Two Chicago-area labor unions representing construction workers have filed a lawsuit seeking damages from drug companies over their role in the nationwide opioid crisis.
The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 filed the suit Wednesday morning in Cook County Circuit Court, naming OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and dozens of other drug companies, distributors and professional organizations as defendants.
The suit is seeking damages for the drug companies’ “unconscionable efforts to maximize profits at the expense of union members’ lives, families and communities,” the unions said in a joint statement.
The unions are claiming opioid manufacturers participated in a “targeted misinformation campaign” to promote opioid use and increase prescriptions and sales, leading to a nationwide rise in overdoses and fatalities.
“Workers experiencing pain-related injuries have been overprescribed opioids that have little if any medical benefit and lead to addiction, despair and death, while our welfare funds have been compelled to shoulder the unjustifiable financial burden of related health care and disability payments,” Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney said in a statement.
The nine-count suit accuses the defendants of violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act; fraudulent misrepresentation; insurance fraud; negligence; public nuisance; civil conspiracy; and unjust enrichment. It is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Purdue Pharma did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.