A group of drug distributors and pharmacies named in the opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) made a shocking move Saturday by bashing the Ohio federal judge overseeing the case for being biased and calling for him to recuse himself from the entire MDL proceeding.

“There can be no doubt that a reasonable person would question whether the court can fairly and impartially conduct this MDL litigation,” the companies said in their filing. Those companies include AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., CVS Pharmacy Inc., Rite-Aid Corp., Walgreen Co., Walmart Inc., and Henry Schein Inc. Drug companies named in the case, like Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, opted not join the motion.

Attorneys representing the local municipalities, tribes and states called the move to disqualify U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster “a desperate move on the eve of trial,” and emphasized the judge’s “great integrity” and “impartiality.” Judge Polster, who has presided over the MDL for nearly two years, has long argued for the parties to reach a settlement in the complicated litigation, the first bellwether of which is slated to go to trial next month.

Last month, Judge Polster certified a “negotiation class” to expedite global settlements in order to get much-needed funds to communities that sorely need relief in the opioid epidemic, a move the distributors and pharmacies took exception with and called an example of Judge Polster’s bias in the case and thus grounds for his recusal.

The local governments and states are accusing the drug distributors and pharmacies, as well as drug manufacturers, of creating an opioid epidemic that has resulted in more than 50,000 overdose deaths and caused billions of dollars in economic damages to communities across the country.

Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team that includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in the MDL.

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