Something interesting will be considered at the Prescott City Council voting meeting this Tuesday. Council will decide whether or not to authorize civil litigation against "...those responsible for the wrongful manufacture and distribution of prescription opiates and damages caused thereby."
In other words, the City will vote on whether or not to sue the US drug company, Purdue Pharma.
At Tuesday's Council meeting, Attorney Jeff Reeves will discuss a bit of the history around the opioid epidemic and offer an overview of the legal strategy that is being recommended to bring litigation against those responsible for the crisis.
If approved, the attorneys will take the case on a contingency basis, so no money will have to be paid out by the City unless there is a recovery from the litigation. The law firms will even pay all fees and court costs. If there is a judgment in favor of the City, there will be a 20% contingency fee of the amount awarded paid to the attorneys representing the case.
"...the litigation that we are contemplating now could result in a damages award easily upwards of $20 million."
If the City of Prescott does enter into this lawsuit, it is not without precedent. Massachusetts has recently chosen to enter into litigation against Purdue. The State of Kentucky won a $24 million settlement from Purdue in 2015. In 2007, "Purdue accepted a plea deal admitting to criminal charges of mis-selling OxyContin with 'intent to defraud or mislead'."
However, in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reported on January 9, 2019, that, "...A state judge has dismissed a series of lawsuits brought by 37 cities and towns against OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and other drug companies, saying they failed to prove the firms were directly responsible for the costly medical and social needs of addicts." It is expected that the Connecticut ruling will be appealed.
Unfortunately, for fans of legal drama on television, this local episode is not likely to be over in an hour. The case will almost certainly take years to make its way through the courts, and even then, there is no guarantee of a favorable outcome to the City. However with financial costs shouldered by the law firms involved, it should be of minimal expense to the community, other than staff costs.
Tuesday’s voting meeting for the City of Prescott Council starts at 3 PM at Prescott City Hall.