City of Portsmouth, Ohio and Legal Counsel Baron & Budd, Greene Ketchum, Levin Papantonio File Suit Against Pharmaceutical Distributors for Role in Creating Opioid Crisis

August 17, 2017  |  Press Releases, Public Entities

Award-winning 2015 book, Dreamland, placed small town’s opioid epidemic in national spotlight

Town officials allege Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson Corp. responsible for devastating community

DALLAS – August 17, 2017 – Today, the national law firm of Baron & Budd; the law firm of Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel LLP; and the law firm of Levin Papantonio, announced that they have filed a new lawsuit on behalf of Portsmouth, Ohio, against the nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributors for their role in the widespread diversion of prescription opiates for nonmedical purposes. Portsmouth rose to national prominence after it was featured in Sam Quinones’ award-winning book, Dreamland, which detailed how the city was devastated by a flood of prescription pain medications and heroin.

In the suit, the City of Portsmouth alleges that three of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S. – Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corp. – each played a role in creating a public nuisance by failing to regulate orders of prescription opiates. The case was filed Wednesday, August 16, in federal district court in the Southern District of Ohio (City of Portsmouth v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation et al: Case No.: 2:17-cv-00723-GCS-KAJ).

“Two years ago, the horrifying effects of the opioid epidemic in Portsmouth were vividly detailed in the book, Dreamland. It is no secret what these dangerous drugs have done to a once-vibrant city,” said Baron & Budd Shareholder, Burton LeBlanc. “The problems outlined in Dreamland haven’t magically gone away. This is a complex and expensive problem to solve, which is why the City of Portsmouth is working to hold wholesale distributors accountable for their actions.”

Portsmouth is the county seat of Scioto County, Ohio, which issued an overdose alert on Monday, August 14. When the Scioto County Health Department announced the alert, Scioto County Public Health Nurse Lisa Roberts noted that a dozen overdoses occurred in the county in a 24-hour period and multiple overdose deaths occurred in the county during the past week.

This week, the firms filed similar lawsuits on behalf of the City of Cincinnati and the City of Birmingham, Alabama. The firms also represent Scioto, Jackson and Ross Counties, which all filed separate lawsuits against the distributors earlier this month. Additionally, on Friday, July 28, the firms filed similar suits on behalf of Vinton, Belmont, Clermont, and Brown Counties.

In addition to Greene Ketchum, Levin Papantonio and Baron & Budd, the City is also working with the following law firms related to these cases: Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC; The McHugh Fuller Law Group; and Lancione & Lancione, LLC.


The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, and San Diego, is a nationally recognized law firm with a nearly 40-year history of “Protecting What’s Right” for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals and government and business entities in areas as diverse as dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices, environmental contamination, the Gulf oil spill, financial fraud, overtime violations, deceptive advertising, automotive defects, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse, and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.

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