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Oneida Co. Board Joins Nationwide Opiates Lawsuit


The Oneida County Board has approved joining a nationwide lawsuit sought against manufacturers of opiates.

The action is relatively new with Oneida county among early counties in the nation to join the pending suit. The suit alleges drug manufacturers were aware of the addiction risks but did not adequately inform the public.

County attorney Brian Desmond says the Wisconsin Counties Association is pushing members to get into the lawsuit now to increase the chances of recovering costs associated with battling the problem.

Desmond says there are no upfront costs to Oneida county, though there could be costs as the lawsuit moves on...

"....counties acting now and filing their claims now will help if the state tries to pre-empt our claims by litigation or other means. Remember the Big Tobacco settlement? The state acted before the counties got together so the state was the one that made the recovery. The counties got a little bit of that money back in the form of grants for tobacco education. We didn't get the lions share of the settlement as they promised and the state used that money to balance the budget...."

Desmond says 50 or more counties nationwide are already filing lawsuits, as the costs are borne at the local level to control the rampant used of opiates.

The impact of opiates and other drugs was asked to Sheriff Grady Hartman who talks about how many people arrested have a drug problem..

 "....my recollection is right around 80 percent of the people walking through the door are drug dependent, be it either opiates or we're 'blessed' that we have a problem with methamphetamine as well...."

The board also approved hiring another person in Social Services that is said to be a direct result of the growing opiate and meth problem.

The board approved what's called an Engagement Letter to join the suit and do what is asked to further the lawsuit in the courts.

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