Plaintiffs Steering Committee Chair: We can now focus on common goal of helping victims of this epidemic
DALLAS – Members of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the Texas Opioid MDL are lauding a landmark agreement announced by the Texas Attorney General’s office today that outlines how future legal settlements will be structured to assure that funds are fairly apportioned between the State of Texas and local governments impacted by the opioid addiction epidemic.
“In the aftermath of the Big Tobacco settlement there was a general sense among the individual cities and counties that the funds were not allocated equitably – that not enough money got to the right places. This agreement will help prevent that from happening with respect to opioid-related settlement monies,” said Jeffrey Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier, P.C., the Chairman of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee and a member of the Negotiating Committee. Also serving on the committee are former District Judge Dan Downey and attorneys Dara Hegar of The Lanier Law Firm, and Shelly Sanford and Mikal Watts of Watts Guerra.
“This agreement is the culmination of more than eight months of intense talks between the state, counties, and the counties’ outside counsel,” said Mr. Simon. “Having an allocation plan in place allows us to now focus squarely on the common goal of holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for their misconduct in creating and fueling this scourge that has cost so many lives and too much taxpayer money throughout Texas.”
Under the agreement, all negotiations with opioid drug manufacturers and supply chain corporations must include state and county representatives. In the event of a settlement, the agreement also outlines an allocation formula that guarantees that local governments will receive a 15 percent share of funding, equal to that promised to the state. The remaining 70 percent will be administrated by the Texas Opioid Council to be allocated to the state’s 20 health care regional partnerships for treatment programs. The Council will be comprised of health care professionals. Attorney fees will be paid from a separate account, funded primarily by opioid drug companies.
“The composition of the Council protects against there being appointments made for political, rather than health-related motivations, and will safeguard the funds against improper access. Money earmarked for the prevention and treatment of opioid-related harms needs to be used for those purposes and this agreement will help ensure that happens.
Simon Greenstone Panatier, P.C., is a nationally recognized trial law firm with a reputation for creative and aggressive representation of clients in a wide variety of mass torts and catastrophic personal injury matters nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.sgptrial.com/.