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Opioid Update: MDL Defendants Seek Judge Polster DQ

Eight drug retailers, distributors, and pharmacies (but no manufacturers) have asked Judge Dan Aaron Polster to recuse himself from presiding over most of the 2,000 pending opioid lawsuits comprising the MDL.

The parties filed the motion to disqualify Judge Polster on Saturday. They claim that the Judge’s comments made during various hearings, interviews, and forums demonstrate prejudice and bias.

The defendants emphasized comments during the first MDL hearing on January 9th, 2018: because of the “opioid crisis . . . 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we’re meeting.” “My objective is to do something meaningful to abate this crisis,” Judge Polster added.

“Any one of these statements would be enough to cause a reasonable person to question a judge’s impartiality,” the motion stated. Judge Polster, it contended, seemingly has “prejudged the responsibility of all the Defendants for ‘the opioid crisis.’”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Paul Geller, responded to Law360 that “it’s tough to comment because my jaw is still on the floor.” Legal scholars and commentators, meanwhile, suggested that the DQ motion is unlikely to succeed—at least now—but may be intended to aid a future appeal, particularly given the Sixth Circuit’s reversal of Judge Polster’s data-publication decision in June.

As we covered Thursday, this motion for disqualification comes after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a mandamus petition at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to enjoin the judge from proceeding with the October 21st trial for Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Stay tuned

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About this Author

Benjamin Beaton Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Benjamin Beaton is a litigator who handles complex appeals, trial proceedings and regulatory disputes. He has authored more than a dozen briefs at the US Supreme Court, where he previously served as a law clerk, and drafted dozens more in the federal courts of appeal and state supreme courts. In trial proceedings across the country, Ben has tried cases, briefed and argued dispositive motions, defended and examined high-profile witnesses and negotiated settlements. Outside the courtroom, Ben has drawn on his governmental experience to counsel a Fortune 100 CEO appearing before a US Senate...