Petal to join in opioid litigation

By HASKEL BURNS,

The city of Petal has joined in litigation aimed at receiving compensation from the drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors claimed to be responsible for perpetuating opioid distribution.

The decision was made at a recent meeting of the Petal Board of Aldermen, when board members voted unanimously to take part in the matter.

“There have been billions of dollars set aside in a trust fund from these pharmaceutical companies that have made these opioids and prepared for lawsuits, is basically what I understood,” said Petal Alderman-At-Large William King, who brought the matter to the attention of the Petal Board of Aldermen. “And by getting involved early in the litigation process, we stand to get a pretty good sum of money, and that money would go to help fight opioids.

“It could be for the police department, it could buy new equipment and things of that nature.”

Petal joins other municipalities and counties around Mississippi to join in on the litigation, including Hattiesburg, Lumberton and Forrest County.

“Basically, us signing into this would mean that we would get a share as a city of what the opioid epidemic may have cost us in terms of crime, damage, what have you,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “We don’t have to pay anything.

“The lawyers get 33 percent of the class action settlement, and we would get our portion, which who knows how much that would be.”

King said the litigation process is still in the starting phases, and there’s no timeline or monetary amount set in stone at the moment.

“As of right now, I’m not aware of any kind of timeline, but I imagine it would probably take a year or so anyway,” he said. “You know how this litigation stuff is.

“But it depends on how quickly they decide to settle, too, so I would expect probably at least a minimum of a year.”