Judge in opioid litigation won’t remove himself from case

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Dan Polster

FILE – This Jan. 11, 2018 file photo shows Judge Dan Polster in his office, in Cleveland. Attorneys representing eight drug distributors, pharmacies and retailers facing trial for their roles in the national opioid crisis are seeking to disqualify the federal judge overseeing their cases saying he’s shown clear bias in his efforts to obtain a multi-billion dollar global settlement. The motion was filed late Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, where Judge Dan Polster presides over most of the 2,000 lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. Polster has not responded. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The federal judge in Cleveland overseeing national opioid litigation has denied the requests of several drug companies to remove himself from the case.

In an order Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster said he’s done nothing over the past two years to favor cities and counties seeking money from the pharmaceutical industry to cover their costs of fighting the deadly crisis.

Lawyers for drug distributors and pharmacies that sought Polster’s recusal from the case argued in a filing this month that Polster’s “unusual level of commitment” to a settlement in the multidistrict lawsuit had tainted his decision-making capabilities.

Polster said he has “simultaneously and vigorously” pursued both the settlement and courtroom tracks. He said publicly acknowledging the human toll of the epidemic isn’t bias but shows he’s “human.”

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