County enters into agreement with law firms to explore opioid lawsuit

Huntsville, TN (2017-08-21) Scott County has entered into an official agreement with a pair of law firms to explore potential litigation against drug manufacturers, distributors, and other parties over the ongoing opioid epidemic in Scott County.

By a 10-0 vote Monday night, the county legislative body approved an attorney representation agreement with the Knoxville-based law firm Taylor and Knight, GP, and Nashville-based law firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein, LLP, to investigate potential litigation to recover lost revenues associated with the widespread distribution and use of pharmaceutical opioids in Scott County.  While the formal agreement engaged the law firms, the county would still have to approve the future filing of any lawsuit against any, yet to be identified, parties.

The representation agreement did not financially obligate the county to any payment to the attorneys, unless it becomes a party to any future litigation and is subsequently awarded any damages by a court of law.  In that event, the county agreed to pay the attorneys 33% of any such judgments.  In the event the county decided to break the agreement, it would be liable for repayment of reasonable fees for work performed on the county’s behalf.

According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shared by Schools Together Allowing No Drugs (STAND), opioid distribution in Scott County has bucked statewide trends in recent years. Over the first half of the last decade, Tennessee experienced a steady increase in opioid distribution; however, in recent years that trend has slowly reversed and opioids are prescribed today at a rate slightly below 2006 levels.  In Scott County, the prescribing of opioids has been more erratic, hitting a low of one prescription per 100 residents in 2007.  Scott County remained below the statewide average through 2014, when it mirrored the state rate.  Since then, the rate of opioid distribution has skyrocketed in the community—increasing to 1.5 times the 2016 statewide average.

In 2016, there were 169 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 persons in Scott County.