Waushara County to join lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

Waushara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution to join 28 other Wisconsin counties that have filed separate federal lawsuits alleging that large pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the nation’s opioid epidemic. 

Prior to approval of the resolution to engage the law firms Von Briesen & Roper, S.C. and Crueger Dickinson LLC, together with Simmons Hanley Conroy LLC as counsel in relation to the claim against opioid manufacturers was approved during the regular meeting on Nov. 8, the Supervisors held a discussion with lawyers, Krista Baisch, a partner with Crueger Dickinson LLC, and Steve Nelson, a shareholder with Von Briesen & Roper, S.C. 

The conversation was held after the resolution was tabled during the October meeting in order to receive more information about the lawsuit and what would be expected from the county prior to approval. 

During the discussion, Baisch stated the law firms filed their first set of lawsuits on Nov. 8 on behalf of 28 Wisconsin counties, and are looking forward to advancing this important cause against the opioid manufacturers for what they believe is a nationwide epidemic impacting Waushara County and many of the departments within the county. 

Baisch said all of the 28 lawsuits filed in Wisconsin Federal Court were identical and made the same allegations. The reason for independent lawsuits is because the issue is not a class action, as each county is requesting individualized damages, according to Nelson.  

Once the suits are filed from all the counties willing to participate, the law firms plan to hold a meeting with a representative from each county early next year to go through how they plan to request individual county information, such as how a specific department in the county is incurring costs and where the county has seen the most harm.

“At this meeting, what we are going to do is we are going to be able to break down for each individual county what departments are impacted, and that is how we are going to develop a damage model,” said Baisch. “That will be the county’s involvement in it –assisting us in generating information on how the county is impacted by this epidemic.” 

Baisch stated there will be man hours involved from the county liaison to help gather the information, but does not foresee the amount of time needed being a substantial burden. 

The law firms have retained a document capture retention group that will come to each of the counties to speak to specific individuals in the departments that are affected, explained Nelson. “They are going to interview that person and their team will take over copying those documents,” he said. 

“We understand you all have people who work a lot and we don’t want to add a lot of our load to them,” Nelson added. “We want to make it as easy as possible because we want consistent data from all of our counties.”

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