JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – County Commissioners held a special called meeting Tuesday night regarding an Opioid lawsuit against Big Pharma that was filed by the district attorney. After a lengthy discussion, Commissioners decided to postpone the issue again in order to get more information. 

Multiple county commissioners said they wanted to do the “best thing for the county” and needed more time to read contracts and discuss it with legal advisors, “perhaps in an executive session”.

Last week and again at Tuesday’s special called meeting, commissioners heard from District Attorney General Jared Effler and Tricia Herzfeld with the Nashville law firm that has been handling the case over the last three years. Effler told commissioners for the county to continue with the lawsuit, the county would need to officially retain Effler and the Nashville firm in the lawsuit. The County had signed a contract previously with the law firm of Jessee & Jessee against Big Pharma in a separate lawsuit. Due to this, Commissioners held the special called meeting to hear from both law firms and take more time to decide what to do in the possibility of a “conflict of interest.”

According to District Attorney Effler, Tennessee District Attorneys began these lawsuits years ago, with Effler filing on behalf of Campbell County in 2017.“Since then we have been to Supreme Court, their latest ruling supported our theory, but said the caption of our case is incorrect. It needs to say Campbell County versus Big Pharma rather than Jared Effler versus Big Pharma,” Effler said. Effler told Commissioners he felt both lawsuits could proceed without hindering one another. 

Attorney Tom Jessee spoke to commissioners and said he did not think District Attorneys had the authority to pursue the case and that he felt it was a conflict of interest if the county signed another contract.

“Nothing against Mr. Effler, he is an honorable man…You have no case with Mr. Effler… They may have a theory but they have no parties. Campbell County is the injured county. You signed a contract with us. We have filed your claims. Respectfully, you have sued these defendants. You have a contract you have already signed, you have a lawsuit already going on,” Jessee said.

Effler said once again that he felt both lawsuits could go through. “The Supreme Court was very clear in that these companies could be gone after for the drug dealers that they are. We have a bunch of counties that have voted to go along with both cases,” Effler told the commission.

Commissioner Ralph Davis, said he was for “anything that’s going to help the county”, but said he wanted to look more into it. “We have to make sure we don’t jump into something too fast,” Davis said.

Commissioner Rusty Orick said he had not had time to review the contract since he had just received it today. Orick also said he felt it would be better to discuss the issue in executive session. “Anytime we have a lawsuit, it’s better to go behind closed doors,” Orick said.

Commissioner Zach Marlow said he would feel better if they had an executive session regarding it. “I want to do what’s right for the county but we need to have more time to discuss this,” Marlow said.

Commissioners requested both law firms to present more information regarding which court each lawsuit was being sought in and what “pot of money” damages would be awarded from.

The issue will be discussed again at the February Commission Workshop. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/27/2021-6AM)