California counties sue some drug makers, arguing they partially created the opioid crisis

Three California counties plus the city of Oakland are suing a handful of pharmaceutical companies, saying they helped cause the opioid crisis by downplaying the risks in order to increase sales. Photo by Jason Hill/Getty Images

Half a million people have died from an opioid overdose over the past two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That includes illicit narcotics like heroin, but also prescription drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin.

Now three California counties — LA, Orange, and Santa Clara — plus the city of Oakland are suing a handful of pharmaceutical companies, saying they helped cause the crisis by playing down the risks in order to increase sales.

“This is a big bellwether case that will tell us where liability might lie when it comes to drug manufacturers and governments who blame them for the opioid crisis,” says Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Supreme Court looked at whether someone is shielded from deportation if they’re in the country illegally but received temporary protected status. It appeared the justices were inclined to say no.

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