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Judge: Data In Opioid Lawsuit To Remain Confidential

Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio is overseeing a nationwide lawsuit over the opioid crisis from the federal courthouse in Cleveland. [John McLenaghan / Shutterstock]
The Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse in downtown Cleveland

A federal judge won’t grant news organizations access to drug sales data that’s part of the nationwide lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Judge Dan Polster had ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to turn over records of opioid sales to local governments and the drug companies they’re suing. He approved a protective order limiting who could see the information. 

The Washington Post filed public records requests for the data with Cuyahoga and Summit Counties. HD Media, which owns newspapers in West Virginia, requested data from a county in that state.  

The federal government—and drug companies—objected.

Polster upheld those objections, writing that the data was only given to counties to help prepare for trial and negotiate a settlement. He also wrote that the database contains confidential business information and could be a part of ongoing criminal investigations.

Polster wrote that the evidence in the case will become part of the public record when trial starts in March 2019.

Mobile users can read the ruling here.


Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.