Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has asked a federal appeals court to halt a major opioid trial set for October until the state has a chance to try its own cases, reports Cleveland.com. The move, criticized by officials from Cuyahoga and Summit counties and Gov. Mike DeWine is the latest in a flurry of actions by Yost to wrest control over potential settlements or judgments away from city and county governments in Ohio. Yost argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that only the state of Ohio can speak on behalf of all its residents. He argues that every Ohio county should have access to money from the results of the opioid lawsuits, and that money should come from the state’s litigation and not through individual lawsuits filed by smaller governments.
Yost said state attorneys general are in a better position to dole out money obtained through the opioid litigation than are attorneys representing cities and counties. He asked the appeals court to dismiss the counties’ claims or order U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland to halt the first federal trial, set to begin Oct. 21. The new move could hamper an already unwieldy set of lawsuits consolidated by Polster. The majority of those 2,000-plus cases were filed by cities and counties from across the U.S. Yost’s lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors were filed in Ohio county courts. The appeals court filing threatens to complicate settlement talks between attorneys for cities and counties and state attorneys general, which have ramped up as the federal trial date nears. Yost sent letters to drugmakers Endo International and Allergan saying that settlements they reached with Cuyahoga and Summit counties should not be perceived as being let off the hook for any claims the state has made.