County hires lawyers for opioid lawsuit

County hires lawyers for opioid lawsuit
February 22
01:09 2018

Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously during its Feb. 15 meeting to hire lawyers for a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The tactics that big pharmaceutical companies used in marketing and distributing highly addictive prescription opioids has been widely blamed for starting the current nationwide crisis of opioid addiction. Counties are on the frontline of the crisis as Emergency Medical Services constantly respond to overdoses, jails experience increases in inmates and Social Services see large increases in children taken into custody because of drug use in their family.

“These pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors are getting rich selling these products and the tax payers are on the hook,” said County Commissioner Everett Witherspoon.

The lawsuit will not cost taxpayers money, as the lawyers will be paid 25 percent of whatever money the county may get from a victory or settlement.  The lawyers will determine the companies and claims in the suit.

Forsyth County’s suit is one of many in the state against the drug companies.  Other suits have filed been by the State of North Carolina, the state’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and many other counties. It’s expected that Forsyth’s suit will be grouped with others, but will not be a class action.

Forsyth’s lead council will be Michael Jay Fuller, Jr. of McHugh Fuller Law group, PLLC, a Mississippi-based firm licensed to practice in 10 states. The firm is also involved in numerous other opioid lawsuits, like the ones filed by Orange, Wilkes, Yadkin, Buncombe and Stokes counties

Commissioners also consented to having the following firms participate: Garry Whitaker Law P.C. of Winston-Salem; Pinto Coate Kyre & Bowers, PLLC of Greensboro, Donald R. Vaughan and Associates of Greensboro; Greene Ketchum Farrell Bailey & Tweel LLP of West Virginia, Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor P.A. of Florida, Baron & Budd P.C. of Texas, Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler PLLC of West Virginia, Powell & Majestro of West Virginia and McHugh Fuller Law Group of Mississippi.

Also during the meeting:

• Commissioners voted to give Bunzl Distribution USA up to $228,065 in incentives over five years, which is half of the estimated county property taxes the company will pay, for moving 66 existing jobs from Guilford County to a new facility it’ll build on Union Cross Road, near Herbalife.

• Commissioner voted 7-1 to reimburse the Whitaker Park Authority and the City/County Utilities Commission for a $155,630.12 overrun on infrastructure construction at Whitaker Park. Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt was the sole “no” vote because the county only found out after the fact about the overrun on the project, which commissioners already allocated nearly $1.8 million for.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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