Hamilton County is set to possibly receive millions of dollars in a settlement with three manufacturers and distributors of opioids, attorney Ronnie Berke told members of the County Commission on Wednesday.
In late December, a federal judge rejected a proposed $4.5 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma that would have given the Sackler family a full release from any liability.
“That rejection by the bankruptcy judge will have zero effect on our proposed settlement on what we’ve done so far,” attorney Berke said.
“The settlement was with three distributors and a subdivision of Johnson and Johnson. The numbers are not completely decided yet.”
He told the commission that the defendants have until mid-March to reject details, but that the county expects to receive $10.8 million from two different funds.
“It will not be paid immediately and will be paid over 18 years,” attorney Berke said. “Our best estimate will be that the county will receive $900,000 over the first three years, and then the next 15 years the county will receive between $500,000 or $600,000.”
The attorney expects for the county to start receiving payments in May or June, and that the city of Chattanooga will also receive a small amount of money as well. He said there are restrictions on what $7 million of those payments can be used for.
“The $7 million will be an abatement fund to take care of problems caused by the opioid crisis, but those guidelines have not been finally determined yet,” attorney Berke said. “What we fully expect is that what the county is already spending money on will be able to be shifted over into this abatement fund. Even though there will be some restrictions, it will still be used for things the county is spending on.”
While he said there is nothing set in stone right now, the settlement could also bring in what he called “more millions for the county.” Whether there will be a settlement or a trial is yet to be determined.