County to file lawsuit against big pharma

Published 9:28 am Thursday, October 12, 2017

Resolution approved aimed at opioid makers, distributors

The Lawrence County Commission approved a resolution for the filing of a civil lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids during its meeting Tuesday evening at Spare Time Recreation.

In early August, the commission first took action on the issue when they approved a resolution declaring that the unlawful distribution of prescription pain pills has created a public nuisance in the county, causing harm to its residents, as requested by Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson.

Anderson has said that in a six-year period, Lawrence County pharmacies have distributed more than 27 million opioids with slightly more than 60,000 total residents in the county, and that he believes the issue of prescription opioids have directly caused the rise of the opioid epidemic.

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Lawrence County previously agreed to retain the law firm of Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey and Tweel, LLP, of Huntington, West Virginia, to represent the county. Attorney Paul Farrell Jr. will serve as the lead counsel on a contingent fee basis, meaning Lawrence County would not be responsible for any legal costs if noting is recovered, and agreed to pay 30 percent of recovered amounts.

Law firms Seif and McNamee, LLC, and Oths, Heiser, Miller, Waigand and Clagg, LLC, will serve as local counsel in the case.

The lawsuit will not go after pharmacies, pharmacists or physicians, but will rather go after the wholesale distributors. Initial defendants named in the lawsuit are the McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health. However, they are subject to change and more can be added.

Lawrence County Engineer Patrick Leighty addressed the meeting after receiving several questions from residents about getting speed limits on certain roads changed and, more specifically, spending money on surveys rather than just spending the money on the new signs.

He said that Ohio law requires the county to conduct its own investigation and survey of the roads in question before the data is sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation for further study and action taken if deemed necessary.

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith commended the commission on their work, and said that positive things are happening in Ironton and Lawrence County.

“We’re seeing great things and anticipate great things in the future,” she said.

She also talked about the recreation levy, which is up for renewal, in Ironton, which she said has been in place for more than 20 years.

“It’s a renewal, so there isn’t an increase,” she said. “It’s critical for the advancement of the city and it’s critical for our young people.”

The meeting was conducted at Spare Time Recreation as part of the commission’s effort to conduct meetings out in the county every so often.

During the commissioner’s reports, commissioners DeAnna Holliday and Freddie Hayes Jr. thanked Spare Time for allowing them to host the meeting there, and presented manager Corey McKnight with a certificate of recognition and thanking the business for its kindness and hospitality.

Commission President Bill Pratt was at Chesapeake High School’s Senior Night, and was not at the meeting.

In other action, the commission:

• Approved the Dog Warden Report dated Sept. 30, 2017.

• Approved two floodplain permits.

• Approved six transfer funds.

• Approved and signed the Notice of Award and the contract with Southern Ohio Trenching and Excavating Inc. for the Proctorville Fire Hydrant project.

• Received and referred the petition for vacation of alley parcels 23-141-0500.000 and 23-125-1900.001 to Lawrence County Engineer Patrick Leighty. The parcels are located in Union Township.

• Received and filed the correspondence from Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson regarding NRG Curtailment Solutions and the Contract for LCJC wastewater treatment monitoring, reporting, operation and maintenance.

• Accepted and dated the request for emergency grant funding in the amount of $200,000 for County Road 42 landslide repair project, as requested by Leighty.

The next commission meeting is 11 a.m. Friday at Collins Career Technical Center in Chesapeake.