Judge overseeing opioid suits seeks steps to address crisis

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge who hopes to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by government entities over the opioid crisis says he’s resolved to take steps this year to address the problem in the midst of negotiations.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster held an hour-long open court session in Cleveland on Thursday before meeting with attorneys representing more than 600 government entities, and then with lawyers for the drug manufacturers and distributors being blamed in the lawsuits for a crisis that killed 42,000 Americans in 2016.

Polster says he hopes the three trials he’s scheduled for next March will aid settlement talks.

Earlier this week, Polster ordered the government to share data on opioid distribution and suspicious orders from every state, not just states hit hardest by the crisis.