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Utah County chooses legal firm for opioid lawsuits

May 17, 2018 10:52AM
Last fall, the Utah County Commission passed a resolution to pursue legal action against drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids. During a May 1 meeting, county commissioners moved forward with their intent to join a movement of opioid lawsuits around the country by voting to begin negotiations with Jones Waldo Law firm to represent the county in possible litigation.

The resolution allows the county to enter into formal negotiations with the law firm to establish a contract. The contract would need to be approved at a later time.

A committee reviewed several applications from law firms offering to represent the county and recommended Jones Waldo in part because of their association with national firms that have experience in opioid litigation. They can handle a possible opioid lawsuit on a state or federal level, depending on the direction the county decides to go.

Six counties in the state -- Salt Lake, Cach, Davis, Utah, Washington and Weber -- have passed resolutions to pursue legal action against big pharmaceutical companies for their responsibility for Utah’s opioid crisis.

Across the country, hundreds of opioid lawsuits have been filed by cities, counties and states against opioid makers and distributors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, more than 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid. There were 635 deaths caused by drug overdose in Utah in 2016. The most common prescription opioids involved in overdose deaths include methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.