A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor Bevin requests cooperation of attorney general in legal efforts against opioid companies

Governor Matt Bevin on Monday called upon Attorney General Andy Beshear to join forces in the fight against the opioid epidemic by pursuing joint legal action against opioid drug manufacturers and distributors.

Gov. Bevin’s General Counsel Steve Pitt underscored the need for cooperation in a letter sent to Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown, calling upon all parties “to stand united so that the scourge of opioid abuse will fall.”

Governor Matt Bevin

In the letter, Pitt asked Brown and his office to join forces with the Governor’s Office, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to jointly utilize outside legal counsel in an all-out effort to bring opioid companies to justice. “There is no reason for state executive departments to be at cross-purposes when so much is at stake,” added Pitt. “The urgent need to fight the opioid epidemic on all fronts — legal, legislative, and judicial — demands that we fully cooperate in order to succeed.”

Pitt’s letter follows correspondence from Brown in late January in which Brown suggested that the Governor’s office may offer suggestions about the opioid litigation. Pitt’s letter, in turn, offers a true partnership with both offices having input and veto power regarding the litigation. Pitt’s letter urges the Attorney General to consider a partnership, rather than partisanship, and to maximize legal resources to provide the greatest benefit for the people of the Commonwealth.

Pitt’s comments echo those of Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd who wrote in a recent order concerning Kentucky’s opioid litigation that “it is a matter of the utmost importance that the Attorney General and the Executive Branch of government coordinate their efforts in this litigation, and that the public interest demands that any such litigation should be cooperatively undertaken….”

“Never has there been a greater need for unity than in the Commonwealth’s war against the opioid scourge that is draining and destroying our precious resources, including our greatest resource — our people,” Pitt concluded.

Pitt’s letter to Brown is available online.

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