Josh RultenbergNov 28, 2017, 9:55 am

Lawsuit: Putnam should be compensated for unnecessary costs incurred in opioid crisis

Legislature votes for county to join 4 other Hudson Valley counties named as plaintiffs in suit

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CARMEL — Putnam County has joined four other Hudson Valley counties in a statewide lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Officials in Putnam say they joined the lawsuit because the county should be fully compensated for what they say are unnecessary costs incurred as a result of prescription opioid abuse. The expenses include workplace, healthcare and criminal justice costs.

A week ago in a special meeting, the Putnam County Legislature voted 8 to 0, with one member absent, in favor of joining the lawsuit.

Putnam Executive Maryellen Odell says through the county's addiction network, law enforcement and not-for-profit organizations, the region has done all it can to fight the opioid epidemic. However, the sophistication of the drugs and the pharmaceutical companies have built this problem for decades.

"Innocent lives have been shattered and destroyed and, as elected officials and as leaders in the community, we see it firsthand. I also see it as a mother. I see what happens to families and it has to stop," Odell says.

County Legislature Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino says the board's support "speaks volumes to the values we've placed on health, safety, and welfare of our residents."

She added:

"I believe everyone has known someone, directly or indirectly, affected by the devastation of opioids. We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors to fight those responsible for the opioid epidemic which has plagued and devastated our communities."

Napoli Shkolnik will be representing the county. He has been investigating claims manufacturers and distributors have allegedly been falsely advertising.

There are seven companies named in the suit, including AmerisourceBergen Corporation, which has a headquarters in Newburgh.

Along with the five Hudson Valley counties, there are 10 other counties in the state named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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