OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KXI) - Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter joined Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton at the Whitten Burrage law firm Friday morning as they announced the two tribal nations will be filing a lawsuit against the nation's leading manufacturers of opioids.
The tribal leaders say the lawsuits are their way of holding the companies accountable for the opioid epidemic that killed thousands in their nations.
"We continue to hear stories from our families in the community that indicate that they need help because they can't shake this addiction," Gov. Bill Anoatubby said.
"These companies have lied, they have betrayed our trust," Chief Batton said. "They have not told the truth in regards to how these have been addictive and how they effect our people."
The lawsuit alleges the 19 manufactures knew of the highly addictive nature of the drugs and lied about it to healthcare providers while pocketing billions from the purchases.
"Native American communities have been one of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic across the nation," Attorney General Mike Hunter said. "The CDC reports that between 1999-2015 overdose deaths among Native Americans and Native Alaskans rose by more than 500%."
The lawsuit mentions 5 causes of actions - public nuisance, fraud, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy and negligence and demands a trial be held by a jury.
While the dollar amount of damages being sought is still in the works, the leaders say if they win the money will go back towards helping their tribes.
"The damages sought are what has costs the state and these tribes with regard to treatment cost, with regard to law enforcement, with regard to health care - the court system," Judge Matthew Burrage said.
Attorney General Mike Hunter says the state will support the two tribes in their efforts in these lawsuits.