cities, and municipalities that sponsor these plans pay the price.
Legally, these government entities are end payor plaintiffs. This label also applies to counties and other entities that self-insure their employees. A multi-district litigation forum was recently established in Pennsylvania to handle the growing number of claims.
So, if your public employee health plan costs increased due to overpriced generic drugs, now is a good time to exercise your legal rights. MDLs expedite the judicial process, so cases often settle quickly, and on plaintiff-friendly terms.
At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our public client practice group helps you protect your people. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION. We handle these matters on a nationwide basis.