“This crisis is overwhelmingly impacting Native American peoples and it is important that they are not left at the back of the line with breadcrumbs as hundreds of lawsuits from across the country move through the federal court system,” said Native Peoples Advocate Jerry Cope.
The suits filed by Mr. Domina are well-timed since on Thursday, May 10, U.S. District Court Judge Dan A. Polster of Ohio will evaluate the status of the growing legal actions by governments, opioid-addicted babies, hospitals and rehab centers and others asking for redress and reimbursement of short and long-term costs associated with the opioid health crisis linked to prescription abuse.
Mr. Domina said opioid addiction is the nation’s biggest public health crisis in more than 100 years and it is important for tribes to stand up and speak out so that the opioid litigation settlements or judgments don’t leave Native Peoples out, like the Master Tobacco Settlement did decades ago.
The U.S. Surgeon General said in 2016 the opioid epidemic has hit American Indian populations particularly hard, and one of the suits filed in Knox County, Nebraska sites how 95 percent of those jailed in the county test positive for illegal drugs.
“Native Americans are two times more likely to become addicted to opioids than other Americans and three times more likely to die from their abuse,” said Mr. Cope.
The Native American Nations need their own representation in the current process set up to address the opioid epidemic, and according to a medical expert associated with Mr. Domina’s legal team, Dr. Brent Bell said the approach needs to direct funds to the front-lines of treatment and service at hospitals and care centers for patients, especially the infants and children impacted by the issues of addicted parents.
“After all, the response to this crisis is basically a medical and social one involving training, research, patient evaluation and monitoring, as well as the legal leadership in securing long-term funding to address these needs,” said Dr. Bell.
Many legal analysts studying the Tobacco litigation settlement have noted that the awards went to state governments who often diverted funds for practitioners and hospitals to fill other budget holes.
Attorney Domina said more than 500,000 prescriptions for Oxycontin alone were written in Nebraska between 2013 and 2016; there are less than 2 million people living in the state. He said Nebraska’s political subdivisions need to think carefully through what happened in the tobacco litigation, which resulted in a $206 billion settlement in 1998 between the four largest tobacco companies and states seeking to recover tobacco-related health-care costs.
ABOUT DAVID DOMINA: A litigator who has handled more than 350 jury trials with verdicts as high as $1.2 billion; he has extensive service to Native American clients, have fought the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline on behalf of Nebraska residents.
ABOUT OPIOID JUSTICE TEAM: A nationwide litigation team which has distinguished itself in filing suits on behalf of opioid-addicted babies and children, Native American Tribes, and Hospital/Rehab Centers to form a partnership that works together on legal, medical and civil issues to solve the opioid health crisis.
ATTORNEY David Domina (402) 493-4100
MEDIA: Peter Mirijanian (202) 464-8803 or
C. Brylski/D. Johnson (504) 897-6110
MEDICAL: Dr. Brent Bell (832) 544-6034