This article was originally published in The Logan Banner.
HUNTINGTON — Talks were underway in Charleston last week in an effort to settle all West Virginia-based lawsuits filed against drug industry companies for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis.
The move comes after nationwide settlement talks perceived as slighting the Mountain State fell through last month.
The negotiations, originally ordered for state-based cases by a state judicial panel, marks the first time a state has broken out of national negotiations to work toward a universal settlement resolving all state and federal opioid cases in that state, according to Huntington-based attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr. He is leading the talks on behalf of the plaintiffs in the multiple lawsuits.
As of Friday, all West Virginia plaintiffs, including Cabell County and Huntington, have proposed a $1.25 billion settlement, which would go to plaintiffs in the cases, Farrell said. Attorneys fees would be awarded separately from the $1.25 billion and would be determined by a panel of West Virginia Judges overseeing state opioid cases.
The deal also leaves open the opportunity for West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to make his own settlement with some defendants in the state lawsuits.
“What that means is … we have all decided to speak with one voice and to negotiate separately from the national scene with the defendants,” Farrell told The Herald-Dispatch on Friday.
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