Cuyahoga County | WOSU Radio

Cuyahoga County

Updated at 1 p.m. ET on Oct. 21

Make no mistake: The legal fight over liability for the U.S. opioid crisis is only heating up.

Cuyahoga and Summit County leaders say they plan to spend the tens of millions already awarded in opioid settlements on drug treatment and prevention programs.

Both counties released plans for the settlement money Thursday, less than two weeks before they both take their claims against the drug industry to trial in federal court in Cleveland. The two counties will be the first among thousands of plaintiffs to make their case before a jury in the massive case.

Dave Yost speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Yost was elected as the next Ohio attorney general.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Thursday denied two efforts that could have kept the first federal trial on the opioids crisis from starting as scheduled this month in Cleveland.

Drug companies may try to turn the tables on Cuyahoga County in the coming federal opioid trial, presenting evidence on the troubled the county jail and in the department of children and family services in an effort to minimize the role of their drugs in local problems.

With jury selection scheduled to begin next week and opening statements set for Oct. 21, attorneys for both sides are disputing which evidence and witnesses should be presented at trial.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office plans to use open source genealogical databases to help identify “stranger rapists” — people who’ve been indicted as John Does for sexual assault but haven’t been identified.

The prosecutor’s office indicts the DNA profile collected from a rape kit to ensure the statute of limitations doesn’t expire. 

There are more than 130 open rape cases in Cuyahoga County and prosecutors plan to start tackling them by trying to identify the assailants with help from DNA-based genealogy databases, said Special Investigations Chief Rick Bell.

This month, attorneys representing Cuyahoga and Summit counties will try to convince a jury to hold the drug industry responsible for the opioid crisis.

The neighboring Northeast Ohio counties are among the more than 2,000 local governments, Native American tribes and other groups suing opioid manufacturers and distributors in federal court.

Johnson & Johnson and two Ohio counties have reached a tentative $20.4 million settlement that removes the corporation from the first federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster will not recuse himself from hearing the broad, national opioid litigation set to go to trial in Cleveland next month.

Several drug companies involved in the suits – including Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – filed a motion Sept. 14 objecting to the judge’s push for settlements and requesting he remove himself from the case.

Updated: 4:40 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25

Two Cuyahoga County corrections officers were found not guilty on three out of five charges in the alleged beating of an inmate at the county jail.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two of the charges against John Wilson: felonious assault and interfering with civil rights.

Cuyahoga County is facing yet another lawsuit because of the county jail with an inmate alleging he was the victim of retaliation for speaking with U.S. Marshals, including threats against his life.

Ashlie Case Sletvold of the Chandra Law Firm is representing Corrionne Lawrence in a lawsuit alleging several instances of abuse last fall.

Lance Mason at his sentencing hearing on Thursday.
Lisa Ryan / ideastream

Former Cuyahoga County judge Lance Mason will serve life in prison with the possibility of parole in 35 years. He was sentenced Thursday for the murder of his ex-wife Aisha Fraser.

A three-year, $13.2 million federal grant will help the Cuyahoga County Board of Health collect better data on opioid overdoses, health officials announced this week.

The county will get $4.4 million annually through 2021 to help the board gather and share numbers on suspected drug overdoses.

Drug maker Mallinckrodt has reached a $30 million settlement with two Northeast Ohio counties in a federal lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Mallinckrodt has agreed in principle to pay $24 million in cash to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, plus $6 million in product, Cuyahoga County officials said Friday.

Officials from Cuyahoga County’s Board of Health will be back out to beaches in Bay Village this week to check for hazards from an algae bloom.

The algae at Columbia Park Beach and Bay Park Beach was found last week.

Tests for the harmful bacteria caused by algae came back under the hazardous threshold, said Tom Fink from the board of health.

An advisory was posted in the park at the end of Columbia Road and the public access was closed off by Bay Village officials.

Two drug companies have reached agreements in principle with Cuyahoga and Summit counties to settle the local governments’ federal lawsuits over the opioid crisis.

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