Participation by Babies Born Dependent on Opioids in the National Opioid Litigation

There is an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction sweeping across the U.S and the costs of caring for the children born dependent on opioids will threaten the budgets of every family and every political subdivision in the country unless we act to protect these most vulnerable citizens. Opioid-dependent children will have life-long medical needs and we can no longer ignore the burden these boys and girls are being asked to pay with their physical and mental well-being. Our nation’s children, especially our newborns, are suffering in this nation’s clinics and hospitals from real, provable damages related to their parents’ addiction to prescription opioids. U.S. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) births are drastically under-reported due to independent state reporting systems. Some states, like Texas, still do not report NAS statistics. Our experts believe only one in five NAS newborns are captured by this broken reporting system. Click here to read typical stories from our NAS clients: Felecia ColemanJennifer ScullyJeremay Martinez Kathy StrainShelly Whittaker

Here are the Facts*:

  • National studies of Medicaid-enrolled women by the Centers for Disease Control found that 21.6 percent filled at least one opioid prescription during pregnancy.
  • Every 15 minutes an opioid dependent baby is born in this country.
  • Newborn babies experience side effects to include excessive crying, heavy sweating , diarrhea, tremors, convulsions, seizures, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and pain as soon as 24 hours to 10 days after birth.
  • Methadone or Morphine is often needed to treat infant opioid withdrawal, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Long-term side effects include Attention Deficit Disorder, cognitive deficits, growth delays, depression and behavioral problems, and the ability to function independently.
  • New foster care cases involving parents who are using drugs have hit the highest point in more than three decades of record-keeping, accounting for 92,000 NEW children entering the system in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The crisis is so severe — with a 32 percent spike in drug-related cases from 2012 to 2016 — it reversed a trend that had the foster care system shrinking in size over the preceding decade.
  • All told, a total of 437,000 children were in the foster care system as of Sept. 30, 2016. Child and family assistance spending related to the epidemic was about $6.1 billion in 2016.
*These facts provided by our medical expert Dr. Brent Bell

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Increased medical costs, social service costs, child welfare costs, law enforcement costs, court costs, incarceration costs, loss of worker productivity, wrongful deaths, lost personal opportunities:

These are the rising costs of a national addiction problem caused by opioid manufacturers and distributors. Addicted parents, removal of children from parents, and dependent infants pose a direct threat to our society. There is a significant lack of resources for education, treatment, prevention and public safety in our communities to address this growing epidemic threatening our future and our families. Let us discuss how we can fight back together. We’re at the forefront of fighting the national opioid litigation battle, and we’re in a good position to get justice now. Stand with us.

The team’s lead attorneys for litigation recovery have represented thousands of clients and recovered billions of dollars for their clients through repeated success in high-stakes litigation. They are the ideal litigation recovery team in this nation’s opioid crisis.

Stuart H. Smith, Chief Strategist

Stuart has practiced law for nearly 25 years, litigating against oil companies and other energy-related corporations for damages associated with radioactive oil field waste. Smith also has extensive jury trial experience in both federal and state courts in addition to handling multi-district litigation (“MDL”) civil cases, including the Deepwater Horizon Spill, Vioxx Products Liability Litigation, and the Propulsid Product Liability Litigation. Smith is well known for his role as lead counsel in an oil field radiation case that resulted in a verdict of $1.056 billion against ExxonMobil for contamination and cover up of land it leased from the Grefer family in Louisiana. Smith is one of the largest donors to the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and founder of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at the university’s Broadway campus

Celeste Brustowicz has 33 years experience as a practicing attorney with expertise in med-malpractice, class action, mass tort and civil rights cases, as well as managing all aspects of civil litigation at Cooper Law Firm. Ms. Brustowicz successfully defended Jefferson Parish against multiple class action suits in federal and state courts arising from Hurricane Katrina-related flooding, and successfully defended Louisiana in the Bristol Meyers Squibb/Serzone litigation. She is licensed to practice in Louisiana, Mississippi and California.

Kevin W. Thompson is a lawyer, entrepreneur, and inventor who has been involved in high-stakes litigation across the country for more than 20 years. Thompson served as class counsel and head of a litigation team that achieved a $151 million settlement for the people of Charleston, WV whose water supply was tainted and economy disrupted during the Elk River Spill of 2014. He has been nominated twice for Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his groundbreaking work in the public interest. Thompson’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone Magazine, National Geographic, on ABC TV News, and in two documentaries, Coal Rush and Toxic Soup.

Scott R. Bickford, a principal in the New Orleans law firm of Martzell, Bickford & Centola, APC, practices primarily in the areas of environmental, oil and gas, toxic tort and personal injury law. He has been the lead counsel in multiple class action cases and is the co-director of the Tulane Law School Trial Advocacy Program.

Medical Experts

Brent Bell PA-C, Ph.D has practiced medicine for 26 years in the World’s Largest Medical Center in Houston, Texas. The majority of his tenure was spent at both MD Anderson Cancer Center and Houston Methodist. He graduated in 1993 as a Physician Assistant and entered practice at the beginning of the opioid crisis.

His entire career was in Oncology, where opioids played a very necessary role. Brent has published extensively and has many credits and accolades regarding his clinical research. He is highly regarded by both patients as their advocate and by physicians, many of them chairmen of their departments, for running their world-class services. Brent was one of two initial team leaders who implemented the MD Anderson Physician Assistant Residency Program in Oncology which still functions because of his efforts to this day.

Dr. Kanwaljeet “Sunny” Anand is the preeminent expert on opioid addiction in newborns and the former chief of pediatrics at Stanford University. Dr. Anand was a Rhodes scholar at University of Oxford. He did a post-doctoral fellowship in Anesthesia at Harvard, Pediatrics residency training at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and Critical Care Medicine fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Anand is on the executive committee at the Pediatric Pain Research Network, and has published over 260 peer reviewed articles and 47 book chapters. Dr. Anand has no ties to the pharmaceutical industry defendants, and has not accepted research funding or speaking fees from them.

John Konsin, Co-founder and CEO, Prapela, LLC, is an expert with 37 years in affordable medical devices and consumer products for infants and caregivers, specializing in devices that help infants relax, breathe and sleep. These devices have helped infants struggling with colic to heart disease. Mr. Konsin is currently conducting a study with Harvard University involving 230 babies exposed to opioids in the womb and a control group of non-exposed babies to assess products which reduce respiration, heart rate and sleep apnea; the study will conclude in 2021.

Our team of renowned experts is already building a damage model that will capture the extent of the economic loss suffered by Americans, their families, businesses and communities because of the additional unrecompensed expenses and stress on resources that have come with the Opioid Crisis. Our experts are also developing proposals to bring communities the resources they need to fight the causes of the Opioid Crisis and deal with its effects.

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