Northeast TN AG takes hard line on proposed opioid settlement: “Budget for more body bags”


Barry Staubus

On the heels of a $260 million settlement between four drug companies and two Ohio counties, Tennessee attorneys general are considering an $18 billion opioid settlement. Sullivan County’s attorney general, however, says it’s a bad deal.

“It’s disappointing to see that a few state officials are more interested in settling with these defendants than in reaching a settlement that will save lives,” said Barry Staubus. “Numerous cities and counties in Tennessee were suffering from this crisis and struggling to discover a legal solution long before it became apparent that there would ever be any financial relief. Now that there are settlement funds being discussed, there are representatives who seem eager to settle for far, far less than anything representing meaningful relief.

“The deal that the Attorneys General (AG) are rushing to accept would parse out $18 billion over 18 years, nationally. When broken down to the city/county level on an annual basis, this amount does nothing to alleviate the very serious issues these companies have created in Tennessee. It is, at best, a budget for more body bags.”

Staubus and his colleagues Tony Clark and Dan Armstrong of Tennessee’s first, second and third judicial district announced their opioid suit in a press conference at Johnson City Medical Center two years ago.

“The companies named in our complaints are among the largest in the nation and the world,” Staubus said. “They have profited for decades off the suffering of rural Americans, particularly in Tennessee, and we are not willing to accept pennies on the dollar for the losses we have incurred as a result of their actions. Simply put, these companies can, and should, pay more money in the aggregate, and significantly more up front so that resources can immediately be put to work saving lives.

“We will continue to advocate for the cities and communities who joined this fight when the odds seemed insurmountable, and we will continue to argue for effective relief for those who have been hardest hit by this crisis. Unlike most of the AGs advocating for this settlement, we are actively litigating against these huge corporations and are not afraid to try our cases if a global settlement does not bring effective relief.”

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