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Cobb to Serve as Plaintiff in Bellwether Opioid Trial

 image of drug bottle
July 6, 2021

Cobb County Selected as a Venue for Multidistrict Opioid Trial
Bellwether trial involving pharmacies will determine the direction of larger settlement discussions

Marietta GA - July 6, 2021 | An Ohio federal judge has selected Cobb County as one of five jurisdictions where a multidistrict opioid case will play out in a courtroom.  The Cobb County Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of national outside counsel, originally filed suit in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia.  The case was transferred to Ohio to be a part of the multidistrict litigation brought by numerous local and state governments against the opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.  Now, the case is coming back to Georgia for trial.

Lawyers will descend upon Cobb County to prepare for one of five so-called “bellwether trials” against major pharmacy chains regarding their responsibility in the opioid crisis in this country.   A bellwether trial involves multi-jurisdictional cases and gives both sides an indication of the strengths or weaknesses of their case before potentially moving toward a larger settlement.

“The opportunity to bring our case to trial comes with great responsibility,” said Cobb County Chairwoman Lisa Cupid. “We feel a deep sense of obligation to use this process to give voice to the experiences and ongoing needs of our community members on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, including first responders, medical professionals, individuals in recovery, and families impacted by the crisis. We look forward to presenting our case and will be ready when that day comes.”

The Cobb case will involve pharmacy chains including CVS Health Corp., Walgreen Co., Walmart Inc., Kroger, Publix, and Rite Aid Corp.  Other bellwether cases involving pharmacies will be held in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and New Mexico.  Multidistrict litigation against opioid drug manufacturers remains in global settlement talks. 

Cobb County has been one of the hardest-hit counties in Georgia for opioid overdoses.  The death of her son from opioid addiction led Missy Owen to start the Davis Direction Foundation, an organization that helps people find the road to recovery. 

“I realize this case may be the most challenging of all the multidistrict cases involving this epidemic,” Owen said.  “But if nothing else it will highlight the immense toll the opioid crisis has left in Cobb County, metro Atlanta, and elsewhere.  Shining more light on the situation will hopefully help educate people and help lead us to a sustainable solution.”

Cobb County’s bellwether trial is expected to start sometime in 2022 and will take place at the United States Federal Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

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