COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Latest on the scheduling of trials for local governments suing over the opioid epidemic (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

A lawyer for local governments suing over the opioid epidemic is applauding a judge’s decision this week to schedule trials in the case.

Paul Hanly says the trial schedule is important to the case because it means the sides can start exchanging more information and the judge’s rulings on pretrial motions can help set the direction of the case.

The co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case says that can help lead to a settlement.

Judge Aaron Polster says he wants to try three cases from northern Ohio in March 2019.

A spokeswoman for one plaintiff, Summit County, says the county is disappointed drugmakers were reluctant to settle but ready to go to trial.


10 a.m.

A judge with an audacious plan to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by government entities over the opioid crisis has changed course slightly.

Federal Judge Dan Polster has set a schedule to start trying some of the cases in March 2019 as settlement talks continue.

His goal remains reaching a massive deal quickly. But Cleveland-based Polster said in an order issued Wednesday that the parties should exchange evidence and hold bellwether trials on issues important to the cases.

The first cases in line for trial are those filed by Cleveland and Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties.

Polster is presiding over lawsuits filed by nearly 500 local and county governments over the opioid crisis that killed 42,000 Americans in 2016.