Several drug manufacturers and distributors urged a California federal court to delay a decision on a timeline for an opioid trial date proposed by the city and county of San Francisco until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic loosens its grip on the nation, according to Law360.

The companies asked U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to delay his decision on a timeline for 30 days in light of the pandemic or, at the very least, consider a slower timeline that schedules the trial for October 2021 instead of March 2021, as proposed by San Francisco.

COVID-19 “will for the foreseeable future impose substantial strain on the resources of both plaintiffs and defendants – the former as they work to provide critical public services in this time of crisis, the latter because they serve critical components of the pharmaceutical supply chain that is needed to support that effort, and both sides because of the unprecedented restrictions and demands currently imposed on both governments and businesses,” the opioid companies said.

San Francisco is one of hundreds of local governments across the country that has filed lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of highly addictive opioids for creating and fueling an opioid epidemic. The cities, counties, and tribes are seeking compensation for thousands of overdose deaths and millions of dollars in economic damages that occurred due to the drug companies overstating the benefits of the drugs and downplaying the risks.

In February, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation accepted the recommendation of U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster to move the San Francisco case to California federal court. Polster presides over the multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized in Ohio federal court.

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are representing local governments holding opioid companies accountable for overdose deaths and economic damages in their communities caused by the opioid crisis. Attorneys are also investigating cases of serious injuries and illness – including addiction and overdose – related to opioid use and abuse, as well as cases of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in babies born to mothers addicted to opioids. For more information, contact Melissa Prickett or Liz Eiland.

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