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More Utah Counties Join Summit County In Opioid Lawsuit

More than half-a-dozen Utah counties have joined as new plaintiffs to the massive opioid lawsuit filed last year by Summit County.

Summit County was the first in Utah to file a suit, in the spring of 2018, contending that it and other local governments have been harmed by a national opioid crisis. The county alleged that the defendants, going back about 20 years, have engaged in a deceptive marketing campaign that promoted opioids for chronic long-term pain and downplayed the risks of addiction. The defendants are a long list of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.

Earlier this year, Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik agreed to consolidate Summit’s litigation with the same lawsuits filed by Salt Lake and Tooele Counties, also in the Third District.

Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said the same team of attorneys behind their suit have been working with defendants to consolidate other plaintiffs into Summit's lawsuit. New filings in this county consist of basically the same lawsuit but officially adding in as plaintiffs, Uintah, Duchesne, Daggett, Davis, Cache, and Rich Counties. Olson said also consolidating will be Washington, Wasatch and Weber Counties.

She said this will allow all the counties to stay on the same track for Discovery of facts in the case, and for pre-trial motions.

“Consolidation into the Summit case will streamline the pretrial process for all the cases,” Olson continued. “and help to avoid inconsistent rulings which could result if the cases stayed in their homecourts and judges ruled differently on identical issues.”

Judge Mrazik has set a date of September 10th, in his Salt Lake courtroom, to hear motions from the defendants for dismissal.

When and if the litigation moves to trial, the cases will go back to the county’s individual venues.

Olson said they were happy to hear of the recent settlement of the opioid litigation in another state.

“We are encouraged by the settlements in Oklahoma, as it shows the defendants acknowledge their fault and recognize the potential for trial verdicts against them.” Olson said.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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