Veterans sue opioid manufacturers and distributors, claim their actions led to addiction

By John Breslin | Apr 1, 2019

Three veterans are suing the manufacturers and distributors of opioids, claiming they should have, or did, know the dangers of the drugs, particularly to those suffering from long term pain.

Joel Bishop, Dean Colman, and Pete Lavite, all from Madison County, sued manufacturers of opioids, including Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson and Johnson, as well as distributors, including CVS and Walgreens.

"The concealment from and misrepresentation of facts towards the veterans and their medical providers regarding opioids led to opioids being the most common means for treating chronic pain," the defendants wrote in their complaint filed in Madison County Circuit Court.

The distributors are accused of "working alongisde" the manufacturers, allowing the "flood" of opioids to flow into the healthcare system.

Those distributors failed to report suspicious orders, and thereby helped fuel the opioid epidemic, according to the complaint.

Bishop, a Navy veteran deployed as a machine gunner in Iraq in 2006, suffered injuries to his back, feet, and calf. On returning home, he was also diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

During treatment, the Wood River man was prescribed morphine and oxycodone, among many other drugs. He became addicted to opioids, which caused him "acute and prolonged physical and mental pain and suffering."

Colman, a U.S. Marine veteran from Alton, was deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1989.

Following surgery to repair his cervical spine, he was prescribed OxyContin, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. He claims he became addicted to pain killers.

Former Marine Pete Lavite, of Wood River, served between 1986 and 1990, was prescribed various opioids beginning in 2002. He and the others say they were over prescribed the medications.  

The veterans accuse the manufacturers of aggressively marketing and selling the drugs despite knowing the dangers.

The defendants are accused of consumer fraud, negligence, civil conspiracy, and fraud. They acted with malice and unlawfully, the plaintiffs claim.

They are represented by Joshua Evans of the Unsell Law Firm of East Alton, as well as attorneys from Pitzer Snodgrass in St. Louis and the Cook firm in Belleville.

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Organizations in this Story

Madison County Madison County Circuit Court The Unsell Law Firm

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