Madison County will join hundreds of others across the country in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributers. The case, which names a dozen drug makers and distributers, is being tried in Cleveland, Ohio.
There are more than 2,500 lawsuits, including those of municipalities and counties in many states, are seeking to recover billions in damages as they have faced unexpected costs due to the opioid epidemic, including drug treatment, police services and more.
Board attorney Mike Espy approached the board of supervisors last week to request authorization to serve as local council as part of the ongoing opioid litigation based in Ohio, with Napoli Shkolnik serving as lead council in the case.
“There are hundreds of counties now in this lawsuit,” Espy said. “There are 43 counties in Mississippi that have entered this lawsuit, and 24 cities in the lawsuit.”
Napoli Shkolnik, a law firm based in New York, will be lead council in the opioid issue, representing more than 200 counties across the nation, according to Espy.
“We all are familiar with the opioid lawsuit,” Espy said. “It is against the manufacturers and distributers of these painkillers that have caused addiction across the nation. The addiction has raised costs to counties and public entities. Healthcare costs, prescription costs, criminal justice costs, pharmaceutical costs, collection costs, productivity loss and the like.”
Espy said because the case is multidistrict litigation, many of these opioid lawsuits have been consolidated into one legal case based in Cleveland, Ohio. According to an article in the Claims Journal, some analysts say the multidistrict case could be requesting up to $100 billion to compensate for tax dollars that have been allocated to addressing the crisis.
“The judge will likely appoint an economist to look around the nation and come up with an estimate of damages,” Espy said. Judge Dan A. Polster, of the Northern District of Ohio, is presiding over the case.
Whether there are damages in Madison County is unclear. Espy said he is also uncertain what the timeframe on this issue will be.
The board voted unanimously to move forward with the lawsuit, with District Two Supervisor Trey Baxter abstaining from the vote.
The county will enter into a contingency agreement, which means if there is no recovery of damages, then there is no cost to the county for legal fees.