Grayson asked to join opioid lawsuit

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County board approached by Del. Jeff Campbell and lawyers to join lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

By The Staff

By Larry Chambers

INDEPENDENCE – The Grayson County Board of Supervisors was given the opportunity to join other Southwest Virginia counties in filing lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors at its regular meeting last Thursday night.
Del. Jeff Campbell of Marion, who represents Carroll and other counties in the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Sen. Ben Chafin of Hansonville, were joined by two lawyers during a presentation to the Board of Supervisors.
According to an internet statement, “the opioid epidemic is the rapid increase in the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in the United States and Canada beginning in the late 1990s and continuing throughout the first two decades of the 2000s. Opioids are a diverse class of moderately strong painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and a very strong painkiller, fentanyl, which is synthesized to resemble other opiates such as opium-derived morphine and heroin.”
Chafin said at a news conference held at the federal courthouse in Abingdon earlier in the day that the boards of Russell, Smyth and Wythe counties have all voted affirmatively to pursue lawsuits while Washington County will file a lawsuit under different lawyers.
Campbell told the supervisors that the lawsuits aim to recover millions of dollars lost due to opioid addiction and drug overdoses that have taken so many lives in this country and affected the lives of many Southwest Virginians.
Both Campbell and Chafin will represent local counties that choose to pursue litigation, along with Abingdon attorney Kimberly Haugh, attorney Joey Dumas of a law firm in Birmingham, Ala., and the law firm of Wagstaff and Cartnell from Kansas City, Mo.
Wagstaff and Cartnell specialize in multidistrict litigation, which consolidates comparable cases into one action.
Campbell said the opioid epidemic was also affecting employers across the state because they can’t hire new employees because many of them can’t pass a drug test.
Dumas told the supervisors that there are more than 400 prescriptions per 100 people per year in Southwest Virginia. He said that was almost five times the national average.
Dumas told the supervisors that the possibility of filing a lawsuit has been presented to eight or 10 boards of supervisors in Southwest Virginia.
Grayson supervisors took no action on the proposal pending future study.
One question Grayson posed was the cost to counties.
Dumas said that was still being determined.