Grand Forks County will move forward with a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies distributing opioids.

Grand Forks County Commissioners decided to move forward with litigation with law firm Motley Rice LLC.

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In May North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma to recover damages the state has suffered from opioid addiction.

The county and city had informational meetings with Motley Rice LLC and Robbins Geller law firms to see if they could also recover damages.

State's Attorney David Jones said that he thinks moving forward with litigation against the pharmaceutical company is in the county's best interest.

Jones recommended the commission proceed with the litigation and provided an analysis of both firms.

There is no financial risk to the county, Jones said. Motley Rice will absorb all fees. If damages are awarded to the county the firm will take the cost of fees "off the top of that," said Jones.

Some of the commissioners said they felt Motley Rice was vying more aggressively for the county as a client. They also said Motley Rice's presentation made a better impression.

"I felt stronger about Motley Rice," said commissioner Diane Knauf.

Jones said that the county couldn't have made a "wrong" decision between the two firms.

"Both firms are high profile and have excellent reputations," he said.

Grand Forks city officials has not made a decision on a potential lawsuit.

Grandstand decision

At the next commissioners meeting, on Nov. 6, funding for a short-term solution for Grand Forks' historic grandstand at River Cities Speedway will be decided.

Knauf, who chairs the fairgrounds committee, proposed the county fund almost $70,000 of the estimated $85,000 cost to fix the grandstand in the short term.

$23,000 would come from the county's general fund and $47,000 from the county's parks fund.

The fair board has committed $15,000 toward preserving the grandstand.

County Administrative Director Tom Ford and Knauf applied to nearly 15 grants for the grandstand and have not heard back from any.

The county will begin accepting bids now so that if funding is approved, the process can move along more quickly.

The proposed construction can be done during the winter months and would have the grandstand ready for racing season. Long-term repair could cost up to $1 million.

County Commission Chairman Tom Falck had previously said he he expected a decision would be reached this week, but since this decision wasn't on the commission's agenda, they postponed the decision until Nov. 6.

The grandstand was built in the 1930s and President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the grandstand with a speech in 1937. In 2009 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Concerns about the historic grandstand arose when it was determined unsafe for use, which prompted the formation of the committee to save the structure.