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Tuesday June 19th, 2018 11:46PM

Gainesville to seek damages caused by opioid crisis

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to take legal action in the fight against opioid overuse and abuse, joining numerous other municipalities and jurisdictions across Georgia and the U.S.

“There’s been considerable attention in the media related to opioid litigation and the problems that communities like ours are facing,” City Attorney Abb Hayes told council members as he presented them the resolution for their approval.

“This will authorize and approve the employment of the Hasty Pope law firm out of Gainesville as well as the Blasingame (Burch, Garrard & Ashley) law firm out of Athens to represent the City of Gainesville.  They are also representing Hall County,” Hayes explained.

The two firms will divide 30-percent of any damages awarded to the city as the result of the lawsuit’s verdict or any relating settlement or compromise, with Hasty Pope receiving one third of that amount and Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley receiving two-thirds.

The legal fees associated with the lawsuit are contingent upon being awarded damages sought.  In addition, any fees or expenses relating to the lawsuit will not be charged to the city if there is no recovery.

Henry Garrard of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley will serve as the lead counsel.

According to the Legal Services Agreement: This litigation is intended to address a significant problem in the community. The litigation focuses on the manufacturers and wholesale distributors and their role in the diversion of millions of prescription opiates into the illicit market which has resulted in opioid addiction, abuse, morbidity and mortality.

City Manager Bryan Lackey said following the meeting, “This is not about money; the city doesn’t care if we see a dime of this.  We just want to change the attitudes of the pharmaceutical companies so that things will change, and so our communities will be better.”

OTHER COUNCIL MEETING ACTION

The RTS Landfill on Monroe Drive near Athens Highway held a state-mandated public hearing as they plan to modify and extend their solid waste handling permit.

The size of the landfill will actually be reduced by 12.5-acres according to John Workman, Senior Engineering Manager of Waste Management, Inc.

“RTS Landfill is a C&D landfill, we’re only permitted to accept material from construction sites, demolition sites, clean soil as well as yard waste,” Workman said.

Workman explained that even though the overall approved volume of the landfill will not change, because the slope of the debris pile is changing a public hearing is required by the EPD.

“There is no change in (approved) height; there is no change in landfill capacity, either,” Workman said. 

Councilwoman Barbara Brooks asked, “You can see the mound over the tree line.  Are you going to have any type of height stipulation…before you cap it and stop filling?”

Workman said the height limitation in their current permit will not change, but roughly 30-feet of additional elevation remains before reaching that maximum permitted height.

“We have a remaining site-life of about three years.  At the end of that three years the landfill will close,” Workman said.

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