West Virginia Reaches Landmark Settlement With 'Big Three' Opioid Distributors
West Virginia and the nation’s “Big Three” opioid distributors have reached a landmark 400 million dollar settlement.
AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson agreed to the settlement after a lawsuit against them was continued last month. The attorneys asked for the continuance to allow for time to work out the details of the settlement.
Monday’s announcement is considered a victory for a state plagued by an opioid epidemic that has impacted thousands of families through addiction, overdose, and death.
The lawsuit was handled by Farrell & Fuller and Fitzsimmons Law Firm.
The $400 million will be distributed to cities and counties to settle various opioid cases in federal and state court.
The settlement is considered a bittersweet victory for lives already lost, according to Bob Fitzsimmons with Fitzsimmons Law. He said no amount of money can help past victims but this settlement will target specific programs to help stop the opioid epidemic over a 12 year period.
“This is money that is designed to stop the problem going forward. This doesn’t go to mom or dad, this doesn’t go to brother or sister. This goes… to stop… so that the little kid down the street doesn’t get addicted.”
The terms of the settlement will now be sent to cities and counties across the state for ratification.
President of the Kanawha County Commission Kent Carper said the county will not spend a penny of the money before holding a meeting for public comment. He said part of their long term program includes investing in things like drug rehab and first responder training.
The state was not considered eligible to participate in a $21 billion national settlement with the distributors. Through this agreement, however, West Virginia will see more settlement dollars per capita than any other state and more than double its allocation share.
The city of Huntington and Cabell County, the first in the country to take the Big Three to federal court, were not included in the settlement following an adverse judgment July 4 during a bench trial.
“The exclusion of Huntington and Cabell County is particularly painful because this community is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic that started the national litigation,” co-counsel, Paul Farrell said.
In a statement Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said:
“I’m happy to see the judicial system work as it should by benefiting West Virginia communities that have been hit hard by opioid abuse. This settlement, along with other settlements from other cases, will provide significant help to those affected the most by the opioid crisis in West Virginia. I’ve always said that at the end of the day, West Virginia will have the highest per capita settlement results in the nation fighting for our people.”