City of Reno

Staff Report

Staff Report (For Possible Action): Discussion and potential direction to staff to enter into a special counsel agreement to pursue City of Reno legal claims against the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids from the following pool: Baron & Budd PC, et al.; Blanchard, Krasner & French; Eglet Prince, et al.; Parsons Behle & Latimer, et al.


Department:City Manager - Government AffairsSponsors:

Recommendation and Proposed Motion

Recommendation: Staff recommends Council review of the RFQ submissions and staff analysis and direct staff on how to proceed.


Proposed Motion: I move to accept the staff report and direct staff to enter into a special counsel agreement. 

Staff Report Formal Body

Summary: Pursuant to Council direction, staff prepared and published a request for qualifications (RFQ) asking those interested in representing the City of Reno in litigation to recover monetary damages for the negative impacts of opioids to submit a statement of qualifications.  Four submissions were received by staff, and the applications are provided here in full.  Council also directed staff to rank the applications and provide a recommendation.  Because of the timing between receipt of the submissions and the deadline for posting this item for the January 10, 2018, City Council meeting, staff has not had sufficient time to complete a proper review and ranking of the submissions.  As such, staff will prepare and finalize the rankings and submit them to the City Council separately prior to the January 10, 2018 Council meeting. 


Background:  The abuse of opioids is a widespread problem in Nevada as well as the City of Reno specifically.  Currently, there is no city-specific study that staff can point to which identifies the quantifiable harm affecting the City of Reno; however, statistical evidence published to date by other agencies provides significant evidence of the adverse affect of the opioid crisis in our communities. 


In 2016, for example, the DEA ranked Nevada as the sixth highest state for the number of milligrams of opioids distributed per adult.  Furthermore, according to data from the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, the total number of opioid-related hospitalizations in Nevada nearly doubled from 2010 to 2015.  In 2010, the number of opioid-related emergency room hospitalizations in Nevada totaled approximately 4,518 patients.  By 2015, the number of visits increased to 7,035 visits that year.  


At previous City Council meetings, Peter Wetherall, Esq., and Robert Eglet, Esq., both attorneys desiring to represent the City of Reno in opioid litigation, spoke to the City Council and described what this type of a lawsuit would entail, the types of legal claims they would bring on the city’s behalf, the likelihood of recovery, and the extent of staff resources needed throughout the effort. 


At the December 13, 2017, meeting, under Item J.10, the City Council directed staff to issue a RFQ for law firms interested in representing the City of Reno in litigation to recover monetary damages for the negative impacts of opioids on the City of Reno.  The City Council further directed staff to rank the submissions and come back to the City Council with a recommendation at the January 10, 2018, meeting for the possible retention by the City Council of special counsel for this outlined purpose.


Discussion:  The RFQ was finalized and published on December 15, 2017.  The deadline for submission was December 27, 2017.  Four submissions were received by the deadline from the following law firms:


·         Baron & Budd PC (and additional law firms);

·         Blanchard, Krasner & French;

·         Eglet Prince (and additional law firms); and

·         Parsons Behle & Latimer (and additional law firms).


As noted above, staff has not had sufficient time to prepare rankings of the submissions and provide the City Council with a recommendation at the time this item and its corresponding agenda were posted.  Staff will provide such prior to the January 10, 2018 Council meeting in which this matter will be heard.


Financial Implications:  None at this time.  In the event of a loss, the City may be liable for the opposing party’s attorney’s fees, and could be liable for the opposing party’s costs as required by law.  Only one of the firms who submitted statements of qualifications agreed to indemnify the City for costs and attorney’s fees in the event of an adverse judgment, and one of the firms require that it be indemnified by the City of Reno from any liability it may incur.  Details of the fee agreements will be provided to the City Council with the forthcoming rankings and recommendation.


Legal Implications:  Under Reno City Charter, Art. III, § 3.070, the City Council may, by six-sevenths vote, retain the services of attorneys to perform any civil duty of the City Attorney. Such attorneys are responsible only to the City Council. The City Attorney shall have no responsibility or authority concerning the services of such attorneys.


Meeting History

Jan 10, 2018 10:00 AM Video Reno City Council Regular


Council Member Duerr made the following disclosure:

"Madam Mayor, fellow Council Members, Madam Clerk, before we go any further on this agenda item, NRS 281A.420 requires me to disclose a conflict of interest. On this matter I have consulted the City Attorney’s Office and have concluded that the independence of judgment of a reasonable person in my situation would be materially affected by my relationship with members of the Parsons Behle & Latimer law firm and this agenda item. I have an ongoing business and personal interest with the Parsons Behle & Latimer law firm which is before this Council on this agenda item. Because this is a clear case of a disqualifying conflict or interest, I am going to be abstaining from voting in this matter. Madam Clerk, please accept this disclosure and lodge it on the record for this meeting and subsequent meeting pertaining to this agenda item."


Scott Gilles, Legislative Relations Program Manager, presented the staff report.


Azzi Shirazi,, discussed her concerns about entering into the lawsuit.

The Council accepted the report and directed staff to enter into a special counsel agreement with Eglet Prince.

MOVER:David Bobzien, Councilmember
SECONDER:Paul McKenzie, Councilmember
AYES:Hillary Schieve, Jenny Brekhus, Oscar Delgado, Paul McKenzie, Neoma Jardon, David Bobzien
ABSTAIN:Naomi Duerr