Rep. Claudia L. Tenney is calling on private law firms involved in representing state and local lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors to provide representation pro bono and said they should not accept taxpayer funds for legal fees resulting from any settlement efforts to combat addiction.
Rep. Tenney, R-22, made this call in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s statement of interest in state lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors that engaged in false or deceptive marketing.
“Law firms engaged in representing taxpayer interests against opioid manufacturers and distributors should not be able to profit off the backs of vulnerable individuals in recovery. That’s why I’m calling on law firms to provide representation pro bono and defer all legal fees from any settlement to efforts combating the opioid epidemic,” Tenney said.
“Although taxpayer investment in prevention and treatment is at a record high, the mortality rate from opioid abuse has only continued to increase. Our communities are strapped for funding and are in constant search for resources to invest in treatment and prevention. Providing these services pro bono would go a long way to equip our communities and families with these necessary resources,” said Tenney.
Since 2001, the opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion, $116 billion of which was spent in 2017, Tenney noted. Attorney General Jeff Sessions predicted the opioid epidemic could cost the U.S. nearly $500 billion over the next three years.
“As a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, Rep. Tenney has worked across the aisle to provide greater resources to combat substance abuse and increase training and resources for our first responders,” the statement noted.
Tenney has already called on Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to retain all funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). President Trump proposed to cut ONDCP funding by 95 percent in his 2019 budget proposal.
Rep. Tenney also voted in favor of the Bipartisan Budget Act which provided an additional $6 billion in funds to combat the opioid crisis. And in January, she called on the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the President’s Opioid Public Health Emergency Declaration.