An article in the January 22nd edition of the Gazette Newspaper reported that the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors has engaged the law firm Napoli Shkolnik PLLC to represent them as part of a lawsuit regarding the opioid epidemic. Apparently, as part of the legal strategy, the county passed a resolution declaring the epidemic to be a “public nuisance.”
The agreement with the law firm is on a contingency basis. The County puts up no money but should the County prevail, the law firm will receive a share in the settlement.
A brief internet search indicated that this law firm which is located on Long Island has agreements with municipalities in other states.
In its September 12 edition, the Post Star reported that attorney Donald Boyagian of Saratoga , who the paper identified as being affiliated with a national law firm, had pitched a proposal to the Warren County Board of Supervisors for litigation against the manufacturers of opioids. The national law firm is Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC. They had already been engaged by fifteen counties including Fulton County. Oddly, the article in the Post Star reported that Schenectady had signed on with Boyagian’s group while the Gazette reported that Schenectady had signed on with Napoli Shkonink. It could be Schenectedy county vs the city of Schenectady. http://poststar.com/news/local/local-counties-pitched-for-opioid-manufacturer-lawsuits/article_7f5d177a-c830-5df8-92d9-9ed8e28c7113.html
The Post Star reported that the “…law suits go after counties for what Boyajian called ‘concerted, aggressive, fraudulent marketing schemes’ that resulted in thousands of addicts who turned to heroin when the pain killer pills become less effective for them over time.”
The Post Start subsequently reported in their November 15 edition that Warren County had selected Napoli Shkolnik to represent them. While there were reservations raised at the Warren County board meeting, they voted unanimously to approve the agreement. http://poststar.com/news/local/with-some-apprehension-warren-county-opts-into-opioid-lawsuit/article_a3663a93-b6b9-5f9c-84e0-91bddf280a13.html
Given the disturbing history of cronyism in Saratoga County I was curious about the history of our county’s involvement in this process. I contacted our new Supervisor, Tara Gaston, who responded promptly with the following.
I appreciate you reaching out to me. As far as the background – the decision to sue, and the discussions behind that, were made before I took my position on the Board. I will say that the purpose is to be able to recoup some of the excessive costs the County has had to spend on fighting the opioid epidemic. The County chose to hire a well-known firm that has been handling this issue for other municipalities. I am currently in discussion with the County Attorney, and potentially with Napoli Shkolnik itself, to get more information on the strategy and costs, although it is currently my understanding that, it is a contingency-fee case with a similar strategy as tobacco litigation.
Again, while this isn’t a lot of information now, I am having on-going discussions regarding the litigation to make sure that the interests of the City (and County) are represented. I also urge anyone interested in this to attend the public hearing on the proposed local law. It will be at the Board (40 McMaster Street Ballston Spa) February 14, 2018, at 4:28PM. http://www.saratogacountyny.gov/event/public-hearing-428pm-2/
Additionally, comments can be made at the public comment period on February 27, 2018 (or any other Board meeting). Unfortunately, 24 hours’ notice is required in order to speak at the meetings, so please make sure to share that so that individuals who want to comment can. I am also happy to accept comments at my official email above, or on my Supervisor Facebook page, which I will make sure are considered as well.
– Supervisor Tara N. Gaston