Strong closing argument continues state’s strategy to expand accountability in Opioid Crisis

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement as closing arguments concluded in the landmark opioid trial involving Cabell County and the City of Huntington.

“We commend Cabell County and the City of Huntington on this week’s strong closing arguments. Their work continues our combined efforts to hold opioid companies responsible with a strategy to expand accountability that began with our success in carving counties and municipalities out from earlier agreements to preserve additional claims and lay the groundwork for this year’s trial and the many others to follow.

“Our structuring of this strategy—by having carved out the cities and counties, and through briefs we’ve filed in their support—is positioning our state and her local governments to fare very well with an aggregate total that maximizes recovery based upon severity of the harm imposed on West Virginians as opposed to national, population-based models that shortchange our state.”

Attorney General Morrisey announced last week that West Virginia would resoundingly reject a national settlement with three distributors and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, instead choosing to litigate and negotiate outside that framework to the benefit of the state and her local governments.

He argues the national proposal favored the nation’s largest states by distributing settlement proceeds largely based upon population as opposed to the intensity of the opioid crisis.

The Attorney General holds a similar position in continued negotiations involving the bankruptcy of opioid maker Purdue Pharma. He will argue in opposition to Purdue’s bankruptcy plan next month in New York.
The Attorney General’s active lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson are among three others against opioid makers, as well as cases filed against four national chain distributors.