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Jacksonville strikes back against ‘human tragedy’, picks proven opioid suit lawyers

The opioid crisis has hit Jacksonville hard. And now, via engagement of an international class-action law firm, the city is ready to hit back.

Scott & Scott, headquartered in Connecticut, will help the city pursue tangible remedies from opioid manufacturers. This firm has scored significant eight-figure cash settlements from numerous pharmaceutical companies and is currently handling legal actions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania against the same.

The city’s opioid overdoses have spiked in recent years, with 464 in 2016, and still more than that in 2017.

Councilman Bill Gulliford, who sponsored legislation to get an experimental treatment program for those who come to ERs after overdoses, sees the suit as a way to fight back against a “human tragedy” that has wreaked havoc on city resources ranging from emergency rooms to overstretched public safety personnel.

Florida Politics spoke with Gulliford this week, and he discussed at great length the opioid crisis.

“I walked through the morgue and into the cooler yesterday. That slams life and its realities home to you,” Gulliford said.

The morgue, these days, is full to capacity — and then some.

The local medical examiner’s office sees bodies on top of bodies, with processing of new intake delayed by days often of late.

To counteract this, the City Council authorized money for a temporary storage unit and office space — a stop gap until the city can build a new building. Temporary facilities, to be installed in the next 90 days at a cost of $206,000, will encompass the portable refrigerating unit for 40 additional bodies, and a mobile unit will accommodate six additional staffers to handle the case load.

Hard and soft costs will tax the city’s budget, ranging from extra money and overtime for EMTs to shuttle victims to potential recovery, to a need for more and better physical facilities.

The lawsuit, whose target has yet to be determined, will redress some of those fiscal costs.

But compensation for a human loss is a different matter.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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