Niles council members hurry for settlement money from opioid epidemic lawsuit before deadline

Local News

(WKBN) – Money is coming to Ohio communities as part of a settlement for a class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.

Ohio communities will be getting $26 billion.

Niles is one of the communities working to pass an ordinance to accept some of that money. They held a special council meeting Wednesday night to learn more about this money.

Niles stands to gain $300,000 from the settlement.

That money can be used for treatment, education, cracking down on distribution and other community needs.

Gostlin: “Is there a reason the city shouldn’t accept this money?”
Zuzolo: “Not from a legal perspective. Not that I can see.”

Philip Zuzolo is a Niles Law Director.

The settlement money never has to be repaid.

Johnson and Johnson and three pharmaceutical distributors are footing the bill. One of those distributors is Ohio-based Cardinal Health, located right outside of Columbus.

“We’ve been hit hard by this epidemic,” said Jimmy Julian, Niles City Council Member.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s website, Trumbull County ranks sixth in the state for over all opioid-related deaths.

Niles has the second largest death toll in Trumbull.

“It will go toward resources that will combat this epidemic that is still running rampant through northeast Ohio, but Ohio as a whole,” Julian said.

The distributors will have 17 years to pay out their settlements. As part of the agreement, Johnson and Johnson will stop selling and promoting the sale of opioids.

“Very much needed for police, the courts and different educational programs, and hopefully it can help families that have been affected by this epidemic,” Julian said.

But the city is running out of time to pass the ordinance.

“We’ve been told is the resolution or ordinance needs to be passed by August 13 for full participation,” Zuzolo said.

Not enough members of city council showed up to pass it without a third reading.

So Thursday will be the final vote.

Council members at Wednesday’s meeting say they expect to have it approved ahead of Friday’s deadline.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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