Judge: Pharmacies owe two Ohio counties $650M in opioids suit

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CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge in Cleveland awarded $650 million in damages Wednesday to two Ohio counties that won a landmark lawsuit against national pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, claiming the way they distributed opioids to customers caused severe harm to communities.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster said in the ruling that the money will be used to abate a continuing opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties, outside Cleveland. Attorneys for the counties had put the price tag at $1 billion for the damage done to each of the counties.

Lake County is to receive $306 million over 15 years. Trumbull County is to receive $444 million over the same period. Polster ordered the companies to pay nearly $87 million to cover the first two years.

In his ruling, Polster admonished the three companies, saying they “squandered the opportunity to present a meaningful plan to abate the nuisance.”

A jury returned a verdict in November in favor of the counties after a six-week trial. It was then left to Polster to decide how much the counties should receive from the three pharmacy companies. He heard testimony in May to determine how much in damages the counties should receive.

In his ruling, Polster admonished the three companies, saying they “squandered the opportunity to present a meaningful plan to abate the nuisance.”

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