Opioid lawsuit settlement for Burnet County increases
Burnet County will be getting even more money than previously decided from the settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving pharmaceutical companies that produce and sell opioids. After an executive session of about 25 minutes during its regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Commissioners Court voted to authorize County Judge James Oakley to “execute documents related to the settlement offer.”
The county is due to receive $274,384 in direct payments and will be part of a nine-county group eligible to apply for grants from a pool of about $32 million. The money is to be used to help fight opioid addiction and abuse in communities.
A lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson was previously settled, explained County Attorney Eddie Arredondo. The total amount awarded to the state of Texas from Johnson & Johnson was $296 million. The addition of defendants Endo for $63 million, Teva for $225 million, and a group known as the Big 3 Distributors for $1.3 billion brought the state’s total to $1.8 billion. The Big 3 Distributors are McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen.
The settlement offers are “guaranteed and not contingent on a global deal,” according to the information presented to the Commissioners Court. Money will be paid into a Texas Qualified Settlement Fund over an 18-year period.
Burnet County’s allocation from each of the new defendants will be:
- $9,964 from Endo
- $24,398 from Teva
- $190,043 from Big 3 Distributors
Added to the $49,979 from Johnson & Johnson, the county’s total in cash will be $274,384.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
Commissioners also heard a report that the city of Bertram is seeking a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to release 800,000 gallons a day of treated effluent into the South San Gabriel River.
“This is not an action item,” Oakley told commissioners. “I just wanted to raise awareness that another permit is being requested to allow this.”
He noted that several years ago, the city of Liberty Hill was granted a similar permit that resulted in an outbreak of algae growth from the discharge site continuing downstream.
“My hope is that history won’t repeat itself,” he said. “I just want to make sure the public is aware of this permit in case there are concerns.”
Commissioners took no action on a burn ban agenda item, citing an upcoming cold front predicted to bring more moisture into the region over the next five days.
“That’s a window where people can burn pretty safely,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther.