Hazleton Looks Join Other Communities Suing Drug Companies


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) The city of Hazleton may soon join the growing list of communities and counties taking aim at pharmaceutical companies because of the opioid epidemic.  City leaders say the crisis is devastating their community and that someone has to  be held accountable. Lead I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick has our story..
Hazleton’s Police Chief Jerry Speziale says he sees the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic just about everyday. His officers respond to overdoses almost everyday. Some of them deadly..

 “You’re talking about losing maybe part of a generation. Think about that. So we have to start holding people accountable.” The Chief told Eyewitness News.

Much like the tobacco companies were held accountable when they were hit by class action lawsuits and had to pay out billions to the state’s for the harm their product inflcited on people…

Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat says it’s now time to do the same thing with multi-national pharmaceutical companies producing the drugs.

“There is a great cost that comes to these cities everyday. From the police, the fire the members of the ambilance the hospital. We are going through it everyday.” Noted Mayor Cusat

Jason Harlen is a drug treatment counselor. He says everyday he deals with someone addicted to opioids . He thinks the lawsuits may be  successful..

“I guess time will telll. It’s an unkown right now. I don’t think that people would file a lawsuit if they didn’t have evidence of a negative impact.” Said Harlen, CEO of the Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services.

Hazleton officials say it’s about sending a message.. That something,.Somebody has to be held accountable for this opioid crisis.  

The mayor says he has been meeting with law firms discussing the lawsuit.

Hazleton’s lawsuit will likely be part of a class action lawsuit filed by other cities and counties.

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