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Health & Medicine

“A Country Lawyer from Mississippi” is Taking on the Crisis

— September 6, 2019

Mike Moore is taking on Big Pharma after successfully battling BP and Big Tobacco.

Mike Moore is at the center of the opioid litigation against Big Pharma and the drugmakers behind the crisis.  He refers to himself as “just a country lawyer from Mississippi,” but he already used to taking on tough cases and has some significant wins under his belt, including the 1998 case against Big Tobacco and the 2015 oil spill case against BP.  Now he’s suing the opioid industry’s major contributors and hoping for the same result.

Ohio is one state that has been hard particularly hard, for instance.  Moore said, “If we try the Ohio case, if we win a verdict against these manufacturers and distributors there, it could bankrupt them.  It’d put them outta business.”  And, this is what a number of plaintiffs are hoping for – to eliminate any further damage to their communities.

Moore added, “Ohio is losing $4 billion or $5 billion a year from the opioid epidemic.  And they’re losing 5,000 or 6,000 people a year from overdose deaths.  So, when a jury hears the evidence in this case, they’re not gonna award just a couple hundred million dollars.  It may be $100 billion.  And whoever amongst these companies thinks they can stand up to that?  Good luck.”

"A Country Lawyer from Mississippi" is Taking on the Crisis
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Mike DeWine is the Republican governor of Ohio who used to be the state attorney general, and he hired Moore just after filing his lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors, stating, “We are hurting now in Ohio.  We need help…They flooded the [state] with these opioid pills that they knew would kill people.”  He is relying on Moore’s track record in taking on the big players and getting the state the results it desperately needs.

If not right away, DeWine explained, the companies eventually understood the damaging effects of the drugs as demand for opioids became more and more widespread.  He said, “If they didn’t know it the first couple years, they clearly would’ve seen it after that.  You can’t miss it.  When one year we had close to a billion – a billion pain meds prescribed in the state of Ohio, you know, 69 per man, woman, and child in the state.  And that lies at the feet of the drug companies.  They’re the ones who did that.”

Moore is seeking to provide funds to support treatment for all of the opioid-dependent people in the United States – nearly 3 million.  That is how he said he would define success in taking on the challenge.  He knows it would take billions of dollars, but he refuses to back down.

Moore said, “Look, when I filed this tobacco case in 1994 there was nobody that thought that we had a chance to win.  We showed up for our first hearing, and in our first hearing, so there was three of us there.  On the courtroom on the other side they had 68 lawyers.”  Despite being the underdog, four years late Moore had all fifty states on his side.  And he did this by going public with his arguments, saying, “A case in court is a case in court, and that’s fine. But there’s also the court of public opinion.  And the court of public opinion is sometime the most powerful court.”


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