Volusia County, FL – The Volusia County Council voted Tuesday to hire a lawyer to represent the County in a civil suit against opiate manufacturers and distributors for possible damages related to the “opioid epidemic.”
The proposed litigation will address opioid use as a “significant problem in the community” and focus on “the manufacturers and wholesale distributors and their role in the diversion of millions of prescription opiates into the illicit market, which has resulted in opioid addiction, abuse, morbidity, and mortality,” according to County records.
“233 people died of an overdose in Volusia County in 2016, and if you think about that, that’s an astonishing number of people to have died of an overdose,” said Council member Heather Post. “With the extensive level of persons in every facet of this issue… the companies, the doctors, the facilities… all of them putting money before people, I’ll say I’m absolutely in favor of us joining other facets of government and jumping in on this.”
Volusia County will now retain the law firm, Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor and associates for representation in opioid litigation. Peter Mougey will serve as lead counsel in the civil suit.
The law firm will be hired on a contingency fee basis, and Volusia County agrees to pay 25% of the total money received related to opioid litigation claims to the law firm. County records say that Volusia will only be responsible for the fees if the County is awarded money as a result of a civil suit against the opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, along with its associated firms, has represented approximately 350 government agencies around the country in opioid claims, including Escambia County, Manatee County, Miami-Dade County, Pasco County, and Pinellas County.
“Levin Papantonio is deep into this litigation. They and the firms that are involved are spending quite a lot of money on this case,” said County Attorney Daniel Eckert. “It’s not a guarantee that the County will prevail. There will be defenses argued by the companies involved, but I think this is an effort worth undertaking.”
Photo courtesy David Smart and Shutterstock.com.
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