Decatur Co. votes to join opioid lawsuit

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted for the county to join a wave of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The lawsuits claim opioid usage has become an epidemic in Georgia, putting strains on healthcare, draining public resources and increasing costs on law enforcement.

Decatur County is just one of many other counties, including Athens-Clarke County, Cook County and Crisp County, who have emerged to fight against the growing opioid problem in Georgia.

The board voted for Athens law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. to represent Decatur County, along with Bruce W. Kirbo, Jr. Attorney at Law, LLC.

Counties have piled on to join the lawsuit in the past month

“It is a real problem for the system, between law enforcement, healthcare and all of these other issues,” said Alan Thomas, Decatur County Administrator. “That’s why we’re getting onto it, just like everyone else. Something needs to be done to counteract the problems it has created.”

The Bainbridge City Council discussed joining the lawsuit at its meeting on Feb. 20. Now that Decatur County has joined the mix, the city and the Hospital Authority will likely seriously consider joining the lawsuit as well.

Opioids include painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percoset, morphine, heroine, Fentanyl and Carfentanil.

These drugs release dopamine, which causes pleasure, relieves pain and slows down breathing. Unfortunately, 91 people die from an opioid overdose every day. Deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999 and providers in the highest prescribing counties provided six times more opioids than those in the lowest prescribing counties.

Hall County, Cook County, Madison County, Irwin County, Walton County, Athens-Clarke County, Candler County, The Candler County Hospital Authority, Oconee County, Crisp County, Jeff Davis County, Sumter County, and Oglethorpe County have all joined the lawsuit through firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., as well as through other lawfirms.