In Cabell County alone, there have been about 1,100 opioid-related deaths and 7,000 overdoses in the past decade, county attorney Paul Farrell Jr. said Monday.
Huntington and Cabell are seeking money to address the toll the opioid crisis has taken on their communities — estimated by one of their expert witnesses at $2.6 billion.
At the questioning of Cabell County attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr., Courtwright said there have been four strong opioid epidemics in the United States: the opium and morphine epidemic in the 19th century; a heroin epidemic in the late 1940s and again in the late 1960s; and one created with significant increase in prescription opioids in the late 1990s.
Charles Earp will not be taking the witness stand during Huntington and Cabell County’s historic trial against the three largest drug distributors. However, he does join the hundreds of parents who were witnesses to their children going through addiction, and he eventually got the dreaded call that his son had fatally overdosed.
“It is fitting that the trial will proceed in West Virginia, which has been ground zero of the opioid epidemic,” the plaintiff’s lawyers, Paul Farrell and Anne McGinness Kearse, said in a statement.
The lawsuit accuses the firms of working with “pill mill” doctors and pharmacists who were willing to give opioids to anyone who paid – a breach of laws that require distributors to stop and report any suspicious sales.
A Charleston courtroom morphed into a chemistry class Tuesday as a witness in a landmark opioid crisis trial broke down opioids to their molecules and explained how opioid use disorder takes hold of drug users.
The landmark trial in West Virginia against drug distributors known as the “Big Three” — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — comes after an 11th-hour settlement averted an Ohio trial in October 2019 and coronavirus-related delays stalled opioid cases across the country
“We intend to prove the simple truth that the distributor defendants sold a mountain of opioid pills into our community, fueling a modern opioid epidemic,” said Paul Farrell, an attorney for Cabell County, in a 90-minute opening statement in federal court in the state capital.
Paul Farrell Jr., a lawyer for Cabell County, laid out the pillars of the county’s and city’s case. He said his team will prove that the three companies sold a mountain of pills that fueled the opioid epidemic, pressing on despite “black flags” that should have caused them to take notice and reevaluate their approach to sales.