Lincoln Parish Police Jury votes to partake in National Opioid Settlement

By Jim Wilkerson

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, the Police Jury unanimously voted to authorize the Parish Administrator to sign documents, allowing the Parish to participate in the National Opioid Settlement.

“There’s been ongoing litigation between states and opioid manufacturers and distributors,” Attorney Lewis Jones explained to the Police Jury. “[The states] have reached a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three of the distributors.”

The payout to the states is rather large. Jones told the Jury, “The four defendants have agreed to pay $26 billion over 18 years. It’s divided among the states based on population. Even though y’all did not participate in the lawsuit, you can participate in the settlement.”

Jones continued, “Of the $26 billion, I believe the figure is either $325 or $352 million that Louisiana will get. 80 percent of that will go to the local governments. 20 percent will go to the Sheriff’s offices. And based on population, Lincoln Parish would get 0.52 percent of that. So, if you do all of that math, basically it comes out to we would get a little over $1.4 million paid out over 18 years. So, it’s a little over $80,000 a year.”

With that said, Jones informed the Jury that the money cannot simply go into the Jury’s general funds. It has to be used specifically for opioid treatment, abatement, and education. Still, Jones believes there to be zero downside to accepting the deal, unless the Police Jury intends to sue one of the four defendants in the future.

“The only reason to not join in would be if y’all ever intended to sue them on your own. If you have no intention of suing them, there’s really no reason to not join in because you can take part in the settlement,” Jones said. “If you decide you don’t want to spend the money on what they’re saying you can use it for, you haven’t lost anything.”

Jones did mention one caveat: every Parish in Louisiana has to participate in the settlement for the state of Louisiana to receive 100 percent of the settlement.

Jones explained, “They’re trying to encourage every Parish to participate in this settlement. The defendants want that because they don’t want these other Parishes to sue them on their own. So, there’s a penalty provision for any state that does not have a 100 percent participation.”

So, if Louisiana fails to reach 100 percent participation among all 64 Parishes, it will be penalized 30 percent of the settlement.  

“Even if 90 percent of the Parishes in Louisiana opt into the settlement,” Jones said, “Louisiana gets penalized by 30 percent…So, if y’all decide not to do it, you would not only not get the money, but the other Parishes would get 70 percent of the money instead of their share of 100 percent of it.”

After Jones spoke, the Jury put the matter to a vote, with each juror voting “yes.” Now it’s up to the other Parishes to determine how much Louisiana will get from the settlement.