Legislators bristle at odd opioid settlement

April 4, 2019

Trent England

Oklahoma legislators are raising concerns about the legality and propriety of Attorney General Mike Hunter's settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. I wrote about other concerns in "Opioid lawsuit sets bad precedent for gun manufacturers" and "Should private companies pay for government's failures?"

NonDoc's Tres Savage has the story, including comments from House Majority Whip Terry O’Donnell.

“I think everybody there was very frustrated and concerned about the process,” O’Donnell said. “I’m extremely concerned that any executive agency could seemingly sidestep the Legislature and circumvent the constitution and direct funds to a public trust or a nonprofit entity.”

An attorney himself, O’Donnell said no one in Thursday’s meeting questioned whether Hunter could have gotten more money in the settlement. Instead, he and McBride said legislative leaders were frustrated that they felt the Legislature had not been consulted prior to the settlement’s announcement.

“As an attorney, we are ethically responsible to report settlements and negotiations to our clients,” O’Donnell said. “Not keeping your client informed of the settlement negotiation and the details of the settlement is not consistent with the ethical practice of law.”