South Bend And St. Joseph County Opt Out Of State Opioid Settlement Plan
St. Joseph County and South Bend leaders voted this week to opt out of Indiana’s settlement plan for lawsuits against opioid companies.
Both the county and city have pending lawsuits against different opioid manufacturers, marketers and distributors. They’re seeking redress for the effects of the opioid epidemic on local communities, as well as financial compensation for public funds used to address those effects.
The state enacted legislation earlier this year that restricts how settlement money from those lawsuits will be distributed. Under the new plan, 15 percent of state settlement money will have to be shared between counties, cities and towns based on population.
Andy Kostielney, president of the County Board of Commissioners, said the state plan would only complicate local governments’ ability to spend their settlements.
“We were ahead of the curve when it comes to taking action to try and seek some financial restitution from the drug manufacturers," Kostielney said at the commissioners' meeting on June 15. "Then I think we’ve seen the state kind of step in later on to muddy the waters a bit.”
South Bend's resolution, which passed the Common Council on Monday, says the state's plan "appears to greatly limit South Bend's potential for full recovery of its loss from the opioid epidemic."
Local governments can opt back into the state plan within 60 days of deciding to withdraw.
Other communties, including Indianapolis, Lafayette and West Lafayette, have also opted out of the state's settlement plan.
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