Attorney General Beshear wants to contract with other legal firms to file multiple lawsuits against drug companies contributing to the opioid epidemic

06/28/2017 05:10 PM

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that his office is issuing a request for proposals for legal services for other law agencies to assist the commonwealth in multiple lawsuits that he plans to file against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers where there is evidence they contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids to Kentuckians.

Kentucky is one of several states participating in a bipartisan coalition among attorneys general to address the opioid crisis, and Beshear says that the RFP is a critical next step in moving the investigation into immediate and future litigation.

“When we saw the last set of lawsuits like this which could be multiple lawsuits, those were the AWP cases, and costs in those lawsuits exceeded $3 million,” Beshear said during a news conference Wednesday. “So we are at the brink of litigation. We are ready to file, but we are looking for a partner to ensure that Kentucky tax dollars are not used on litigations which may take a year or two.”

Beshear laid out a timetable for the process of trying to find a firm to partner with as well as an invitation for the drug companies to step forward in trying to be part of a solution to the problem.

“I believe responses will be due back with 30 to 45 days. That’s in the RFP,” Beshear said. “From there it will still have to be scored and a contract to be entered.”

Earlier in the day, Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters that Kentucky settled a lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer, Purdue Pharma for “pennies on the dollar” to avoid an embarrassing conflict of interest because Beshear previously worked for Stites & Harbison, the law firm that represented Purdue Pharma in the case.

The case was settled by former Attorney General Jack Conway for $24 million days before his second term ended in 2015.

He said he’s joining a lawsuit by the Boston Globe seeking to have some court records unsealed regarding how the company marketed the drug and what it knew about OxyContin’s addictive qualities.

“It needs to be known what the role of the attorney general’s office was, what the role of Stites & Harbison was, who had potentially malpracticed the case, and if this state and the current attorney general are going to go forward, what questions need to be asked of him,” Stivers said, questioning whether Beshear was involved in defending Purdue Pharma in the case.

Beshear responded by accusing Stivers of playing politics with the opioid epidemic.

“Shame on President Stivers,” Beshear said. “We’re here talking about combating the opioid epidemic and holding those accountable who have ravaged his district, more so than most, accountable, and to use this type of press conference or preempt this type of action with a political shot, that ought to be beneath him.”

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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