Brick’s lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies that manufactuer opioid painkillers will include a dollar figure calculating the full cost of Brick’s drug war, down to the cost of narcotics investigations, Narcan deployments and ambulance rides.
The township council formally voted Tuesday night to hire a South Carolina law firm that will file the suit, in Ocean County Superior Court using unique Brick data, against the makers of painkillers such as OxyContin. The lawsuit will accuse the companies of misrepresenting the risk of addiction, thus leading to the heroin addiction crisis that is ongoing in the township and surrounding area.
“Everything related to the heroin problem in Brick Township, those are the damages,” said Mayor John Ducey.
The exact amount of damages has yet to be calculated, but a “hard number” will be included in the lawsuit, said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey.
The litigation firm, Motley Rice, will represent Brick on a contingency basis, meaning Brick will not pay the firm unless damages are awarded. The firm is entitled to 25 percent of any verdict, and all of its costs up to 50 percent of the award.
Ducey said the litigation would hold the drug companies responsible for at least some of the cost of battling heroin addiction, “rather than having it come out of our wallets.”
Melinda Murray, a township resident, said the lawsuit should be expanded to seek compensation for a a loss of quality of life, saying she worries about her son traveling to a nearby convenience store on his own.
“It really has affected everybody,” Murray said.
“Things like diminishing quality of life, courts are normally reluctant to put a value on that,” said Starkey, while agreeing to bring it up to Motley Rice, which he said is a “very aggressive and very creative law firm.”
Motley Rice is also representing Toms River in a similar case against the pharmaceutical companies. The firm was previously involved in suits seeking damages from cigarrette companies and in litigation against Saudi Arabia on behalf of 9/11 victims.