CANTON, OHIO:  City officials have contracted with Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd. and a team of other law firms to take action against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Mayor Thomas Bernabei and Law Director Kristen Bates Aylward signed an agreement this week with Tzangas Plakas Mannos, Ltd.; The Ferruccio Law Firm; Brennan, Manna & Diamond; and national firm Motley Rice. They describe it as “the next logical and necessary step in battling the ongoing opioid crisis” in communication to Canton City Council members, who met privately to discuss legal action last week.

“As we discussed in the presentation by Law Director Kristen Bates Aylward, this is very complex litigation and we do not have in-house capability to litigate this kind of case or the necessary funds to pursue this litigation,” the communication reads.

The contract did not require City Council approval because it involves no city expenses, unless the case results in a financial award. Canton would then pay the law firms for their services with 28 percent of the award.

The contract authorizes the firms to investigate, litigate or negotiate a settlement for claims related to the “marketing, prescribing, distribution, or sale of opioids.”

Some of the same law firms filed a lawsuit against several manufacturers, such as Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, and distributors, such as CVS and Walgreens, about two weeks ago.

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a national trade association that represents distributors, has denied responsibility for opioid misuse and abuse — as have manufacturers in response to lawsuits in other states.

“Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated,” stated John Parker, senior vice president of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance. “Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation.”

Today in Cincinnati, U.S. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker discussed the “deadliest drug crisis” in the country’s history, according to a news release. He used Canton’s population in noting noting overdose deaths in 2017 roughly equated to the city’s population of 70,000.

Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323


On Twitter: @kbyerREP

The Canton Repository, November 30, 2018,