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City of Lansing prepares to sue opioid manufacturers

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 14:55:52-04

The Mayor of Lansing announced on Monday that they will be filing a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The announcement came from Mayor Virg Bernero's office stating that the City Attorney, Jim Smiertka, has been directed to sue makers of opioids like fentanyl and hydrocodone.

Many other cities across the country are taking legal action in an effort to recover costs associated with the opioid crisis. Lansing plans to join those cities with this lawsuit and regain monies spent like police and fire first responder costs. These groups spend a lot of time and resources answering overdose calls related to opioids.

“We are fighting back against this terrible scourge because it is costing lives, destroying families and undermining the safety of our neighborhoods,” Mayor Bernero said. “There is a strong legal argument to be made that those who manufacture and recklessly distribute these killer drugs should be held accountable for the damages they cause and the costs the opioid crisis imposes on our police and fire departments.”

Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski and Lansing/East Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro are expected to testify at tonight’s Committee of the Whole meeting concerning the burdens the opioid crisis is placing on their respective departments. They will be joined by attorneys from Church Wyble PC (a division of Grewal Law PC), the Detroit office of New York-based Weitz and Luxenberg PC, and the Sam Bernstein Law Firm PLLC, who will discuss the legal strategy they will take if they are approved as outside counsel for the City of Lansing in this matter.

The Mayor has asked the City Council to approve a couple of resolutions related to the lawsuit at Monday night's Committee of the Whole meeting.

One resolution adds the recommended outside law firms to the city’s list of approved legal counsel, which authorizes them to represent the City of Lansing. The second resolution declares the opioid crisis as a public nuisance, which is a key element of the lawsuit the city intends to file.