Washington counties to receive millions in opioid lawsuit payouts

From Lake Stevens to Lynnwood, the cities of Snohomish County, as well as the county itself, are set to receive compensation for the damages caused by the opioid crisis. However, these disbursements will be spread out until the 2030s.

More than 150 people have already died from opioids this year, county data shows.

The agreed settlements will award roughly $30 million to Snohomish County itself, with another $20 million distributed among cities within the county.

"It was upsetting to hear the number in general whether it was a long-term, slow-drip payout, or just the total that they paid out. It seems like nothing," Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead said.

"I mean, $30 million is peanuts compared to the destruction – that devastation – irreversible damage that the opioid industry, the manufacturers, and the distributors wreaked on our communities, even just in Snohomish County."


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In total, roughly $50 million will be sent to the county and its cities. The settlement agreement sets payment distribution annually.

"That just covers the first settlement — we have not received word yet on what the distribution formula will be for the Walmart settlement or future settlements," said Alessandra Durham, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers' Chief of Staff.

Future settlements could send even more restitution to local governments — likely under the same extended timeframe as the others. But for a city like Arlington, the annual disbursement would be a subtle addition to the city's overall budget.


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"I mean, the little cities, what are they going to do with $1.4 million?... I mean spread out over 15 years," Councilmember Mead said. "What are they going to do with those dollars that are actually going to positively impact their community?"

This leaves Snohomish County leaders questioning whether they can pool their allocations together.

"We've got these dollars, we have this program that's helping Arlington, then can we leverage with them our dollars, their dollars, to make the program just a little bit bigger and reach a little bit more people," Mead said.

While it's unlikely the funding could lead to the creation of new programs or capital investments, Mead believes existing programs are a good investment. "That's a really good program, it's proven to be effective historically, for us in recent history, at least," he said.