McMinnville officials are continuing with an examination of their records to determine if enough monetary damage exists to warrant a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.
“The city is not being represented in any way on behalf of this lawsuit by the DA’s office,” said Alderman Ben Newman. “We are a municipality. We are an entity of our own. We don’t have anything to do with the lawsuit the DA has filed. The county may or may not. That’s pending. We’re independent. Whatever happens in that lawsuit will not affect us.”
The city Finance Committee decided last month to allow Galligan & Newman, Attorneys at Law, to review records with McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton and determine if the city experienced increased law enforcement costs that could be recouped by a lawsuit. A follow-up meeting was scheduled by chairman Everett Brock after the county Budget and Finance Committee voted to hold off on a measure to hire Galligan & Newman to represent it.
Warren County government is in the midst of a rare situation: District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis hired the Nashville firm of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings to represent her district of Warren and Van Buren counties, and Warren County government is considering a measure to hire Galligan & Newman to represent it. Both lawsuits are seeking similar damages.
As explained by Alderman Ben Newman, the county has decided to wait on a judge to rule on litigation in Kingport that may answer the question of which litigation should prevail: those filed by DAs or those filed by the county governments.
“Sullivan County was the first to file in the state of Tennessee,” said Newman, in explaining the situation. “The drug companies have filed a motion to dismiss whatever claim they have filed against them.”
He warned the judge’s decision could be the beginning of an appeals process and may not signal a final outcome.
“The decision is subject to appeal and subject to further appeal,” said Newman. “The decision by a lower state court judge doesn’t always mean what you think it does. It can be appealed and reversed.”
The city’s committee did not rescind last month’s decision to allow an examination by Galligan & Newman. Newman, an attorney in that firm, did not participate in last month’s vote.