Opioid Lawsuits

In this May 30, 2019, file photo, a CVS store with the new HealthHUB is shown in Spring, Texas.
David J. Phillips / AP

A series of pharmacy chains argued in federal court that doctors and other health care practitioners who write prescriptions bear ultimate responsibility for improper distribution of opioids to patients, rather than the pharmacists who are obliged to fill those prescriptions.

Legal battles over the opioid crisis will carry on into 2020, as several more cases begin to move toward trial in federal courts around the country.

After overseeing thousands of opioid lawsuits from his Cleveland courtroom for the past two years, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has begun sending cases to other federal judges. Polster has recommended that suits brought by the Cherokee Nation, city of Chicago and San Francisco be moved to federal courts in Oklahoma, Illinois and California.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) unveil new cameras installed in a committee room in March.
Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau

Both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Ohio House say that voters won't see a constitutional amendment proposed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

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

The Ohio Attorney General's office has crafted a proposal that would put guardrails around potential opioid lawsuit settlement money to make sure the funds are used specifically for the opioid epidemic.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has added a new opioid trial to the calendar, this one litigating Cuyahoga and Summit counties’ claims against pharmacy chains.

Polster, who is overseeing the thousands of opioid-related lawsuits, set a trial date of Oct. 13, 2020 in an order issued Tuesday.

The two counties are amending their lawsuits to accuse pharmacies of failing to look out for suspicious prescriptions for opioid painkillers, with the judge’s approval.

The nationwide opioid lawsuits are far from over.

After last month’s settlement with drug makers and distributors, lawyers for Cuyahoga and Summit counties are focusing on the next set of defendants: pharmacies.

At the start of this month, attorneys for the two counties asked the court permission to add new claims against pharmacies to their lawsuits. The claims accuse pharmacy chains of failing to look out for suspicious opioid prescriptions.

At MetroHealth Medical Center, Christopher Hall offers patients struggling with addiction something unique: common ground.

Hall is a certified peer supporter with Thrive Peer Support, an Ohio recovery organization. He’s part of a team of people at MetroHealth who have been through the rigors of addiction recovery themselves. They help patients facing addiction find treatment when it is time to leave the hospital.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

After taking heat for arguing the state should have a lead role in next month’s huge opioid trial in Cleveland, Ohio’s attorney general says he thinks any money won should be spent at the local level.

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