Attorney General Ken Paxton today co-led a bipartisan coalition of 36 states in filing an amicus letter, arguing that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio should reject a request by a few plaintiffs’ lawyers to get paid a disproportionate amount of attorneys’ fees in the opioid litigation that will result in a reduction of funds available to provide treatment and relief to victims of the opioid crisis.
In addition to raising federalism and jurisdictional concerns, the letter from attorneys general states that it would be unconscionable and inequitable for the district court to approve a common benefit fund that only increased attorneys’ fees. The letter goes on to argue that this type of proposed tax on the entire settlement would result in less relief for suffering communities and disrupt the substantial progress states have made in negotiating a large national settlement.
“Attorneys General across the country have worked collaboratively to secure maximum relief for the individuals and families devastated by the opioid crisis. The abatement fund we developed would provide much needed services to victims of this epidemic. These resources are needed now—not at the end of a lengthy litigation process,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Texas filed suit in a Texas court, and a federal judge in Cleveland should not be holding back the money we intend to use to treat our citizens. Imposing a fee on all proceeds put into this fund solely for the benefit of a few attorneys would undermine federalism and dismantle the careful framework we created to ensure that victims of this epidemic receive the help they need and deserve.”
The recent proposal from the plaintiffs’ lawyers would impose a seven percent fee on recoveries that were made possible by the States’ lawsuits and the strength of States’ legal claims, which are not within the jurisdiction of the court. The order could also prevent cash-poor companies from producing and providing free addiction treatment medication to victims of the opioid crisis.