County considers joining opioid litigation

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Whether to join a class action law suit related to the current opioid epidemic is an item of business on the agenda for Wednesdays Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting.

According to the board packet County Attorney Russell Slayton made staff aware of lawsuits filed by multiple other Virginia localities arising out of the opioid epidemic.
The details contained in the March 13, Board packet indicate that the BOS will decide whether or not to retain Kauffman & Canoles, PC along with 40 other Virginia localities. The packet further stated Greensville County recently completed the interview process and selected Kauffman & Canoles, PC and their co-counsel which would benefit Charlotte County by not having to go through the interview process.

Any questions concerning legal fees associated with the suit are addressed in the Retainer Agreement submitted by counsel. According to the agreement, the attorney would advance any costs associated with the lawsuit. The only scenario in which the county would be responsible for out of pocket costs would be in the event of no recovery. Under those circumstances, all of the clients would share the obligation to reimburse out of pocket costs according to their allocable share, which is divided among more than 40 clients. The allocation formula in the agreement protects smaller jurisdictions from owing much because the share of the damages would be smaller. Additionally, Kaufman & Canoles, PC stated they did not foresee this happening.

Another advantage to the county, in the event that the BOS moves to accept the current retainer agreement is Virginia’s Rule 1:8 which has been amended to allow attorneys to not only advance the cost of litigation, but to agree that reimbursement of those costs can be made contingent on the outcome of the case.

The amended Rule, according to the agenda detail, went into effect Feb. 15.

Kaufman & Canoles, PC has indicated their intention to amend the Retainer Agreement accordingly so that Charlotte County would then, under no circumstances, be responsible for any outlay of funds by signing the Retainer.

Approval of the Retainer Agreement will be an item of business at the Wednesday Charlotte County BOS meeting, to be held at the Charlotte County Administration Building at 250 LeGrand Ave., Suite A in Charlotte Court House at 1:30 p.m.