A breakdown of the five W’s of the opioid multidistrict litigation: who is involved, what the litigation encompasses, when and where it is taking place, and why the litigation came about.
You can follow along with every detail on News.law
Over the past few years, the legal community, as well as those affected by the opioid epidemic, have been preparing for what some have called the largest civil trial in U.S. History.
The opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) or, “National Prescription Opiate Litigation,” MDL 2804, was first initiated in December of 2017.
Over 2,600 entities are involved in the MDL. The Case Management Orders now distinguish that local governments, states, hospitals, third party payors, and Native American tribes are the categories of plaintiffs in the MDL.
Because there are so many entities that want to sue the people responsible for the opioid epidemic, a federal judge in Cleveland has chosen some of these entities as “bellwether” cases to try in court. The first bellwether case begins this Monday, October 21, 2019 and includes Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio.
A bellwether case is basically a practice run for the attorneys involved.
These are test cases that give attorneys an idea of how future cases may play out; be it through a judge’s decision, a jury verdict or a settlement. The cases are generally chosen because they are similar, and representative of other lawsuits filed in the MDL.
Soon after, Judge Dan Aaron Polster was appointed to the case by the panel on multidistrict litigation. The court said that the federal judge’s bench located in the Northern District of Ohio was factually connected to the litigation, and physically convenient to all litigants. The panel also claimed Judge Polster was an experienced judge who had presided over many opiate cases and complex multidistrict litigation.
The counties of Summit (Ohio), Cabell (West Virginia), Monroe, Michigan, and Broward (Florida), and the City of Chicago (Illinois), one hospital, West Boca Medical Center, Inc. (Florida)., and one third party payor, Cleveland Bakers and Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund (Ohio), as well as the Blackfeet Tribe and Muscogee (Creek) Nation, were all selected as potential “bellwether cases” to determine the viability of legal issues in the coming trials.
These bellwether cases can lead to settlement negotiations and to prepare the test cases for trial in the event that a settlement does not occur.
The defendants chosen for the bellwether case include Teva Pharmaceuticals, McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens and Henry Schein.
Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, Endo International and Allergan all created settlement deals pre-trial.
The case was filed by plaintiffs seeking compensation for the economic impact of the opioid epidemic.
Creation: The plaintiff’s claim that the defendants used misleading marketing schemes to advertise opioids to doctors and the American public. The dosages prescribed did not last the full time length as advertised, and subsequently, individuals were prescribed more opioids and became addicted.
Maintenance: When people became addicted, drugmakers told doctors this was simply “pseudoaddiction,” that the patients again needed more opioids, and that doctors could increase dosage without risks for long-term use, creating more addiction. All the while, the opioid drugmakers claimed alternative forms of pain relief posed greater risks than opioids, creating a monopoly of pain relief for their market.
The first bellwether trial of the opioid MDL is Monday, October 21st at 9:00am.
The trial will be held in Cleveland in the Northern District of Ohio.
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Plaintiffs claim that the opioid epidemic has impacted them and the economy to the tune of billions of dollars, and hope the trial will lead to recovery both physically and financially.