BRICK – In September 2019, the township filed a lawsuit against various pharmaceutical companies and distributors for improperly promoting the use of opioids to the public and for the cost the township incurred while responding to the resulting opioid crisis.
As the result of a class action lawsuit filed by states, counties and municipalities, a $26 billion settlement was reached in July 2021 with Johnson & Johnson and some of the country’s major drug distributors, including Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen.
During a recent Township Council meeting, township attorney Kevin Starkey said that the settlement amount would be distributed across the nation, starting with states and then down to counties and municipalities.
The amount each municipality receives would depend on the participation, or “opting in,” Starkey said. “No one knows yet, no one can determine that. That’s going to await approval by counties and states across the country.”
The manner in which the settlement funds are to be allocated to the township has not yet been determined. The amount will ultimately depend on the population and the effects the opioid epidemic has had on each community, he said.
The states, counties and municipalities who have not opted in may pursue their own individual claim against the pharmaceutical companies, Starkey added.
As part of the settlement, thousands of lawsuits filed by states and municipalities would be dropped against the companies, and that no future lawsuits would be filed.
Cardinal health, McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen will pay the combined $21 billion over the next 18 years to be used by state governments to aid opioid treatment and prevention.
Also, Johnson & Johnson is expected to pay up to $5 billion over the next nine years, and they must stop the selling and marketing of opioids.
According to the settlement, each state’s share in the funding will depend on the severity of cases in that state.
The 2019 lawsuit filed by Brick Township was an individual lawsuit filed against 36 different defendants for monetary damages, abatement of the public nuisance caused by the defendants, and an injunction permanently prohibiting the companies from engaging in the acts the lawsuit claims fueled the opioid crisis.
(All the lawsuits were consolidated in federal court in Ohio, so the township will now be dismissing the individual lawsuit and join into the settlement of the class action lawsuit, explained Mayor John G. Ducey after the council meeting).
The township was seeking to recoup the financial burden spent on extra police for drug enforcement, drug prevention education programs at the schools (including DARE, Lead and Seed, and Not Even Once Program), an expanded Neighborhood Watch program, and more.
In other news from the December 28 council meeting, which was the last one of 2021 – it was also the final meeting for Councilman Paul Mummolo, who decided not to seek reelection after serving two consecutive terms on the governing body.
Council President Lisa Crate presented Mummolo with a plaque “in appreciation and recognition of your years of service and dedication while serving the citizens of Brick Township as a member of this council.”
Mummolo will next serve as a commissioner on the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA).