PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board has agreed to be part of a class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and will be represented by the law firm that employs former Bureau County State's Attorney Pat Herrmann.
Herrmann told the board Tuesday that several lawsuits have been filed against opioid manufacturers, claiming they provided negligent information to doctors about their products and their addictive nature.
He said the Myers, Flowers, Bruno and Herrmann law firm in Peru would file a suit on behalf of Bureau County and others in the state's northern region, seeking reimbursement for the cost of combatting the opioid epidemic. The firm would work with the county to determine costs ranging from coroner's inquests, to jailing inmates under the influence of opioids, to health department efforts.
"We'd work with various entities within the county, trying to determine what this has cost the county as far as performing government services you already performed," Herrmann said.
The county would not pay the firm if the lawsuit is unsuccessful, Herrmann said. If money is received through settlement or litigation, 25 percent would go to attorneys and 75 percent to the county.
County Board member Bob Albrecht said he felt uneasy about going after a product manufacturer that had been working with licensed professionals.
Herrmann said in most cases, doctors rely on the manufacturers for their information and the manufacturers are expected to test the drugs.
"After time, (the doctors) would develop their own information and experiences," he said.
State's Attorney Geno Caffarini recommended the board get involved in the lawsuit, because many counties and law firms in the state and nation are doing so.
"I'd rather have someone local that's going to be in our interest rather than a national law firm – someone we can go to and not say, 'You're just another county on board.' At least we know it's someone (Herrmann) from Bureau County," he said.
County Board member Loretta Volker said it's very timely to do something with the opioid epidemic and that she's glad to see the county get on board.
"Those of use who work on the inside on some of this are saying it's time, it's good. The more we can get together, the more we can help our citizens," she said.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.