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March 23, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 23, 2018
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 23, 2018 PAGE 9A Judge Dan Aaron Polster By Amanda Koehn of lawyers to settle the case in a way that will provide (Cleveland Jewish News meaningful solutions to the via JNS)--Judge Dan Aaron crisis, ratherthanfocusingon Polster of the Northern Dis- a trial and "finger-pointing," trict of Ohio is presiding over and how that stance has a case involving more than caused an uproar in the legal 400 federal lawsuits brought community. by communities around the "I don't think anyone in country against drug com- the country is interested in a panies and pharmacy chains wholelotoffinger-pointingat for their role in perpetuating thispoint, andI'mnoteither," the opioid epidemic. Polster said, according to a The case and Polster--a Jan. '9 legal transcript of the member of Congregation first hearing. "People aren't Shaarey Tikvah in Beach- interested in depositions, and wood, and Park Synagogue discovery and trials." in Cleveland Heights and Polster told the Cleveland Pepper Pike--were covered Jewish News that his view of in a March 6 front-page story the world through a Jewish in The New York Times It lens--and the Jewish obli- discussed Polster's urging gation to help others--has conditioned him to try to make an impact and affects how he goes about his work. "I take our obligation of tikkun olam [often defined as the 'repair of the world'] very seriously," he said, adding that what he said at that first hear- ing best reflected how those intentions of helping others may apply to these lawsuits. "I requested that everyone try and work together to come up with some steps that we can take this year, in 2018, to begin to abate the crisis because we are losing 50,000 people or more ayear," he said. The transcript read: "With all of these smart people here and their clients, I'm confi- dent we can do something to dramatically reduce the num- ber of opioids that are being disseminated, manufactured and distributed. Just dramati- cally reduce the quantity, and make sure that the pills that are manufactured and distrib- uted go to the right people and no one else, and that there be an effective system in place to monitor the delivery and distribution, and if there's a problem, to immediately ad- dress it and to make sure that those pills are prescribed only when there's an appropriate diagnosis, and that we get some amount of money to the government agencies for treatment." The lawsuits allege that drugmakers used deceptive marketing to push the sale of opioids and targeted vulner- able populations, such as the elderly and veterans, despite knowingthatthe drugs are ad- dictive. They are also accused of negligent product oversight and ignoring suspicious, large orders of the drugs, according to the Associated Press. On March 6, the city of Cleveland was added to the list of cities filing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors, including other Ohio cities, the state and Cuyahoga County. The city and county have been disproportionately af- fected by the opioid epidemic. According to Dec. 31, 2017 data projections from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, 822 people died last year from drug overdoses. Of those deaths, 522 died from heroin, fentanyl or a combi- nation of both. For context, the county saw 666 overdose deaths in 2016 and 370 drug deaths in 2015, according to the medical examiner. By filing lawsuits, the city and county aim to acquire financial reparations for the costs the city has faced due to the epidemic. Drugmakers targeted in the lawsuits include Allergan, Johnson & Johnson and Pur- due Pharma, in addition to three large drug-distribution companies, Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. Drug distributors and manufacturers named in the lawsuits have said they don't believe litigation is the answer but have pledged to help solve the crisis, the A.P. reported. The Times article said Pol- ster was chosen by a judicial panel to hear the case based on Ohio being hard-hit by the crisis, its central location to defendants and his experience with multidistrict litigation, or consolidation of many similar cases. Polster told the Cleveland Jewish News that the Times reporter, Jan Hoffman, shad- owed him while he tutored a third-grader through the Jew- ish Federation of Cleveland's Public Education Initiative, among other legal engage- ments he had that day. He said she "got a pretty accurate picture of me, my strengths and weaknesses." Most recently, Polster and the lawyers involved in the case met March 7 in a closed meeting. According to court documents, "the parties reported important and sub- stantial progress on several fronts, but also identified bar- riers to a global resolution." "Everyone," insisted Polster on the matter at hand, "is working hard." Lake Passover with family, friends and delicious food! Discover traditional and new Kosher for Passover favorites, from horseradish to gluten-free matzos-plus, fresh flowers for a beautiful Seder table. SAVE s5 on Mixed Floral Bouquets (Reg. $10.99)* when you buy Kedem Grape Juice (22 or 64 oz) AND Yehuda Matzo (S-pack or single pack). *Offer Valid from March 7 - April 3, 2018 7-Layer Chocolate Strawberry Matzo Cake For this recipe, store locations and more, visit TheFreshMarket.com