The Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has announced a $44.5 million deal with the grocery chain Food City and its parent company, K-VA-T. In addition to paying out, the settlement would require K-VA-T and Food City to adjust employee conduct along with other non-monetary penalties. Neither Food City nor K-VA-T admit any wrongdoing in signing this settlement agreement.
On September 21, AG Skrmetti announced that he had settled the state’s case against Food City alleging that the grocery chain’s behavior, particularly their opioid dispensing practices, contributed to opioid addiction in the state. According to the AG’s statement, the settlement agreement will provide millions of dollars to state and local efforts to curb the impact of opioid addiction in the community including contributing to an opioid abatement fund and supporting local measures to resolve municipal addiction crises.
AG Skrmetti defended his decision to pursue Food City, stating, “Every entity that contributed to the opioid crisis must be held accountable. Our Consumer Protection Division remains relentless in the pursuit of justice and I am proud of their aggressive enforcement in this case.” The AG also called the settlement a “hefty price to resolve past misconduct” that is now being used to provide critical resources to “save lives and protect families.”
In addition to the monetary penalties, K-VA-T has agreed to several measures that would prevent the over-distribution of opioids, including providing additional training for pharmacy staff, instituting stricter mandatory reporting protocols for suspicious opioid prescriptions, and improving the prescription validation process of Food Cities.
Finally, in an effort to give back to the community, the settlement also stipulates that Food City must agree to provide work opportunities to Tennessee residents who are recovering from opioid addiction. Unlike more general funding requirements, this measure will provide specific relief to formerly addicted opioid users seeking to rebuild their lives and return to being productive members of society.