US judge finds for 3 drug distributors in WVa opioid lawsuit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of three major U.S. drug distributors in a landmark lawsuit that accused them of causing a health crisis by distributing 81 million pills over eight years in one West Virginia county ravaged by opioid addiction.

The verdict came nearly a year after closing arguments in a bench trial in the lawsuit filed by Cabell County and the city of Huntington against AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.

"The opioid crisis has taken a considerable toll on the citizens of Cabell County and the City of Huntington. And while there is a natural tendency to assign blame in such cases, they must be decided not based on sympathy, but on the facts and the law," U.S. District Judge David Faber wrote in the 184-page ruling. “In view of the court’s findings and conclusions, the court finds that judgment should be entered in defendants’ favor.”

Cabell County attorney Paul Farrell had argued the distributors should be held responsible for sending a “tsunami” of prescription pain pills into the community and that the defendants’ conduct was unreasonable, reckless and disregarded the public’s health and safety in an area ravaged by opioid addiction.