NewsCovering Kentucky


The Latest: Opioid lawyers picking jury in hard-hit area

Posted at 3:45 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 15:45:07-04

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on jury selection in the first federal trial on the opioid crisis (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Attorneys in a landmark opioid trial in Cleveland must pick a jury from a pool of people in a state that's been ravaged by the addiction and overdose crisis.

The Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit are the first two plaintiffs in what is considered a bellwether trial.

The trial could determine how others are conducted and whether a global settlement for more than 2,000 lawsuits consolidated in Cleveland is possible.

Questionnaires were sent to prospective jurors in nine northern Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga, which has been hit particularly hard by the crisis.

Prospective jurors were asked whether they or family members have been affected by the crisis, which opioids they have taken and other questions.

Jury selection began Wednesday and is expected to continue Thursday.


12:50 p.m.

Potential jurors in the first federal trial over the opioid crisis are being screened for biases in their views about companies that make and distribute drugs.

Jury selection began Wednesday in a Cleveland courthouse for a trial involving the claims of the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit against several companies.

Lawyers asked 50 potential jurors who were brought to court whether they have knowledge or opinions of companies involved in the litigation.

Those who do are being taken into a judge's chambers for further questioning.

Earlier in the day, the judge denied requests from defendants to delay the trial because of reports of an $18 billion settlement offer from three major drug distribution companies.


10:30 a.m.

Jury selection has begun in a landmark opioid trial in Cleveland after a judge brushed aside last-minute requests to delay the case.

Multiple defendants had asked for the start of the trial to be pushed back after media reports of an $18 billion settlement offer from three major drug distribution companies.

But Judge Dan Polster denied the requests, saying he didn't think many potential jurors would have seen the articles. Questioning of potential jurors started a little after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

It's expected to take up to three days to seat 12 jurors. Arguments are scheduled to begin Monday on claims brought against several companies by the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit.


9:50 a.m.

Attorneys for several defendants in a landmark opioid trial in Cleveland have asked a federal judge to delay it because of media coverage surrounding a possible $18 billion settlement .

Word on the settlement involving three drug distributors came as jury selection was about to start Wednesday.

The lawyers argued that jurors who read or saw any of the coverage would be tainted when learning of the massive amount of money possibly being discussed.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster denied the motions and responded by saying he didn't believe many of the potential jurors would have been exposed to the stories.

He said he will question members of the jury pool to determine whether they're aware of the coverage.


6 a.m.

Jury selection is set to begin in the first federal trial over the nation's opioid epidemic.

The trial focuses on lawsuits filed by two Ohio counties claiming drug companies that made, distributed and sold prescription painkillers engaged in a deadly conspiracy that has inflicted massive damage on their communities.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday and is expected to last a few days. Attorneys for Summit and Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) counties and six drug-related companies will select a 12-person jury. Prospective jurors were asked to answer a 19-page questionnaire about the case.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Cleveland. It's considered a bellwether because it could help shape how future trials are conducted or possibly help spur the global settlement sought by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster.

Polster is overseeing more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by local governments and other entities against companies in the opioid industry.