The first round of lawsuits over the opioid crisis is scheduled for trial next year, with cases from Northeast Ohio at the front of the line.
Suits brought by Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Summit County are among hundreds of cases against companies that made, shipped or sold opioids. The local cases are set to go to trial September 3, 2019.
U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster, who is presiding over the multidistrict litigation from his downtown Cleveland courtroom, dismissed drug companies’ efforts to have claims against them thrown out.
“It is accurate to describe the opioid epidemic as a man-made plague, twenty years in the making,” Polster wrote in an order this month. “The pain, death, and heartache it has wrought cannot be overstated.”
But he did narrow the claims local governments could make—for instance, dismissing Akron’s claim that drug companies created a public nuisance. Polster wrote that the local governments’ allegations “do not fit neatly” into their legal theories, but “fit nevertheless.”
“Whether Plaintiffs can prove any of these allegations remains to be seen,” Polster continued, “but this Court holds that they will have that opportunity.”