LIVINGSTON - There's been a tragic trend in Livingston Parish, and many other places, in recent years.
The rate of opioid related deaths in Livingston Parish, specifically, has been on the uptick for several years, culminating in 33 deaths related to opioid or heroin-related abuse in 2018.
Now, the parish is fighting back.
On Thursday, July 25 the Livingston Parish Council signed an agreement - to be ratified by Parish President Layton Ricks - with Fayard and Honeycutt, LLC to enter litigation against pharmaceutical manufacturers.
According to Dr. Ron Coe, the Livingston Parish Coroner, roots of the epidemic date back approximately 20 years, when the medical profession was in a push to provide medications for instant pain relief, which led to a proliferation of opioid narcotics such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, Percodan, and other drugs.
“The complaints from patients were taken care of, so I think there was a big push to care for that – maybe too much,” Coe said.
“There were a lot of bad apples as far as physicians over-prescribing, and clinics opening merely for the reason to become “pill shops.”
Blayne Honeycutt, chief attorney from the representing law firm, agrees.
"We're not after the doctors," Honeycutt said, "but the manufacturers. They pushed this stuff (on the medical profession), and hired doctors to adjust the results of so-called 'tests.'
"We're just hoping that there will be some sort of funds offered through litigation for rehabilitation and policing of this issue."
Honeycutt said the best way to receive funds is to 'have a seat at the table,' which means hiring a firm to be part of the litigation. If the state receives funds but no one is negotiating on the parish's behalf, Livingston might get passed over, he said.
Honeycutt's firm will be owed 33.33% of any funds recovered for Livingston Parish if the suit is successful. His firm is already representing other entities in the state on the issue.
Parish Council attorney Chris Moody confirmed with the council that the Fayard & Honeycutt's contract and fee schedule are standard for litigation.