Shelby mayor files lawsuit against county commission chair over opioid crisis lawsuit


Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration has sued Board of Commissioners chairwoman Heidi Shafer in Chancery Court, challenging her hiring of a law firm last week to hire to sue pharmaceutical companies over the county’s opioid crisis, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In a news conference Tuesday, Luttrell said he was “irked” by Shafer’s decision to hire New York-based Napoli Shkolnik, the law firm known for winning a huge class-action settlement for sick Ground Zero workers, among others. He repeatedly emphasized that her action was “unilateral,” without input from the full commission or administration, and claimed she violated the county charter by usurping executive branch authority.

“The biggest foul, I think, is on our ability to aggressively move forward and address this from a consolidated standpoint,” Luttrell said.

However, Shafer maintained Tuesday that she has the authority under the charter to hire the attorneys, and especially during an emergency situation where a delay in filing a lawsuit could conceivably affect the size of whatever payout the county receives.

Shafer shrugged off the the administration’s lawsuit Tuesday as “insider, political, sausage-making” while at the same time saying it was an attempt to bully her in order to shield Big Pharma from taking responsibility for its role in giving Tennessee the second highest rate of opioid prescriptions in the nation, with more prescriptions than residents.

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