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AG Morrisey announces MOU on statewide allocation of future opioid suit settlement funds

MORGANTOWN – State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday that his office has reached an agreement with 54 counties and dozens of municipalities on the allocation of expected settlement and judgment funds – in the millions of dollars – from several opioid-related suits in the court system.

“This is an opportunity to really, truly put West Virginia first,” he said at the press conference attended by a number of local government officials from across the state.

The agreement – in the form of a memorandum of understanding, or MOU – was reached with representatives of the various governments, he said. Many details need to be worked out; local and legislative action will be needed to make everything official.

The agreement is required by the West Virginia Mass Litigation Panel to become eligible for any opioid settlement monies obtained through court orders, Morrisey said. Without an agreement in place, courts would decide on the allocation.

Any money that comes to the state – he had no estimates of figures that might result from the several cases – must be used for opioid abatement and will go into a fund overseen by a private, nonprofit foundation charged with distributing the funds.

Based on the MOU, the local governments will directly receive 24.5% of the money, the foundation will receive 72.5% and 3% will be placed in a state escrow account.

“I think we’re at the beginning stages of something special,” Morrisey said. The MOU sets up the parameters: breaking the state into six regions and outlining how the various government entities will interact. The foundation will have an 11-member board, with five members appointed by the governor and one from each region. “It’s a pretty big deal to get to this place.”

Morrisey said that when the time comes, he will ask the governor and legislative leaders for a special session so the Legislature can do its part.

Huntington has been at the heart of the opioid crisis, and Mayor Steve Williams made some comments and took some questions during the press conference.

“This is a major step in the right direction,” Williams said. Various agencies and programs have taken steps to address the problem, but they’ve been working in silos, each doing their own thing.

The MOU provides two lists of possible allocations to the local governments – one that includes Huntington and Cabell County and one that doesn’t.

Proposed allotments for the list without them: Charleston, 6.7218%; Monongalia County, 1.4987%; Blacksville, 0.0003%; Granville, 0.1649%; Morgantown, 0.133%; Star City, 0.0414%; Westover, 0.0094%; Preston County, 0.8811%; Kingwood, 0.0046%; Masontown, 0.0008%; Newburg, 0.0012%; Reedsvillle, 0.0007%; Terra Alta, 0.0015%; Tunnelton, 0.0006%; Marion County, 1.054%; and Fairmont, 0.6852%.

Proposed allotments for the list with Cabell County and Huntington: Charleston, 6.102%; Cabell County, 3.2406%; Huntington, 5.9777%; Monongalia County, 1.3605%; Blacksville, 0.0002%; Granville, 0.1497%; Morgantown, 0.1213%; Star City, 0.0376%; Westover, 0.0086%; Preston County, 0.7999%; Kingwood, 0.0046%; Masontown, 0.0007%; Newburg, 0.0011%; Reedsvillle, 0.0006%; Terra Alta, 0.0014%; Tunnelton, 0.0005%; Marion County, 0.9568%; and Fairmont, 0.622%.

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