Ohio unites to push for settlement in opioid lawsuits

State and local leaders inked a deal to join forces to negotiate a settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors over their role in the opiate addiction crisis that has devastated the state, officials announced Wednesday.

“One Ohio” — a united front — is an effort led by Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost to leverage Ohio’s collective might against the drug industry. Local governments representing more than 80% of the state’s population signed onto the plan, including 73 of 88 counties.

More than 2,600 lawsuits were filed against opioid makers and distributors, which many U.S. communities blame for fueling the epidemic. The state of Ohio has two lawsuits, pending in Ross and Madison counties, and more than 150 Ohio local governments have cases consolidated in U.S. District Court before Judge Daniel Polster in Cleveland.

The One Ohio deal would allow defendants to settle cases with the majority of jurisdictions in Ohio.

A settlement deal would provide funds for state and local governments to recoup money spent responding to the crisis that has left thousands dead.

RELATED: Local governments would get millions in Ohio opioid settlement

In 2018 alone, 3,764 Ohioans died of unintentional drug overdoses, with 3,150 of those involving some type of prescription or illicit opioid. The costly crisis overburdened police, social service agencies, and treatment centers.

The One Ohio agreement spells out how settlement money would be divvied up.

Under the One Ohio agreement, 11% would be taken off the top for attorney fees and the remaining cash would be divvied up — 30% for local governments, 55% to a new foundation and 15% to the attorney general’s office.

The foundation would be controlled by a 25-member board appointed by state, legislative and local officials. It would spend settlement money to address the opioid epidemic both locally and statewide.

The 118 local jurisdictions signing onto the agreement include the cities of Dayton, Springfield, Middletown and Hamilton and the counties of Butler, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren.

About the Author