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Jacksonville City Council Approves Starting Process Of Suing Opioid Companies

Lindsey Kilbride
The Jacksonville City Council is pictured in this file photo.

The Jacksonville City Council approved a measure that would bring the city a step closer to suing pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in the city’s worsening opioid addiction crisis.

The unanimous vote of 17-0 happened at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting. Two council members absent.

The legislation directs the city’s Office of General Counsel to investigate claims against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors as they relate to damages incurred by the opioid epidemic. General Counsel would then select an outside law firm to represent Jacksonville in court.

In August, the bill’s sponsor Councilman Bill Gulliford set up a presentation for his colleagues by the Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd Law Firm, who is representing Delray Beach in a similar suit.

Firm representatives laid out arguments for legal action, saying Jacksonville could claim manufacturers engaged in deceptive marketing and that they violated the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act by overselling opioids to doctors and minimizing the threat of addiction.

The Duval Health Department says the city is among the worst in Florida for babies born addicted to opiate drugs and Jacksonville averages about three deaths a day due to opioid overdoses. The medical examiner says there isn’t enough space to store the bodies.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.
Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.