April 16, 2020
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Calvin Ball announced progress on multiple lawsuits being filed by Howard County on behalf of residents. The County’s complaint against e-cigarette manufacturers was filed in the federal district court in Baltimore the first week of April. The County will be moving to transfer its lawsuit to the federal district court in San Francisco, where it will be heard with all similar cases which have been consolidated under a nationwide multi-district litigation order.
“In the midst of this public health crisis, we have not forgotten the promises we’ve made to residents,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “These lawsuits are critical in highlighting the public health repercussion of e-cigarettes and the opioid epidemic, and we will continue to advance these complaints to ensure all our residents can be healthy and thriving.”
Howard County’s lawsuit against various opioid makers and distributors was transferred to the Multi-District litigation (MDL) in December 2019. This consolidated legal action is currently pending before a federal judge in the Northern District of Ohio.
In November, as a part of the MDL, a significant opioid trial is scheduled to begin in federal court in Ohio, involving Summit and Cuyahoga Counties in Ohio, serving as a “bellwether” for more than 2,600 similar cases nationwide, including Howard County. The defendants in these trials include national pharmacy chains, such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart. Another significant bellwether trial is scheduled for August 2020 for MDL cases City of Huntington and Cabell County against three of the largest opioid distributors.
Bellwether trials often provide insight to the parties as to the risks of litigation and can serve as the impetus for the parties to consider global settlement opportunities. Howard County remains committed to working with all levels of leadership in Maryland to develop a comprehensive plan to abate the opioid epidemic in not only our county, but neighboring counties and throughout our state and our country.
Oral arguments in the two Howard County cases against FAA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit were scheduled to occur on March 17, 2020 but were postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis. On March 26, 2020, the Court ordered that both cases be removed from the oral argument docket. It is uncertain whether the cases will be decided solely on the briefs, or whether they will be placed on a future oral argument docket. If there is no oral argument, the Court is expected to issue a written decision within 3 to 6 months.