CHARLESTON — Several more legal actions have joined in suing manufacturers and distributors of opioids for the crisis that has ravaged West Virginia.
"We have three of the four largest cities and then we have towns like Quinwood with a population of 285," Webb said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "Essentially, any town that has police and fire could file a case."
The Chafin Law Firm, Harry Bell Jr. and the Mid-Ohio Valley Opioid Litigation Alliance, which consists of Kevin Harris and Eric Holmes with the Law Offices of Harris & Holmes of Ripley, Lisa Ford of Clarksburg, Robert White of Charleston, and Marc J. Bern and Joseph Cappelli with Marc J. Bern & Partners of New York City, have also filed lawsuits representing other towns, cities and counties across West Virginia.
Charles "Rusty" Webb
Webb represents Granville, Braxton County Commission, the Calhoun County Commission, Charleston, Glenville, Huntington, Hurricane, Parkersburg, St. Albans, Smithers, Winfield, Dunbar, the Nicholas County Commission, Bluefield, Eleanor, Fort Gay, Man, Milton, Quinwood, Rainelle, Rupert, Summersville, Sutton, Logan, Clendenin, Princeton, Montgomery, Sophia, Whitesville, Gauley Bridge, Richwood, Wayne and Buckhannon.
Although the majority of the cases are in federal court, a handful remain in state court.
Webb said the trial date for the first opioid case was set for March but was pushed back until September. That case is the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Summit County. It will be heard by Judge Dan Polster in the Northern District of Ohio. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
"It's my understanding that if the cases do not settle or a second trial takes place, it will be Cabell County and the city of Huntington in federal court," Webb said.
Last year the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report stating the economic cost of the opioid drug epidemic in 2015 was $504 billion, more than six times larger than the most recent estimated costs, according to the council.
The epidemic’s impact in 2015 is equivalent to 2.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product for that year, according to the council's report.