Napoli Shkolnik Canada Files a Class Action on Behalf Of Canadian Municipalities

Introduction: Napoli Shkolnik Canada has recently taken a significant step in the fight against the opioid epidemic by filing a class action on behalf of all Canadian municipalities. The aim of this legal action is twofold: to recover the costs incurred by municipalities in combating the opioid crisis and to secure the necessary funds for implementing abatement programs. With devastating statistics revealing the damage caused by opioids, it is crucial to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable for their actions. This blog post delves into the details of the class action, including the theory of liability, theory of damages, and the comprehensive list of costs that may be claimed.

The Opioid Epidemic in Canada: Before diving into the legal aspects, it’s essential to understand the magnitude of the opioid epidemic in Canada. Consider the following statistics:

  1. Opioids claimed 34,455 lives between January 2016 and September 2022.
  2. Over $4 billion worth of prescription opioids were sold in Canada from 2010 to 2017.
  3. In 2022 alone (January-September), there were more than 28,000 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responses to suspected opioid-related overdoses.
  4. In 2019, drug overdoses accounted for approximately 17% of deaths among Canadians aged 30 to 39 and 13% among those aged 40 to 49.
  5. On average, 17 Canadians lost their lives every day in 2019 due to opioid overdoses.

Theory of Liability: The class action targets manufacturers of opioid products, focusing on claims of “false or misleading” representations under the Competition Act of Canada and public nuisance under the common law. The allegation against the manufacturing defendants is that they employed various marketing methods to disseminate a false message that opioid pain medications were not addictive and were safe for long-term use. The defendants knew the addictive nature of opioids and the risks associated with long-term use but intentionally misrepresented the facts.

Defendants used deceptive tactics, such as: a) Developing and disseminating misleading scientific and educational materials and advertisements. b) Deploying sales representatives to deliver misleading messages to healthcare professionals. c) Recruiting paid speakers among prescribing physicians to secure their loyalty. d) Encouraging key opinion leaders to produce misleading studies and deliver deceptive continuing medical education programs. e) Supporting seemingly neutral professional societies and patient advocacy groups to develop guidelines promoting long-term opioid use.

Negligence claims are also brought against distributors of opioid products, emphasizing their duty to report suspicious or alarming orders of opioids. Similar allegations against distributors in the United States have resulted in significant fines.

Theory of Damages: The class action seeks financial recovery for each municipality affected by the opioid epidemic. The costs to be claimed include, but are not limited to:

  • Services for families impacted by opioid addiction and abuse, such as family and child services, increased staffing, and child support.
  • Law enforcement expenses, including employee overtime, Narcan training, task force establishment, and increased investigation.
  • Healthcare and first responder costs, encompassing public health, substance abuse programs, treatment centers, and mental health facilities.
  • Environmental expenses, such as damage control, improper disposal, and infrastructure repair.
  • Various other forms of loss, like decreased productivity, travel and tourism, premature deaths, increased crime, and government assistance.

Conclusion: Napoli Shkolnik Canada is committed to achieving justice and financial relief for Canadian municipalities grappling with the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic. By holding manufacturers and distributors accountable, the aim is to recover damages and alleviate the financial burden on municipalities. This class action is a vital step toward addressing the public health crisis and ensuring a safer, healthier future for all.


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