COLUMBUS — 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.