County hears lawsuit presentation

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In light of what has been deemed by President Trump as a national emergency, the Madison County Commissioner’s Court was asked to consider joining with 20 other counties in a lawsuit against companies that manufacture opioids.

Reid Martin of Martin Walker PC, a law firm of Tyler, said his firm intends to file a public nuisance suit, seeking reimbursement for any county expenditures on the drug’s damage to health and welfare.

Martin said the suit is contingency-based, meaning the county will not be required to provide fund unless the suit is won, and the law firm will get 30 percent of those winnings.

“I’m asking you to join a coalition of East Texas counties that are bringing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies (for creating the opioid epidemic),” Martin said.

The costs referred to by Martin include health care costs, criminal and prosecutorial costs and indigent care costs related to opioid addiction, which he said are placing a burden on counties.

Martin said the companies in question went on an aggressive marketing campaign, lying to doctors to cajole those professionals to prescribe opioids.

“It’s an addictive drug that only can be used for short terms, or for palliative care,” he said.

Martin said that the county should hire its own attorneys to ensure that any settlements will come directly to the county; if it became part of a state-generated lawsuit, then it would receive money based on the state’s decision.

Since the agenda item included only a presentation, the county took no action; however, County Judge C.E. McDaniel suggested that Martin return with an actual request.

In a separate matter, the county rejected an agreement with Hook Land Management to expand the Madisonville West Upper Woodbine unit in the county.

Max Gordon of the management company said the oil wells on the property need to be repressurized to increase productivity. The end result is that the oil will be dispersed to wells not currently part of the unit, which would not be of a benefit to Hook.

However, Commissioner Thomas Collard was against the measure, and without giving a reason, moved to deny the request, which was seconded by Commissioner Carl Cannon.

In other business, the county:

•canvassed the election results from the Nov. 7 general election;

•accepted the 2017 Emergency Management Performance Grant for $30,272.74;

•approved a contract with UBEO for a copier for the sheriff’s department;

•approved continuing a contract with Everbridge for reverse notification services;

•approved a lot split for Jon and Rebecca Stevens on 108.88 acres of land at 8542 Sloan Road in Midway; and

•approved an agreement with Brazos Valley Council of Governments for transportation services.

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