Morning Headlines: Minor Earthquake Hits Ohio; Jury Selection Begins for High-Profile Opioid Trial

Oct 16, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Oct. 16

  • Jury selection begins for high-profile opioid trial;
  • Minor earthquake hits Ohio;
  • Medicare open enrollment begins;
  • Akron Children's expands healthcare in two school districts;
  • Bridgestone on track for new Akron tire plant;
  • Ohio's nuclear plants poised to emerge from bankruptcy;
  • Jail officers who punched restrained inmate plead guilty;
  • With state push, Ohio collected 70% of child support owed;
  • Lakewood man sues the Cleveland Browns;

Jury selection begins for high-profile opioid trial
Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday in federal court in Cleveland for the first trial that will decide who should be held responsible for the nation's opioid epidemic. Summit and Cuyahoga counties are the lead plaintiffs in the case against six drug makers and distributors. A group of state attorneys general failed to persuade Judge Dan Polster to delay the case after an 11th-hour bid Tuesday, arguing they wanted more time to negotiate their own cases. They reportedly were trying to reach an $18 billion settlement with the nation’s three largest drug distributors. Opening statements in the trial are set for Monday.

Minor earthquake hits Ohio
A minor earthquake hit Northeast Ohio early Tuesday morning near Madison. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered at 2.6 – generally not strong enough for most people to feel, although there were reports of it being felt as far away as Ashtabula and Warren. A stronger 4.2 level quake hit Eastlake in June. The strongest quake in recent times was in 1986 in Lake County that registered nearly 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Medicare open enrollment begins
Ohio's next open enrollment period for Medicare is underway. Ohioans have until Dec. 7 to sign up or make changes to their coverage under the government health insurance plan. The state's Insurance Department will be hosting check-up events across the state through its Ohio Senior Health Insurance Program and making counselors available. Officials said consumers may stay on Medicare and shop for a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan, or they can select the Medicare Advantage Plan, which typically provides comprehensive health coverage benefits alongside drug benefits.

Akron Children's expands healthcare to two school districts
Akron Children's Hospital is partnering with two Northeast Ohio school districts to help students who may not have access to health care. The pilot program will provide exams, screenings and a nurse practitioner at Akron's Kenmore/Garfield cluster and in Warren City Schools. Children's will bill the family's insurance, or help them apply for services like Medicaid. The effort is an expansion of an existing Akron Children’s program which provides health care in 34 school districts.

Bridgestone on track for new Akron tire plant
Bridgestone is on track to start making tires at its new plant in Akron starting next year. Crain’s Cleveland Business reports that the Advance Tire Production Center should be ready by the end of 2020 to begin making Firestone and IndyCar tires. The company has not disclosed the costs of the building at the new 80,000 square feet facility next to the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center. The new plant is expected to add around 50 workers.

Ohio's nuclear plants could emerge from bankruptcy
The operators of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants has signaled that it should soon emerge from bankruptcy. Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions said a judge has approved the companies chapter 11 reorganization plan, which should be finalized by the end of this year. Until then FirstEnergy Solutions remains a subsidiary of parent company FirstEnergy. It filed for bankruptcy last year but that process has been held up over how union retirement plans would be treated. Bloomberg reports that union benefits will remain unchanged after the bankruptcy. FirstEnergy Solutions is also engulfed in a controversial campaign to discredit a ballot referendum effort that would reverse a law that subsidizes its nuclear plants by adding a fee to customer’s utility bills.

Jail officers who punched restrained inmate plead guilty
Two officers from the troubled Cuyahoga County jail who repeatedly punched an inmate restrained in a chair have pleaded guilty. Nicholas Evans and Timothy Dugan were accused of leaving the man in the restraint chair after the March incident and failing to get him proper medical care. Cleveland.com reports Dugan also agreed to cooperate with investigators in several cases that are on-going or still under investigation. Sentencing is set for December.

With state push, Ohio collected 70% of child support owed
New data from the federal fiscal year that ended in September show the collection of child support payments has improved in Ohio. The Department of Job and Family Services said Ohio collected nearly 70% of current child support owed statewide, pushing it above the national average of nearly 66%. The Dayton Daily News reports the agency collects and distributes nearly $2 billion annually for the support of more than 1 million children. The high collection rate came after the Office of Child Support led an initiative to help county agencies pursue a 70% collection rate.

Lakewood man sues Cleveland Browns
A Lakewood man has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Cleveland Browns, claiming the team misidentified him in an altercation. The team named Eric Smith, 35, as the fan who threw a beer on a Tennessee Titans player during last month’s season opener. He was banned from FirstEnergy Stadium, but he claims he was at home that day and hasn’t attended a game since 2010. The lawsuit says a Browns official later reached out to Smith to apologize. The Browns have declined to comment.