Okla. city plans to join opioid class action lawsuit

The City of Moore said the opioid crisis forced them to spend more money on firefighters, EMS providers and other addiction services than usual

By Adam Troxtell
The Norman Transcript

MOORE, Okla. — Moore is set to join other area municipalities in a class-action lawsuit in federal court against opioid manufacturers.

The city is in the process of retaining legal representation for the case. An item came before city council on Monday night to approve a contract with the Fellers Snider law firm in Oklahoma City for the litigation "against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and other potential defendants that are responsible for the opioid epidemic."

Mayor Glenn Lewis told council members there had been a request to table the item for the next council meeting. City Manager Brooks Mitchell said Fellers Snider had requested more time to finish up its side of the deal.

If approved by the council, Moore would join Oklahoma City, Midwest City and hundreds of other municipalities in a class action lawsuit. Jointly, the case would be heard in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Mitchell said with the opioid crisis, the City of Moore -- like the other cities involved in the lawsuit -- has had to spend more money on police, paramedics, firefighters, and other drug/addiction services than would otherwise have been required. By being a part of this lawsuit, Mitchell said the city can recoup those losses.

"This is a chance to be reimbursed, but more importantly it would be used to better train our first responders when it comes to dealing with these incidents and to better treat these people for addiction," Mitchell said. "We want to put the funds to a very productive use."

The case should wrap up by the end of next year, Mitchell said.

Oklahoma City's council approved a contract with lawyers to pursue litigation in August.

This lawsuit is not the same as the one being brought by the State of Oklahoma and Attorney General Mike Hunter that is based out of Cleveland County. Last month, Judge Thad Balkman ruled that case would go to jury trial -- and not be divided into separate cases -- in May of next year.

The defendants in that case, Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, requested that case be moved to the Northern District of Ohio, the same place where the municipalities' case is heading. Balkman denied that request.

Mitchell said cities and municipalities are filing their own lawsuit because they will not benefit from any settlement or ruling the state may win in its trial.

"If you want a seat at the table, we were told you have to file your own litigation, not with the state," Mitchell said.

Copyright 2018 The Norman Transcript

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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