December 5, 2017
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 based pain killers in a lawsuit filed in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, entitled State of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al.
The defendant drug manufacturers filed motions to dismiss all of the State’s claims on various legal and factual grounds.
On December 5, 2017, after months of extensive legal briefing, Judge Thad Balkman heard oral argument on these motions. NPR Partner Brad Beckworth and Whitten Burrage Partners Reggie Whitten and Michael Burrage argued for the State. After significant and contentious arguments lasting most of the day, Judge Balkman denied the Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
The State has requested that trial begin in May 2019. Judge Balkman ordered the parties to return to court in early January to set a scheduling order and trial date. After the hearing, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued the following statement about the day’s events:
We appreciate the care with which Judge Balkman evaluated the motions to dismiss and our response, and applaud his decision to move the case forward. My team and I look forward to the next phase of this important case.
Through decades of fraudulent marketing campaigns to doctors and consumers, these companies have been the driving force in the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, an epidemic that claimed more than 64,000 lives last year alone. Oklahoma continues to suffer greatly because of it. In the last three years, nearly 3,000 Oklahomans have died from overdoses and more than 1,300 newborns have tested positive for substance exposure. The opioid crisis has created a generation of addicts, who continue to struggle on a daily basis.
These companies put profits over people and we intend to hold them accountable.
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 and Cody Hill.
The Oklahoman and The Journal Record reported on the State of Oklahoma’s win at the motion to dismiss hearing in the December 5, 2017 article below: