Seaside Heights may soon become the latest New Jersey town to sue the manufacturers of opiate-derived medications to make up for the cost of opioid addiction to the community.
Locally, both Brick and Toms River have already joined similar lawsuits, which have gained traction throughout the country. Seaside Heights issued a bid solicitation for legal services last week.
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said he has spoken with colleagues in other communities and thought joining the effort could be beneficial for Seaside Heights.
“Obviously we’ve had a problem here, like many towns, and I was told this could be a good step to take,” he said.
Brick and Toms River first initiated litigation in 2017. Both towns retained the national law firm of Motley Rice, LLC to represent their interests. Under the terms of the agreements with both of those towns, the law firm will not receive any payment from the municipality but will instead take a percentage of any recovery from the drug manufacturers.
According to state data, in 2017, there were 97 admissions to hospitals that stemmed from heroin abuse in Seaside Heights, and 13 hospitalizations from other opioid drugs. That accounted for 60 percent of all drug-related hospitalizations (including alcohol) that originated in town.
Seaside Heights may well become one of America’s most high-profile cities to sue drug manufacturers, given its frequent national television exposure. Three weeks ago, San Diego decided to sue manufacturers for its alleged damages by drugmakers.
“Opioid manufacturers have profited handsomely from the human suffering they intentionally inflicted through manipulation and deceit” by marketing the drugs as non-addictive, San Diego’s city attorney wrote in a press release.