CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The fight against overdose deaths could put Mecklenburg County into a major legal battle.
NBC Charlotte has learned county commissioners are now considering joining other counties in a lawsuit against big drug companies. Sources tell NBC Charlotte the issue was just discussed last night in a closed-door meeting.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham says she supports joining the lawsuit. She said she’s been to too many funerals and it needs to stop.
“Six weeks in a row I went to a funeral,” said Cotham. “It was just breaking my heart.”
Cotham is now pushing for the state’s biggest county to take a legal stand against the nation’s big drug companies.
“If we can send a message to these big drug companies, ‘Hold on, you are killing our kids and this isn’t right’,” explained Cotham.
County leaders say the idea of suing the drug companies was discussed in a closed-door meeting in November. Cotham wouldn’t confirm or deny details in the meeting; however, she says the lawsuit involves counties in North Carolina and around the country, and she hopes Mecklenburg County soon, too.
“The big engine of the state, I think it would send a strong message,” said Cotham.
Mecklenburg County is one of the hardest hit counties in the state. According to the Governor’s Office, the number of opioid deaths in North Carolina jumped from 642 in 2005 to more than 1,100 in 2015.
“We need to push back and say enough of this,” says Cotham.
Cotham says the lawsuit wouldn’t cost taxpayers because attorneys are taking on the financial risk.
“We don’t have to pay out anything, so there’s no taxpayer dollars being put into it,” said Cotham.
She says the cost of not taking a stand is too high.
“I don’t want to go to more funerals in 2018,” she declared.
At this point, it’s not clear when county commissioners will make a decision about whether to join the lawsuit.