Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
State and local governments suing over the toll of a nationwide opioid crisis agree that companies in the drug industry should be held accountable, but they have differences on who should have the power to strike any settlement, and how it should work (Source: “Lawyers Pause Plan to Divide Any National Opioid Settlement,” Associated Press, June 25, 2019).
Those disputes had been mostly in the background until last week, when a majority of the nation’s state attorneys general signed letters warning of problems with lawyers’ plans for creating a mechanism to divide any settlement money among nearly 25,000 local and county governments — if a deal can be struck.
But at a hearing on June 25, any public feud was paused. Lawyers for local governments, responding to those letters, as well as objections from drug distributors and pharmacies, and to questions from local governments, asked if they could have two weeks to modify their plan.
Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing lawsuits from nearly 2,000 different municipal, county, and tribal governments agreed. After that, parties in the case and the state attorneys general will have time to respond to the reformulated plan. Judge Polster scheduled the next hearing for Tuesday, August 6. At the June 25 hearing, Judge Polster called the matter “the most complex constellation of cases that have ever been filed.”