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Milwaukee County Board authorizes lawsuit against opioid drug makers

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies involved in the opioid epidemic.

The board unanimously approved a proposal allowing the county’s lawyers to prepare for a lawsuit.

“I’m working closely with our top attorneys to ensure that Milwaukee County takes appropriate legal action, if it is warranted, to recover some of the costs we have incurred while combating the opioid epidemic,” said County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. in a news release.

The proposal, from Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun, requested approval from the board to allow the county’s in-house lawyers to select outside counsel and determine whether to sue any pharmaceutical company, distributor, or manufacturer, if their practices are believed to contribute to the opioid epidemic in Milwaukee County.

The resolution specifies that outside counsel would only be compensated if Milwaukee County receives a financial benefit as a result of any claims made against a company.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner is predicting more than 325 opioid related deaths in 2017. More than 31,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.