Cost of local crime cited by county leaders
DOVER — The Strafford and Rockingham county commissioners, along with five other Granite State counties and several communities, have filed a series of lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies they believe are responsible for the current opioid crisis.
Strafford County Commissioner Chairman George Maglaras announced the lawsuit along with Rockingham County Commissioner Thomas Tombarello in their role as the leaders of the New Hampshire Association of Counties. Tombarello is the current president of the association and Maglaras is the immediate past president.
In May, the Strafford County Commissioners authorized the filing of a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Insys Therapeutics, Allergan plc, McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation. The commissioners had retained Bonsignore Trial Lawyers PLLC to file the suit in U.S. District Court in Concord.
Maglaras said in an interview the commissioners held off from filing the lawsuit until now. Instead of bringing the suit in U.S. District Court, the tort claim was instead filed at the Strafford County Superior Court. Maglaras said the county doesn’t yet have an exact number about how much the commissioners will be seeking in damages; they will be calculating that number over the next year, he said. Maglaras said the commissioners would include the cost from law enforcement, incarceration, prosecution, court operations and drug court.
“It’s not nickels and dimes. It’s in the millions,” he said.
Maglaras previously said other than the federal government, county governments incur the most expenses generated by the opiate crisis. They incur costs from the prosecution of drug-related crimes as well as the incarceration costs at the county jail.
“Seventy-five percent of property crime in the county is attributed to drug addiction,” he said. “The county has spent millions and millions of dollars on drug addiction, and I want to recuperate our costs.”
Maglaras said Strafford County has expended more resources than any other county in the state on the opiate crisis.
The commissioners from Rockingham, Grafton, Sullivan, Cheshire and Belknap counties filed suits in their respective superior courts, he said.
Bonsignore Trial Lawyers, PLLC, led by attorney Robert J. Bonsignore, is still representing Strafford as well as the other counties and communities.
“The taxpayers are entitled to recoup the costs associated with this artificially created drug epidemic from those responsible for creating it,” he said in a statement. “Congress enacted a self-regulating system intended to allow those selling the pills to keep opioids under control. It was an utter failure and a very costly mistake. Many lives have been lost and many more ruined. New Hampshire has been hit hard and we are going to fight back.”