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Jefferson City Council rejects proposal to join lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

The Jefferson City Council decided against joining other Missouri cities and counties in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers at its meeting Monday night.

Several council members said it’s not clear how much the city could be rewarded in the lawsuit, so it might not be worth city resources. Others thought it might overlap with Cole County‘s ongoing lawsuit.

The lawsuit is headed by attorneys from four different law firms in St. Louis and Springfield. One of the targets of the suit is Purdue Pharmaceuticals, according to Jefferson City Counselor Ryan Moehlman.

Moehlman said at least 11 other political subdivisions in the state, including the city of Joplin and Jefferson County, have joined the lawsuit.

The attorneys are seeking damages from the opioid manufacturers for having caused or contributed “to the public health and safety crisis involving opioid abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality” in Jefferson City, according to the city council packet. The council ultimately rejected a resolution authorizing the city to join the lawsuit.

In Cole County, 19 people died from opioid-involved overdoses from 2013 to 2017, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The same report said the three counties with the highest overdose rates were in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The agreement between outlines that the attorneys will receive 25 percent of all money awarded in the case.

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