• Dennis McCaslin

Hunter chides drug maker for legal tactics in trying to avoid Oklahoma opioid lawsuit

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter condemned Purdue Pharma on Thursday for filing a notice of removal in the state’s lawsuit against the nation’s leading opioid manufacturers.

Through the filing, Purdue is attempting to transfer the state’s lawsuit to a sprawling multidistrict litigation in an Ohio federal court that includes hundreds of other opioid-related cases.

Yesterday’s filing comes after Purdue agreed in a July 2017 court filing that the state’s claims were properly before the state court in Cleveland County and the company would not try to move the case to federal court. Read the stipulation, here: https://bit.ly/2HQ94Bl.

Purdue has now breached that agreement, claiming the state’s lawsuit involves federal issues and Cleveland County District Court Judge Thad Balkman has no jurisdiction over the case. Judge Balkman has already ruled the state’s case did not include federal issues.

In response to Purdue’s filing, the state’s attorneys plan to file a motion to remand, to keep the case moving forward in Cleveland County.

Attorney General Hunter said the move by the company was expected and the state continues to prepare its case for trial in May 2019.

“Purdue wants the case before a judge in Cleveland, Ohio, while we want it before a judge in Cleveland County, Oklahoma,” Attorney General Hunter said. “This is just the latest move by a company that is terrified of a jury of Oklahomans hearing our case. Given the company’s past behavior, I am not surprised they would abuse the legal system by filing a frivolous notice of removal. We will not be intimidated by these tactics.

“Our lawsuit seeks to make Purdue and their co-defendants answer for the thousands of lives that have been lost in Oklahoma, the families that have been ripped apart and the generation of addicts this nightmarish epidemic has created.”

Purdue’s move comes after the state asked for depositions related to the company’s political contributions to Oklahoma officials as well as an advertisement that Purdue ran in the New York Times last year, promising to help fight the opioid crisis.

Read the state’s deposition notices, here: https://bit.ly/2MprHzE. Once filed, both the state's motion to remand and motion for an emergency hearing will be found, here: https://bit.ly/2LQtKvD.