States clash with cities over potential opioids settlement payouts

Lawyers for the nearly 2,000 cities and counties recently put forth a plan to jump-start negotiations toward a settlement in the massive federal opioid litigation is receiving pushback from states. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland before the federal judge who is overseeing the cases, Dan A. Polster.

Lawyers for the nearly 2,000 cities and counties recently put forth a plan to jump-start negotiations toward a settlement in the massive federal opioid litigation is receiving pushback from states. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland before the federal judge who is overseeing the cases, Dan A. Polster. Lawyers for the plaintiffs suggested allowing all 34,000 towns, cities, and counties in the country to vote on settlement offers. After an offer is approved, they will be bound by the outcome and can bring no further suits. All voting communities affected by the crisis would get a portion of the payout. But a letter signed by a bipartisan coalition of 39 state attorneys general raises arguments that could topple the ambitious proposal and further slow talks. Rather than myriad cities and counties, they contend, it is the states, through law enforcement and regulatory authority, that can efficiently wrest a high-impact national agreement. They maintain that this plan goes behind the backs of the states pursuing cases brought by their own attorneys general, who are elected or appointed. By contrast, local governments are using private lawyers, who work on contingency fees. The states also fear that the plan would corral money for the cities and counties that they should control.