Negotiation Class Idea "Should Be Rejected," Former AG Says

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July 16, 2019

In a joint op-ed, Connecticut’s former attorney general and former chief deputy attorney general said the novel negotiation class idea proposed by plaintiffs’ lawyers in the massive opioid-related multidistrict litigation in Ohio “should be rejected outright or fundamentally revised.”

Former Attorney General George Jepsen and former Chief Deputy Attorney General Perry Zinn Rowthorn said a “majority of American communities could get locked into a deal of enormous consequence without a single affirmative act or expression of consent, losing all their litigation rights in the process” under the proposal. It would create a small class of local governments to negotiate on behalf of all municipalities in the lawsuit. It would give the unrepresented governments only one chance to opt-out, while also concentrating the approval power into the hands of the smaller class.

“The real effect of the plan would be to pre-bind class members to a settlement in a way that no court has ever tolerated,” Jepsen and Rowthorn said. It would also “ensure that the architects of the plan would reap rich benefits of any deal…while locked-in cities and towns may realize pennies on the dollars they hoped to recover in litigation.”