Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP | 20th Anniversary 2004 - 2024
Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP | 20th Anniversary 2004 - 2024

Alexandria and Dickenson County First in Virginia to Take Legal Action Against the Opioid Industry

Posted March 14th, 2018.

Lawsuits Allege Defendants’ Illegal Practices Fueled the Opioid Epidemic Throughout the Commonwealth

The City of Alexandria and Dickenson County, Virginia, represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp and The Cicala Law Firm PLLC today became the first municipalities in the Commonwealth of Virginia to pursue legal action against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for their role in creating the public health emergency caused by prescription opioids.

The Complaints, filed in state court in the City of Alexandria and of Dickenson County, allege that each defendant contributes to the opioid epidemic that has ravaged these municipalities—the drug manufacturers make the drugs and misrepresent the truth about their benefits and addiction risks to doctors and patients; wholesale distributors ignore their responsibilities to report and stop suspicious orders of opioids leading to drug diversion to the black market; and PBMs leverage their role as middlemen to increase the flow of opioids into the marketplace.  The municipalities have alleged violations of statutory and common law public nuisance, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, fraud, common law conspiracy, negligence, and unjust enrichment.

The defendants include manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Abbott Laboratories, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals; Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, Inc., Barr Laboratories, Inc., Actavis Pharma, Watson Laboratories, Inc., Allergan PLC, and Insys Therapeutics; distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp.; and PBMs Express Scripts, Inc., CVS Health; United Health Group Inc., and OptumRx, Inc.

Both Alexandria and Dickenson County have witnessed the devastating consequences of opioid abuse.  Alexandria has seen an explosive rise in the number of city residents overdosing on opioids—an approximately 30% increase in the last two years from already soaring levels in the years preceding.  Despite having a population of less than 16,000 people, Dickenson County recorded 465 opioid deaths in 2016.  Opioid abuse affects every facet of community life from a higher incidence of children born into addiction, to increased crime, to decreased labor productivity and economic growth.

Alexandria and Dickenson County have been forced to spend scarce local funds to address the harms caused by the defendants. The lawsuits aim to recover these costs and costs associated with the purchase of opioids prescribed to City and County employees.

“Through this lawsuit, our respective firms expect to help put an end to defendants’ nefarious conduct and recoup the funds Alexandria and Dickenson County taxpayers have had to spend to help abate the harms of the opioid crisis. We know that the families and communities that have suffered will require more than litigation in order to heal the damage that has been inflicted upon them, but we are proud to be part of the fight to demand justice on their behalf,” said Kevin H.  Sharp of Sanford Heisler Sharp.

Joanne Cicala added, “The opioid epidemic is not accidental.  It is not a natural disaster.  It is a man-made crisis.  And worse – the companies that did this were not just seeking to build market share – they knew they were creating addicts.  No local government wants to have to file a lawsuit.  Local governments have enough to do already, providing services to the public on tight budgets.  But this man-made crisis is costing Alexandria, Dickenson and communities like them dearly – and so Alexandria and Dickenson must respond. Those responsible for this epidemic – those who profited from it – must be held accountable for its costs.”

About Sanford Heisler Sharp

Sanford Heisler Sharp is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C, Nashville, San Francisco, and San Diego.  Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.

The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the Firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.

For more information go to or call 202-221-4003 or email [email protected]. For the latest news, visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.

About The Cicala Law Firm PLLC

The Cicala Law Firm PLLC is a plaintiff’s civil litigation firm that prosecutes claims in the health care space.  We are particularly experienced in advocating for governmental entities and identifying novel claims designed to maximize recoveries. We have a diverse, experienced and nimble team comprised of attorneys, analysts, law enforcement, health care and IT professionals. We are particularly skilled at managing complex multi-party litigation and navigating federal multi-district litigations, whether through direct participation or coordinated state proceedings. We are firm believers in taking advantage of cutting edge technology and data mining to identity claims and particularize damages.  Our team has the skills to do this work in house. We are available for pharmacy benefit claims evaluation and other health care cost containment efforts. We welcome strategic partnerships with other firms where our team may complement their activities on behalf of their clients.

For more information go to or call 646-791-4848 or email [email protected].