"Leave Opioid Lawsuits to State Attorneys General"

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March 04, 2019

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and former Connecticut Deputy Attorney General Perry Zinn Rowthorn called on local and municipal governments to drop their lawsuits, and instead work with attorneys general to achieve a final resolution in opioid litigation across the country.

Jepsen and Rowthorn said that the more than 1,700 lawsuits filed by municipal governments “threaten to disrupt the flow of much-needed prevention and treatment resources into their communities by delaying a global settlement in the state cases” since they “don’t possess such regulatory enforcement authority.” State attorneys general, who typically handle litigation on behalf of the entire state, do have this enforcement authority and have used it “time and again to address difficult national consumer problems.” They offer a solution in which attorneys general and state public-health systems receive financial benefit and earmark it to local governments.

The piece notes how many of these municipal lawsuits were pitched by private attorneys who “promised cash-strapped counties and towns unrealistic financial recoveries” and stand to collect contingent fees from any potential settlement or judgment.