McKesson seeks to remove San Mateo County's suit over controlled substances orders to federal court

By Charmaine Little | Aug 8, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A drug distributor the County of San Mateo sued over allegations it didn’t report suspicious opioid activity has filed a notice of removal to transfer the case to federal court.

McKesson Corp. filed the notice of removal to transfer the case from San Francisco County Superior Court to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on July 26. 

The county of San Mateo sued McKesson, along with Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., on June 20 over allegations the defendants failed to report suspicious opioid orders, breaching their responsibilities under the Controlled Substances Act to identify and report skeptical orders for controlled substances, as well as their duty to not fill the orders. 

The county sued the defendants on allegations of public nuisance, unfair competition, negligence and false advertising.

McKesson said the U.S. District Court would be a more proper venue because the plaintiff’s allegations raise a federal issue concerning the Controlled Substances Act. 

“Although plaintiff ostensibly pleads its theories of recovery against defendants as state law claims, it bases its underlying theory of liability on defendants’ alleged violations of federal law or alleged duties arising out of federal law,” McKesson explained in the notice. 

It said that even though the plaintiff did mention state regulations in its lawsuit, it failed to point to an actual state law that covers the “duty not to fill suspicious or excessive orders,” allegation, which is actually mentioned in the federal Controlled Substances Act.

McKesson also said the case meets the requirements of being held in a federal court because the claims are necessarily raised, disputed, substantial and able to be resolved in federal court without interfering with the federal-state relationship. McKesson added a removal to the U.S. District Court is fitting because the plaintiff’s lawsuit is one of more than 1,300 that have occurred around the country. Therefore, this is a national issue, not a local one, it alleges.

McKesson Corp. is represented by Clara J. Shin of Convington & Burling in San Francisco.

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