Possible Federal Class Negotiation in Opioid Case

The ABA Journal reported that US District Judge Dan Polster is considering certifying a class action in the massive opioid case specifically for negotiation.   The class would consist of 33,000 cities, towns, and counties.

The proposal could help protect against an unfair settlement that is reached by lawyers before approval by the class, proponents say.  Every town and city would be allowed to vote on settlement offers, if they do not opt out of the class. Municipalities remaining in the litigation that are affected by the opioid crisis would get part of any settlement, according to the proposal before Polster.

Naturally, there is controversy over the procedure as about 39 state attorneys general have objected to the process where the negotiation class would be composed of cities and towns.

Some cities and counties think a negotiation class would help avoid problems with distribution of money that occurred after the 1998 tobacco settlement.  Forty-six states recovered money in that settlement, but much of the money went to discretionary funds of state legislatures, the New York Times explains.  Tobacco settlement money often went to help balance state budgets and fix potholes, rather than to local communities’ prevention and treatment programs, the New York Times reports.

Judge Polster was a plenary speaker at this year’s annual DR Section conference.

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