McKesson, the drug supplier that provided the Arkansas Department of Correction with vecuronium bromide under the auspices that it was for medical use in the department’s health center, refiled a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent ADC from using the drug in executions.
The complaint says that McKesson sold the state vecuronium bromide under the restriction that it would be used for medical purposes only. When McKesson learned the state was holding the drug for use in lethal injection, it requested the drug to be returned and refunded the state for its payment for the drug. According to the lawsuit, ADC officials said they would, but never did. The suit says that if the vecuronium bromide is used in Arkansas’s executions, McKesson will suffer “grave reputational harm.”
The complaint appears to mirror the one filed last week in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary order Friday afternoon restraining the state from using vecuronium bromide. Shortly after, he joined a protest outside the Governor’s Mansion. On Monday, in light of federal district Judge Kristine Baker’s injunction against the executions, McKesson asked that its case be dismissed and the temporary restraining order be lifted. Later Monday, the state Supreme Court barred Griffen from hearing any death penalty cases and referred him to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. The state court also vacated the temporary restraining order that Griffen issued against the use of vecuronium bromide.
The new case has been assigned to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray.
UPDATE: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed a motion requesting a venue change to Faulkner County Circuit Court. Citing the fact that McKesson is based in Virginia, Rutledge points to Act 967 of 2017, which allows a defendant in a civil action to obtain a mandatory change of venue to the county of their choice upon request if the plaintiff is not a resident of Arkansas. Rutledge claims that under the law, the court must grant the change of venue. Read the motion here:
The new law, drafted by Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado), appears to make legal forum shopping, where defendants can move civil suits to counties with, say, more conservative judiciaries. We’ve asked a spokesman for Rutledge for justification.