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City of Huntington reaps reward of legal battle with drug companies


Officials presented the City of Huntington with a check for more than $2.7 million to combat the area’s opioid crisis.

Cabell County and the city of Huntington levied lawsuits against Amerisource-Bergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp. in 2017. A federal judge ruled in favor of the defendants in 2022, though separate settlements have been reached out of court with some of these companies. The distributors and manufacturers were accused of exacerbating the state’s opioid crisis through the excessive and reckless distribution of pain pills.

Attorney Rusty Webb, who represented the city through the six-year-long legal battle, presented the check to the Huntington City Council. He said after the long-fought effort, he was very pleased to announce the award.

“I want to show you the first check that Huntington will be receiving in the fight against opioids,” said Webb. “And there will be 13 additional checks that you will receive, probably in the month of November because that’s the latest date that the defendants will have paid into the pool each year.”

This first payout to the city totaled $2,726,135. Webb said the succeeding checks will likely be a similar dollar amount. He added the payout is thanks to the hard work of city officials, naming Huntington Mayor Stephen Williams.

“We had a very, very long journey. The mayor was instrumental, was an instrumental leader not only statewide, but as you know, he has been a leader nationally in the fight against opioids. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to lead this fight.”

According to the John Hopkins’ Bloomberg American Health Initiative, in West Virginia, one in five overdoses were in Cabell County in 2017, the same year the lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers began. 152 Cabell County residents suffered fatal opioid overdoses that year.