Opioid suit lawyers want cases moved into single federal court

As more governments across the nation sue dozens of drug companies to claw back money spent battling opioid addiction, one lawyer has moved to transfer all the cases into a single federal court.

By Amanda Bronstad | October 02, 2017 at 06:15 AM

As more governments across the nation sue dozens of drug companies to claw back money spent battling opioid addiction, one lawyer has moved to transfer all the cases into a single federal court.

James Peterson of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler in Charleston, West Virginia, moved on Sept. 25 to coordinate at least 66 cases brought by cities, counties and even two states — New Hampshire and West Virginia — into multidistrict litigation. Peterson represents 46 cities, counties and other government agencies with opioid suits.

Peterson favors Ohio or Illinois as venues for the proposed MDL.

“While the effects are felt in hard-hit local communities, evidence and facts proving how this happened and who to blame are in significant part uniform,” he wrote in his motion. “Consolidation in a multidistrict litigation proceeding is necessary to prevent inconsistent rulings, including on Daubert motions, and to allow efficient and coordinated adjudication of the burgeoning number of cases.”

Peterson did not return a call for comment.

At least half a dozen states have sued opioid manufacturers and distributors contending that the drug companies failed to disclose the prescription medications’ addictive nature and have created a public health problem. Many states, like New Jersey, are considering filing suits, and a coalition of 41 state attorneys general has widened its investigation of several opioid manufacturers.

Many more cities and counties have brought cases, particularly in the past few months. Cities cited in Peterson’s motion include Cincinnati; Birmingham, Alabama; Stockton, California; Tacoma, Washington; and Huntington, West Virginia. Governments in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee also were cited in the motion.

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Amanda Bronstad

Amanda Bronstad is the ALM staff reporter covering class actions and mass torts nationwide. She writes the email dispatch Law.com Class Actions: Critical Mass. She is based in Los Angeles.

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