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South Bend to file lawsuit for restitution in opioid crisis

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The cost of the opioid crisis: it's something South Bend is not willing to take anymore.

Now, the city is filing a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the community's own crisis. 

The costs, according to the White House, are extensive. 

Nationally, the crisis cost more than $500 billion in 2015, making up close to 3% of the national GDP that year alone.

So, what is the cost of a life? Of a Narcan dose? Or an EMS run?

Mayor Peter Buttigeg estimates that South Bend administered about 500 doses.

"How many EMS runs? How many Narcan doses?" he asks. "Think about all of the damage that has been done to a society to a community and in a measurable way.  When you have a loss of life from these products and impacts they may have."

For some, these resources are priceless. 

But for the city or county who fronts the funds, Buttigeg says, it can be a strain.

A strain that he does not think that the city should have to take on, alone.

"When you are involved in the manufacturing and distributing of a very dangerous product. You have some obligations that come along with that and that's how liability works," explains Buttigeg.

Accountability, answers and restitution are being demanded all across the country right now, by more than 370 local governments filing similar lawsuits. 

South Bend is now joining a handful of Hoosier areas also wanting justice, including St. Joseph, Marshall, and LaPorte counties. 

"If you fall down on that obligation, people can get hurt and people can lose their lives," he says. "This is what it's about. We wouldn't be pursuing this if we didn't believe there wasn't just a misfortune, but negligence and wrongdoing."

Wrongdoing that Buttigeg says can only change the future, with acceptance and acknowledgement. 

"There's enough evidence of wrongdoing and not just misfortune," says Buttigeg. "We think the taxpayers and residents in this community ought to be compensated for that."

The city's lawsuit will be officially filed in a couple of days, through an Indianapolis law firm. 

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