Opioid Companies Try Dirty Trick; AG Battles Back

Attorney General Hector Balderas

AG News:

The opioid companies are trying to remove New Mexico’s lawsuit from Santa Fe to a federal court causing unnecessary delays

SANTA FE ― Attorney General Hector Balderas issued an update Tuesday on his ongoing litigation against more than two dozen opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of state funds that have been spent as a result of the opioid epidemic, as well as civil penalties for violations of state law, money needed to treat citizens suffering from addiction, punitive damages, and permanent changes to the way these companies do business in the state, among other relief. Last week, the opioid companies used a procedural tactic to slow down the proceedings, but Attorney General Balderas is battling back.

“It’s shameful these massive out-of-state drug companies are stalling while New Mexico children, families and entire communities continue to be ravaged by the opioid epidemic they have caused in our state,” Attorney General Balderas said. “This tactic was not unexpected, and we are working diligently to return our case to our own state court where it belongs.”

In parallel with this litigation, Balderas’ office is also participating in a nationwide effort to negotiate a settlement with these companies and stem the flow of pills into communities across the country. This effort includes dozens of states, several tribes, hundreds of municipal and county governments, the federal Department of Justice, and many other stakeholders.

“We’ve made progress through our negotiating efforts, but much work remains to be done,” Attorney General Balderas said. “We plan to pursue both litigation and settlement vigorously, and we sincerely hope these companies will come to the table with real solutions to the horrific problems they helped cause. If they do not, we will continue to pursue those remedies in court.”

At a recent status conference, Judge Dan Aaron Polster, the federal judge in Ohio overseeing the nationwide mediation, reiterated his desire for the participants to take concrete steps to curb the opioid epidemic by the end of 2018. The special masters appointed by Judge Polster to coordinate the mediation noted that the discussions had been “fruitful, very open [and] cooperative” but stressed that opioid litigation is “one of the most, if not the most, complex pieces of litigation that the federal system has seen.”

CSTsiteisloaded