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Covington to Hire Firm to Sue Opioid Manufacturers; Police Chief Says Position is Urgently Needed

The City of Covington is joining Kenton County and several other local governments in hiring private law firms to represent them in lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

Michael Bartlett, city solicitor, presented a plan for the suit to the Covington city commission on Tuesday. The city would be represented by Latonia-baed Bonar, Buchar & Rankin.

The city will be joining two New York cities on the case in a federal court in northern Ohio. Bartlett said that each city would receive individual payouts if they win, but due to each city suing for the same reason, federal courts lump cases together using multi-district litigation to help process them more quickly.

According to Bartlett, manufacturers and distributors who are named in the suit profited to the tune of more than $400 billion annually from the region over the years leading up to the national opioid crisis.

“We see a lot of the ill effects of heroin and opioid crisis with our EMS personnel having to constantly face these calls,” Bartlett said.

Bonar, Buchar & Rankin will only be paid for their work on the case if the city is able to win it.

The commission moved the topic to next week’s legislative consent agenda where it will be approved.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Rob Nader said that the police department needs a newly created position of records custodian.

According to Nader, the position's would-be duties were previously divided between other positions that were eliminated in recent years, causing a records clerk to step in and do two jobs.

If approved, the records custodian would be responsible for maintaining all police department records and responding to any open requests forms, reviewing them, and releasing the appropriate data, while also overseeing the records clerks.

Commissioner Jordan Huizenga said that he understood the need for the position, but voiced concerns over the costs fitting into next year’s budget.

Nader said he understood that concern but that the need for the position is too great, so if there are budget shortfalls he is prepared to eliminate one of the four current records clerk positions to create the record custodian position.

The item was also moved to next week’s legislative consent agenda for approval.

Written by Carrie Crotzer, RCN contributor