Trials & Litigation

Ohio judge orders settlement talks in opioid suits, says public isn't interested in legal questions

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An Ohio federal judge is urging a settlement that goes beyond “moving money around” in over 200 federal lawsuits targeting the opioid epidemic.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster of Cleveland ordered lawyers on Tuesday to discuss a settlement that will “dramatically reduce” the number of opioids prescribed and make sure the medication is being used properly, report the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Associated Press,, the Wall Street Journal (sub. rec.) and Bloomberg News. published a transcript here.

“What I’m interested in doing is not just moving money around, because this is an ongoing crisis,” Polster said to more than 100 lawyers in his courtroom.

The lawsuits, filed by state and local governments, accuse opioid makers of downplaying addiction risks and opioid distributors of failing to monitor suspicious orders. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation assigned the cases to Polster last month.

“I don’t think anyone in the country is interested in a whole lot of finger-pointing at this point, and I’m not either,” Polster said. “People aren’t interested in depositions, and discovery, and trials. People aren’t interested in figuring out the answer to interesting legal questions like pre-emption and learned intermediary, or unravelling complicated conspiracy theories.”

Other lawsuits are pending in state courts, including suits by more than a dozen state attorneys general. Polster said he could ask the state attorney general to join the settlement talks, though he couldn’t control the state suits.

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