This article was originally published in WVMetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attorneys for the “Big Three” opioid drug distributors want another 18 months to prepare for a trial in a case filed by the city of Huntington and Cabell County but a federal judge said Monday that’s probably not going to happen.
“You asked for 18 months? I’m not inclined to give you anything close to 18 months,” U.S. District Judge David Faber said during an hour long status hearing.
Faber did order cross briefs to be filed within 10 days on the issue of whether the trial should be a jury trial, like drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, want or a bench that Huntington-Cabell has stipulated to.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said as far as he’s concerned a bench trial or a jury trial would accomplish the same purpose.
“There will be people put on the stand. They’ll have to swear an oath. They’ll have to answer factually what has occurred in our community. Nearly 100 million opioid pills have been distributed in Cabell County over a 10-year period,” Williams said.
The lawsuit, filed in 2017, blames the “Big Three” for fueling the crisis. The case was part of a group of similar cases being considered in federal court in Cleveland but was recently released back to U.S. District Court in West Virginia’s Southern District.
Most of Monday’s hearing was spent arguing about how soon a trial should take place.
Attorney Paul Farrell, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told Faber he could have discovery completed and be ready for trial within a few weeks.
“We need a trial date. We need closure. We need an end of the road,” Farrell said. “Certain aspects of this case are in the can (ready to go). All I need from them is a list of suspicious orders and due diligence files.”
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