CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) — As prescription drug abuse remains a growing issue nationwide and in Wisconsin, Chippewa County is joining a class action lawsuit against prescription drug manufacturers.
“It was kind of ironic because the night that the county board entertained this lawsuit, I got a text from dispatch, indicating that we were responding to a possible overdose,” said Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk.
The lawsuit is asking prescription drug companies to reimburse money the county has spent fighting the growing opioid epidemic. Sheriff Kowalczyk says he supports the county’s decision to join the lawsuit.
“Any revenue, whether it be the result of a class action lawsuit to fight opioid addiction and what it costs law enforcement would greatly be appreciated,” he says.
The sheriff’s department says prescription drug abuse has become a huge issue in Chippewa County, with a large majority of arrests made being drug related.
“Our burglaries, our thefts, our domestics, it seems like a large amount of those cases, the use and abuse of meth is greatly associated with those cases,” says Sheriff Kowalczyk
Some oppose the county’s decision to join the suit, including a County Board member who voted against the decision. He says it’s unclear who to blame.
“You need a prescription to obtain an opioid so is it the drug manufactures fault? Is it the doctor who prescribed the opioids? No one gave us information to support joining a lawsuit and I don’t believe we should just freely join class action lawsuits,” said Thomas Thornton, Chippewa County Board Representative.
Chippewa County isn’t the only county involved. 28 other Wisconsin counties are joining the lawsuit, including Eau Claire.