SAN ANTONIO - A historic trial starting Tuesday could lay the foundation in deciding the role of big pharmaceutical companies in the opioid epidemic.
- Oklahoma opioid trial underway
- Bastrop County considering lawsuit
- Some pharmaceutical companies have settled
As Oklahoma goes head to head with Johnson & Johnson in court, the outcome could have implications here in Texas.
So far there are multiple levels of lawsuits going on all depending on legal strategy and thousands of government agencies have filed suits against distributors. The trial in Oklahoma is the first of its kind, and legal experts say what happens there matters.
"Usually the first trial will give people an idea of what the defendants litigation strategy is, how juries are going to view these cases and how much money could be at stake," said T.J. Mayes.
Mayes is an attorney with Phipps Deacon Purnell PLLC, the law firm handling Bexar County's suit against dozens of manufacturers and distributors in state court.
Mayes says Tuesday Bastrop County commissioners gave staff the green light to enter into an agreement with the same law firm to represent them in state court as well.
Travis County filed a suit in federal court and the court overseeing that litigation is in Ohio.
A lot of eyes will be on Oklahoma this week, not only because it's the first trial of its kind, but because many companies have already settled.
"Other pharmaceutical companies have settled with the state of Oklahoma. Purdue, $270 million. The states and the counties only get 6 percent of that. So Bexar County, Travis County, Bastrop County and all the others that are considering this, need to know they are going to be made whole only if they file suit on their own behalf," he said.
There are about 40 similar claims so far in Texas, but Mayes says Bexar County wants to be the first in Texas to go to trial and it could happen within the next year.