STOCK_Gary City Hall

STOCK_Gary City Hall

John J. Watkins

Gary is the latest local government to join Hammond, Lake County and dozens of others across the country in suing opioid manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the opioid addiction crisis.

In light of escalating costs to combat the city's opioid epidemic, the city of Gary on Jan. 29 filed a complaint in Lake Superior Court seeking to recover damages for use of public resources to fight the problem. 

“I have seen addiction as a deputy prosecutor, defense attorney, drug court judge and Indiana Attorney General. We understand the scourge of addiction created by illegal drugs. To think that legal drugs have been manufactured and distributed in a way that increases and risks the harm to citizens of Gary and other communities is unconscionable," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. 

The complaint — which includes more than 25 defendants — alleges that manufacturers, distributors and other entities intentionally mislead the public about the dangers of opioids, according to a news release. 

The complaint outlines the history of how defendants downplayed the risks associated with OxyContin, Fentanyl and Percocet while aggressively marketing them.

"This negligent behavior has led to a significant increase in the City’s budgets for law enforcement, emergency care, first responder overtime, Narcan training and prevention and treatment programs. There will be no cost to City taxpayers with this filing," the city's news release states. 

Hospitals in the state of Indiana have seen a 60-percent increase in non-fatal drug overdoses from 2011 to 2015, with deadly overdoses rising by an average of 3.5 percent each year, according to a report from the Indiana State Department of Health.

Indiana has also seen an increase in children placed in foster care because of parents’ addiction.  

Many lawsuits across the country, including those filed by Hammond and Lake County governments, have been consolidated with dozens of other similar lawsuits Dec. 5 in the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio.

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.