UPDATE: Wood County authorizes Clarksburg law firm for opioid lawsuit

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) 3/8/2018 5 P.M.

The Wood County Commission has officially authorized a Clarksburg law firm to represent the county in a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and retailers.

The resolution approved Thursday by the commission proclaims the distribution of prescription controlled substances has created "a public nuisance and health and safety crisis for the Mid-Ohio Valley".

Commissioners noted the suit sought by the Ford Law Firm does not name local and West Virginia physicians as defendants.

"By understanding, they said the distributors were not producing information to the board of pharmacy for them to be able to act," said Commission President Blair Couch. "They believe the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency should have had some things."

The commission Monday chose the Ford Law Firm and Attorney Mark Berns to represent them in a multi-county case seeking damages on the counties' behalf.

Couch noted the firm plans to file the suit in Wood County.

3/1/2018 5:15 P.M.

Two law firms interested in including Wood County in a suit against the drug industry made their cases to the Wood County Commission Thursday morning.

Speaking to commissioners were attorneys from a Charleston law firm and one from Clarksburg.

The firms differ on whether a suit against manufacturers and retailers should be heard locally, or be part of a multi-county federal case currently based in Ohio.

"We're only suing manufacturers and distributors," said Ed Hill of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler. "We're not suing West Virginia Board of Pharmacy. We're filing all of our cases in federal court."

"It can't be a determination made in Cleveland, Ohio," explained Mark Bern of the Ford Law Firm. "It can't be made by a judge there, or a jury there. It must be made here."

The commission is expected to make a decision Monday on hiring a law firm.

2/26/2018 12:20 P.M.

The Wood County Commission delays a final decision to join a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The commission planned Monday to vote on joining a suit filed by a Wheeling-based law firm.

But it since has been approached by other firms filing similar legal cases.

The commissioners decided to wait until next Monday's meeting to make a final decision on joining one of those lawsuits.

"The attorney general is not in the business of saying what law firm to use," said Commission President Blair Couch. "And the county commission association has not said, 'this is our preferred vendor'. It leaves it up to the counties to make that determination."

Couch says the commission will hear Thursday from some of those law firms.

The Ford Law Firm of Clarksburg was mentioned as contacting Wood County, after the meeting last week between the commissioners and the Fitzsimmons Law Firm, who filed a multi-county suit in Marshall County.


Wood County Commissioners discuss the opioid crisis affecting the county, as well as West Virginia.

They're considering joining a statewide lawsuit over the issue.

Attorneys from the firm filing the lawsuit discussed it with the commission Thursday.

It seeks to recover money spent fighting the problem in the Mountain State, one of those affected most by it.

The suit, filed in Marshall County, names several drug companies and pharmacies as defendants.

"There's been many ideas bandied around at this point," Attorney Mark Colantonio, of the Fitzsimmons Law Firm from Wheeling, said after meeting with the commissioners. "I don't think anybody has a silver bullet. But it's our hope that we can positively contribute to that effort, and see that this problem is somehow remediated over the next few years."

Commission President Blair Couch says the commissioners expect to make a decision Monday about joining the suit.

12 West Virginia counties already have done so.