Drug Companies Target Federal Judge

They say Judge Dan Polster is biased
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2019 5:30 PM CDT
Drug Companies Want This Judge Gone
This Jan. 11, 2018 file photo shows Judge Dan Polster in his office, in Cleveland.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Attorneys for eight drug distributors, pharmacies, and retailers facing trial next month for their roles in the opioid crisis want to disqualify the federal judge overseeing their cases, saying he has shown bias in his effort to obtain a multibillion-dollar global settlement, the AP reports. According to a motion filed late Friday in Cleveland, where Judge Dan Polster presides over most of the 2,000 lawsuits filed by state, local, and tribal governments, the judicial code requires judges to recuse themselves when there is an appearance of prejudice or bias. The attorneys wrote that Polster has made comments during hearings, media interviews, and public forums about the importance of getting help to governments struggling to contain a crisis that has killed 400,000 people nationally since 2000.

"Defendants do not bring this motion lightly," the motion says. "Taken as a whole and viewed objectively, the record clearly demonstrates that recusal is necessary." Polster has not responded to the motion filed by attorneys for the drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp. and Henry Schein Inc.; drugstore chains CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens; and retailer Walmart. Next month's trial on behalf of the Ohio counties of Summit, which includes Akron, and Cuyahoga, which includes Cleveland, are viewed by Polster as a bellwether that could shape how other lawsuits are resolved. Several drug manufacturers have settled with the counties ahead of trial.

(More opioids stories.)

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