Washington County eyes its options post Sullivan Baby Doe settlement
Now that the Sullivan Baby Doe settlement has been announced, there is one question left to address: What do you do with a settlement windfall?
“With the pervasiveness of the opioid problem in our region, the options for using this money to make an impact are wide open,” said First Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin. “I’m hoping the counties and cities that were part of this settlement can get together and use a portion of the money for a treatment facility.”
How the settlement dollars are to be spent ultimately lies with the region’s county commissions. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.
“I would hope that the Commission helps the community, addicts and law enforcement agencies that have had to deal with this problem,” Baldwin said.
Distribution of the funds will be on a per capita basis. All counties will receive enough from the settlement to equip a mobile unit that would enable delivery of treatment to patients.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy agrees with Baldwin that a treatment facility would be a great use of settlement funds.
“A regional treatment facility would serve to alleviate stress on our judicial and law enforcement systems,” Grandy said. “We have folks within our detention facilities who need assistance to recover from addiction and they simply cannot get that assistance while incarcerated.”
The lawsuit was filed in June 2017 on behalf of Baby Doe and a group of local governments in Northeast Tennessee. Once Baby Doe’s damages and plaintiffs’ attorney fees are deducted, it is estimated that just over $21 million will be split amongst local governments that elected to participate in the lawsuit.