Panel refuses to separate baby opioid withdraw cases from other opioid lawsuits

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NEW YORK, N.Y. (AP) - A panel of U.S. District Judges says lawsuits filed on behalf of babies born in opioid withdrawal should be considered by the same judge presiding over 1,400 opioid-related lawsuits against the drug industry.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled on the matter Thursday, one week after hearing arguments on it.

Lawyers for the babies said they have different legal concerns and need different information than the state and local governments who have filed most of the 1,400 suits blaming the effects of the opioid crisis on companies that make, distribute and sell prescription painkillers.

In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said that creating a second group of lawsuits under the jurisdiction of a second judge would slow down the cases.

The judge overseeing the litigation is pushing for a settlement.