County Commission meets over dueling opioid lawsuits

Chairwoman Heidi Shafer (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Chairwoman Heidi Shafer (Source: WMC Action News 5)

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Two separate lawsuits have been filed, one by the Shelby County Commission and the other by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, over the opioid crisis.

Monday, the Shelby County Commission met about the dueling lawsuits. Commissioners spoke with differing opinions in response to their fight with the mayor.

"I think we're a bit out of our range. And everybody is in good faith," commissioner Walter Bailey said.

"I have angry constituents at the fact that we're even going through this rigmarole as the county," commissioner David Reaves said.

"I find it truly, truly disrespectful to the families of opioid victims, living and deceased, the way this body is handling this matter," commissioner Mark Billingsley said.

County Commissioners were served a summons in regard to the lawsuit filed by Luttrell. Chairwoman Heidi Shafer was named specifically in the lawsuit.

"That's his choice. I think it's a bully tactic, but that's OK. I'm pretty tough," Shafer said.

She views the county charter differently than the mayor and said commissioners do have the power to hire special counsel.

"We've been noticing this tendency to try to intimidate and make the commission nothing more than a rubber stamp," Shafer said.

Mayor Luttrell's office released the following statement today:

At issue is one of separation of powers and taking actions inconsistent with the county's charter and ordinances.   The Shelby County Charter provides that the Mayor is the sole contracting authority, which promotes efficiency and avoids confusion.

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