Government Lawyers Are Redefining ‘Public Nuisance’ To Enrich Friends And Punish Foes

Government Lawyers Are Redefining ‘Public Nuisance’ To Enrich Friends And Punish Foes


A fascinating legal trend has gained momentum in recent years: From Baltimore to Tulsa, government attorneys have been partnering with private law firms, suing big pharmaceutical companies for causing the opioid epidemic, and obtaining massive amounts of money in judgments and settlements.

I’m no fan of Big Pharma, and my family has personally suffered from the mass prescribing of opioids, so I’m inclined to be sympathetic. But putting aside the particulars of the opioid issue, this wave of lawsuits reveals two emerging legal trends that should put us on high alert: the novel misuse of the cause of action called “public nuisance” and the hiring of private attorneys by government agencies.

The Twisting of Public Nuisance Doctrine

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A public nuisance was traditionally defined as “an

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