County may join opioid lawsuit
Published 9:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2017
Clark County magistrates are mulling whether to join a potential lawsuit to recoup costs related to the ongoing opioid crisis.
According to an email from the Kentucky Association of Counties, three dozen counties have already joined the lawsuit, which is being handled by a group of eight law firms.
The Clark County Fiscal Court discussed the matter in a previous meeting, but returned to the discussion Wednesday. The magistrates voted to take no action, but to take more time to review and research before the Nov. 8 meeting.
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“I really don’t have a recommendation,” Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said.
At this point, any funds awarded in the suit could be used for anything related to opiates, he said, including costs for law enforcement, court or incarceration.
County Attorney Brian Thomas said the lawsuit will be filed against the pharmaceutical companies that make drugs like Lortab, OxyContin and similar painkillers.
The city of Louisville has filed a similar suit against three medication wholesalers, he said.
Magistrate Robert Blanton said a potential settlement wasn’t as important as holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable.
Others were less sure.
“Who’s getting rich off this?” Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said. “The attorneys are getting 30 percent off the top.”
The agreement calls for the attorneys to retain 30 percent of the gross settlement, but there will be no expense to the counties if there is no settlement.
“I’ve got mixed emotions about it,” Konstantopoulos said.
“It’s a very expensive situation,” Magistrate Greg Elkins said. “It’s a drain on our resources. I don’t know if the pharmaceutical companies are the right people to chase.”
“I don’t see this helping the crisis,” Konstantopoulos said. “You can’t sue them out of business.”
In other action, the fiscal court:
— approved a contract to replace a bridge on Morris Road from Triple C Contracting from Cynthiana for $82,190. Branham said the project would be part of the state’s bridge replacement program which funds 80 percent of the project. The county would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
— approved employee benefit insurance for 2018. Health insurance premiums are down 4 percent, while life, dental and vision insurance remained the same.
— approved hiring Lincoln Arnold as a full-time county firefighter.
— approved hiring Noah Covington, Jerry Goosey, Calvin Parker and Kenneth Poole as volunteer firefighters.