Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan has filed a lengthy complaint against a number of pharmacies in the state, alleging that they have all become part of the “illegal drug market” and are, therefore, liable for civil damages under the 1994 Drug Dealer Liability Act.
According to the court filing, the state claims that the businesses should have to pay up because they should have realized that too many pills were flowing through their enterprises to fulfill any legitimate need.
The complaint, filed under a law that was originally designed to fight the crack epidemic of decades before, alleges that the pharmacies were negligent and created a public nuisance. The goal, naturally, is to find new ways to collect the necessary revenue to fight the opioid epidemic, provide treatment services for addicts and refill the state’s coffers for all of the expenses associated with wide-scale addiction issues. The twist is that this is the first time a lawsuit has essentially compared the pain-pill industry to the crack industry and said that certain otherwise-legitimate businesses are part of the pipeline.
It’s important to also understand that this is not a criminal complaint. Like any civil claim, it’s aimed squarely at the defendants’ bank accounts. It’s currently unclear whether the state is targeting only large pharmacy chains in the state or may also target individual pharmacies this way. Whatever may come, this is a clear reminder that business owners of all sizes need to insulate themselves from legal liabilities that may seemingly come out of nowhere. That’s accomplished best by making certain that you have the correct business structure, know the right regulations to follow and understand what checks and balances need to be in place when doing business with others.