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Williams awaits opioid trial decision from federal judge

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Mayor Steve Williams says he doesn’t know when U.S. District Judge David Faber will announce his decision in the landmark opioid case but he’s ready to move forward no matter the result.

Steve Williams

Williams, spending time this week in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” he has faith in the judicial system along with faith and a “great respect” for Judge Faber.

“Any decision that’s going to be made I think you naturally accept,” Williams said.

It’s believed Faber is getting close to announcing his decision. He heard weeks of testimony during a bench trial last year.

Huntington and Cabell County claim three large opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, helped fuel the epidemic by dumping 100 million pills into the region over a decade.

Williams said he’s hopeful the judge has recognized the past damage the epidemic has caused but also the future damage.

U.S. District Judge David Faber

“We need to be able to have the resources, not to look over our shoulder at the problems we’ve had and correct those wrongs, but to look forward and abate the problems and make sure this never, ever happens in our communities again,” Williams said.

The distributors all said during the trial that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controls the supply of drugs and their instructions were followed. The defense also pointed at budget decisions made by the City of Huntington to cut funding for law enforcement and a drug task force.

Judge Faber has placed several documents into evidence in recent days which may be an indication that he’s getting close to announcing his decision. Williams said he’s not sure but he’s willing to live with what the judge decides.

“It always aggravates the devil out of me when individuals go to court, expecting the court to serve their purposes, but when it’s ruled against them, they bellyache about how the decision was made,” Williams said.

During the trial’s closing arguments in late July, a defense attorney said Huntington and Cabell County spend less than $150,000 a year on drug treatment but they are seeking $2.5 billion in damages.

Paul Farrell (Photo/WV Record)

Lead plaintiff’s attorney Paul Farrell told MetroNews afterward the implication by the ‘Big 3’ is the plaintiffs are a “bunch of pillbillies who want a pay check.”

“If we haven’t established that our hearts are in it then I think we’ve failed,” Farrell said.

Williams said Thursday he understands the city may not get everything it’s seeking but at least they’ll be able to move on.

“If it’s not nearly as much as we had asked or nothing, okay, that’s the judgment and we’ll move forward and at least we have a path we know we have to take in the future to make sure this never happens again,” Williams said.

Williams testified during the trial and said again Thursday it was important for the city to get its day in court.





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