Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Ohio Federal Judge Open to Plaintiffs’ “Novel Ideal” for Faster Settlement of Nationwide Opioid MDL

Ohio Federal Judge Open to Plaintiffs’ “Novel Ideal” for Faster Settlement of Nationwide Opioid MDL

As reported by Law360, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster appeared receptive to an inventive new settlement proposal introduced on behalf of about 40 local government entities by plaintiffs’ attorneys at the June 25 hearing in Ohio federal court. Judge Polster oversees nearly 2,000 lawsuits in the opioid multidistrict litigation. Plaintiffs’ proposal would establish a “negotiation class” composed of all the individual cities and counties in the U.S. to seek a global settlement deal with opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies alleged to have been responsible for fueling the unprecedented opioid epidemic.

“The negotiation class that has been presented by the plaintiffs’ motion is a novel idea; it has never been tried,” said U.S. District Judge Dan Polster at the hearing. “But that doesn’t make it wrong or illegal or incorrect. There’s never been a constellation of cases like this, so to settle them requires a novel approach.”

The Judge further noted, “The defendants have made it clear that they’re not open to settling cases ‘piecemeal’ and are only interested in a settlement if it offers them closure…So if that is to happen, there needs to be a vehicle to do it.”

Law360 noted that Lieff Cabraser founding partner, Elizabeth Cabraser, one of the lawyers in holding leadership positions on behalf of various plaintiffs in the MDL, said that they have already heard “very good ideas for improvement from cities and counties, as well as from municipalities that wish to serve as additional class representatives.” Ms. Cabraser further observed, “The concept is a large concept, but operationally, things work or don’t work because of an attention to detail.”

According to Law.com, at the hearing Cabraser told Judge Polster that not only had defendants and attorneys general outlined their specific concerns, various cities and counties had also weighed in with potential revisions. As a result, the parties agreed to postpone the request for approval of their idea to allow more time for everyone to help in shaping the approach.

“This schedule gives an additional chance for input,” said Cabraser. “It gives us an opportunity to address input we’ve received so far and incorporate ideas to improve and refine the motion and also to give time to the attorneys general as they requested.”

Lieff Cabraser’s Work on Opioid Injury Cases

Lieff Cabraser represents numerous cities, counties, and Native American tribes and health organizations in lawsuits seeking justice from the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs for the unprecedented destructive opioid epidemic raging across the U.S. We also serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and the Tribal Committee in the coordinated federal multidistrict opiate litigation.

Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer and as a “Plaintiffs’ Powerhouse” by Law360, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a 70-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. Lieff Cabraser has filed similar cases nationwide on behalf of other counties and cities in opioids-related litigation. Our firm has successfully represented tens of thousands of injured individuals in complex and mass tort litigation, and thousands of patients across America in individual lawsuits over the injuries they suffered from defective prescription drugs. Five times in the last seven years, U.S. News and Best Lawyers have named Lieff Cabraser as their “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts.