Judge: Former U.S. Attorney Can't Defend Drug Company In Local Suits

Mar 20, 2019

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a former U.S. Attorney in Northeast Ohio cannot defend a drug company against lawsuits brought by Cleveland and Cuyahoga County over the opioid crisis.

Carole Rendon joined law firm BakerHostetler after the Trump Administration asked her to resign as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in 2017. She’s been defending Endo Pharmaceuticals in a massive group of lawsuits brought by local governments against drug companies.

Judge Dan Aaron Polster disqualified Rendon because she, as U.S. Attorney and head of the multi-agency Opioid Task Force, had received confidential law enforcement information from the city and county.

“The Court believes Ms. Rendon is an excellent attorney and that she served the U.S. Attorney’s Office with great distinction,” Polster wrote in an opinion on Tuesday. But, he added, “under the unique facts of this case, it is not appropriate for Ms. Rendon, or her firm, to represent Endo in a trial against the City of Cleveland or Cuyahoga County.”

Polster’s ruling was specific to the claims brought by the city and county. He did not disqualify Rendon and BakerHostetler from representing Endo in the numerous other lawsuits filed by local governments across the country.

Cleveland filed a motion in January to remove Rendon from the case, citing her work with the Opioid Task Force and on the city’s police consent decree.

BakerHostetler opposed the motion, saying Rendon had not violated any ethical rules. Twenty-two former U.S. Attorneys also wrote a letter in her defense.

“I agree with Judge Polster that Carole Rendon is an excellent attorney who served the Department of Justice with great distinction,” Matthew J. Maletta, Endo’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, said in a written statement after the ruling. “I respectfully disagree, however, with both his analysis and his decision to disqualify Ms. Rendon and Baker Hostetler from representing Endo in opioid cases involving Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland. Endo is currently evaluating its options with respect to Judge Polster’s decision.”

Read the opinion below. Mobile users can view here.

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