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Tennessee participated in a 2007 settlement with Purdue that yielded the state less than $1 million - $400,000 of which was applied to state attorneys’ fees. “I would want us gone, we’re going to be the expensive ones,” Stranch said. “If you want to talk settlement to us, we'd love to find creative solutions that don’t bankrupt the company, but there has to be real change and we have to be at the table." While no similar battles have flared into public view, they likely will. A state representative in South Carolina, which has sued the industry, commissioned an opinion from its attorney general on whether cities and counties had independent standing to file their own suits. His conclusion? It depends. In South Carolina, AG Alan Wilson said, a municipality “must allege infringement of its own proprietary interests or statutory rights,” but that it is entirely possible they can when it comes to opioid-related damages. Given this legal landscape, it’s not surprising that plaintiffs attorneys are feverishly compiling all the evidence they can get their hands on of opioid-related hospital charges, drug-treatment program costs and even jail expenses at the local level to bolster the cases of their municipal clients. In the end, this may partly be a case of fighting the last war, in this case against tobacco, in which states obtained multibillion-dollar payments from cigarette manufacturers but little of that flowed down to cities and counties. Many local officials viewed the 1998 tobacco settlement as a disappointment because most of the money flowed directly into state treasuries. Of course, the same thing would have happened if the states had simply taxed cigarettes – and they would have avoided the estimated $14 billion in fees to private attorneys that will flow out of the master settlement agreement over its 25-year life.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/legalnewsline/2018/03/28/cities-vs-states-a-looming-battle-for-control-of-high-stakes-opioid-litigation/
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