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Robert Stivers to introduce resolution to open investigation into 2015 Purdue Pharma settlement

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, will introduce a resolution on the first day of the 2020 General Assembly to hire an investigating counsel to look into Kentucky’s 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma.

The suit was brought in 2007 by then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who is seeking to return to that office in November, against the maker of OxyContin, in response to the opioid epidemic in Kentucky. Stumbo has said he anticipated a $1 billion settlement, but former Attorney General Jack Conway settled it for $24 million, days before leaving office.

Stivers, speaking to reporters in Frankfort on Tuesday, said he reviewed the recent settlement between the drugmaker and the State of Oklahoma.

Senate President Robert Stivers addresses reporters after saying he was introducing a resolution to have the 2015 Purdue Pharma settlement investigated. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

“We were shortchanged, receiving pennies on the dollar to a smaller, less affected sister state. We have a larger overall population and 27.9 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Our $24 million versus Oklahoma’s $270 million is anything but a victory for Kentucky.”

“As an eastern Kentuckian and an elected leader of the commonwealth, I am convinced we could have done better. While no amount of money could ever justify the devastation opioids have caused, it can help us implement solutions for the ongoing problems.”

Stivers says his resolution would involve a comprehensive investigation of the facts and circumstances of the Purdue Pharma settlement. “The Legislative Research Commission shall obtain the services of an investigating counsel, either an individual or a firm, with extensive experience in both criminal cases and complex civil litigation, who will be fair, impartial and non-political to conduct the investigation.”

The LRC would issue subpoenas requested by the investigating counsel under existing state law.

Stivers says he hopes the investigation can wrap up in six to eight months “and the investigating counsel shall issue a report of the findings, including any criminal referrals deemed necessary and any recommendations for further civil litigation, determined to be beneficial to the people of Kentucky.”

He said there are 12 questions he wants to be answered:

• Why did Kentucky settle for 10 percent of what Oklahoma obtained?

• What legal theories were omitted from the original case filing and why?

• Why did the Attorney General’s office agree to seal the file?

• Why did Jack Conway say that he was planning on taking the case to the governor’s office with him if he won the governor’s race, yet settled when he lost?

• Why, if Jack Conway thought there would be a conflict of interest if Andy Beshear won as Attorney General did he not just transfer the case to the Governor’s office with Bevin, rather than settle?

• Why did the Attorney General settle the case mere days before leaving office?

• Did Conway consult with either the incoming Attorney General (Beshear) or the new Governor, prior to settling the case? If not, why not?

• Why was outside counsel paid a substantial fee despite being no longer under contract?

• Why was outside counsel’s fee of $4 million paid up front, when the state was to be paid over ten years?

• Was there any connection between the timing of the settlement and the Attorney General (Conway) accepting employment with outside counsel?

• Are there any issues in the settlement negotiations that would give rise to Kentucky re-opening the case?

• Why was the case settled so quickly, when it had been ongoing since 2007?

Stivers said he had not spoken to Gov. Matt Bevin or anyone on his staff about his proposal, but has talked with House and Senate Republican leadership, adding House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, “seemed receptive to the idea.”

Osborne offered the following statement on the heels of the press conference:

“A number of questions have been raised since details of the most recent opioid settlement became public. I think the people of Kentucky have a right to know if their elected officials were indeed acting in their best interest when they settled for such a significantly lower amount in 2015,” he said. “There appear to be some very salient issues with what motivated our former attorney general to settle and what role our current attorney general played in the settlement. Too many Kentucky lives have been lost or ruined in this epidemic, it would be shameful for these individuals to also be victimized by the very people who took an oath to protect them.”

The 2020 General Assembly convenes on Jan. 7.

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One Comment

  1. David Duffer says:

    I am a patient that was hurt on the job in Smyrna GA and after two failed back fusions of the S-1 and L5 disc… That with very little relief and before I moved back to KY was given oxy and when moved here and received treatment they continued to give me oxy and have been on it for 19 yrs and even though it didn’t still take all my Chronic Pain from injury and what they called it as failed surgery syndrome…. Am wondering and I am saying this without any use have no drug record of any kind as to what are going to be given to someone out of this suit??? One that I am willing to try and only if it can be put up for legalizing in the State of KY maybe by this next political election year for President and state local officials is to legalize Marirauni spelling wrong or medical use only of (weed) but I am not even a smoker of cigs but would be welling to try in pill form of this drug… Why well even though I know I have to be addicted to this drug I have never abused it or do I ever plan on it.. I take it only as prescribed and belief this when I say this I hurt really bad and before I found someone that would just take on my case for my pain I tried doctor after doctor at Western KY Orthropedics took therapy at two to three places but Western KY Orthopedics gave me know hope you were operated in another state by another doctor they told me so there is nothing else we can do… So you can see why I am very skeptical that this settlement will really be used to treat Patient that have been given opiods of any kinds… Yes it would be nice if the settlement would have been more and yes it sounds like someone dropped the ball…. But I thank what ever the settlement is it should be put to good use in having state of the art building for treatment with opiods but also a treatment facillity that will treat all addictions of meds crises… I have read the stories of the over crowding in our prisions… And to really understand what someone has you need to have someone that has really been there and had chronic Pain because I can say it is very bad some mornings you can just barley get up and only after a few hours find that the only way you can get relief much is to lay down… Or like my self having a home to keep up is a full time job and when you push yourself to try to fix something it isn’t enjoyable at all when like most people they do something or make a repair but you find yourself taking days to get it done and every year I have a To do list that I hope to finish before the winter months but so far have never seen it finish and the high cost of things well when you pay most of what you draw for Meds and Health Insurance, and then with the cost for other bills you find that you have hardly and money at all to get buy on… No matter how much you may have and I know I have a little and am proud to have had good credit to get what I have but by the middle of each month I am left with hardly nothing at all, and can get know help at all because why well when it is based on what you draw before health insurance and any deductibles are taken out of your checks each month then of course you will make just a few dollars to much… But I ask you all to try living on just a few dollars each month after everything is paid… Not very fun and sure not easy at all… But if there is anything at all to come out of this settlement or any future settlement please let it go to help people like me and help others in prisions to try to figure out where they went wrong, and help them to truly get back on the right track and find jobs that will keep them from making the wrong turn again…. For myself I hope that studies will be mad that help find meds that will really help with chronic pain, its not quite as bad as someone dieing from cancer but it is still just as much pain to have to live with day after day week after week and even year after year… Thanks for Listening from someone with Chronic Pain……

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