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East Hampton Village to Sue for Opioid Damages

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 13:12

$$$$ spent on training to counteract overdoses

The East Hampton Village Board has authorized a law firm to file suit on its behalf against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The suit, to be initiated by the firm Tate, Grossman, Kelly and Iaccarino, will seek monetary damages for costs incurred by the village’s police force, ambulance company, and other services that have had to respond to incidents involving the use of the drugs, said Mark Tate, a partner in the firm, in a phone interview on Tuesday.

 Since its founding earlier this year, the firm, which has offices in Islip and Savannah, Ga., has filed suits on behalf of several East Coast municipalities, labor unions, hospitals, and rehab facilities, Mr. Tate said.

Once the suit is filed, he said, the firm will send a team here to assess how much the village has spent in relation to opioid usage. The village might be able to recoup much of the outlay, he said, including money spent on training ambulance and police personnel on the administration of Narcan, a drug used to counteract opioid overdoses, as well as increased health care costs for the village’s own personnel.

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said yesterday there had been seven incidents over the last two years in which members of the ambulance service had administered Narcan during a call. Police officers had administered it twice.

“It’s a sad day when our village has to get enmeshed in something like this, but it’s a tragedy across the breadth of our country,” said Mr. Rickenbach. “The bottom line is, we’re not immune.”

According to the contract with Tate, Grossman, there are no upfront costs to joining the suit. The law firm will receive a payment of 25 percent of recovered money, plus associated expenses.

If the village does succeed in the lawsuit, Mayor Rickenbach said, he would like to see the money used to help battle opioid addiction. 

In other business on Friday, the board approved a special event permit for the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas market, which will be held on Newtown Lane on Dec. 7 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. The street will be shut down to traffic from Main Street to Stop and Shop, and about 50 vendors’ booths will be set up there.

A public hearing was held on a proposed law to make the parking restrictions consistent at the adjoining lots at 88 Newtown Lane and 8 Osborne Lane. Both will be available for two-hour parking between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. No objections were made, and the board approved the measure. The new regulations will take effect in a few weeks, after the law is filed with the secretary of state.

The board resolved to apply to the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program for a grant of $66,112, to pay for the installation of a low-nitrogen septic system at the Herrick Park restroom.

The board also approved the hiring of John Clark, Armann Gretarsson, and Meghan Harris as part-time police officers.

After the meeting, Richard Lawler, a trustee, said he had received numerous inquiries from residents who were worried that a proposal to upgrade the village’s parking machines, which was discussed at a meeting on Nov. 7, would lead to parking fees. “Just because we’re looking into these new machines does not mean that we’re going to start to charge for parking,” he said.

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