Stern Law, PLLC, is currently taking cases on behalf of people and entities affected by the opioid pain killer crisis. If you have an individual, state, or municipal claim for damages related to use, including disastrous opioid side effects or injuries, contact our firm today to find out whether we can assist you in filing an opiate lawsuit.
Opioid dependence and overdoses have received increasing attention during the last several years, as deaths from these narcotics continue to grow. In many states, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses now exceeds the number of deaths from car crashes. The amount of people in the country suffering from opioid side effects while addicted to and dying from opioids is completely devastating, and Stern Law is working to do something about it.
We are filing lawsuits against prescription opioid manufacturers on behalf of individuals and families, state governments, municipalities, and insurance carriers. We are alleging that prescription opioid manufacturers orchestrated a corrupt system in which they grossly exaggerated the efficacy of opioids for various conditions while hiding the intense addictiveness and dangerous potential opioid side effects. Manufacturers of common opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine instituted mass marketing of these drugs to doctors, encouraged off-label prescribing practices, and repeatedly denied the drugs’ propensity for addiction.
In some cases, the manufacturers paid doctors to prescribe their narcotics to patients with unapproved conditions and then helped the doctors falsify insurance claims to get the drugs paid for. They also paid pharmacies and distributors to look the other way when large, suspicious, or out-of-the-ordinary orders came in. All of this created an environment wherein far too many people were unnecessarily taking opioids for far too long, ended up addicted or dependent, potentially switching to illegal drugs like heroin, and dying from an overdose or opioid abuse. We now have a national epidemic in which people are dying, and our state and local governments, as well as insurance companies, are spending mass amounts of money trying to address the problem.
Opioid Side Effects and Injuries
When a person takes a prescription drug as strong as an opioid, something happens inside the body and inside the brain. The drug disrupts pain signals and elicits a pleasure response in the brain. The person experiences a sense of euphoria, a pain-free, relaxed state. The pleasure center of the brain becomes active and tells the person that whatever caused this feeling is good. The person then seeks more of the drug to keep achieving that state. Because of the makeup of the drug, it starts to take more of it to capture the same effect. Eventually, the person can spiral out of control, becoming completely dependent on the drug for normal function, perhaps turning to illegal drugs when the prescription stops working or can no longer be acquired.
Opioids trigger this cycle in too many people, leading to an alarming number of overdose deaths and other injuries. In the time Stern Law has been investigating and taking these cases, we have seen people affected by the following opioid side effects and injuries:
- Tolerance – Throughout time, a person taking a prescription opioid will develop a tolerance to the drug. It will take more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects, and this can place patients at risk of overdose. In tolerance situations, doctors have frequently upped the patient’s dose until that can no longer be done safely, then switched the patient to a stronger opioid. The cycle continues, with increasing opioid side effects.
- Dependence – People who take an opioid for a long period of time can reach a state in which they feel like they need the opioid to feel “normal.” This can lead to drug-seeking behavior, including seeking out illegal opiates, like heroin.
- Addiction – People often draw a line between addiction and dependence, but the line is minimal, if existent at all. Dependence is frequently associated with a desire to simply feel functional, while addiction is often associated with a continual drive to recapture a “high” experienced while taking the drug. People who are dependent and people who are addicted cannot get through a day without the drug, making the harm of not taking the drug an opiate side effect on par with some of the problems caused by active use.
- Withdrawal – The effects of opioid withdrawal can be severe and often are cited as reasons for continuing to seek out the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal or “coming off” the drug can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, shaking, cramping, increased heart rate, anxiety, and insomnia. These are all a consequence of the effects the drug has on the body while in use. Some of these symptoms can become very serious, such as dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.
- Respiratory Problems – Opioids affect the brainstem and therefore disturb automatic body functions, like breathing. People using opioids experience slowed breathing, which can continue even after discontinuation of the drug. If breathing becomes too slowed, a person can fall into respiratory arrest, which can lead to death. It is easy to see, then, that problems with breathing is one of the more dangerous opioid side effects to be mindful of.
- Gastrointestinal Problems – Another system slowed by opioids’ effect on the brainstem is digestion. While using opioids, a person’s digestive system slows down, making for an impactful opioid side effect. Many patients become constipated as a result, which if untreated can lead to a number of serious complications. When a person comes off the opioid, he or she can then experience sudden diarrhea. Alternating constipation and diarrhea is extremely unhealthy for the digestive tract and can lead to ongoing issues.
- Organ Failure – Opioids wreak havoc on so many systems of the body and can eventually shut those systems down. This includes the intestines, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Your body will fight a long time against the toxic drug, but it can only take so much. Failure of any organ is one of the most extreme opioid side effects that can lead to serious conditions, including death.
- Overdose – Overdose is often prompted by a development of tolerance. As patients become tolerant to their opioids, they need more and more. If not properly monitored, or if the patient is not being careful, he can take too much and overdose. Patients will also sometimes reach the limits of their doctors’ willingness to continually prescribe the medication. In this situation, a lot of people have turned to heroin or other illegal drugs. Heroin overdoses are at a tremendous level in the country, with 80 percent or heroin users reporting having taken prescription opioids first.
- Death – Any number of opioid complications, most prevalently overdose, can lead to death. An estimated 90 Americans die every single day from opioid overdose. The issue has become a nationwide crisis, showing that harmful opioid side effects aren’t the only potential bad outcome.
In addition to the physical and emotional injuries experienced by individual people and their families, governments at the state and local levels have taken a serious hit to resources. In a desperate attempt to address the number of people addicted to and dying from opioids in their communities, state governments and municipalities have created addiction centers and treatment programs, maintained supplies of opioid antidotes (Narcan or naloxone), increased numbers of emergency response personnel, and paid for numerous treatments and prescriptions for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
Insurance companies have also suffered losses, paying for fraudulent prescriptions that should never have been written and covering the costs of treatment for people who are addicted, have overdosed, or are suffering from other opioid side effects.
The total estimated cost of dealing with the opioid crisis in the United States is $75 billion per year. Because of pharmaceutical corporate greed, our country finds itself in a crisis of unbelievable proportions. The justice system can provide a remedy for those directly affected, and Stern Law is working to help people take advantage of the opportunities they have for legal recourse.
Opioid Case Filing Process
Stern Law is already representing numerous people and entities for the damages they have suffered because of this crisis and harm due to opioid side effects. In taking on these cases, we have developed a simple process for case intake and investigation. When you contact our office, you will speak with a member of our skilled legal staff, who will listen to the details you provide about your potential claim and give you the opportunity for a free confidential consultation with one of Stern Law’s skilled opioid litigation attorneys. We will have you perform a few simple steps to get you timely answers about your case, including:
- Completing a straightforward contingency fee contract that allows us to represent you for purposes of your opioid case. “Contingency fee” means our fees and expenses are contingent on your successful result. If you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid, either.
- Filling out authorizations to help us obtain medical records or documents we need to investigate your claim.
- Answering some simple questions about the nature of your case.
Our team will then conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether you can file a lawsuit, against whom you can file, and where you should file. If we are able to move forward with the claim, we will prepare your Petition for Damages and file it on your behalf. We will continue to stand by your side throughout your claim, providing you updated, accurate information about your case and the litigation as a whole.
Statutes of Limitations on Opioid Cases
Before you can file your opioid case, you must be sure you are not outside the time window mandated by state law. Every state has time periods by which all types of claims must be filed, which are referred to as statutes of limitations. If you fail to file your claim within the time set by the laws in your state, you will be forever barred from filing it, regardless of how strong a case it might be.
Statutes of limitations vary from state to state and from claim to claim. For instance, two states can have different time periods on filing product liability cases, and one state can have different time periods on filing product cases and medical malpractice cases. These time limits can also vary depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular claim.
Stern Law’s office is located in Michigan, which generally has a three-year statute of limitations on product liability cases. It can sometimes be difficult to tell in a drug product case when the clock started to run, however, and it is not always easy to tell which state’s statute of limitations will apply to your claim. Opioid use spans many years for a lot of people, and people move during that time. It is therefore extremely important to work with an experienced lawyer to figure out the correct statute of limitations in your case.
The attorneys at Stern Law can talk with you about the factors influencing your statute of limitations and will make sure you have enough time to file a claim in the right court.
Why Choose Stern Law for Your Claim
With more than 30 years’ experience in product liability litigation, Stern Law’s lawyers possess the skills and knowledge you need on your side. We are already representing individuals and entities affected by the opioid crisis, and we are prepared to take on your case and seek the highest compensation possible.
Our firm is based in Michigan, but we are accepting opioid cases from all around the country. We work with a strong network of experts and litigators to make sure we can build the best potential cases for our clients. When you hire Stern Law, your attorney will do all of the following tasks to prepare and litigate your claim:
- Creating a detailed summary of the ways in which opioids have affected you and the damages you have suffered;
- Ordering pharmacy records or tracking down business records that show your opioid use or the monies you expended on opioids;
- If you are an individual, obtaining medical records that show the treatment you received because of addiction or opioid side effects;
- Determining the time limit by which your case needs to be filed (statute of limitations)
- Hiring experts to provide reports and testimony in support of your case;
- Finding the appropriate venue for filing your claim;
- Drafting and preparing a petition for filing;
- Engaging in written discovery and depositions with the defendant manufacturer(s);
- Attending or participating in court hearings;
- Participating in any settlement discussions with the defense.
Stern Law has secured tremendous results for our clients, and we are playing a large role in the opioid litigation. Contact our firm today to talk with us about why so many have already chosen us for their opioid cases, and why you should trust us to handle your case, as well.
Stern Law offers confidential consultations at no cost to you, and we contract all of our product liability cases on a contingency fee basis. This means if you do not receive a monetary recovery on your opioid case, we will not get paid, either. We take on the financial risk of litigating these cases because we know you have already been financially affected. You deserve a full case workup and just outcome without worrying about whether you can afford it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Clients who contact us about their potential opioid cases usually have several questions, and we have found that many questions are asked over and over. We want to make sure people have access to accurate information about these lawsuits, so we have compiled a list of the questions we hear most often, along with our answers:
Who is Eligible to File an Opioid Lawsuit?
Stern Law is currently accepting cases on behalf of individuals, families, state governments, municipalities, and insurance carriers. This litigation has the potential to be massive because of the number of levels of involvement. If you have suffered injuries from taking a prescription opioid, have a family member who died from opioid complications, or are a government or insurance company that has paid for opioid-related expenses, contact our firm today to discuss your potential options for a claim against prescription opioid manufacturers.
Is This a Class Action?
The opioid pain killer litigation is in its fairly early stages, so much remains to be decided. That said, this will most likely not be a class action. Class actions must be approved by a court after meeting certain criteria, and many people are joined into one lawsuit in a class action.
We intend to pursue the opioid litigation as a mass tort. Mass tort clients all have their own individual cases, wherein the merits of their cases are assessed on their own. Mass torts are often placed in one court or a few courts in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) or in a state court consolidated action. These allow resources and expenses to be preserved and decisions to be uniform through the pretrial and trial process.
How Long Will My Case Take?
We hear this question in almost every litigation we work on, and it is one of the hardest to answer. Even when a litigation seems to be progressing quickly, we simply cannot be certain about when it will end or how it will end. A number of things can happen to slow down mass tort lawsuits, even after a court schedule has been set. These types of cases tend to move slowly anyway simply because of their size. When so many people have been injured by the same product, it takes time to go through all the records and documents and assess the viability of the claims.
The opioid litigation looks to be even larger than a standard mass tort, certainly larger than a standard state court personal injury case. It will take time to investigate and fully litigate the merits of these cases. However, we will always do our best to keep you informed about what is happening with your case and with the overall litigation. We want you to feel comfortable with the process and to know what deadlines we have coming up. And as always, we welcome you to contact us to ask questions anytime about the status of your case and the opioid litigation.
What Kind of Damages Can I Receive?
It is important to understand that settlements are not guaranteed, nor are favorable verdicts. But we can guarantee that we will work tirelessly to achieve the best outcome possible in your opioid case. Stern Law is currently taking opioid cases on behalf of individuals and their families, as well as entities like insurance carriers and governments. As an individual victim or family member of a victim, we can help you recover the following damages:
- Medical bills for past and future treatment related to your opioid addiction or complications from prolonged use and opioid side effects;
- Lost wages if you had to miss work or cannot return to work because of your injuries;
- Physical and mental pain and suffering related to addiction, withdrawal, complications from narcotic abuse, anxiety and depression;
- Loss of consortium for the ways in which your dependency and injuries have affected your relationship with your spouse;
- Loss of support, companionship, comfort, and society if you lost a loved one to opioid injuries; and
- Punitive damages, if the circumstances of the case show that the manufacturer(s) should be assessed a sum of money that carries a punishing effect.
If you are an entity (insurance company, state government, municipality), Stern Law can help you seek the following damages:
- Reimbursement for payments of medical care and prescriptions;
- Reimbursement for creation and maintenance of addiction centers, programs, and treatment facilities;
- Reimbursement for order, storage, and distribution of opioid antidotes;
- Reimbursement for additional emergency, medical, and law enforcement personnel to address addiction issues and opioid side effects;
- Reimbursement for costs associated with prosecuting and jailing opioid offenders; and
- Punitive damages, if the circumstances of the litigation show that the manufacturer(s) should be assessed a sum of money that carries a punishing effect.
Contact one of our dedicated drug product lawyers today to discuss your potential for recovery.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC
We understand at Stern Law that the opioid epidemic has widespread and serious effects on many families, companies, and governments. We are prepared to take on your case, no matter how complex. If you are an individual or entity affected by the opioid crises, contact Stern Law, PLLC, at (844) 808-7529, to set up your free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.