COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost applauds a bipartisan coalition of 14 attorneys general and also the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that filed amicus briefs with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of his petition to halt or delay the October trial against opioid manufacturers in Cleveland until the state’s complaint goes to trial.
“What some suggested was an outlying position a week ago is anything but and has gained strong support. That’s what happens when people hear the facts,” Yost said. “It is good to see my peers, who also represent their entire states, recognize that the cases on behalf of all Ohioans are the way to go.”
The brief, led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, argues that the states and only the states “are in a position to enter into global settlements, which are jeopardized by local, piecemeal litigations.”
The brief argues, “The opioid crisis is a matter of statewide impact that requires a statewide response. The States should not be hindered by various claims brought by separate instrumentalities making separate arguments from separate attorneys.”
“The States are the chief guardians of the health and safety of their citizens, and they seek to ensure that their efforts are not impeded.” The brief reiterates that sovereign authority is a state right, not a right of municipalities.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also agrees that Ohio is on the right path and is best suited to represent all of its citizens. The chamber’s brief argues, “the plethora of lawsuits peddled by a vexatious plaintiffs’ bar to the country’s 40,000-odd municipal entities is not a serious attempt to solve the problem. It is an attempt by hundreds of plaintiffs’ law firms to enrich themselves at the expense of more efficient and effective approaches.”
Multiple first-in local litigations cause “staggering and unnecessary litigation costs, delayed and incomplete settlements, and a redirection of compensation from those who may have suffered injury from the conduct. This distortion of the legal system has tremendous consequences for the Nation’s business community and thus the national economy.”
Citing a letter signed by 24 attorneys general and sent to the district court on June 24, 2019, the attorney general brief points out, “Doling out small buckets of funds without regard to how the funds should be spent is the opposite of a ‘coordinated’ response, which would balance statewide efforts—such as public education campaigns, with local efforts.”
“The business community recognizes we have one shot at getting this right, not just for Ohio’s economy, but for our families and communities that are most in need,” Yost continued. “It is my responsibility to protect all Ohioans. Somebody has to be in the driver’s seat if we ever expect to bring this crisis of death and addiction to an end.”
The amici states include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and the District of Columbia.