CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County leaders will consider a resolution to opt out of a national class action lawsuit aimed to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic.
According to the Horry County Coroner’s Office, 109 people died from a drug overdose in 2018. Of the confirmed cases, 48 percent had heroin in their systems and 44 percent had Fentanyl or an analog in their systems.
out of the 109 people who died from drug overdoses in 2018, 100 of those people had heroin and/or fentanyl in their systems.
15th Circuit Court Solicitor, Jimmy Richardson sees first-hand how the opioid problem impacts crime in the cases he prosecutes.
“That’s what’s really driving our crime locally for the past three or four years, it’s all been about opioids or heroin,” Richardson said.
The opioid epidemic has impacted counties nationwide, which is why hundreds of municipalities across the country have filed a class action lawsuit against drug companies for allegedly playing a role in the opioid crisis. Richardson says the lawsuit could help ease the drug problem.
“I’ve always said that for there to ever be real change on this, it would have to come through a series of class action lawsuits just like what ultimately took down big tobacco, because this is not an Horry County problem, this is not a South Carolina problem. The problem is much worse in other parts of the country,” Richardson said.
Horry County and its municipalities could gain close to $1 million from the lawsuit. While Richardson says that sum likely won’t cover the costs the county has spent to fight the opioid epidemic, Horry County leaders would benefit more from being a part of the lawsuit than going at it alone or not at all.
“If you try to do it by yourself, you’re going to have to bring your own lawyers and you’re going to start this process again with your own lawyers, and the litigation process is expensive, and who knows if at anywhere along the way one or more of these companies were to go bankrupt, if that happens and you’re late to the line, when bankruptcy hits you don’t get anything or you get pennies on the dollar,” Richardson said.
Horry County council will discuss a resolution to opt out of the class action lawsuit during tonight’s meeting.
Horry County spokesperson, Kelly Moore declined to comment on the subject before the meeting.