Both Howard County and the city of Kokomo have joined several other parishes and counties in dismissing the state’s class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors on the grounds that they are likely to get more money from their own litigation in response to the country’s opioid become epidemic.
Both the District Commissioners and Kokomo City Council unanimously passed resolutions that recently formalized the decisions.
State law signed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb this year requires cities and counties that continue to pursue their own legal action against opioid manufacturers and distributors to unsubscribe from the Attorney General’s lawsuit to this day. Cities and counties are automatically part of the state’s class action lawsuit and will receive any settlements reached except for those who opt out.
Numerous municipalities across the state have chosen to opt out, largely because the state requires the municipalities to split 15% of everything the state receives in the lawsuit. Of the other 85%, the state receives 15% of the settlements and the Family and Social Services Administration receives the remaining 70% to distribute across the state.
“If we proceed with the state lawsuit, we will be severely limited in the amount of money that can be collected … while we don’t have that requirement in our own lawsuit,” said Alan Wilson, district attorney.
Both the city and the county have 60 days from the date of their respective adoption of the resolutions to change their minds.
The attorney general said in a statement it was hopeful that dissenting cities would reconsider the state’s lawsuits and rejoin.
“Our goal from the start has been to work with cities, municipalities and counties by dividing revenue evenly between the state and the municipalities,” said the bureau’s statement.
About half of Indiana’s cities and counties have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, traders, and donors to reclaim funds they spent on police, fire departments, treatment programs, and prevention in response to the opioid abuse, The Indianapolis Star reported.
These communities sued more opioid-related businesses than the state, and they said they believe doing so will help them get better settlements on their own.
Kokomo City first announced in October 2017 that it would join the class action lawsuit. The county soon announced it would do the same.
Both governments claimed the country’s leading drug traffickers were responsible for “throwing millions of dollars worth of prescription opiates into their communities” and “responsible for the opioid epidemic” that killed hundreds in Howard County.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.