By Dan Aaron
As the opioid litigation continues over the shadow of one of our nation’s most pressing public health crises, some criticism has been levied at private lawyers representing the cities, counties, states, and individuals harmed by the crisis. For example, see the following tweet:
Let’s work out tax and healthcare financing policy county by county, with private lawyers taking a 25% cut every time. Judge Polster seems to like this idea.
The critiques are many, but can be summarized: (1) private lawyers are being enriched; (2) private lawyers are setting opioid policy; (3) private lawyers have misaligned incentives; and (4) private lawyers will not support public health.
Arguably, all these arguments bear some truth. However, do they suggest that the opioid litigation is incorrigibly tainted and tort litigation the improper avenue to address mass torts such as the opioid crisis?