Trumbull, Lake County lawyers oppose mistrial motion in opioid prescription case
As a jury in federal court begins day two of deliberations, lawyers representing three pharmacy chains have asked for a mistrial in the opioid prescription lawsuit filed by Trumbull and Lake counties.
Attorney’s representing Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS filed the motion for a mistrial on Tuesday, claiming that during closing arguments attorneys representing the two counties told jurors that their decision would be very important, having ramifications for pharmacies across the country.
The motion included a transcript of some of the county attorney’s closing statements:
“Y’all get to figure out what’s okay and what’s not. Y’all get to decide. Y’all get to form maybe the most seminal case in pharmaceutical history, in pharmacy history, dealing with the Controlled Substances Act.”
Although U.S. District Judge Aaron Polster reminded jurors that they are only deciding the present case and not future cases, attorneys for the pharmacies argue that isn’t enough to address the possible prejudicial impact that the closing statements could have on the jury, and a mistrial should be declared.
In a 22-page response to the motion, county attorneys argue that a mistrial is one of the most drastic alternatives available to a court, and is a remedy of "last resort". The plaintiffs cite legal precedent, saying that a mistrial is rarely based on a single episode.
The jury is weighing arguments in the lawsuit alleging that the way pharmacies dispensed pain pills contributed to the opioid crisis and constituted a public nuisance in their communities.
The counties claim that between 2000 and 2014, the pharmacies dispensed 68-million doses of opioids in Trumbull County. With a population of 209,000, attorneys say that is the equivalent of 320 pills for every resident during the period.
Attorneys for the pharmacies claim that they followed legal requirements while filling prescriptions.