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County will consider joining opioid suit


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners on Monday is set to consider a recommendation that the county join a lawsuit seeking damages from several drug companies for the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The law firm McHugh Fuller Law Group of Hattiesburg, Miss., is the lead counsel and is being joined by seven other firms in the suit, including Ward and Smith of Greenville. Five other counties in North Carolina have joined the suit.

The meeting is set for noon in the commissioners board room at the Pitt County Office Building, 1717 W. Fifth St. The meeting was been delayed from its scheduled 9 a.m. start because of icy road conditions.

According to a report to the board, there is a contingency fee of 30 percent of the gross recovery, plus litigation expenses if the suit is successfull. There will be no fee or reimbursement of expenses if there is no recovery.

The suit alleges that multiple manufacturers and wholesale distributors of opioids have played a role in the diversion of millions of prescription opiates into the illicit market. The result is “opioid addiction, abuse, morbidity and mortality.”

As of last week Yadkin, Buncombe, New Hanover, Surry and Rockingham counties have signed on to the suit. The complaint has already been filed in Asheville on behalf of Buncombe County.

Also on Monday’s agenda:

• Vidant Health will provide an update and annual audit report.

• Trillium Health Resources will provide an annual report.

• A public hearing will be held as part of the final procedure for confirming the assessment roll for the Woodmoor subdivision road improvement project. Once that roll is confirmed the tax collection will publish is.

Last year the county spent $106,627 to repair Woodmoor Drive and a portion of Trails End so it could be adopted into the state road system. The money was spent because the majority of property owners agreed to repay the county. The assessment will be either a one-time payment of $5,077.51 or an annual payment of $507.75 over a 10-year period.

• A public hearing on a request to rezone 2.96 acres of property on Barrus Construction Road, south of its intersection with N.C. 33. DPD Properties II wants the rezoning changed from rural residential to general industrial, as a conditional district so it can allow a debris washout area for the concrete plant located on the property. The county planning board unanimously approved the request.

• A report on the progress Southern Land and Timber has made in complying with the conditions set by commissioners in August to receive a conditional use permit expanding the area it could mine.

Planning staff is scheduled to report that while the company made “significant progress” restoring areas that were accidently excavated, the work isn’t complete and the mine is not in compliance with the requirements of the conditional use permit and the zoning ordinance.

• A review of a draft ordinance regulating drones and other unmanned aircraft systems and a discussion about setting a Feb. 19 public hearing on its adoption.

A request to purchase four radio amphlifers to boost signals received at found fire stations as part of the upgrade of Pitt County’s emergency radio and paging system.

The equipment and installation will cost $115,024 and the commissioners must approve the appropriation of $104,385 from a contingency fund to do the work.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.