Sixth Circuit Refuses to Halt Major Opioid Trial

(CN) – The Sixth Circuit on Thursday denied Ohio’s request to stop an opioid trial that will test the first of thousands of claims in the state against pharmaceutical companies.

OxyContin pills arranged for a 2013 photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Led by Ohio Attorney General David Yost, the state had asked the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court to halt or delay a trial that is scheduled to begin in Cleveland on Oct. 21.

The three-judge panel refused in a four-page order, denying Ohio’s motion for an emergency stay that would have prevented the trial from going ahead.

Ohio argued that it has sovereign authority to represent its citizens, instead of the hundreds of municipalities that have brought lawsuits. The multidistrict litigation threatens to prevent the state from entering into global settlements with the defendants, the state said.

Proponents for a stay argued that allowing thousands of municipalities to move forward would cause unnecessary costs, delays, and enrich the hundreds of lawyers litigating the cases. That money and resources would be better spent on the victims of drug addiction, they said.

The three-judge panel said U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is presiding over the trial, had already rejected similar claims in the multidistrict litigation last year.

“Despite having notice that the counties’ claims would proceed to trial, Ohio made no attempt to intervene in the MDL proceeding for the limited purpose of raising the issues that it now asks us to decide by extraordinary means,” the court’s unsigned order states.

Yost’s office noted that the Sixth Circuit did not rule on the merits of the state’s argument but instead said the trial court should address the issue.

“At this time, we are reviewing our options,” Yost’s office said in a statement.

Polster is overseeing 2,600 cases. The upcoming trial will test Summit and Cuyahoga counties’ claims.

Thursday’s Sixth Circuit panel was made up of U.S. Circuit Judges Alan Norris, Eugene Siler and Karen Nelson Moore.

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