NASHVILLE — The office of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced Wednesday, March 21, that Slatery has filed motions to intervene in three lawsuits brought by district attorneys general across the state against opioid manufacturers and health care providers.
The lawsuits, one of which was joined by 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler and his colleagues in other judicial districts in the region, seeks remediation for the opioid epidemic that is currently devastating the state’s rural communities. The Cumberlands, including Scott and Campbell counties, have been among the hardest hit by opioid abuse — not just in Tennessee, but in America.
However, Slatery charged that the actions of the attorneys general undermined the state’s interests as a whole.
“Because of the devastating effects this epidemic is having in Tennessee and across the country, we are pursuing a dual track: conducting multiple investigations while also exploring settlement options,” Slatery said. “We want a global resolution that will provide comprehensive injunctive relief as well as remediation to assist with prevention, treatment, and education efforts.”
Tennessee is one of 40 states actively investigating opioid manufacturers and distributors. That coalition of states, of which Tennessee is a leader, is currently engaged in settlement discussions with some manufacturers.
Slatery said the intervention sought by his office represents a “coordinated approach” to make the state’s claims “stronger and more efficient by addressing them in a statewide manner.”
The attorney general’s office said that Slatery shares the district attorneys general in their objectives of holding opioid manufacturers responsible for the epidemic. However, it said, it disagreed on who should represent the state, saying the role of district attorneys general is in the criminal field.
“These claims are civil claims, not criminal charges,” Slatery’s office said in a statement. “District attorneys are seeking remedies for judicial districts when the attorney general is in the best position to get injunctive relief for the entire state. This intervention protects the interests of our state as a whole.”
Slatery’s filings have no impact on a lawsuit filed by Scott County against drug manufacturers. That lawsuit is separate from the lawsuit filed by attorneys for the 8th Judicial District Attorney General’s office and its counterparts.
On the federal level, the Trump administration is also weighing options on a potential lawsuit of Big Pharma in the ongoing opioid legal battle.