NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A lawsuit filed in August 2022 is now going before federal court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six Nashville children after they were born addicted to opioids.
Now, one of their lawyers claims more lawsuits could be coming.
The more than 150-page lawsuit names a list of opioid manufacturers and distributors. In it, the plaintiffs are listed as “Baby Doe” and “Baby Roe” to protect their identities. The children are now between the ages of 2 and 8.
“It’s the first case we’ve done with only children who were born addicted to opioids,” said Tricia Herzfeld, a partner at Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings Lawfirm, which represents the children and their caregivers. “For mothers, it’s a complicated and difficult story, isn’t it? They’ve been through a lot, they’ve overcome addictions, some are still in the throes of addiction, and they’ve had to watch their children grow up with the effects of the actions they’ve taken.”
The lawsuit accuses a long list of distributors and pharmacies of running “pill mills” in Davidson County, claiming that every newborn is born addicted to opioids.
“They knew, basically, that their drugs were going into the illegal drug market and they continued to profit from that knowing where the drugs were going,” Herzfeld said.
The case was originally filed in August, but is now moving to federal court. In the suit, the babies are described as suffering from withdrawal, refusing to eat and in some cases, crying uncontrollably.
“There have been thousands of children who have been born in Tennessee addicted to opioids, and we intend to prosecute as many as we can,” Herzfeld.
As part of the lawsuit, the firm cites the state in 2020 that there were 824 babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The condition is found in babies born to opioid-addicted mothers.
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“For a lot of these women, they started using opioids from a car accident or a prescription they got after surgery or whatever and it just got out of hand and they had to feed that habit because they were more addicted than anyone knew. “, said Herzfeld.
It’s a reality that those at Renewal House see every day. Savak Millis, Director of Programs, explained that they often accept mothers who have no idea what they’ve put into their bodies until it’s too late.
Millis described them as, “Surprised—I think we think of substance use as a choice that they’re making every day, and here at Renewal House we really look at it as a disease and how we can challenge it.”
Millis explained that one of the biggest misconceptions about expectant mothers struggling with addiction is their appearance.
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Renewal House offers specialized addiction treatment for women and their children. They are the only “long-term family residential program in Middle Tennessee that treats women and their children together.” Since its inception, the organization has served more than 8,000 women and children through its programs.