Judge combines lawsuits against Big Pharma in 3 Utah counties for evidence gathering

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SALT LAKE CITY — A third District decide combined lawsuits towards Huge Pharma in Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties into one case Friday for gathering evidence before trial.

Should these lawsuits go trial, nevertheless, they might be contested in the counties the place they originated.

The three counties, all of which fall beneath third District Courtroom jurisdiction, are among more than a dozen Utah counties that have sued the nation’s largest opioid producers and distributors for his or her alleged position in the nationwide opioid epidemic. The counties claim Huge Pharma engaged in deceptive and deceptive advertising, distribution and sales practices.

Decide Richard Mzarik additionally gave counties outdoors the third District the choice to transfer their instances to Summit or Salt Lake counties. He concluded that although it might get monetary savings and be more efficient to consolidate all the instances, he lacks authority over counties outdoors his judicial district.

Seventeen opioid manufacturers and distributors filed a motion in December to consolidate the Utah instances in Salt Lake County or Summit County — the first in Utah to sue Massive Pharma — for issues leading as much as trial.

Seven counties, including Summit and Tooele, favor the move, while seven others, including Salt Lake and Davis counties, oppose it.

Purdue Pharma lawyer Elisabeth McOmber argued that consolidation is sensible for effectivity and price-effectiveness and could possibly be carried out in a approach that is truthful for all of the events. For example, she stated a witness would only have to offer one deposition somewhat than a number of depositions.

McOmber additionally argued that judges in numerous districts may make totally different rulings on the identical issues, inflicting “real issues” leading to “piecemeal” litigation. She stated it might be better for one decide to make selections.

Richard Kaplan, a lawyer for Salt Lake County, stated the county deliberately targeted its lawsuit on opioid manufacturers somewhat than distributors as a result of “they’re the nerve middle, they’re the guts of it, they’re the architects of the conspiracy that is being alleged right here,” he stated.

The county needs to go to trial shortly and does not want be slowed down by evidence gathering in other instances that got here later. He stated the county would like to deal with the case by itself.

“I feel we all know a camel is a horse drawn by a committee,” he informed the decide.

Martin Phipps, a Texas lawyer representing Davis County, argued that the opioid disaster is personal for county attorneys and the residents they symbolize.

“They want a few of that justice. They need to be a part of it,” he stated.

Colin King, an lawyer representing Summit and Weber counties and others, stated his shoppers have pragmatic causes for combining the instances. He stated he intends to file at the least 4 extra lawsuits, including for a number of the state’s smallest counties.

“We characterize Rich County where there are more cows than individuals,” he stated. “We characterize Kane County…

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