Although Cuyahoga County and Summit County just reached another lawsuit with an opioids manufacturer, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says there's still time for the court to hear his argument to pause the landmark opioid court case for thousands of local government in order for the state's case to go first.
Cuyahoga and Summit counties announced a $20 million settlement with Johnson and Johnson. Four other opioid manufacturers have also settled with the counties, however, several drug companies remain as defendants in the case.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay two Ohio counties more than $20 million in a tentative settlement that removes the company from an upcoming federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month.https://t.co/RvAokh6gOU— NPR (@NPR) October 2, 2019
Yost says even though the two northeastern counties reached this $20 million settlement, he says there's a lot of moving parts and that the court still has time to hear his motion to halt the trial.
"So we'll see what they have to say and the court will do what it will do. I learned a long time ago that one doesn't predict on either the outcome or the timing of a chef or a judge," says Yost.
Yost says he wants settlement money won by the state to then flow to the local level.
More than 2,000 local governments from around the country are part of the lawsuit, of that about 100 municipalities are from Ohio. Yost is backing a bill proposed in the Ohio House that would give the state authority in the lawsuit for those Ohio cities and counties.
DeWine says he thinks it would be a “serious mistake” to require opioid lawsuit settlement money to go to the state instead of directly to local governments. “We are a local government state, our services are delivered locally.”— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) August 28, 2019
Gov. Mike DeWine has said giving Ohio that authority would be a mistake and that the money should flow to the local governments. He does point out that there will be a portion of money that will likely be awarded to the state level. DeWine says it's important to put measures in place to make sure that money will be used for the right reason.
"In regards to any future settlement, I think it's important this money be spent for treatment, be spent for prevention, be spent for law enforcement. It's very, very important that this be the real way that this money is spent," DeWine says.
He refers to the money Ohio received from the tobacco settlement, most of which went towards education. While DeWine says funding those education efforts was important, it dried up the money for other causes such as treatment and addiction.
Ohio had the second highest overdose death rate in the country in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Ohio Department of Health reported that 4,162 people died of an unintentional opioid overdose that year.