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City of Chattanooga joins opioid lawsuit settlement bringing millions to city governments

By Jamya Reed

CHATTANOOGA (WTVC) -- After several major drug companies settled a massive opioid lawsuit that accused them of not doing enough to prevent addiction, several local governments are receiving millions of dollars.

There will be rules that come with agreeing to accept this settlement money, but, for now, local governments are signing off and hoping to get whatever they can to make a difference in this ongoing opioid crisis.

John Mitchell, with the Hamilton County Coalition says, "We work with people that try to find the right treatment option for them."

Opioid prescriptions hit 5 million in 2020 in the state of Tennessee.

Now, manufacturers of some of those drugs are having to pay state and local governments for the crisis.

"With these settlements, hopefully more money is going into treatment options, or making options known for people." says Mitchell.

Whitfield County Commission Chair, Jevin Jensen says their settlement is between 2 to 3 million dollars.

"We wanted to put that money to use in our community because we have been suffering, so many of the victims, the families," says Jensen.

Jensen says they don't have the specific rules but are hoping to use the money for drug courts and nonprofits that help victims of opioid abuse.

"We want these people to be out and sober and break the chain of this addiction," says Jensen.

It's a decision other counties like Hamilton County have to make.

"It has been projected that Hamilton County would receive approximately $10 million over a period of time," says a Hamilton County official.

County leaders say in some cases this money will take the place of taxpayer dollars that are being used to fight this long lasting battle against opioid addiction.

"If we can get more help from the source and trying to get the education out there, we think that it can curb the next generation to not continue this problem that we see and deal with every day," says Mitchell.

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