This article was originally published in The Herald Dispatch.
HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Commissioners on Thursday honored the request of a federal judge in Cleveland to scale back a $500 million lawsuit filed against several drug companies and pharmacies accused of fueling the opioid epidemic, a step that could bring the case closer to trial in West Virginia.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster of Cleveland, Ohio, said in filings last month that he is ready to release Cabell and Huntington’s lawsuits filed against the distributors for trial, but wants the West Virginia governments to limit the type of defendants to only distributors and pharmacies.
He also requested attorneys limit the amount of defendants against whom they are serious about facing in the initial trial, and asked Cabell County and Huntington to limit the amount of claims made against those companies.
Polster is overseeing about 2,500 cases filed against manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers accused of breaching their duty to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates coming into the states over the past several years — a duty the lawsuits claim companies have under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
During a Cabell County Commission meeting Thursday, commissioners voted to honor Polster’s requests, hoping to have the county’s case remanded for trial in West Virginia. Their votes followed an executive session held with attorneys representing the city and county in the lawsuit.
Huntington-based attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr. said having the case remanded to West Virginia is necessary as dozens of attorneys general from around the country are seeking to settle their cases. Farrell represents Cabell County, along with about 700 other counties and municipalities.
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