NPR and Whitten Burrage Win Motion to Remand in Oklahoma Opioid Litigation
August 3, 2018
As previously reported, NPR and co-counsel, Whitten Burrage, represent the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter in litigation against several manufacturers of opioid pain killers in a lawsuit filed in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, entitled State of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al.
On June 13, 2018, the Purdue defendants filed a Notice of Removal, removing the case from Cleveland County to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The remaining manufacturer defendants consented to the removal.
The very next day, on June 14, the State of Oklahoma filed its Motion to Remand the case. The State argued in its Motion that the defendants breached a written agreement to not remove the case, waived any opportunity to remove the case, lacked any basis for asserting federal court jurisdiction, and removed the case solely as a delay tactic to avoid ongoing discovery in the state court case. Due to the urgency and unprecedented scope of the opioid addiction epidemic, the State argued the Motion should be expedited. As such, the State filed its reply brief in support of the Motion overnight, within six hours of the defendants filing their opposition to the State’s Motion. On August 3rd, after considering the extensive briefing by the parties, the Honorable Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, granted the State’s Motion to Remand.
After the ruling, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued the following statement:
“With today’s ruling, our case moves back to where it has always belonged – Cleveland County,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The time for the defendants’ games is over. This case needs to be decided by a jury of Oklahomans, not buried in an Ohio court with hundreds of other cases. We want the defendants to specifically answer to Oklahomans for their deceitful acts that have led to the death and addiction of our loved ones and friends.”
“I applaud our legal team, led by former Federal Judge Mike Burrage and Reggie Whitten, attorneys in my office and the Nix Patterson Law Firm. Their resolve and determination to get this case back to Cleveland County was nothing short of heroic. Further, we are thankful for Judge Miles-LaGrange’s decision to send this case back where it belongs.”
Along with Whitten Burrage, the State of Oklahoma is represented by NPR partners Bradley Beckworth, Jeffrey Angelovich and Susan Whatley and associates Lisa Baldwin, Trey Duck, Drew Pate, Winn Cutler, and Ross Leonoudakis.