Chilmark selectmen vote to join opioid suit

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On the recommendation of selectman Jim Malkin, Chilmark selectmen voted unanimously to join a Kopelman and Paige lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.

After joining selectmen from Aquinnah, Oak Bluffs, and West Tisbury at the Howes House in West Tisbury last Thursday, Malkin reported to the board that he listened to a presentation outlining the litigation

“The essence of this presentation is there is a multi-state, multi-community action being taken against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids,” Malkin said. Like tobacco litigation of the past, the suit(s) work on the basis that the makers of the opioids knowingly distributed a harmful product, he said.

Malkin described the litigation not as a class action suit, but bundle of suits. The difference being, he said, each community, if there’s a settlement reached, “can choose to participate in the settlement or continue the litigation.” The litigation has no upfront cost to the communities, but the firm takes 10 percent of any settlement, he said.

Compensation is two-pronged: ambulance, Narcan, and training reimbursement, among other things, and funds for education and training facilities.

Malkin said town counsel, who attended the presentation, saw no downside to joining the litigation.

West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand said West Tisbury selectmen recently heard a presentation and will vote at a future meeting.