On Monday, the Summit County Council gave the county executive authority to reach settlement agreements with smaller defendants in the massive lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. A day later, Summit and Cuyahoga counties announced a tentative settlement with two Ireland-based drugmakers. The companies agreed to pay $15 million. Then, Dave Yost, the state attorney general, had his say, sending letters to the drugmakers with a warning, in essence: Think twice before finalizing the deal.

The attorney general wants the companies to know the settlement will not affect the separate lawsuit the state has filed against drug manufacturers and distributors. The Yost missive involved something else — the power struggle between states and local governments over control of the litigation and the eventual damage award or settlement money.

Judge Dan Polster of the federal court in Cleveland faces a key decision, whether to accept a settlement framework proposed by the nearly 2,000 cities and counties with cases against the drug industry. For instance, the framework would define how funds would be distributed to local entities. If the judge gives his approval, states would not get the leading role Yost and fellow attorneys general think they should have.

In July, Yost sent a letter to the judge arguing the proposed framework “ignores our structure of government and usurps the sovereignty of the states.” He cites the legal doctrine of “parens patriae,” the state having “a quasi-sovereign interest” in the overall well-being of its residents and in seeing it isn’t denied “its rightful status.” He adds in a punchy fashion, “The federal republic is the United States of America, and not the United City-States of America or the United Counties of America.”

The attorney general sees no less than a “power grab” by the private attorneys representing the cities and counties as they seek “to control the distribution of public moneys’’ within states. He notes the opioid crisis covers the entire state and thus his office is a better representative of the people and “better positioned to do good work with settlement dollars.”

That last point taps into an area of much contention. A large part of why counties and cities want to go their own way stems from the experience with the tobacco settlement money in the late 1990s and into this century. In Ohio, much of the funding went to school buildings. At the start, smoking prevention and cessation programs received resources. Unfortunately, that commitment withered. In other states, the story was similar, the settlement money turning into discretionary funds.

As a component of their lawsuit, Akron, Summit County and others have pulled together vast amounts of information giving shape to the opioid crisis — here, at the frontline. They have provided detail about the effect on the agencies under the county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, on children services, police work, hospitals and public health offices. Recall the Summit County medical examiner needing a mobile morgue to keep up with the devastating toll.

Local officials in Ohio argue, persuasively, they are better positioned “to do good work.” They are still smarting from how the state has treated cities and counties the past decade, sharing less revenue through such steps as slashing the Local Government Fund and ending the estate tax. Many do not trust the state.

Worth bearing in mind is that this situation is familiar in one way with similar circumstances inviting lawsuits in both state and federal courts. Judge Polster certainly has the capacity to ensure that what happens in his court doesn’t undermine the case brought by the state. In other words, there is room for two paths.