LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) – Another Republican has officially joined forces with the trial bar to sue the makers of prescription painkillers, as Arkansas’ Leslie Rutledge recently filed her anticipated lawsuit through five different private law firms.
On March 29, months after her investigation was announced, Rutledge filed suit against companies accused of creating the nation’s opioid crisis. Defendants include Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Endo Pharmaceuticals.
“This is a multi-faceted problem and we must take every action to solve it including holding those companies accountable that are responsible for the opioid epidemic,” Rutledge said.
Previously, Legal Newsline reported that Rutledge is among a group of Republican AGs who has criticized the approaches of some of her Democratic colleagues who are investigating the energy sector over the effects of global warming.
Members of that group, and other Republicans, are using private lawyers who stand to gain millions of dollars if a national settlement is realized. Lawsuits in federal courts have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation proceeding in Cleveland.
Rutledge has hired former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, who played a key role in the tobacco litigation of the 1990s to which the opioid cases are sometimes compared.
Moore pioneered the public-private litigation strategy as Mississippi AG in 1994 when he sued the tobacco industry, setting in motion a wave of lawsuits that culminated in the $260 billion tobacco settlement four years later.
Rutledge has also hired Hagens Berman of Seattle; Dover Dixon Horne of Little Rock; Davidson Bowie of Mississippi; and McGowan Hood and Felder of South Carolina.
Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, who also signed the 2016 letter condemning the climate change litigation, has also hired Moore.
South Carolina AG Alan Wilson, also a signer, hired Linda Singer of Motley Rice, and Ohio AG Mike DeWine has signed contracts with the same team as Arkansas, including Moore, Hagens Berman and Davidson Bowie. Montana AG Tim Fox also hired Singer, the former District of Columbia attorney general.
Alone among Republicans suing the opioid industry, Missouri AG Josh Hawley is using lawyers in his own office. That could save the state tens of millions of dollars depending on whether and how much it recovers from the industry.
Under the Arkansas contract, private lawyers are entitled to receive statutory fees of up to $50 million plus costs and expenses.