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Northern Arapaho Tribe Files Complaint Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Northern Arapaho Tribe Files Complaint Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

April 3, 2018 | 3 min read

April 2, 2018 (Ethete, WY) – The Northern Arapaho Indian Tribe of the Wind River Reservation has filed a complaint against a variety of opioid manufacturers and distributors alleging that the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse has caused the Tribe to suffer substantial loss of resources, economic damages, and damages to the health and welfare of its members.

Prescription opioids, which include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, are powerful pain-reducing medications. When used properly and prescribed for the right condition, these medications can help manage pain; when misused or abused, they cause serious harm. In recent years, prescriptions for opioids have soared beyond any reasonable number, and many doses of the drugs have been widely diverted and improperly used, resulting in a devastating national epidemic of opioid overdose deaths and addictions. Indian Country has been hit particularly hard in terms of opioid abuse.

“Opioid addiction hits Indian Country harder than any other place or people in the United States today. We brought this lawsuit to stop the destruction of lives here on the Wind River Reservation, and we encourage other Tribes to join us in this important effort,” said Northern Arapaho Business Council Co-Chairman Lee Spoonhunter.

The complaint, filed on the Tribe’s behalf by Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C., and Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C., alleges nine causes of action against the Defendant opioid manufacturers and distributors.  The Complaint states that the Defendants enriched themselves by intentionally flooding the market with opioids, instead of acting with reasonable care and in compliance with their legal duties.  The Complaint also asserts that the effects of the opioid crisis have been exacerbated by the Defendants’ efforts to conceal or minimize the risks of opioid addiction. As a result of the Defendants’ wrongdoing, governmental costs borne by the Tribe have skyrocketed, such as the costs of child welfare and foster care associated with opioid-addicted parents, while the opioid industry had retained its record profits.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe anticipates participating in the nationwide opioid multidistrict litigation pending in the Northern District of Ohio and looks forward to working with other tribes and communities in fighting opioid addiction and associated losses.

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About Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C.

One of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. has a reputation for fighting relentlessly and successfully for victims of negligence, malfeasance, malpractice, and abuse. With nationwide leadership experience in mass torts and class action litigation, Burg Simpson has obtained significant verdicts, settlements, and judgments in practice areas spanning dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and devices, medical malpractice, personal injury, commercial litigation and whistleblowers, construction defects, workers’ compensation, and product liability. The firm has been named one of America’s 25 Most Influential Law Firms of 2016 by The Trial Lawyer magazine.

The firm was founded in 1976 by distinguished American trial lawyer Michael Burg, an inductee in the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame who has been named to the 2016 RoundTable: America’s 50 Most Influential Trial Lawyers by The Trial Lawyer magazine; Barrister’s Best 2016 “Best Civil Litigator”; one of “America’s 50 Leading Trial Lawyers” by The U.S. Legal 500; and recipient of the Clarence Darrow Award. In 1999, Burg merged his firm with former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson’s firm. Senator Simpson is a former Republican whip and Smithsonian Institute regent who was appointed co-chair of the National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform by President Obama. Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. has offices in six U.S. cities, with more than 60 top-tier attorneys dedicated to fighting for legal outcomes that change people’s lives.

About Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C.

Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, P.C., is a client-focused law firm emphasizing federal Indian law and serving the Rocky Mountain West since 1992.  Located at the base of the Wind River Mountains, the firm serves clients primarily in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, and Oregon.  The firm handles a variety of personal injury, government relations, and other civil matters and has won ground-breaking cases protecting the sovereignty and independence of Indian Tribes.  The firm has successfully litigated claims against a State for negotiating Indian gaming issues in bad faith, winning the full gamut of casino-style gaming without a Tribal-State compact.  The firm has also successfully litigated claims for the free exercise of Native American religious rights; voting rights in local State elections; and environmental damages on Reservation lands.

Erin Haworth, High10 Media, 212-918-2044, [email protected]
Corey Wheeland, Burg Simpson, 303-792-5595, [email protected]