Westchester sues opioid manufacturers, distributors

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Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors Tuesday over the financial burden of battling opioid abuse.

It follows similar lawsuits from almost every other county in New York, including Rockland and Putnam.

The county says it's grappling with skyrocketing costs associated with combating the opioid crisis. The county filed a complaint in Westchester Supreme Court Tuesday seeking to recover unspecified damages for the use of public resources to fight addiction. The county's attorney says he's currently working with the court to figure out just how much money the county can recover in damages.

"The lawsuit effort is an effort to hold accountability where it belongs and to help offset financial costs that have been laid out," Latimer said.

The complaint includes more than 30 defendants, and it alleges that manufacturers and distributors have intentionally misled the public about the dangers of opioids. The court battle may take years.

Officials say there has been a significant increase in the county budget for law enforcement, emergency care, first responder overtime, Narcan training and prevention and treatment programs.

Ardsley mom Stephanie Marquesano lost her 19-year-old son Harris five years ago to an opioid overdose. She founded the Harris Project nonprofit in his name, and she was among the county leaders in White Plains Tuesday for Latimer's announcement.

"As an advocate and as someone living a nightmare, the silver lining for me is that I live in Westchester -- where there is much support for turning the tide on this epidemic," she said.

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