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Pittsfield Asked to Join Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council will consider joining a lawsuit against opioid wholesalers to recoup some of the cost the city has incurred combating the drug epidemic.
 
The law firm Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor is taking on major drug manufacturers and distributors for fueling the illicit opioid market. The firm isn't asking for a city contribution for the case but is rather working for 25 percent of any settlement.
 
Cities and towns throughout the nation have already joined the effort to recoup some of the costs associated with a municipality's efforts to combat the crisis.
 
"This litigation is intended to address a significant problem in the city. The litigation focuses on the wholesale distributors and manufacturers of opioids and their role in the diversion of millions of prescription opiates into the illicit market which has resulted in opioid addiction, abuse, morbidity, and mortality. There is no easy solution and no precedent for such an action against this sector of the industry," reads a proposed agreement between the city and the law firm. 
 
"Many of the facts of the case are locked behind closed doors. The billion-dollar industry denies liability. The litigation will be very expensive and the litigation expenses will be advanced by the firm with reimbursement contingent upon a successful recovery. The outcome is uncertain, as is all civil litigation, with compensation contingent upon a successful recovery."
 
The lawsuit claims that companies did not comply with federal regulations in regards to distribution of painkillers and flooded the market, fueling the epidemic. 
 
Municipalities are often burdened with significant costs for such things as first responders responding to overdoses, police enforcement, rehabilitation, and in the school system. The firm believes some of the major manufacturers are responsible and should pay for the damage caused to cities and towns. 
 
"The purpose of the lawsuit is to seek reimbursement of the costs incurred in the past fighting the opioid epidemic and/or recover the funds necessary to abate the health and safety crisis caused by the unlawful conduct of the wholesale distributors and manufacturers of opioids," the agreement reads.
 
The Pensacola, Fla., firm has already received much support in Massachusetts. The litigation may or may not end up with a payout. 
 
The agreement is on the City Council's agenda for Tuesday. 

Tags: lawsuit,   opiods,   

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Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing

BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year. 
 
"I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school districts."
 
The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low population densities and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 education aid and is intended to supplement the FY20 operating budgets of eligible school districts.
 
In order to qualify for Rural School Aid, DESE must determine that a school district meets two requirements:
  1. The "rural factor " based student density per square mile of a school district; and
  2. Ability to pay, or the average per capital income of a school district.
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