Commissioners to vote on opioid lawsuit

CASSOPOLIS — Cass County may soon be part of a historic lawsuit.

The Cass County Board of Commissioners will vote Thursday whether or not to join a mass lawsuit against prescription drug companies. The lawsuit, which many counties and cities in the state of Michigan are participating in, alleges that manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs misled doctors and the public about the dangers of opioids and that the drug companies failed to follow safeguards that would have reduced the number of people addicted to opioids. The goal of the lawsuit would be to recover costs related to the opioid crisis, such as law enforcement and medical costs.

The board will vote on this issue at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the commissioners’ chambers, 120 N. Broadway St., Cassopolis.

Karen Folks

The board was first presented to about joining the lawsuit earlier this month by attorneys Paul Novak, of Weitz and Luxenberg’s Detroit office, and Mark Bernstein, of the Sam Bernstein Law Office.

“This is a case we believe has enormous societal and economic impact for municipalities that have been footing the bill for the opioid crisis,” Bernstein said at that meeting. “The claim is for monetary damages cities and counties have expensed toward dealing with the opioid crisis.”

Bernstein and Novak also told commissioners that should they join the lawsuit and lose, the county will not be held accountable for fees.

At the time of the earlier meeting, commissioners said they needed time to look over the materials that were given to them by the attorneys, but now, the board has decided to move forward with a vote, said County Administrator Karen Folks.

Folks said that at the board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday there was a general consensus of favor among the commissioners about moving forward with the lawsuit.

“I don’t want to second guess any of the commissioners,” Folks said. “I did not really hear anyone that doesn’t want to move this forward.”

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