County may join suit against opioid makers

County may join suit against opioid makers

PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County has been asked by two law firms if it would like to join in a nationwide lawsuit against opioid makers and distributors.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry issued a memorandum informing the Board of Supervisors of the letters and advising them it has been added to the agenda for Nov. 21, 2017.

One of the law firms is the Mike Moore Law Firm, LLC.

Moore came to national prominence in 1994, when as Attorney General in Mississippi, he filed suit against the big tobacco companies eventually winning a $246 billion settlement.

46 states joined the lawsuit that charged the tobacco companies with deception. 41 states have signed on so far, as have many cities and counties.

It's just one of the charges which could be filed against the opioid makers. The others include fraud and negligence.

The lawsuit will also allege the companies tried to "hide the dangers of opioids."

This suit would differ from a class action suit in that each entity would be required to prove its own case and the amount of damages.

Pima County has reported that its medical billings for opioid hospital care are as high as $239 million.

Emergency room costs have also risen from $10 million in 2010 to $25 million in 2016. The cost of law enforcement, prison expenses and others would have to be compiled.

One of the letters was sent to District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy who said he still needs to do "due diligence" before deciding which way to vote.

"I want to make sure we have a legitimate claim, that it's a legitimate problem and there's been a legitimate criminal offense," he said.

Christy is open to "dipping our big toe in the lake to see what's going to happen."

The county is scheduled to discuss potentially joining the suit in Executive Session.

"I also want to make sure that it's not an opportunity for a lot of people making a lot of money against people with deep pockets,"Christy said.

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