Wayne Farms Sues Opioid Companies for Employee Addictions

In a personal injury lawsuit filed on Monday in the Northern District of Ohio, Wayne Farms, LLC claims that opioid and pharmaceutical companies should be liable for expenses the farm has spent helping employees address and recover from opioid addictions. 

The complaint explained that prescription opioids come with significant risks when they are misused, and can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Previously, opioids were prescribed only to address short-term pain instead of chronic illness, however, through alleged deceptive advertising and marketing from the plaintiff’s opioids are now sometimes used for chronic pain. The plaintiff claims the marketing has been present specifically in Georgia, where Wayne Farms is located. 

The company claimed that opioids are “deadlier than heroin” and said the plaintiff has incurred overwhelming costs due to opioid health and welfare costs. “The addiction epidemic of prescription opioid abuse in the United States has caused businesses, including Wayne Farms, extraordinary economic damages,” the complaint states.  “Wayne Farms seeks, in part, reimbursement of losses incurred as a result of the opioid epidemic including without limitation medical care, opioid-related illnesses, workers compensations and disability premium increases, employee downtime, employee retraining, employee counseling, and other costs.” 

Wayne Farms claimed that the defendants, including, among others, McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.; CVS Health Corporation; and Walmart Inc., should have prevented the opioid “epidemic.” The plaintiff further claims that the defendants profited by allowing the specific “geographic area that Wayne Farms service to become flooded with prescription opioids,” rather than performing its purpose of protecting drugs from misuse. 

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants should have refused to fill suspicious pharmaceutical orders, but instead ignored problems by allowing patients to become addicted and causing a black market in opioid pills. 

“For years, Defendants and their agents have had the ability to substantially reduce the death toll and adverse economic consequences of opioid diversion, including the deaths and health ruination of hundreds of thousands of citizens. Substantial expenditures by Wayne Farms in dealing with the problem have gone un-recouped and unreimbursed,” the complaint stated. Wayne Farms is seeking injunctive relief and payment for damages allegedly caused by the defendants, claiming the pharmaceutical companies have caused the farm’s assets to be unnecessarily diverted. 

The plaintiff, represented by T. Roe Frazer, II, noted that the case may be similar to a multidistrict litigation case being considered in the same court.