The oft-feuding Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry agreed Tuesday that Landry's office will represent the state in the Edwards administration's opioid lawsuit against 17 pharmaceutical companies.
The agreement, relayed to state District Judge Wilson Fields during a short court hearing, resolved a dispute over who should press the state’s claims that pharmaceutical firms are responsible for Louisiana's deadly opioid crisis.
A public tussle between Louisiana's governor and attorney general played out in a Baton Rouge courthouse on Friday as they argued over who has…
The state Department of Health, with the governor's backing, filed the suit in September in Baton Rouge state court. Landry filed a motion the following month asking Fields to allow the attorney general to "supersede" the health department.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Bill Stiles III and Matthew Block, the governor's executive counsel, told the judge Tuesday they jointly agreed to substitute the attorney general for the governor's lawyers as counsel of record in the case.
Louisiana Attorney General moved late Monday to take control of the Edwards’ administration lawsuit claiming pharmaceutical companies are resp…
"I am confident that the Attorney General's office will be able to pursue these claims vigorously and will hold the opioid manufacturers responsible for flooding our state with these highly addictive drugs and misleading the public about their addictive nature," Edwards said later in a written statement.
Landry thanked the governor for "putting his faith in our office's leadership on this issue."
"We will work hard to hold drug companies accountable for contributing to the opioid abuse, misuse, and addiction that has destroyed so many Louisiana families," the attorney general stated.
The agreement announced by Edwards and Landry, who have butted heads on many issues since both took office in early 2016, calls for the Attorney General's Office to take over primary responsibility for the suit. The pact also says Landry's office will lead the efforts with other state agencies and departments to pursue all opioid crisis-related claims.
Louisiana joined a growing list of state and local governments Wednesday by taking legal action claiming drug manufacturers purposely escalate…
"A coordinated effort from the State will produce the best results for the families who have lost loved ones to this epidemic," the governor said. "Justice for them is our number one priority."
Landry described the opioid epidemic as "one of the most challenging and complex problems" facing the state.
"Tackling this problem will take a concerted effort on many fronts and joining together to coordinate this legal effort is in the best interest of the people of Louisiana," he said.
The state's lawsuit alleges drug makers tried to maximize profits through an orchestrated campaign to flood Louisiana with opioid-based prescription painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
The Attorney General's Office has estimated opioid-related costs to the state at about $160 million annually.
Fields also presides over an opioid suit filed in November by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Fellow 19th Judicial District Judge Mike Caldwell has been assigned another such suit filed earlier this month by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and the East Baton Rouge Parish Law Enforcement District.
Joining a growing number of municipal and state governments, Baton Rouge filed federal a lawsuit Tuesday blaming drug makers and distributors …
In addition, the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish filed an opioid suit in January in Baton Rouge federal court. Baton Rouge had 89 deadly overdoses related to opioids in 2017, officials said when the suit was announced.
The city-parish suit claims pharmaceutical companies knew all along how problematic opioids could be, but they pressured doctors to prescribe them and reaped the benefits through sales.