GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Commissioners voted Thursday to join One Ohio opioid litigation efforts, a move which allows for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to represent the county, municipalities and other government entities as one as a potential settlement is sought.
According to information provided by the Gallia Board of Commissioner’s Office, Gallia filed lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in 2018, seeking to hold opioid distributors and manufacturers accountable for “misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance” in damage caused by what had been called an opioid epidemic across the country.
The lawsuit had been joined with other local governments throughout the country as part of a multi-district civil litigation.
As the state of Ohio through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office also was pursuing action against opioid manufacturers and distributors, it sent its One Ohio Memorandum of Understanding to local governments across the state to join its efforts.
According to the resolution passed, “…it is the opinion of the (Gallia County Board of Commissioners) that Gallia County, Ohio, is likely to receive a more favorable resolution of the civil litigation in a more timely manner by joining forces with the other local governments and the state of Ohio to address the opioid epidemic and the grave affects it has had on the citizens…”
The commissioners voted to join the effort.
County officials say that should a settlement be reached with opioid manufacturers and distributors, the county could potentially receive a few million dollars as reparation for reported damages caused by the opioid distribution through Gallia, although any dollar figure would still be outweighed by the damage done by the epidemic.
The county announced it would be seeking to file suit in 2017 against what it called the nation’s three largest wholesale drug distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation.
The county also said it will retain the right to accept or decline any settlement offers as presented to the board and retains its legal rights in pursuing claims against opioid distributors and manufacturers should the state not reach a settlement.
“It’s been a long time coming and we believe this is a necessary step,” said Commissioner Brent Saunders. “The damage done to Gallia County is heartbreaking.”
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342. © 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.