60°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Nevada tangles with opioid makers, distributors over documents

A Las Vegas judge heard arguments Wednesday over which documents pharmaceutical companies will have to turn over to the state in a lawsuit over Nevada’s opioid epidemic.

Attorneys argued at the hearing over a protective order that would allow the more than 40 defendants in the case, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, CVS, Walgreens and retail giant Walmart, to withhold documents they consider to be “confidential” or “highly confidential.”

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed the lawsuit in June in District Court accusing drug manufacturers and distributors of propagating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic.

Attorney Robert Eglet spoke on behalf of the state and said that in past litigation and in thousands of pending cases across the country, opioid manufacturers have abused protective orders to avoid revealing embarrassing or incriminating information.

“These defendants are not simply trying to keep proprietary documents or trade secrets confidential,” Eglet said, “They want to keep all documents that would reveal their bad acts as confidential and hidden from the public.”

If the state’s version of the protective order is granted, the defendants will have to provide detailed reasons for why each withheld document is considered confidential.

“The public deserves to know about how these companies gambled with the life, health and safety of the public, all in the interest of profit,” Eglet said.

Daniel Polsenberg, representing the defendants, said there was no need to “change the rules” on how protective orders are handled. He argued that the protective order for this case should mirror orders issued in previous litigation in other jurisdictions.

Polsenberg said the defendants have also been named in more than 2,700 similar lawsuits across the country and that a new protective order would force them to not only duplicate the documents, but spend more time and money adding designations.

“I know the terrorist playbook in litigation,” Polsenberg said, “and one of the things is, if there’s litigation all over the country, you want to make your litigation the absolutely most expensive and the most time consuming so you get the attention.”

The defendants in the case are also competitors, Polsenberg said, and forcing the companies to divulge confidential information could be harmful to their businesses.

Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered both sides to submit proposed versions of the protective order for her to review them and find a compromise.

“I am not inclined to sign any of them as is,” she said.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
THE LATEST
Nevada gun control measure targeted in lawsuit

A citizens group filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the state’s new gun control red flag law, which empowers authorities to seize firearms from people deemed a threat.

Richard Bryan, ex-senator and Nevada governor, backs Biden

Richard Bryan, a former U.S. senator and Nevada governor, said Wednesday that he’s endorsing Joe Biden for president in 2020, giving the former vice president the backing of one of the biggest names in the state’s Democratic circles.