Standing Up for Public School Districts Impacted by the Opioid Crisis

November 12, 2021

by M&S Staff

M&S Helps Public Schools Secure Funding in Opioid Bankruptcy Filings

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Mehri & Skalet has helped public schools across the country secure the creation of a groundbreaking Public School District Special Education Trust funded by Purdue and Mallinckrodt, two pharmaceutical companies that played a major role in the opioid crisis and who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The opioid epidemic has posed a major crisis for public schools, as students with disabilities stemming from exposure to opioids in utero need special education and other necessary services that require significant funding from already stretched-thin public schools. Thanks to the work of Mehri & Skalet and our co-counsel, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Terrell Hogan Yegelwel and The Henrichsen Law Group, both Chapter 11 plans now include the creation of Public Schools’ Special Education Initiatives Trust, totaling $30.5 million upon the effective date of these bankruptcy proceedings. With input from Public School Districts, counsel will select a Trustee who will notify all school districts nationwide of the grant process and invite proposals for projects to provide abatement through the public schools.

Cyrus Mehri, who led the negotiations, said, “We believe it’s a major step forward in the opioid cases that Public School Districts be recognized as distinct claimants with distinct claims. We believe our coalition of public school districts is gaining momentum and the creation of the $30.5 million trust is a small first step towards gaining resources for public schools to address the tragic effects of the opioid crisis on innocent children.”

As a result, public schools will now be able to apply for grants such as for direct services, including hiring special education staff; grants for multi-disciplinary programs, such as partnerships between schools and social services providers; and grants to create models, with nationwide applicability, to train staff to provide special education or multi-disciplinary services to abate the ravages of the opioid epidemic in schools.

Mr. Mehri was also appointed to the Purdue Disclosure Oversight Board. The volunteer board will contribute a wide range of valuable experience and a commitment to ensure that millions of Purdue documents are released publicly for the public good.

Read more about the Purdue settlement in EdWeek.

Cyrus Mehri Appointed to Steering Committee in McKinsey Litigation

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In June 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated cases in California federal court in what’s known as an “MDL”— a mechanism for consolidating cases with common questions of fact pending in different federal districts — to deal with a recent slate of lawsuits over McKinsey’s role in prescription opioid marketing. Two lawsuits brought by Mehri & Skalet and co-counsel, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Terrell Hogan Yegelwel and Henrichsen Law Group, on behalf of public school districts in West Virginia and Kentucky, who have been harmed by McKinsey’s actions, were transferred to the California MDL, which is being supervised by Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California. Ron Johnson serves as co-counsel in Kentucky and James Humphreys serves as co-counsel in West Virginia.

Judge Breyer appointed Cyrus Mehri to the MDL’s 10-member plaintiffs’ steering committee to represent the interests of public school districts. Cyrus Mehri explained, “It’s very meaningful to us that Public School Districts will have a voice and a leadership post on the Steering Committee that will shape the direction of this litigation. I look forward to helping make this case a success.”