City council votes to join pharmaceutical lawsuit

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 11/30/17

DORA — At Tuesday's Dora City Council meeting, Mayor Randy Stephens brought up the possibility of the City of Dora becoming part of a joint lawsuit being brought against a pharmaceutical company by a local law firm.

According to Stephens, attorney Eddie Jackson "is representing Walker County as a whole, the Walker County Commission and several other municipalities, and I think Winston County has joined in on it, too.

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City council votes to join pharmaceutical lawsuit

Posted

DORA — At Tuesday's Dora City Council meeting, Mayor Randy Stephens brought up the possibility of the City of Dora becoming part of a joint lawsuit being brought against a pharmaceutical company by a local law firm.

According to Stephens, attorney Eddie Jackson "is representing Walker County as a whole, the Walker County Commission and several other municipalities, and I think Winston County has joined in on it, too.

"They are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company that produces and markets opiate pain medicines, because they feel like that they have uncovered information where the opiate pharmaceutical producers knew the addicting nature of this medication and did not disclose that," Stephens continued. "Because of the drug addiction problems that we're having all over the country, and especially in Walker County, they believe that the pharmaceutical company ought to be held partially responsible for that."

The pharmaceutical company was not named during the council meeting.

He added that it's the council's choice whether they want the city to also be a plaintiff in the lawsuit or not. If the lawsuit is successful, one-third of the settlement will go to the law firm, with the rest — minus any legal fees — being split amongst the plaintiff cities. Participating in the lawsuit will not cost the city any money, according to Stephens.

"I think it's a win-win situation," he added. "There's not a family in this room that has not been affected by drug addiction. It's a curse that we all are dealing with everyday. While these companies are getting rich selling more and more [of these drugs], families and homes are being broken apart from it."

Councilman Arthur Lee Taylor asked if the money would be split between the cities on a per capita basis but Stephens said it would be an even split between all the cities.

Councilman Chris Edwards questioned if individuals who had been affected would be able to participate in the lawsuit, but Stephens said that it's only county and city governments as far as he knew.

Stephens added that all Dora has to do is gather information on drug-related arrests and other statistics within the city.

After the meeting, Police Chief Jared Hall said 182 drug-related arrests have been recorded in 2017 as of Nov. 28, as well as 201 drug-related arrests last year.

Drug-related arrests include charges of distribution, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal possession of prescription drugs and other marijuana-related charges.

Edwards also asked how any money awarded to the city in court would be used. He wondered if it would go to the fire and police departments, since they run these drug-related calls.

Stephens said the money would most likely be put in the General Fund.

During the meeting, Hall said that if the money was given to the two departments, the funds could be used to purchase more Narcan nasal spray for the fire department to help those who have overdosed.

"From the police side, we would like to have more money to go after all these prescription drugs and illegal drugs that are out here on the street," he added. "It takes a lot of money [to do this]. Better surveillance equipment — there's a million things it could go for."

Stephens said he doesn't like to "tie my hands" on where to put the money and pointed out that the city may not even get any money if the lawsuit isn't successful.

The council ultimately approved a motion to join the lawsuit.

In other business during Tuesday’s city council meeting, council members:

• Heard from Stephens that groups from Sumiton Church of God will be at T.S. Boyd on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon giving out winter coats and socks. He added that people who wanted to donate new or gently used coats or new socks can drop them off at Sumiton Church of God or Dora City Hall.

• Opened the two sealed bid that had been submitted on the surplus police car. The car was awarded to Ronnie Hicks, with the highest bid of $701.

• Voted to list the medical clinic on Horse Creek Boulevard with realtor David Franklin for six months at a price of $349,000.

• Approved Horse Creek Golf Course manager Don Cummings to spend up to $1,000 on Christmas decorations for the golf course’s clubhouse.

• Heard from Hezikiah Walker about the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign fundraiser. He said they’re in need of bell ringers at Piggly Wiggly in Dora and Wal-Mart in Sumiton.

The bell ringers are set up Monday through Saturday and people can volunteer to ring the bell any time between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Walker at 205-531-4883.