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June 24, 2019

Oklahoma Opioid Settlements Raise Concerns, Affected Municipalities See Little Benefit

Oklahoma’s settlements with Purdue and Teva have sparked tensions between Oklahoma municipalities and the state, The Washington Post reports.

First came the controversial settlement with Purdue, in which state Attorney General Mike Hunter directed $200 million to Oklahoma State University, $60 million to private lawyers, and just $12.5 million to split between the state’s 670 cities and counties. In the resulting uproar, the state enacted a law to require that all settlement money first be deposited in the state treasury before distribution.

Since then, nine Oklahoma cities have asked to intervene in the more recent Teva settlement to ensure that they are not passed over when it comes time to distribute this and any future awards. Their concern seems to be justified, given a recent statement from Michael Burrage, one of the private lawyers on AG Hunter’s payroll, that the new law may not apply to “public nuisance” cases at all. A special master has since been appointed to look into the issue.

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