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Civil PlaintiffOpioids

$260M opioid settlement opens door for much larger deal

Two Ohio counties and four drug companies settled a landmark lawsuit over responsibility for the opioid epidemic Monday in a deal that could help push the parties toward a wide-ranging agreement on more than 2,400 similar claims filed across the country.

The $260 million settlement, reached just hours before opening arguments were scheduled to begin in the first federal lawsuit of the opioid era, will give Cuyahoga and Summit counties badly needed cash and anti-addiction medication. Those will be provided by mammoth opioid distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, and drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals, four of the defendants in the first case.

But the agreement also may help guide the next round of negotiating as drug companies and governments that have sued them continue efforts to resolve the remaining legal actions all at once. “Hopefully it’s a first step. We learned a lot. I think the defendants learned a lot” as the case moved toward trial, said Joseph F. Rice, one of the lead attorneys for the cities and counties whose cases have been consolidated into one “multidistrict litigation” in the federal courthouse here.

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