Cayuga County legislators

From left, Cayuga County Legislators Ben Vitale, Charlie Ripley, Joe Bennett and Joe DeForest consider resolutions at a Public Works Committee meeting Tuesday night. 

AUBURN — A Cayuga County Legislature committee has unanimously voted for the county to join a class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids. 

Legislators at the Government Operations Committee meeting Tuesday night discussed which law firm to hire, ultimately going with the committee's recommendation from October, New York City law firm Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. 

While the committee unanimously passed the hire and joining of the suit, Legislator Tucker Whitman voiced some concerns he had. The multi-county lawsuit claims that there's a link between addiction to prescription drugs and substance abuse. Whitman said he'd yet to receive an answer on how much documentation the county has on whether prescription opioid medications are leading to drug addiction and use in Cayuga County specifically. 

"I'm a little leery," he said. "I guess we don't have a lot to lose."

Cayuga County Administrator J. Justin Woods said he expected the attorneys the county hires would help county staff walk through how to find that information. 

"There's no coincidence that this is a national epidemic," Woods said. "I think the bigger issue is addressing the problem and creating accountability."

Onondaga County has already joined the lawsuit in addition to about a dozen other New York counties. States across the nation are also seeking damages against pharmaceutical companies.

The resolution authorizing the litigation still needs to go through the Ways and Means Committee and the full Legislature. According to the county's online calendar, Ways and Means will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20 in the Sixth Floor Chambers of the Cayuga County Office Building, 160 Genesee St., Auburn. 

In other news: 

• The Ward W. O'Hara Agricultural Museum could soon be getting a new garage to exhibit two antique Model T cars and farm equipment. The Legislature's Public Works Committee passed a resolution for the project Tuesday night. 

The structure will be paid for completely through donations, and Cayuga County Parks and Trails and Buildings and Grounds Director Gary Duckett said it will not exceed $10,000. 

The 20-foot by 24-foot garage would be assembled on a runner, thus allowing it to be moved at anytime if necessary, according to project proposal documents. Visitors would not be allowed to enter the garage, but the doors would be opened so they could view its contents. The garage would also be a workshop for repairs of museum equipment. 

Legislator Joe Bennett asked Duckett whether the building coincided with the Emerson Park Master Plan, a document detailing future projects for the county's park in Owasco. He pointed out that the body had recently dismissed tentative plans from the Cayuga County Agricultural Society for building fairground structures in a similar location. 

Duckett said it did go along with the park's plan because that document includes supporting the museum and its activities. 

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.


County Government Reporter