Potential opioid lawsuit delayed in Metro Council

(Photo: WRKN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A rare procedural move was used Tuesday to force another council vote on whether the city is authorized to hire a law firm to potentially file a lawsuit against the makers of opioids.

The resolution was approved 30-6, with four abstentions, Tuesday night.

But seconds later, members of the Minority Caucus made a motion to reconsider, which requires a second vote on the resolution during the next meeting in two weeks.

The maneuver, described as “extremely rare,” was criticized by members of the Metro Council and Mayor Megan Barry.

Barry tweeted: “An overwhelming majority of Councilmembers voted tonight for Metro Nashville to take action on the opioid crisis. We can’t afford to let shenanigans keep us from addressing the opioid epidemic that is plaguing all of our communities. The time to act is now.”

District 24 Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy also disagreed with the delay tactic.

“We need to be taking action. And we need to do it now,” Murphy told News 2.

At-Large Councilwoman Erica Gilmore says she pushed for the delay to further discuss diversity in law firms representing the city.

“To call it shenanigans, we don’t look at it as that,” Gilmore told News 2. “We look at it as representing our constituents, and we take it very seriously. Equity and inclusion is for all citizens.”

Erica Gilmore (Photo: WRKN)

The potential lawsuit would seek compensation from big pharmaceutical companies for the tens of millions of dollars spent by Metro battling the opioid crisis.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is the firm the city would hire to handle the potential lawsuit.

Kenny Byrd is a partner with the firm.

“These corporations have placed this drug onto the market. It has created enormous burdens for families and taxpayers across this country,” said Byrd. “And the question is: who is going to bear the burden of these costs? Are we as taxpayers going to continue to have to pay for all this? Or is it time to shift the burden to the people reaping all the profits?”

The next vote on the resolution will come December 19. The resolution is expected to be approved then.