The Miami County commissioners agreed April to ask for appointment of special prosecutors to represent the commissioners and others in legal action against those involved in the wholesale distribution of opioids.
Litigation involving the opioid epidemic is going on nationwide. County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said he has been approached by numerous law firms seeking to represent the locals dealing with the effects of the epidemic.
The commissioners’ action asks the Miami County Common Pleas Court to appoint three law firms including Dungan and LeFevre of Troy to represent the commissioners and other officials in civil claims associated with dealing with the epidemic such as law enforcement, health department, mental health agencies, children's services and those involved in treatment of infants with opioid- related medical conditions.
Commissioner John "Bud” O’Brien recused himself from the discussion and vote. He sai his son worked for one of the companies that might be involved in a lawsuit. Commissioners Jack Evans and Greg Simmons voted to request the special prosecutors' appointment.
Kendell, who is requesting the appointment along with commissioners, said the lawyers would meet with "people who are on the front lines of these things and structure settlements."
Glen McMurry of Dungan and LeFevre said the lawsuit would be "enforcing a right the county has to be able to be free of this nuisance." A team would work, he said, "to craft remedies for Miami County and its residents." Other firms requested included Lockridge Grindal Nauen and Gustafson Gluek of Minnesota. This team represents counties, Indian tribes and government subgroups across the country, McMurry said.
The opioid-related lawsuits typically are filed in federal court. They have been merged into multi-district litigation including one group in Northeast Ohio.
Evans said the commissioners discussed the possible litigation “long and hard” before deciding to move forward with the request for special prosecutors.
In other business last week, the commissioners:
- Approved the purchase of a Life Span workstation treadmill, as requested for employees at the county Communication Center. The cost is not to exceed $1,399. A grant from The Troy Foundation will be used to buy the treadmill. Commissioner Greg Simmons voted “no” on the purchase.
- Approved a proclamation declaring May 13-19 as Police Memorial Week in the county. The proclamation salutes “the service of the law enforcement officers in our community and in communities across the nation.”