County Declines Brewer Park Donation

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court adopted a resolution during its Thursday, Nov. 2 meeting to “… bring suit on behalf of Houston County, Texas vs. various drug manufacturers, developers, suppliers and others of drugs commonly referred to as opioids and (the) approval of (a) Professional Services Agreement for Special Counsel.”

During a Sept. 26 meeting of the court, the commissioners were given a presentation on the opioid epidemic and asked to join in a lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers.

Tyler-based attorney Jack Walker, along with Crockett attorney Jody Griffith were on hand during the September meeting to give a presentation on opioid litigation.

“Most of you may know we are in the midst of an opioid crisis in the United States. President Trump declared it as a national crisis last month. We are asking the court to consider retaining our firm (Martin Walker, P.C. Attorneys at Law), Jody’s firm (Griffith and Griffith, P.C.) and the firm of Simon Greenstone Panatier and Bartlett out of Dallas to represent the county in litigation against the opioid manufacturers,” Walker said.

As the Thursday meeting progressed, County Judge Jim Lovell said he had requested County Attorney Daphne Session to examine the resolution and recommend what position the county should approach.

Lovell said the county attorney had not found any issues contained in the resolution. A motion was made seconded and unanimously approved to enter into the litigation.

The suit is being brought against the larger manufacturers/distributors of opioids such as Purdue, Endo Health Systems, Johnson and Johnson, McKesson and Cardinal. The county is not being charged any fees to join suit but any awarded monies would have a 33 percent contingency attached.

Before the meeting concluded, the commissioners were presented with an agenda item concerning the donation of Brewer Park to the county by the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I talked with Jeannie Julian the director of the chamber and she said they were spending about $1,100 on the upkeep of the park. They were willing to donate it to the county. When I talked to her, she said they would love to keep the park if community service (workers) would maintain it,” he said.

The judge added, “I don’t really see a lot of advantages in owning that park.”

After a brief discussion about liability and insurance policies in regard to Brewer Park, the court declined the donation.

In other matters brought before the court:

  • The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
  • The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county were approved.
  • The Houston County Environmental, Community Service, FY 2017 Seizure and Forfeiture, and FY 2017 Task Force on Indigent Defense Reports were received as information by the commissioners.
  • The court approved salaries for new and transfer employees, along with recommendations from the Human Resources Committee.
  • The Title IV-E Legal Services Annual Review Contract Number 24105139 with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for county legal services for Fiscal Year 2018 was approved by the court.
  • A contract between Houston County and the Texas Facilities Commission for Texas Health and Human Services Commission offices was approved.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.