Speaker at Fort Smith event asks sheriffs for assistance in opioid lawsuit

AAC calls upon law enforcement to share stories that summarize the impact of the opioid epidemic.

By Max Bryan
SW Time Record

The filers of a statewide lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors have called upon law enforcement to assist them when the litigation goes to trial.

Association of Arkansas Counties litigation counsel member Colin Jorgensen asked Arkansas sheriffs on Tuesday to consider giving him examples of how opioids have negatively affected their communities to tell the jury. The lawsuit, which includes signatures from public officials in every county, major population city and the state government in Arkansas, was filed to hold manufacturers, distributors and a handful of state pharmacies and health care providers accountable for their alleged roles in opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths.

“If you were asked to tell one story to sort of summarize the impact of the opioid epidemic in your county, what would that story be?” Jorgensen asked sheriffs from counties across Arkansas on Tuesday at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Summer Convention in Fort Smith.

Officials with the Arkansas Association of Counties, the Arkansas Municipal League and the Arkansas Public Entities Risk Management Association filed the lawsuit on March 15 in Crittenden County Circuit Court. It aims to prove drug manufacturers and distributors’ alleged responsibility for opioid addiction, abuse and overdoses in Arkansas, Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said the reason he is reaching out to sheriffs for stories is to appeal to the jurors.

“You can talk about overdose death rates and prescription rates and all that stuff all day long, and it’s meaningful to people like me, but a jury’s eyes are going to glaze over three weeks into that,” he said. Read more.

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