NORMAN – Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman today ordered Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals to make witnesses available next week for deposition by Attorney General Mike Hunter’s legal team.
The order came in response to emergency motions filed by the state earlier this week asking the court to sanction the companies for not complying with prior court orders to produce witnesses for depositions.
In the two emergency motions, the state claimed that both Purdue and Janssen have violated previous court orders requiring the companies to provide witnesses for depositions.
Attorney General Hunter applauded the court’s decision.
“The companies’ repeated disrespect for this court, the state of Oklahoma and Judges Thad Balkman and William Hetherington, whose deadlines they continue to blatantly ignore, will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Hunter said. “I commend the order from Judge Balkman, which will enable our team to keep this case on track for the May 2019 trial. We will hold these companies accountable, as we continue to aggressively litigate this case.”
Attorneys with the state want Purdue in particular to put a witness under oath to testify about statements the company made in a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal (advertisement attached) that appeared in the paper on Dec. 20, 2017.
With the Court’s order today, that deposition will happen next week.
In the advertisement, the company publically embraces the report from President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Substance Abuse and the Opioid Crisis and recommendations of the CDC.
While not directly naming Purdue Pharma, the report states that one of the origins of the crisis is the opioid manufacturing and supply chain industry. The report cites a GAO report, which found Purdue had not only sponsored over 20,000 educational events for doctors and others on managing pain with opioids, but Purdue also marketed its opioids as having a low rate of addiction. The president’s commission report goes on to say this aggressive marketing resulted in a 10-fold increase in opioid prescriptions to treat non-cancer pain over a five year period.
“I stand with President Trump and the work of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in wanting to hold those accountable who created the epidemic,” Attorney General Hunter said. “It is going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach with federal, state and local partners working together to create a solution that is broad and far reaching.”
The state argued that Purdue’s continued delays in the trial are due to the company trying to move its operation overseas.
“Purdue is trying to buy time so it can move assets and employees, recreate the opioid plague overseas with its company Mundipharma, and either file bankruptcy or leave an empty shell here in the United States for all of the victims of its corporate greed,” the state’s emergency motion reads.
Attorneys point to the company’s hiring of Stephen Miller, who is a specialist in corporate restructuring, as well as retaining the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell for financial restructuring advice as evidence of Purdue’s intentions.
To read a copy of the state's emergency motions, click here.
Attorneys with the state want Purdue to put a witness under oath to testify about statements the company made in this full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 20, 2017.