By Cady Inabinett
The Montevallo City council voted to join a class action lawsuit against Endo International—a pharmaceutical company that produces opioids—at their Dec. 28 meeting.
The state of Alabama filed a lawsuit against the manufacture over its alleged involvement in the opioid epidemic. Other municipalities within the state have also signed on the participate in the suit.
City clerk Steve Gilbert summarized the city’s involvement in the suit, saying, “Basically, this was an opportunity for us to opt in to any future settlements that might be awarded to the state of Alabama.”
He went on to point out, “There’s no guarantee that we’ll receive any money, but those will be allocated based on population and based on the area there.”
The city will not have to pay any legal fees in order to participate in the suit, with Gilbert saying, “It was recommended to us to as almost a no-brainer. Why not put your name in there? We will incur no legal expenses or anything in so doing. We’re just listed as one of the parties in the class action suit.”
Any money received through the settlement will have to be used for either drug education or drug enforcement programs. Gilbert said they city plans to use any allocated funds for the Impact program—a city-run program that aims to discourage drug use among the city’s youth.
The council also voted to accept ownership of a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck offered to the Montevallo Police Department by the Alabama Drug Task Force, as well as authorize repairs and maintenance to the vehicle—including outfitting the truck with a police light system—totaling $6,000. These funds will be allocated from the police department’s budget.
The truck was seized by the Alabama Drug Task Force and is being offered to the Montevallo Police Department at no cost to the department other than the costs of repairs. The vehicle can not be resold by the police department. Instead, after the department is done using it, they must return it to the state.
Montevallo Police Department Lt. D.B. Harrelson says gaining this vehicle will help extend the department’s current fleet.
Harrelson also outlined the repairs that would need to be made to vehicle, saying that whoever had the truck before its seizure had put a large lift on the truck, making it “not practical for what we want to do with it.”
“I’d need a ladder to get in it, probably,” Harrelson went on to say.
Returning the truck to its original height, as well as some routine maintenance and outfitting the vehicle with a light will all be included in the repairs.
Gilbert added that, while the cost of these repairs will be taken out of the police department’s budget, there are plans to recuperate the costs.
“If we receive the money that we are expecting from another seizure case, as those funds are allocated to the agencies that were participating in that particular seizure, then we will replace that money back into the departmental budget from that seizure money,” Gilbert said.
Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adele Nelson updated the council on new businesses coming to Montevallo.
“If any indication from the last phone calls that I’ve gotten over the last two days about new businesses wanting to come to Montevallo, next year’s going to be great,” Nelson said.
Nelson reported that Strand Coffeehouse has scheduled its ribbon cutting for Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. She also said a donut shop is supposed to open next month as well.
Council member David King asked Nelson if the recent death of Jeff Bajalieh, one of the owners of Slice Pizza & Brew, would impact the Montevallo location. Nelson said she did not know of any changes to plans for the location, and said that the inside of the Montevallo location is still being renovated.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall.
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.