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Judge denies attempt by Purdue Pharma to dismiss suit

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 18. 2018 8:00PM




CONCORD — A lawsuit brought by the state against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma has received the green light to head to trial after a Merrimack County judge denied a request to dismiss the case.

New Hampshire is charging the prescription pain pill manufacturer with deceptively marketing OxyContin and other medications that led to patients getting hooked on heroin and synthetic opioids.

The office of New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald filed the lawsuit against Purdue in August 2017 in state court seeking a ruling that would compel the Connecticut-based manufacturer to pay the state restitution, damages and fines of $10,000 per day for each violation of the state Consumer Protection Act. In response, lawyers for Purdue Pharma removed the case to the federal court, maintaining the Class Action Fairness Act gave proper jurisdiction of this matter to the U.S. District Court.

But state prosecutors challenged that transfer and Judge Paul Barbadaro sent the case back to Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord.

“When the state sues to protect its citizens from such ongoing injuries, it is not acting merely as a member of a class of injured persons seeking to obtain compensation on behalf of others,” Barbadoro wrote in an 11-page ruling. “It is acting in a sovereign capacity to protect its citizens.”

The drug company tried to prevent the state from hiring a Washington, D.C., law firm to assist it in bringing the case against Purdue Pharma. That argument went all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the attorney general.

MacDonald directed his deputy to head up prosecution because prior to taking his current position, MacDonald represented Purdue Pharma in defending against this lawsuit.

In a motion filed in Merrimack County Superior Court, Purdue asked a judge to toss out the state’s suit. On Tuesday, Judge John Kissinger Jr. denied that request.

Cities and towns across the country, including several in New Hampshire, have filed similar lawsuits against large drug-making firms seeking monetary damages to help cover the costs associated with opioid addiction.

pfeely@unionleader.com


General News Manchester


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