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Local News

County votes to join lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis
Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis

Kendall County most likely will be joining a multi-county lawsuit in Illinois targeting the manufacturers of prescription opioid drugs.

The County Board voted 8-2 at its April 3 meeting to approve an agreement with the law firms Meyers and Flowers LLC and Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC to join the opioid litigation. Board members John Purcell and Robert “H.D.” Davidson voted no.

In an identical vote, the board also voted to authorize the law firms “to pursue opioid litigation on behalf of Kendall County pursuant to” the agreement.

In the agreement, the law firms agree to work with county staff to “ascertain the costs county has incurred as a result of the over prescription of opioids; (b) determine the viable causes of action, if any, available to county; (c) determine which party(ies) should be targeted in a potential lawsuit; and (d) once authorized by county, bring a lawsuit on behalf of county against those party(ies) identified by (the) law firms.”

The agreement states that if the county wins a settlement, the law firms will be paid 25 percent of that amount for attorney fees. However, the attorneys are advancing “all reasonable expenses and costs” related to the lawsuit.

“In the event nothing is recovered for county by way of settlement, trial verdict or otherwise, (the) law firms will not be paid any money for its attorneys’ fees or its advanced expenses and costs,” the agreement states.

At a March 15 county meeting, attorney Michael Lenert of the Meyers and Flowers firm said the cost of opioid addiction runs in the billions of dollars.

“This epidemic, it’s a real problem,” he said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the annual cost nationwide for opioid addiction is over $78 billion. Most of us know people that have had issues with opioid addiction. It’s affected every county across the United States. ... I think it’s clear that Kendall County has had to face this issue, has paid a lot of money to try to address this issue, and we hope to work with Kendall County to try to abate this problem.”

State’s Attorney Eric Weis at that meeting said the epidemic has affected the county financially, not to mention the impact on local families.

“We look at everything from a typical fire and EMS response to treatment at a medical provider to rehab facilities to the impact in the court system if they’re charged with a crime to dealing with... penitentiary time – these are just, off the top of my head, costs that are associated with [opioid abuse],” he said. “That’s just the parts that we see. The impact on families, the impact on society, we’re seeing this across the board as well.”

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