AG Praises Important Victory in Opioid Case

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Thursday actions to defend two recently passed laws – legislation relating to the automatic deduction of union dues and single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events – and praised a recent state Supreme Court opinion hoping it will move the state’s opioid litigation toward resolution.

The Attorney General revealed his intent to appeal a circuit court order that temporarily blocks enforcement of the state’s paycheck protection law. In the meantime, his office has filed a motion to stay the circuit court’s order pending appeal with the state Supreme Court of Appeals.

“The state Supreme Court ruled last year that it is fully constitutional to say an employee cannot be forced to pay into a union, and as such, we feel confident the state will prevail in this instance involving a narrower question – whether the state must provide an automatic payroll deduction,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Simply put, the state is not a financial service institution. Utilities and many other service providers operate without relying upon the government for their billing. Likewise, broad automated technologies exist to assist unions in collecting dues from those who choose to belong.

“Nothing in this legislation discriminates against unions. Rather, it simply eliminates the burden on government to engage in payroll deductions that benefit voluntary organizations, such as unions, labor organizations and clubs, while preserving deductions for employment benefits offered to all employees by virtue of their employment such as pensions, required tax withholding, insurance benefits and others,” he added.

The Attorney General also announced his intent to intervene in defense of a newly passed law relating to single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events. He filed a motion Thursday seeking the court’s permission to intervene.

“There is good reason for our office to intervene; chief among them is the Attorney General’s constitutional duty to protect the state’s interest,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Fair competition and preserving women’s sports is paramount. Defending this law will also preserve the many opportunities Title IX opened up for girls and women everywhere.”

The Attorney General also praised Friday’s decision by the state Supreme Court of Appeals upholding the decisions of the state Mass Litigation Panel as it relates to the state’s claims in pending opioid litigation.

“The majority opinion represents an important preliminary victory,” Attorney General Morrisey said of the June 11 ruling. “We particularly appreciate Justice Hutchinson’s recognition of the defendants’ continued attempts to slow the case at every stage, and we hope the court’s voice sends a message that moves this closer to resolution.

“The senseless death and lost potential wrought by the opioid epidemic is far too great for anyone to accept continued delay. Our state’s citizens deserve a just resolution that holds those involved responsible, and we remain committed to seeing that through,” he continued.


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