This article was originally published by NPR: All Things Considered
NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Paul Farrell, a lead attorney representing local governments who are seeking settlements in the ongoing opioid litigation.
The legal battle over the opioid epidemic is far from over. Yes, two counties in Ohio settled with drug companies this week, but more than 2,000 states, counties, cities and tribes across the country were hoping for a global settlement. That deal did not happen, in part because of disagreements over how settlement money would be distributed – disagreements between state attorneys general and lawyers like Paul Farrell, who represents about 700 cities and towns.
PAUL FARRELL: I don’t think that the communities that I represent are interested in replicating the tobacco settlement model, where the monies got sent to the state’s attorney general, and then those monies got sent to the general treasury. And then the legislatures used it to fill gaps in their budgets. So one of the primary reasons so many counties and cities decided to take action was so that they could find a community solution to their community problem.
CHANG: You know, the several state attorneys general who were pushing that deal say that the funds would be distributed fairly among the states, the counties, the cities. Do you not trust them?
FARRELL: Well, it’s not that I need to trust them. They’ve outlined how they believe the money should be distributed amongst the 50 states. And not surprisingly, Texas decided that they wanted the most amount of money. So when you break it down, my home state, West Virginia, which has disproportionately been impacted, was allocated 0.00015% of any overall settlement amount. And that’s just a nonstarter.
CHANG: Fascinating – so ideally, what would the best kind of global settlement look like from the perspective of your clients? What shape should that take?
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