Outcome for opioid lawsuit unknown

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The outcome for a county lawsuit against opioids is unknown, according to counsel.

Scott Stearns of the Boone Karlberg law firm in Missoula echoed Lake County Commissioner Dave Stipe’s previous explanation that the legal team is gathering data to present to Judge Dan Aaron Polster, out of the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland.

So far, Lake County joins Gallatin and Cascade counties, along with the city of Great Falls and the Anaconda/Deer Lodge area, Stearns said.

He estimates that litigation won’t take as long as the tobacco lawsuit from the 1990s took, which was about a decade.

“The public’s understanding of (the opioid) problem is more clear than tobacco in the ‘90s.”

ANY ENTITY in Lake County can request to join the lawsuit, which Stipe previously explained would get a percentage of the settlement, if awarded.

The law firm is going to be “fairly choosey” in who it adds to the lawsuit, Stearns said, “sticking to more populated counties or town” because it is easier to show the effect of opioids over rural areas where the data may not have been kept through the years.

Nationally, Stearns said that “hundreds” of entities have joined the lawsuit.

The first trial dates for the eastern portion of the country are in 2019, while places in Montana will be later in the trial schedule.

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