MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — At an emergency meeting Wednesday, the Marshall County Commission approved a settlement resolution as part of a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and McKesson.
The proposed settlement for the state of Alabama as a whole is $212 million. That money will be divided amongst participating municipalities throughout the state.
By approving the resolution, the commission agreed to participate in the settlement.
County Attorney Clint Maze said factors like population and the number of drug cases will factor into the distribution of the settlement money.
The deadline for those municipalities to approve settlement resolutions is July 25. That’s why the commission needed to call the emergency meeting.
Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims said opioids are a problem in the county.
“Heroin, fentanyl, fentanyl-laced with other drugs, cocaine and so forth” are all examples of dangerous opioids circulating in Marshall County, Sims told News 19.
The settlement money must be spent on rehabilitation efforts, which is something Sims said they hope they can expand.
“What I’m hoping we can do is work with the county commission and get some of these rehabilitation programs for opioid abuse from this money [and] implement those programs on the inmates who have suffered from opioid abuse,” he said.
Maze explained since the money is earmarked for rehabilitation efforts, it is also likely serving as reimbursement for money already spent by the county.
“This is basically trying to recapture a lot of what Marshall County citizens have paid for in the past,” he said. “The toll it’s taken on our community’s law enforcement expenses, jail expenses, different things like that.”
The resolution that was passed is similar to another one the commission passed last December.
Maze said it will likely take several months if not years before the commission sees any of the settlement money. He said today’s vote is just one of the first steps in the process.