stock image of prescription pill bottles
Update Tuesday July 5 - The Court announced a continuance of the trial with no new date currently set.
Charleston, WV - A trio of drug distributors head to trial Tuesday in West Virginia state court over civil claims they allegedly contributed to the opioid addiction crisis, and the proceedings will be webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
AmerisourceBergan Co., Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp. face accusations from a group of West Virginia cities and counties that the companies supposed role in distributing opioid medications contributed to a major public health crisis, and the lawsuit seeks damages to offset costs the municipalities claim they incurred as a result.
The pharmaceutical distributors deny the allegations, arguing that the drugs in question are all legal medications fully approved by the FDA, and that they should not be held responsible for the decisions of doctors to prescribe approved medications that play a key role in pain management for many patients who never develop opioid addictions.
The trial will be the second in West Virginia state court related to the opioid crisis and the third overall in a state among the hardest hit by the addiction epidemic. West Virginia struck a $161.5 million settlement in May with pharmaceutical manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc. and AbbVie’s Allergan following a lengthy trial, and the same distributors involved in the pending trial also faced similar claims in West Virginia federal court in 2021.
Both of those trials took place without a jury, and Tuesday’s trial will take place without a jury before Judge Derek Swope, who also presided over the recent trial against the pharmaceutical manufacturers. A decision from U.S. District Judge David Faber, who presided over the federal trial, remains pending.
A large group of attorneys from some of the country’s top law firms will convene in Kanawha County Circuit Court’s sprawling ceremonial courtroom on Tuesday, and the trial could stretch into August.
The city/county plaintiffs are represented by Paul Farrel Jr. and Michael Fuller of the Puerto Rico-based firm Farrell & Fuller, Anne McGinnis Kearse of the South Carolina-based firm Motley Rice, and Pearl Robertson of the Louisiana-based firm Irpino Akin Hawkins, along with local West Virginia counsel Robert Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Law Firm, Charles “Rusty” Webb of The Webb Law Centre PLLC and Anthony Majestro of Powell & Majestro.
AmerisourceBergen is represented by Shannon McClure, Michael Salimbene and Clifford Breese out of Reed Smith LLP’s Philadelphia office, and by local West Virginia counsel Gretchen Callas and Albert Sebok of Jackson Kelly PLLC.
Cardinal Health is represented by Jennifer Wicht, George Borden and Suzanne Salgado out of Williams & Connolly LLP’s Washington, DC office and by local West Virginia counsel Steven Ruby of Carey Douglas Kessler & Ruby.
McKesson is represented by Paul Schmidt and Timothy Hester out of Covington & Burling’s New York City and Washington, DC offices and by local West Virginia counsel John Meadows of Steptoe & Johnson and Jamison Cooper of Cooper Law Offices.
CVN’s live coverage will commence with Tuesday’s opening statements and continue for the duration of the proceedings.
CVN is the only news media organization in the United States dedicated to gavel-to-gavel video coverage of civil trial proceedings of interest to the legal and professional communities. CVN previously covered bellwether opioid trials in Oklahoma, California, New York and Washington state courts.
Unlimited on-demand access to those trials, along with hundreds of other trials ranging from major product liability matters to catastrophic negligence and personal injury cases, is available with a subscription to CVN's online trial video library.
As per court order, CVN coverage of the pending trial in West Virginia will be limited to livestreaming only with no on-demand replay available.
The case is captioned In Re: Opioid Litigation (Distributors Cases), case number 21-C-9000 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org