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Northeast Ohio Opioid Lawsuits Could Go To Trial In 2019

The Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse in downtown Cleveland. [John McLenaghan / Shutterstock]

The federal judge in Cleveland overseeing hundreds of opioid lawsuits has told some local governments in Northeast Ohio to get ready for trial.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster set a trial date for March 2019 for lawsuits brought by Summit County, Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland. The order comes as settlement talks continue.

Like the hundreds of other governments in the case, the local plaintiffs accuse drug companies of misrepresenting the risks of opiates—something the companies deny.

Polster has said he wants a settlement that helps abate the addiction crisis. In a court order, he wrote that the parties in the case say a settlement is more likely if they can also litigate some claims. This could be one of a few so-called “bellwether trials.”

Polster also ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to turn over nine years of drug sale data for Ohio and other states. The DEA had already begun a more limited disclosure—but this is far more expansive. A protective order bars public release.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.