NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced a $44.5 million settlement with K-VA-T Food Stores, commonly known as Food City in relation to the chain’s “opioid-related misconduct.”

The settlement was announced on Thursday just after 12:00 p.m. According to the AG’s Office, most of the settlement will go to Tennessee’s Opioid Abatement Fund to support local efforts addressing the opioid epidemic.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Food City also agreed to ensure future compliance by providing additional training to pharmacy staff, updating the prescription-validation process and monitoring and reporting data related to suspicious activity. Food City also agreed to provide dedicated employment opportunities for Tennesseans recovering from opioid addiction.

“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,” said Skrmetti. “By paying a hefty price to resolve past misconduct, Food City provides critical resources to save lives and protect families and can now get back to the business of serving its customers and supporting Tennessee communities.” 

K-VA-T Food Stores issued a statement in response to the settlement agreement, saying in part that the agreement ended two opioid-related cases in Knox County and Sevier County.

“The cases are examples of thousands of cases nationwide brought against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opioid products. The allegations in these two actions focus primarily on circumstances from more than a decade ago. K-VA-T has continually disputed any allegations of misconduct made in these actions. The agreement states that it is not an admission or evidence of any liability or wrongdoing. K-VA-T believes the settlement agreement is in the best interest of all parties and will contribute to the opioid-related programs that are being established as a result of the previous settlements with national retailers and distributors,” the statement reads.

The statement continued to say that the company has pledged its support of local drug rehabilitation centers and their efforts to assist people in recovery “to lead more productive lives.”

A case was filed in the Knox County Circuit Court in early 2021, alleging a few pharmacies “unlawfully sold tens of millions of prescription opioids” for more than a decade. At the time, the CEO of Food City released a statement saying that the lawsuit was based on false information.

Recently, Kroger reached a national $1.4 billion agreement to be paid out over 11 years, with 33 states along with some Native American tribes eligible to receive money.