States and Cities Near Tentative $26 Billion Deal in Opioids Cases
Negotiations have been stalled for months on attorney fees. Countless lawyers put in different amounts of work and fought over who should get paid how much. Today, about $ 1.6 billion in fees and expenses would be paid to private attorneys representing thousands of counties and municipalities, $ 50 million in fees, and about $ 350 million to private lawyers who were working. for states. (Many states are represented by their own government staff lawyers.)
Another essential lever for advancing the terms of settlement was the high-stakes bet of a trial. The distributors have been locked up in a lawsuit in West Virginia federal court and New York state court. The West Virginia case is ongoing, but on Tuesday Letitia James, the New York attorney general, announced a $ 1.179 billion settlement with distributors that frees them from the case. This money would be deducted from the overall settlement of $ 26 billion. Payments to New York could begin in two months, Ms James said.
A lingering tension in the talks focused on the allocation of funds among states and small governments, including cities and counties.
The new regulations contemplate a national formula for paying money to states and flexibility within each state to negotiate an agreement with localities, so the bulk of the funds are aimed at mitigating the opioid epidemic and preventing its recurrence.
For months, states and counties nudged each other even as they fought with the accused. The distribution in each state is now based on a lot of federal data and includes metrics such as a state’s population, overdose deaths, opioid pill sales, and pain pill abuse disorders.
Most states will likely develop their own disbursement plans. Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Florida and others have already negotiated internal formulas specific to each state. Last month, the New York legislature passed bills ensuring that all funds from the opioid dispute settlement would go into a “locked box,” to be used only to deal with the crisis.
Johnson & Johnson is widely known as a company that is ready to judge matters rather than settle, but it has recently faced torrents of negative publicity: litigation over asbestos-related deaths linked to its talcum powder, recall of certain sunscreens and reports of rare adverse neurological events associated with its single-dose Covid vaccine. The company is still on trial in California state court, but settled with New York state and two New York counties last month, on the eve of trial.
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