Drug makers ask for dismissal in Courtney case

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two drug makers -- claiming they knew nothing about Robert R. Courtney's drug dilution scheme and had no duty to act even if they did -- have asked a court to throw out a lawsuit seeking to hold them liable for the Kansas City pharmacist's criminal activities.

In motions filed Monday, Eli Lilly and Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. argued that no material facts in the case were in dispute and that, as a matter of law, it should be dismissed.

The lawsuit, brought by Georgia Hayes, is one of about 400 seeking to hold the pharmaceutical giants accountable for Courtney's scheme. Hayes' lawsuit is the first of the cases scheduled to go to trial, on Oct. 7.

Because the legal arguments in all of the cases are virtually identical, how Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lee Wells rules on the drug makers' summary judgment motions in the Hayes case will likely determine the fate of the other lawsuits.

Courtney pleaded guilty in February to 20 federal criminal charges of tampering with, adulterating and misbranding chemotherapy medications. He has since admitted diluting 72 drugs, dating back to at least 1992.

Like Hayes, many of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the drug companies are seriously ill with cancer. Other plaintiffs are relatives of patients who have died.

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