County commission overrides Luttrell’s veto on opioid lawsuit

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The fate of Shelby County's opioid lawsuit is still uncertain, and it will likely stay that way for a while.

A legal battle between the mayor and the county commission is moving forward after a key vote Wednesday.

The commission voted 8-0 to override the mayor's veto of the commission hiring outside counsel to file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies.

"This is a necessary thing to do so we don't have a runaway administration," said Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

The mayor says filing an opioid lawsuit is up to him, but commissioners say it's up to them.

"We're saying you can have the attorney, just go through the process and you'll have the attorney," Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said.

Luttrell sued the County Commission months ago after they sued pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs and any related entities. Shafer took the lead on the County Commission's suit.

"What she has done is outside her authority, and therefore it does upset the balance of power," Luttrell said.

Both sides want to fight pain killer addiction, but they can't agree on how to do it.

Counties across the nation are suing the pharmaceutical industry. That's why Luttrell says a collaborative approach is needed.

"If all these counties are out doing there own thing, think about how confusing it's going to be to try to resolve the issue of opioids," the mayor said.

But commissioners like Terry Roland say the commission's lawsuit is best.

He says it's designed to make up for county dollars spent on fighting opioids and the issues that come with it.

"We're going, and we're going to actually get the money back into this county. Not wait and let the state the money," Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland said.

The fight within the county continues while the bigger one waits.

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