(1) How will abatement funds MA receives under statewide opioid settlements be distributed?
Under the terms of the state’s approved State-Subdivision Agreement, 40% of abatement funds coming into Massachusetts under statewide opioid settlements will be allocated to the state’s municipalities to expend on abatement strategies developed with input from public health experts, municipal leaders, and families affected by the crisis; and 60% of the abatement funds will be allocated to the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund to fund additional prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery programs throughout Massachusetts.
(2) Do municipalities have a role in the statewide Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund?
Yes. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, together with a Council comprised of 10 municipal appointees appointed by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and 10 state appointees, oversees the Fund. The appointees are qualified by experience and expertise regarding opioid use disorder.
In its first year, the Council met four times and focused on reviewing the scope of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, the existing landscape of substance use prevention and treatment programming in Massachusetts, and opportunities to address racial and geographic inequities in substance use prevention and treatment. The Council dedicated significant time to developing a set of principles for future expenditures from the Fund.
On September 30, 2021, the Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal, based on suggestions and feedback provided by Council members, to spend $10 million from the Fund to expand harm reduction services, increase access to methadone, expand supportive housing, and fund outreach teams that will provide treatment, rehabilitation, and supportive services in home and community settings. The Council filed its first Annual Report on October 1, 2021.
Council meeting minutes and materials are available here.
(3) How much will MA municipalities receive from the Distributor and Johnson & Johnson settlements?
Charts reflecting the estimated, maximum annual distributions to participating municipalities from the Distributor and Johnson & Johnson settlements are here. Lawyers and experts in the national opioid litigation developed the municipal allocation model based on federal data on opioid use disorder, overdose deaths and 2006-2016 opioid shipments into Massachusetts, by region and community.
Distributions allocated to non-participating municipalities (i.e., municipalities that did not sign settlement participation forms) will be directed to the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund. Participating municipalities may also choose to redirect some or all of their allocation to the Fund.
(4) When will payments from the Distributor and Johnson & Johnson settlements come in?
On June 7 and 8, Settlement Administrator Brown Greer sent all participating municipalities in the Distributor and J&J Settlements an email with instructions about how to establish an account in the National Opioid Settlements Portal. Once participating municipalities complete and submit through the Portal a Payment Election Form and W-9, payments should be available to flow, as follows:
- Distributor payments 1-2: July/August 2022
- Distributor payments 3-18: July 15, 2023-2038
- Johnson & Johnson payments 1-2: July/August 2022
- Johnson & Johnson payments 3-11: July 15, 2023-2031
As shown above, municipalities should expect to receive multiple payments in each payment year. Charts reflecting the estimated, maximum annual distributions to participating municipalities, by defendant and payment are here. As reflected in the charts, J&J payments 3 and 4 are subject to acceleration to 2022 if certain conditions are met.
Distributions allocated to non-participating municipalities will be directed to the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund. Participating municipalities will also be able to elect to redirect some or all of their allocation to the Fund. We will update this FAQ with additional details about payment timing and mechanics as they become available.
(5) Where can I find guidance about municipal abatement initiatives and reporting requirements?
The state’s approved State-Subdivision Agreement provides a list of permissible municipal abatement uses and preliminary reporting guidelines.
Municipalities are encouraged to pool abatement funds they receive to increase their impact, including by utilizing the Department of Public Health’s Office of Local and Regional Health’s Shared Service infrastructure, which already supports 43 regional collaboratives serving 277 municipalities.
The AG’s Office is working with the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to assemble additional guidance and resources, and will update this FAQ as those become available.
For a list of treatment, support and harm reduction resources compiled by the AG’s Office, click here.
(6) What about attorney’s fees?
Some municipalities in Massachusetts and other States retained attorneys on a contingency fee basis to file opioid litigation. The national Settlements with the three major distributors and Johnson & Johnson establish a $1.6 billion Attorney Fee Fund and $200 million Cost Fund for attorneys representing municipalities that join the Settlements. The Settlements require attorneys who recover from those funds to waive enforcement of their contingency fee entitlements as to all of their clients and notify their clients accordingly.
The state’s investigation and litigation against the opioid industry is handled by government lawyers in AG Healey’s office. No money from these Settlements will go to pay any state lawyers.
(7) Where can I get more information about the AG’s statewide opioid settlements?
(8) Where will settlement recoveries from bankrupt opioid defendants go?
Recoveries from settlements with bankrupt opioid defendants, including Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt, will be spent to address the opioid crisis, in accordance with plans of reorganization approved by the bankruptcy courts.
(9) Can I file a personal injury claim in the Mallinckrodt bankruptcy?
Yes. The Bankruptcy Court appointed a Personal Injury Trustee to oversee the claim process. According to the Trustee’s website, personal injury claims materials will be published on July 1, 2022, and claims will be accepted starting on August 1, 2022. Although the Trustee did not set a deadline for claims submission, allowed claims will be paid “first in, first out” based on the date each claim is allowed. This means claimants should file as quickly as possible, since claims submitted late in the process may not be paid.
The Bankruptcy Court approved the claims process as described in the Personal Injury Trust Distribution Procedures (“TDP”). The award levels and the evidence that claimants will need to qualify for payment are in Section 5 of the TDP, including a list of Qualifying Opioids in Section 5.2.
Individuals and families who believe they were harmed by one or more of the Qualifying Opioids should carefully review Section 5 of the TDP and the sample forms attached to the TDP. They should also check the Trustee’s website for updates.
The AG’s Office is not involved in administration of personal injury claims.