County, city opt out of opioid lawsuits


In 2018, Seymour and Jackson County both opted into lawsuits filed by former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Last week, both opted out of the lawsuits.

Seymour is represented by Indianapolis-based Cohen and Malad for the lawsuits. Taft Law Firm, also from Indianapolis, is representing the county.

During the Seymour City Council’s meeting June 14, city attorney Christina Engleking said the reason for opting out has to do with what can be done with the money given out if the lawsuits are successful.

"(Opting out) allows the city a little more flexibility with how the city should choose to spend any money recovered in the settlement," Engleking said. "That will allow the city to retain a higher percentage of any recovery from a settlement."


She said opting out of the lawsuits is a smart legal strategy and the move that will best serve the community.

If the state lawsuits are successful, the localities that had opted in would split 15% of the settlements. 

Whatever money is left from the settlements will go to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which will choose how the money is used and where it will go.

Engleking said it’s possible for the city to opt back into the settlement if the litigation changes and the city would benefit from being in the lawsuit.

Answering a question from Councilman Drew Storey on if there would be a cost to opt back in, Engleking said there wouldn’t be.

The one caveat, she said, would be the potential to recover less money after opting in. Another would be that Seymour would be locked into the state’s distribution plan for potential settlements.

The city council voted to opt out of the lawsuits 7-0.

During a Jackson County Commissioners meeting June 15, it was voted 2-0 to have the county opt out of the lawsuits. 

Commissioner Drew Markel was not present at the meeting, and no discussion was held during the meeting about the county opting out.

In 2020, there were 816 Hoosier deaths due to opioids and five in Jackson County, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

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