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Oklahoma County seeks to prosecute opoid manufacturers - 7/19/2019

Oklahoma County has joined over 50 other cities and counties in Oklahoma to prosecute opioid manufacturers for damages caused by the opioid epidemic.


This move comes at the end of the state’s trial against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which alleged the company created a public nuisance through deceptive marketing and seeks $17 billion in abatement costs.


All three Oklahoma County Commissioners voted Wednesday morning to approve a contract between the county and the Fulmer Sill law firm for the “prosecution and trial of claims against various opioid manufacturers, distributors, and others,” according to the contract.


“The staggering nature of the problem created by the opioid crisis is imposing costs on all of us,” said Commissioner Kevin Calvey, who led the initiative for the county. “And it’s important that we look out for the taxpayers and try to recover some of those costs from those who knew or should have known the impact of their actions.”


Lawyers with Fulmer Sill did not have the specific amount of damages they will seek for the county, but said they expect it will be “tens of millions of dollars.”


“The total cost to our community, not just government but out community — it’s over $379 million. That’s a staggering figure,” Calvey said. “For Oklahoma County, it’s over $23.5 million.”


The law firm will get no money from the county if no settlement is reached, but will take 15% of funds otherwise. Calvey said should the county win its case, his hope is to dedicate all funds toward mental health and substance abuse treatment and diversion programs.



“It’s a big case so there are a lot of moving parts … . We’ll just proceed with the litigation and try to get the rightful reimbursement for the taxpayers of Oklahoma County for the cost imposed on taxpayers by the pharmaceutical companies,” Calvey said.



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