Ward City Council members delayed taking part in a class-action lawsuit planned by Arkansas Municipal League against the sources of the “opioid plague” in the state. “I don’t think a lawsuit is the answer,” Alderman Jim Weir said in discussion during the Monday night City Council meeting.
“I want to know what it is going to cost us,” Alderman Jeff Shaver said.
Other aldermen at the meeting, presided by Mayor Art Brooke, were Bill Moon, Gary Matheny, Ron Bissett and Don Howard.
Except for routine administrative actions, the only business for the council was consideration of a reso-lution recognizing the “opioid epidemic in the United States of America and in Arkansas,” and to join the lawsuit being prepared by the Municipal Legal Defense Program seeking damages from “those en-tities and people responsible for this societal crisis.”
City attorney Chris Lacy presented the resolution and lawsuit. The lawsuit is part of a national action by other state municipal leagues, Lacy said.
The lawsuit is aimed at the manufacturers of drugs such as oxycodone, OxyContin and other opioid-based drugs, Lacy said. The reasoning is that the drugs are being used at rate much greater that what is needed; the effects becoming a drain on municipalities and the courts, he said.
Whether or not anything will come of the lawsuit is not certain, Lacy said. “Hopefully one day there may or may not be some gold at the end of the rainbow and we can get reimbursed some of the mon-ey we have spent prosecuting people carrying these pills illegally,” he remarked. But if the city is not part of the suit there would be nothing, he said.
There was no response on Brooke’s first call for a motion on the resolution. “Does everyone under-stand what this is for?” Brooke asked.
Moon made the motion, seconded by Howard, after Weir asked for discussion but was denied by Brooke. “Not yet. We have to get a motion and second first,” Brooke said.
“I don’t believe a lawsuit is the answer,” Weir remarked. “A lawsuit is just going to raise the price of drugs for the person who needs it.” Education is the best answer, Weir said.
Shaver said his first question is, “What is the going to cost us?”
Lacy explained that there is no cost to the city for the representation in the lawsuit.
After discussion the council voted to table the motion to the Feb 19 city council meeting, after hearing from a Municipal League representative.