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JCPS and other U.S. school districts hammer out settlement for opioid lawsuits against McKinsey

A wooden gavel sits on a wooden desk in a courtroom. An empty black chair can be seen in the background.
ONA News Agency/Wikimedia Commons
New court documents show McKinsey and Co., U.S. school districts and local governments are all willing to settle lawsuits that claim the consulting firm's work for pharmaceutical companies helped fuel the opioid crisis.

Jefferson County Public Schools sued the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. in 2021 over its work with an infamous opioid manufacturer. Now, a proposed class action settlement is on the table.

McKinsey’s clients in the opioid market included Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. And, like Purdue, McKinsey has faced a barrage of lawsuits that claim its activities fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic.

School districts across the country, including JCPS, sued McKinsey. So did local governments in Kentucky and other states.

New court documents, filed Tuesday in federal court, show McKinsey, the school districts and the local governments are all willing to settle.

If a judge approves the deals, McKinsey will pay $23 million to settle with the school districts and $207 million to settle with the governments. That’s on top of a $573 million settlement McKinsey collectively reached with almost every state government, including Kentucky’s, a couple of years ago.

Under McKinsey’s tentative agreement with school districts, most of the $23 million paid by the firm would go into a special trust fund.

The fund combines the proceeds from settlements with other companies accused of contributing to the opioid crisis. JCPS and school districts across the country will be able to apply for grants from that pool of money to bolster their efforts to support students hurt by the opioid epidemic.

JCPS spokesman Mark Hebert said the district doesn’t know how much money it might eventually receive.

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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