Mayor sues county chairwoman over opioid lawsuit

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The Mayor of Shelby County is suing the chairwoman of the Shelby County Commission.

Mayor Mark Luttrell thinks County Commission Chairwoman Heidi Shafer used her position to file a politically motivated lawsuit.

Shafer filed a lawsuit last week against doctors, drug store chains, and pharmacies for the county's payment of millions each year to fight opioid addictions in Shelby County.

"We've been really involved in the past past few months on how to address this problem," Luttrell said.

But Luttrell said the recent actions of Shafer to address the epidemic were "messy."

"It's messy. It angers me; it frustrates me," Luttrell said.

Luttrell said, according to the county charter, she can't do what she's trying to do. That's why Luttrell is filing a lawsuit against Shafer mostly aiming to block her pending lawsuit, and the mayor says, for not consulting the county attorney nor all of county commission.

"I am very disappointed in the unilateral actions of the chairman," Luttrell said.

Last week, Shafer called a press conference with only a few county commissioners present, expressing the urgency to formally engage legal counsel.

"We had been waiting over two years for something to move and nothing was happening," Shafer said.

Shafer added her lawsuit is necessary, and she points out how her interpretation of the county charter gives her legal right.

"The Shelby County Commission does have the authority to hire and employ outside counselor, and it's only subject to budgetary concerns, and the beauty of this is we're not spending any money," she said.

County commission meets Wednesday and plans to vote on Shafer's lawsuit.

Luttrell said even if it is a unanimous vote, there's a chance he'll veto it.

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