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Opioid lawsuits

OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Riverton has joined a nationwide lawsuit against 24 pharmaceutical companies.

The city of Rock Springs filed a federal lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and a dozen other companies on Tuesday over the companies’ alleged roles in exacerbating the opioid crisis.

The southwest Wyoming town joins Casper, Cheyenne, Carbon County and the Northern Arapaho Tribe in filing federal suits against companies tied to the opioid pharmaceutical industry. The state of Wyoming filed its own litigation against Purdue, which created OxyContin, last year.

In all, there are reportedly 2,000 people, cities, counties and other entities suing Purdue and other companies over the opioid crisis, according to VICE. Rock Springs’ suit, like Casper and Cheyenne’s, was filed by Jackson attorney Jason Ochs and broadly alleges the companies both misled the public and medical community about the dangers of opioids while opioid distributors — like Walgreens — allegedly ignored warning signs.

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Ochs previously told the Star-Tribune that the suits will be filed in Wyoming and moved to a federal court in Ohio with the rest of the suits for pre-trial work. But should the cases ever come to a trial, they will do so in Wyoming, he added.

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Facing this onslaught of litigation, Purdue is reportedly considering bankruptcy. The company has denied any wrongdoing and has said federal regulators approved its drugs for long-term pain, a defense that attorneys on the other side have disputed.

The full list of defendants in Rock Springs’ suit includes Walmart, Walgreens, the maker of oxycodone and the maker of fentanyl, among several others.

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Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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