A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear hires four law firms to investigate opioid manufacturers; Bevin says action is premature

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has hired four law firms to investigate and sue companies who have contributed to the opioid epidemic in Kentucky.

However, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says the Kentucky attorney general’s announcement of a state contract to investigate opioid manufacturers is premature.

The Finance and Administration Cabinet was contacted about the contract by The Associated Press and issued this statement:

Andy Beshear

“There is no final contract. We are unsure why Attorney General Beshear prematurely issued a press release when the required approval process has not been followed. At the end of the day, there is a chance this contract may not be approved.”

The law firms, if approved, are investigating drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers, who are determined to have illegally marketed and sold opioids to Kentuckians.

Beshear’s office issued a public request for proposal in June, seeking legal services to be performed on a contingency basis, meaning no taxpayer money would be used up front in the litigation. Instead, the lawyers would receive a percentage of any monetary settlement or verdict, stemming from litigation.

The legal team selected, following a selection process that scored the firms based on relevant experience and other factors, includes three national firms and one that is based in Kentucky.

The team includes the firms of Morgan & Morgan, the Lanier Law Firm, Ransdell Roach & Royse PLLC and Motley Rice. Morgan & Morgan is based in Orlando, Florida, but has five offices in Kentucky. They filed the first West Virginia lawsuit against drug wholesalers on behalf of counties and have filed eight such actions since that time with several more pending.

Their lawyers include former Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who works out of the Lexington office.

Motley Rice, headquartered in Mount Pleasant, S.C., is among the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ firms, securing settlements in significant health, environmental and consumer fraud litigation. During the last several decades, Motley Rice has led or participated in some of the most important consumer protection litigation, both for government and for private class actions.

Mark Lanier and The Lanier Law Firm, with offices in Houston, New York and Los Angeles, has built its reputation from billions of dollars in recovery with settlements against the world’s largest medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

Ransdell Roach & Royse PLLC, headquartered in Lexington, is comprised of three lifelong Kentuckians – Keith Ransdell, John Roach and David Royse. Roach, a former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, General Counsel for former Governor Ernie Fletcher, and Bevin Administration transition team member; and Royse will spearhead this project for their firm.

“We look forward to working with this experienced team of local and national attorneys who have the resources and knowledge to help this office secure funds,” Beshear said. “We need the best team to help us repair the harm caused by those who have played a role in Kentucky’s opioid crisis.”

In addition to the hiring of the legal team, Kentucky is one of several states participating in a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general to address the crisis.

“Nearly 80 percent of heroin users first become addicted through prescription pills,” Beshear said. “If we can reduce opioid prescriptions and use other forms of pain management treatment, we will slow or even reverse the rate of addiction.”

Beshear and 36 other state attorneys general across the nation are reaching out to health insurance companies, asking them to adopt a financial incentive structure for the use of non-opioid pain management techniques when viable for chronic, non-cancer pain. Insurance companies can play an important role in reducing opioid prescriptions and making it easier for patients to access other forms of pain management treatment.

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One Comment

  1. Judith Oetinger says:

    I find it to be a positive move. Finally!

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