Tennessee joins US state attorneys general from Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and North Dakota in claiming Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids.
Starting previous year, Paxton and a bipartisan group of 40 other state attorneys general have been conducting an investigation into whether companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids engaged in unlawful practices.
The Tennessee suit accuses Purdue of unlawfully marketing and promoting OxyContin and other drugs and creating a statewide public nuisance by interfering with the health of Tennesseans and the commercial marketplace.
In 2016, 1,375 Texans died of opioid-related deaths.
Stenehjem says because the company could be liable for up to $5,000 per violation, the potential damages are "enormous".
Attorneys general in Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee, were also expected to file similar lawsuits. "Purdue crossed the line, and I intend to hold them accountable".
Company spokesman Bob Josephson says the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.
Slatery requested that the lawsuit be temporarily sealed because documents Purdue turned over during his office's investigation contain "highly confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information".
Lawsuits have already been filed by 16 other USA states and Puerto Rico against Purdue.
Stenehjem estimates Purdue has raked in almost 35 billion dollars from opioids over the years that have taken thousands of lives, numbers he calls unconscionable.
In a statement, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma denied the claims and said the company will defend itself. In March, Slatery filed motions to intervene, or take over, the lawsuits.
"We lack the resources that we need to treat this problem", said Stenehjem.
They allege the pharmaceutical company and opioid manufacturer played a leading role in the opioid epidemic in the Mid-South.
Last year, Shelby County Commissioners filed a lawsuit against almost 20 different drug manufacturers, doctors and pharmacies.