Attorneys seek to disqualify federal judge
CLEVELAND — 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.
According to the motion filed late Friday in U.S. District Court 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 said. “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.
This Jan. 11, 2018 file photo shows Judge Dan Polster in his office, in Cleveland. Attorneys representing eight drug distributors, pharmacies and retailers facing trial for their roles in the national opioid crisis are seeking to disqualify the federal judge overseeing their cases saying he’s shown clear bias in his efforts to obtain a multi-billion dollar global settlement. The motion was filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.