Civil Litigation; Prens Patriae; Opioid


The opioid epidemic has ravaged the United States, killing over 100 Americans every day and costing the nation upward of $90 billion a year. All branches and levels of the government have pursued measures to combat the epidemic and reduce its societal costs. Perhaps the most interesting response is the emergence of direct-injury government-entity lawsuits, which seek to recover damages from opioid companies that facilitated prescription pill addictions. Cities, counties, and states across the country are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors in unprecedented numbers. This Note explores the role of direct-injury government-entity claims as compared to other forms of civil litigation employed in the opioid crisis. It highlights the obstacles faced by parens patriae actions, individual lawsuits, class actions, and aggregate actions in general. This Note argues that direct-injury government claims have important advantages over other forms of civil litigation because they overcome certain defenses related to victim blameworthiness and because they function as inherently representative actions that bypass the certification requirements of traditional aggregate actions.

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