Where does the W.Va. Opioid Trial stand?


BUCKHANNON — The City of Buckhannon and Upshur County Commission have both discussed the ongoing litigation of the W.Va. Opioid Trial. Most recently the Upshur County Commission entered executive session to discuss the ongoing litigation. Although West Virginia is low in population compared to other states, it ranks number one in opioid related deaths, according to data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The Kaiser Family Foundation.

Back on Thursday, February 17, 2022, City Council of Buckhannon discussed the trial regarding Civil Action No. 21-C-9000-MFR. At that time, it was reported that lawsuits were filed by 54 of the 55 of West Virginia’s counties against a multitude of drug and opioid manufacturers and Buckhannon City Attorney Tom O’Neill brought council members up to speed on the process of the ongoing opioid litigation.

As noted above, the Upshur County Commission entered executive session to discuss the Opioid Trial during their meeting on Thursday, July 21. It is unknown what occurred during the executive session.

The Opioid Trial dates to the year 2018. That is when the first Administrative Order or the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia was dated. The document from the West Virginia Judiciary reveals that Plaintiffs included Monongalia County Commission, Marion County Commission, Doddridge County Commission and Upshur County Commission versus Marshall County Civil Action Nos. 18-C-222,18-C-223,18-C-234, 18-C-235 and 18-C-236.

The West Virginia Judiciary also supplied another document with Transaction ID 66992975 that was titled “Case Management Order Relating to the State Opioid Manufacturer Proceedings.” It stated the following, “On August 4, 2021, the Mass Litigation Panel (“MLP”) issued an order that directs that the State of West Virginia’s cases against Defendants Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and Cephalon, Inc. (collectively “Teva Pharmaceuticals”), Defendants Watson Laboratories, Inc., Warner Chilcott Company LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc. (f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc.), Actavis South Atlantic LLC, Actavis Elizabeth LLC, Actavis Mid Atlantic LLC, Actavis Totowa LLC, Actavis LLC, Actavis Kadian LLC, Actavis Laboratories UT, Inc. (f/k/a Watson Laboratories, Inc.-Salt Lake City), and Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc. (f/k/a Watson Laboratories, Inc.-Florida) (collectively “the Teva-Acquired Actavis Entities”), Allergan Finance, LLC (f/k/a Actavis, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), Allergan USA, Inc., and Allergan Sales, LLC (collectively “Allergan”) (Civil Action No. 19-C-104 BNE); Defendants Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson (collectively “Janssen Defendants”) (Civil Action No. 19-C-105 BNE); and Defendants Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. (collectively “Endo Defendants”) (Civil Action No. 19-C-151 BNE) to proceed to trial on April 4, 2022 (Transaction ID 66821121). Together, these cases are referred to as the “State Opioid Manufacturer Proceedings.” Pursuant to Rules 16 and 26 of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Court’s Order to conduct a non-jury trial April EFiled: Oct 06, 2021, 11:35AM EDT Transaction ID 66992975 2 4, 2022 (Transaction ID 66821121), the Court hereby ORDERS that the following Case Management Order (“Order”) should be entered.”

There is a plethora of documents and information available regarding the litigation. Multiple sources reveal that Johnson and Johnson has agreed to a $5 billion settlement nationwide with West Virginia slated to receive $99 million. As of now, it appears that other settlements have been reached with companies including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. It is noted that the funds will be allocated to cities and counties to help fund opioid addition and prevention.

With that said, it is unclear when funding will be presented and what the city and county will implement to fight the ever-growing opioid crisis. It also appears that the litigation is not over yet as the West Virginia Judiciary provided more documentation on Wednesday July 20 named Civil Action No. 21-C-9000 PHARM and stating, “This document applies to all state cases against pharmacies order regarding trial logistics.”

The same document also lists dates and more pertaining to ongoing opioid litigation including;

“The pretrial conference in this matter shall be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 19, 2022, in Courtroom Four, also known as the Ceremonial Courtroom, on the second floor of the Kanawha County Courthouse, located at 409 Virginia Street, East, in Charleston, West Virginia.

“The trial of this matter shall begin at 8:30 a.m. on September 26, 2022, in Courtroom Four, also known as the Ceremonial Courtroom, on the second floor of the Kanawha County Courthouse, located at 409 Virginia Street, East, in Charleston, West Virginia. Trial will be conducted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be a 30-minute break mid-morning; an hour lunch break; and a 30-minute break mid-afternoon. The Presiding Judges are allocating 24 days for trial of this matter up to and including Friday, October 28, 2022, because of the intervening Columbus Day Holiday.

“The parties shall file and serve a joint proposed time keeping order for the Court’s review no later than noon on Tuesday, August 2, 2022. Each side shall have 66 hours to present their case, not including one day in total for opening statements and one day in total for closing arguments.

“The Presiding Judges and the parties will watch trial testimony presented by video deposition during the trial. The parties shall meet and confer to resolve objections to deposition designations and exhibits no later than September 2, 2022. Deposition designations and objections shall be completed and delivered to the Presiding Judges and Counsel to the Mass Litigation Panel no later than noon on Friday, September 9, 2022. All objections to three deposition designations shall be listed on a chart in page order regardless of who interposed the objection. See Second Amended Case Management Order at (Transaction ID 67482006) and Order Regarding Modifications to Case Schedule (Transaction ID 67582233).

“The Court further advises the parties that most objections to deposition designations will be overruled. See the ‘MCCORMICK Rule.’ The Court further ORDERS the parties to provide the Court with a list identifying the order in which all video depositions will be played no later than noon on Friday, September 9, 2022, so the Court can prioritize rulings on deposition designations on a rolling basis, as needed by the parties.

“All parties shall file and serve their pretrial memoranda no later than noon on Wednesday, September 14, 2022. See Order Regarding Modifications to Case Schedule (Transaction ID 67582233).

“Order of Trial Presentation the State of West Virginia, ex rel. Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., et al. Rite Aid of Maryland, Inc. d/b/a Rite Aid Mid-Atlantic Customer Support Center, et al. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., et al. Walmart, Inc. f/k/a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The above is not the entirety of the document. To view all documents pertaining to the Opioid Trial, please visit http://www.courtswv.gov/lower-courts/mlp/opioid.html.

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