CHARLESTON (WVDN) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday that his office has reached an agreement with representatives of the state’s cities and counties over how to allocate any settlement funds or judgments received in their various suits against opioid makers, distributors and other parties in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
The agreement, called a memorandum of understanding (MOU), calls for the creation of a private, nonstock, nonprofit foundation for the purposes of distributing settlement or judgment funds awarded from litigation for abatement purposes. The agreement is required by the West Virginia Mass Litigation Panel to become eligible for any opioid settlement monies obtained pursuant to court orders.
Morrisey was joined at a Wednesday press conference by many county and city officials from throughout West Virginia. All counsel involved have agreed to recommend approval of this agreement to their clients. Morrisey will also seek legislative support for this initiative.
“The communities of our state have been ravaged by the wrongdoing of those within the pharmaceutical supply chain,” Morrisey said. “With this MOU, West Virginia has dramatically improved its ability to speak with a united voice and take actions to protect all the citizens of our state from this epidemic.”
“Through our efforts, West Virginia is positioning itself to receive more opioid settlement dollars for our citizens to address this epidemic than virtually any other state in the nation. I’ve always said that West Virginians must be put first in any lawsuit related to opioids, and they will. We are honoring our promises to West Virginia.
“This agreement is also a huge win for every county and city in West Virginia. We will be able to meaningfully address the regional jail fee problem and help government entities that are already heavily investing in addressing the drug problem,” Morrisey continued.
As the central organization dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis throughout the state, the foundation will receive 72.5 percent of the settlement or judgment, 24.5 percent of settlement and judgment dollars will be allocated to local governments and 3 percent will be held in escrow by the state.
This allocation maximizes the amount of money that will be available for an opioid abatement fund and will distribute money throughout six regions in the state. This distribution will allow the money to help people and fund projects most in need.
The foundation will be managed by a board of 11 members, five of whom will be state appointees, subject to confirmation by the Senate. To represent the interests of local governments, the MOU establishes six regions, and one member will be chosen from each of those regions.
An executive director will run the day-to-day operations of the foundation. This person may attend all meetings but will only vote on matters before the board in the event of a tie.