CHEBOYGAN COUNTY- Cheboygan County will put out request for proposal for law firms to represent it in pending litigation regarding the opiate prescription issue.
Cheboygan County Administrator Jeff Lawson said he has been in contact with Peter Wendling, the county’s civil counsel regarding the litigation. He was looking for approval from the board to put out the RFP.
“To give a little bit of an update there, my understanding is the opiate cases will be filed, several will be done on the 19th,” said Lawson. “The cases are going to be placed under an aggregated case with a judge in Ohio.”
There are currently several law firms involved in the litigation, which is why the county is looking to put out the RFP. It would like to get different perspectives from different law firms, although it had a very good presentation from Sommers Schwartz at a previous meeting.
“But there are other ones out there who should be provided an opportunity to do a presentation,” said Wendling. “But I do recommend that the board move on this.”
Wendling made this recommendation because the cases will be consolidated before a single judge. He is not aware of any deadline for the filing of the cases to be included in the litigation, but the decision to be a part of it will beed to be made in the late winter or early spring.
It is not recommended that the county opt out of participating in this litigation because something may come out of it. Cheboygan County is one of the counties in the state that has the highest opioid addiction rate and if it was to not participate, there is a chance it could be leaving money on the table, so to speak.
“There’s just no reason to do so,” said Wendling.
What the county gets back will be based on what it has put into prosecuting cases. The law firm will be the one who will put all the work into finding out how much of a loss there is, while working with Cheboygan County staff. The law firm will then compile the information for the case.
During its presentation, Sommers Schwartz said it was willing to absorb the costs of all of the work and incorporate it into the case.
Nothing is guaranteed in litigation and the cases may go south, where there will be no chance of winning. The county will need to make sure it has a firm that has enough backing behind it before it chooses to go with them and submit its case.
Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont said the Michigan Sheriff’s Association’s research unit has been looking into the matter.
“Just as council said, their stance on it right now is don’t leave money on the table,” said Clarmont.
The education of the public and the addicts, the treatment of these people and the cost to the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement would be another factor figured into the amount the county has lost prosecuting cases involving the drugs.
The county board gave Wendling the consensus it would like him to put together the request for proposals, to seek a law firm to represent it in a case.