The opioid crisis continues to dominate the public discourse. Opioid overdoses have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and ravaged communities around the country. Judge Dan A. Polster has trumpeted a national opioid settlement. A landmark trial is set in Cleveland, OH in October and suddenly states, counties and cities are fighting over who controls the billions from the settlement. Clearly tweaking, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants to stymie the trial:
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has asked a federal appeals court to halt or dismiss the first two bellwether trials in opioid multidistrict litigation, in a major escalation of the long-brewing fight between state AGs and cities/counties seeking their own share of opioid lawsuit proceeds.
In a mandamus petition filed Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the attorney general says the trials scheduled to begin Oct. 21 “would fragment the State’s claims, pose a high risk of inconsistent verdicts, result in duplicative or overlapping damages and misallocate funds in the state.” Cuyahoga and Summit counties, home to the cities of Akron and Cleveland, are the first of some 2,000 cities and counties across the country to have their cases scheduled for trial in the Cleveland court of U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing the opioid MDL.
The Ohio AG has been one of the staunchest critics of the federal MDL designed to negotiate a national settlement between opioid manufacturers and distributors, and cities, counties and villages around the country. Several state AGs have sued in their own courts, while claims from cities and counties have been packaged into the federal MDL. State AGs claim the federal MDL encroaches on state sovereignty. Lawyers for the municipalities claim their settlement mechanism – a negotiating class – will share the funds with municipalities throughout the country, and put the funds where the harm was created.
During mult-billion tobacco settlement the funds filled state coffers and were used to build golf courses, fill potholes, etc. There is a fear that state AGs like Yost will also misuse funds from the opioid settlement. There is an urgent need for monies to fund centers for treatment and prevention centers. The Ohio AG wants to delay these efforts. While the opioid settlement in turning into a political football, communities around the country continue to suffer. Read more: