RCSD to receive money from opioid class action settlements


The Rochester City School District and other districts across the country are poised to settle a pair of lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers for unethical behavior in distributing opioids, bringing an unspecified pot of money for programs intended to combat the effects of opioid addiction.

The lawsuits were against Purdue and Mallinckrodt, two large drug companies that filed for bankruptcy protection in the face of massive claims from individuals and governments affected by their alleged indiscriminate distribution of highly addictive opioids.

Both lawsuits involve dozens of school districts across the country. RCSD also remains involved in one large outstanding class-action lawsuit and another against a third company in bankruptcy, the Rochester Drug Cooperative, General Counsel Steve Carling said.

“We expect as time goes on we’ll see more of these type of settlements, either from bankruptcies or direct action,” Carling said.

The lawsuits make two claims: first, that students have been harmed by the companies’ opioid distribution, either because they themselves became addicted or because their parents or guardians did.

The Purdue Pharma logo at its offices in Stamford, Conn.

“Because of Defendants’ horrific wrongdoing, which created the worst man-made

epidemic in history, births of children with prenatal opioid exposure have increased

exponentially since the onslaught of the opioid epidemic, and they show no signs of slowing down,” the plaintiffs in one class-action suit wrote. “As a result, our nations’ public schools will be straddled with the extra costs of education of children with prenatal opioid exposure for years to come.”

Second, RCSD and other districts are seeking damages for the harm done to employees. RCSD is self-insured and therefore has faced mounting expenses for drug counseling, for instance.

More:OxyContin maker agrees to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in $8 billion settlement

2020:How Rochester is faring in the opioid epidemic

The Rochester school district headquarters.

‘All the help we can get’

Statistics compiled by Common Ground Health from 2014-16 show that urban residents were by far the most likely to visit the emergency room for an opioid overdose.

White and Latino people were the hardest hit across all geographic sectors. But urban Black residents, too, visited the emergency room at a greater rate than white or Latino people in suburban or rural areas.


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