The opioid epidemic has resulted in a wave of litigation against major retailers. In general, they all stand accused of exacerbating the crisis through their distribution practices. Meijer, a prominent supermarket chain, has recently reached a settlement agreement with Kalamazoo County officials to pay over $2 million in relation to an opioid lawsuit.
Kalamazoo Accepts Funds for Opioid Crisis Costs
According to Kalamazoo County commissioners, this settlement is set to cover attorney fees and other expenses associated with the opioid crisis. Even though Meijer emphasizes that it doesn’t believe it engaged in any wrongdoing, the retailer has agreed to the settlement.
In a meeting held earlier this week, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners approved the settlement. The payout helps to address county costs associated with the opioid epidemic. However, it’s still a reminder of ongoing challenges posed by the opioid crisis and the need for continued vigilance in addressing this pressing public health issue.
Meijer has agreed to pay a sum of $2.075 million to settle the portion of the litigation related to Kalamazoo County. According to a Kalamazoo County Commission document, legal fees of $363,125 and a $155,625 contribution to the Common Benefit Fund Holdback are deducted first. The county will receive the remaining sum of $1,556,250.
Opioid Lawsuit Claims Totaled as Much as $35 Million
The county has further explained that the settlement agreement mandates Meijer pay a maximum of $35 million to resolve all claims. They referred to claims that could have been asserted in the lawsuit in which Kalamazoo County is a plaintiff. The action was approved as part of the consent agenda on Feb. 7 with no discussion.
While Meijer has asserted that it did not engage in any wrongdoing, it has nonetheless agreed to the settlement. In a statement to Kalamazoo Gazette, the retailer emphasized the professionalism of its pharmacists and the importance of its health and wellness services to the communities it serves.
Opioid Epidemic Effects in West Michigan
The opioid epidemic has left a trail of devastation in its wake, leaving families across the country to grapple with the loss of loved ones as a result of addiction, overdose and death. The issue was discussed at a closed session on Tuesday. Vice Chair Tami Rey noted that the vote was held in the public portion of the business meeting.
As commissioners continue to discuss how to spend the settlement money, they anticipate that there will be other settlement agreements to come. All funds are meant to fund opioid remediation efforts. This follows in the footsteps state lawmakers are taking with a litany of other lawsuits.
In this case, the settlement money is meant to serve as restitution and remediation for alleged harm or damage arising from bodily injury caused by Meijer’s distribution of opioids. The county has emphasized that the funds will be used to restore the plaintiffs to the same position or condition they would have been in had they not suffered the harm caused by opioids in the community.
Opioid Lawsuit Allocations Expected to Fund Health Services
In Kalamazoo County, the opioid epidemic has been a pressing concern for the past five years with stakeholders working to develop effective strategies to address this public health crisis. As Health Officer Rutherford explained, the settlement funds recognized in years to come will be instrumental in advancing these efforts.
Even before these services benefit from settlement allocations, you’re advised to seek help. If you’re among the many residents who struggle with an opioid addiction — prescription or otherwise — you can arrange for affordable addiction treatment with a recovery specialist at 269-443-0905.
Specifically, the funds will be used to reduce access to illegal drugs, educate the community about the dangers of opioid drug addiction and invest in initiatives aimed at decreasing substance abuse while improving treatment and recovery options for those impacted by the epidemic.
By prioritizing these interventions, Kalamazoo County is taking a proactive stance in tackling this pressing issue and working to promote a safer, healthier community. The county already has affordable drug and alcohol rehab for all major insurances.
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