Opioid Litigation Could be Heading to Trial

A judicial panel consolidated over 400 cases under U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland in December 2017. In January 2018 during the first hearing, Judge Polster told lawyers that he intended to dispense with legal norms like discovery. He didn’t want to preside over years of finger-pointing and wanted to prepare for settlement discussions immediately. Judge Polster expressed his intention to provide a meaningful solution to the national crisis by the end of 2018.

About the Opioid Crisis

According to the US. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. In fact, drug manufacturers lied to us about the addictive nature of opioids, and medical professionals prescribe them. Prescribing these drugs in high doses and for prolonged periods of time can lead to addiction and other devastating injuries. These include, among other adverse side effects, dependence, the craving to seek more drugs, use of other legal painkillers, use of other illegal drugs, and worst of all, overdose and death.

Doctors should only prescribe powerful opioid pain-killers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, or methadone (drugs with common names such as Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin) for short-term, intense pain not to treat chronic pain conditions such as backaches.

America’s opioid epidemic has affected, injured, or killed tens of thousands of Americans. It’s a national tragedy with preventable injuries. Drug manufacturers of opioid pain-killers have advertised their products as being less addictive than they actually are. Drug manufacturers have sometimes alleged that these drugs are safe to treat chronic pain. This marketing has lured scores of medication users and even doctors, into a false sense of security in using and prescribing such drugs.

Current Opioid Litigation

In December 2017, a judicial panel gathered all the prescription opioid cases filed in federal court across the country and nominated U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to hear them in pretrial proceedings. The panel chose Ohio as the federal court venue for the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) since the state has been hit especially hard with opioid use and is centrally located. Plus, Judge Polster has MDL experience since he mediated settlements in over 700 cases involving medical contrast dye.

This opioid litigation has already proven to be unconventional. There isn’t just one defendant but rather there are several defendants. Each defendant has a distinct role in the opioid crisis. These include distributors and retailers each defendant blaming the other. All defendants insist the FDA and doctors are to blame. This is because the agency approved the drugs, and doctors prescribed them.

However, plaintiffs insist that manufacturers (Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson) aggressively marketed the pills for years, even while knowing the addictive properties of opioids. Then, distributors (McKesson and Cardinal Health) shipped alarmingly large quantities of opioids without reporting to the authorities as legally required. Plus, pharmacy chains (Walgreens and CVS Health) did nothing while selling huge amounts to individuals. Doctors and pain clinics added to this epidemic by liberally prescribing opioids.

Strong Desire for an Opioid Crisis Solution

Judge Polster told lawyers that he intended to dispense with legal norms like discovery. He didn’t want to preside over years of finger-pointing and wanted to prepare for settlement discussions immediately.  Instead, he pushed for a global settlement and expressed his intention to provide a meaningful solution to the national crisis by the end of 2018 using legal recourse.

However, after the parties argued in Court, Judge Polster said that “trials may be needed after both sides identified barriers to reaching a deal.” While he initially wanted to push for a settlement of lawsuits by state and local governments against these defendants, it became apparent that a quick settlement may not be feasible despite the proactive drive from Judge Polster. He has directed that three special masters be appointed to facilitate settlement.

Recover Your Opioid Addiction Costs

Losing someone dear to an opioid overuse is heart-breaking. Addiction is a hard road to travel. The devastating part is that the manufacturers knew these medications were addicting and never warned the public. In fact, they lied and told consumers they were safe. As leading complex litigation attorneys, we understand what you are going through and what we must do to bring justice.

Therefore, if you or a loved one became addicted to an opioid, overdosed, was hospitalized because of an overdose, or used an opioid during pregnancy and the baby has a birth defect, contact us today. We have decades of experience going against pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers that produce unsafe products.

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