1st federal opioid crisis trial to focus on distribution

Posted at 10:46 AM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 11:48:20-04

CLEVELAND (AP) — The first federal opioid trial deals with the claims of two Ohio counties against just a half dozen companies that make and distribute drugs, but the implications could be far bigger.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland in a trial scheduled to last seven weeks. A last-minute settlement is still possible.

The case on lawsuits filed by Cuyahoga and Summit counties is a bellwether intended to show how legal issues might unfold in more than 2,000 other cases in federal courts.

After earlier settlements took major manufacturers such as OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma out of the trial, the case is expected to center on how drugs were distributed. A key question is whether those companies fulfilled an obligation to withhold suspicious shipments.