Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that the Office of Attorney General has retained the national law firm Motley Rice to work with the Office in its investigation involving prescription opiate manufacturers and distributors in anticipation of potential civil action on behalf of the State of Rhode Island.
"Opiate use – prescription and illegal - has created a public health crisis in Rhode Island that government and society will have to deal with for a very long time," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "Entities in the opiate chain – starting with manufacturers and distributors of prescription opiates – have played a role in the evolution of this crisis and should be held accountable. While taking on some of the country's most wealthy and powerful companies is a massive undertaking, it is the right thing to do for the State and the citizens. The decision to go after Big Tobacco was once thought to be a fool's errand, and we proved them wrong then, and I believe our decision this time to go after Big Pharma will prove to be the right decision."
The role of Motley Rice is to assist Office of Attorney General as it looks to address the financial and societal consequences of the harms caused by the proliferation of prescription opioids in Rhode Island.
"The opioid epidemic continues to be our most urgent public health crisis. The proliferation of these powerful narcotics has had a devastating impact on our state. I applaud the attorney general for taking this step to hold drug manufacturers accountable," said Governor Gina Raimondo.
Motley Rice, headquartered in South Carolina, is among the nation's largest plaintiffs' firms, securing settlements in significant health, environmental and consumer fraud litigation. During the last several decades, Motley Rice has led or participated in some of the most important consumer protection litigation, both for government and for private class actions, including representing Rhode Island in the successful litigation against tobacco companies.
The contract with Motley Rice provides that the law firm will receive a share of any verdict or settlement.
Today's announcement is separate from the previously announced multi-state investigation by attorneys general into various opiate manufacturers and distributors. That investigation is ongoing.