The Board of County Commissioners approved a plan Tuesday for the county to pursue legal action against drug manufacturers and distributors to recover costs for the opioid epidemic incurred by Nye County.
Commissioners authorized the county manager on May 15 to negotiate and execute a proposal with the Dallas-based law firm Baron & Budd to associate with the county for legal action against the opioid industry in federal court.
The law firm will institute legal action on the county's behalf for recovery of damages incurred by Nye County as a result of the opioid crisis.
"The Firm believes Nye County may pursue a civil action for abatement of public nuisances and recovery of damages caused by the diversion of prescription opioids into illicit channels," the proposal from Baron & Budd stated.
The opioid epidemic has continued to impose significant costs upon Nye County including:
1. medical care
2. counseling and rehabilitation services
3. treatment for infants born with opioid-related medical conditions
4. Welfare for children whose parents suffer from opioid abuse
5. Law enforcement and public safety costs relating to opioid epidemic
The presentation Tuesday by a representative of Baron and Budd set forth the legal/litigation issues involved, the status of litigation already filed by local governments, the status of litigation filed by government entities in state and federal courts and provide relevant information regarding the hundreds of lawsuits filed against opioid drug manufacturers and distributors as well as the services the law firms may provide.
Nye County has the second highest rate of opioid painkiller prescription in Nevada at 156 prescriptions per 100 people, according to the state's Office of Public Health Informatics and Epidemiology's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The statewide average is 87.5 per 100.
Commissioners on January 16 authorized the District Attorney to solicit Request for Proposals from law firms; and also authorized the County Manager and District Attorney to jointly select one or more law firms from submitted proposals to present to the commission.
Under the agreement proposed by the law firm, the lawsuits will come at no cost to the county, even if unsuccessful. A percentage of fees awarded to the county will be paid to the firm only if a claim against a manufacturer or distributor is successfully resolved, under the proposal.
Nationally, Baron & Budd is working with five other law firms on actions against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Baron & Budd Presentation