More than a year ago, Cerro Gordo County was presented with the option to join a joint lawsuit, led by the Wisconsin-based Crueger Dickinson, against out-of-state opioid manufacturers.
At that time, County Attorney Carlyle Dalen recommended to the County Board of Supervisors at the time that Cerro Gordo join the lawsuit as long as the workload on the county's end wouldn't increase significantly.
"I don't see a huge downside ... what do we have to lose?" Dalen asked the supervisors. "As long as we don't have a lot of people working overtime, this is a lawsuit against a bunch of big companies."
Out of concerns for monetary and resources, the board tabled the discussion.
Now, some 2,000 similar lawsuits have been bundled together and are being considered in a federal case in Cleveland that would push manufacturers, as well as distributors such as CVS, to pay out for the crisis.
Such lawsuits have come from multiple levels of government including city, county and state.
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With the Ohio case, Cerro Gordo County again had the option to join.
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Tuesday morning, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to opt out.
In speaking to the board, Dalen acknowledged that the opioid crisis has "been a big topic throughout our country" while also pointing out that staying in any one class action case could exclude the county from other benefits. (In September 2019, OxyContin-manufacturer Purdue Pharma tentatively agreed to pay up to $12 billion in lawsuit settlements related to its role in America's ongoing opioid crisis which, according to Vox, has claimed more than "700,000 drug overdose deaths" since 1999.)
Part of Dalen's rationale this go around was that the lawsuit from Crueger Dickinson might already bring money in that would be divvied up at the state level. Additionally, Dalen said that the Iowa County Attorneys Administration recommended not joining the Ohio case.
Just last year, Mitchell County joined the Crueger Dickinson suit and as did dozens of other counties throughout the state.
"The concern is, I think, the states need money now to create the infrastructure for treatment," New Hampshire Associate Attorney General James Boffetti said. Based on the most recent CDC estimates, about 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
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