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Adam Laxalt Under Fire for Opposing Reno Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers

The Nevada Independent: Reno mayor blasts Laxalt for pitting ‘Nevadans against Nevadans’ amid opioid lawsuit disagreement

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve is staunchly pushing back against Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s request that the city not file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and blamed him for pitting ‘Nevadans against Nevadans.’

In a response sent Monday and obtained by The Nevada Independent, Schieve told Laxalt that his request — to drop pending efforts by the city to sue pharmaceutical opioid manufacturers lest it “thwart” the state’s own ongoing legal efforts — was “unsupported.”

“Your effort to deter pursuit of claims by the City of Reno is unsupported, and unfortunately pits ‘Nevadans against Nevadans’ when in fact the more claims being pursued by Nevada localities, the larger recovery may be achieved,” she wrote in the letter. “For this reason, the better course of action is not for Nevada local governments to stand down, but rather to stand up and fight for their rightful share of monies from the opioid defendants.”

Laxalt — a Republican who announced his candidacy for governor earlier in the month — sent a letter to Schieve last week asking her to drop plans for a potential lawsuit, given that it may “unintentionally undermine” Nevada’s role in a 41-state ongoing investigation into the conduct of opioid manufacturers and distributors. His office did not return a request for comment on Monday.

Schieve, who first confirmed her desire to explore litigation against the drug manufacturers in late October and invited Las Vegas attorney Peter Wetherall to present options on a lawsuit to the Reno City Council last week, said that Laxalt’s letter failed to demonstrate “any support for why or how a city suit would impact your equally commendable efforts in the bipartisan multi-state investigation.”

Nevada has the fourth-highest drug overdose mortality rate, 20.7 per 100,000 residents in 2010, and the state’s doctors write 94 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 residents. The CDC counted619 drug-overdose deaths in the state in 2015.

Schieve’s letter specifically pushes back on Laxalt’s assertion that only the attorney general is legally allowed to file lawsuits under Nevada’s deceptive trade practice law, saying that the city would avoid overlap by filing a suit related to public nuisance laws, similar to the one filed by the city of Everett, Wash. against Purdue Pharma.

The Nevada Independent: Governor candidate Schwartz backs Reno opioid lawsuit, criticizes Laxalt for opposing it

State Treasurer Dan Schwartz has lobbed a new attack at his Republican gubernatorial primary opponent, saying Attorney General Adam Laxalt is discouraging a City of Reno lawsuit against opioid manufacturers while taking thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those companies.

Schwartz’s campaign cited $7,500 in donations to Laxalt from Pfizer, maker of the extended-release opioid Embeda, from 2014 through 2016. Laxalt also received $2,750 from Purdue Pharma, maker of the powerful painkiller Oxycontin that has taken the brunt of criticism in the fight against opioid abuse.

“Nevada has the fourth highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States,” Schwartz said in a statement provided to The Nevada Independent. “Our community needs to come together to fight this epidemic. Adam is being driven by campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry and that’s just plain wrong.”

Laxalt’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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But the volley is part of a key Schwartz campaign theme that appears on a new anti-Laxalt website paid for by Schwartz’s campaign — that Laxalt is beholden to casino owners, lobbyists and other donors.