Head of Motley Rice’s Public Client Practice
Key previous position: D.C. attorney general
Education: Harvard; Harvard Law
Notable fact: Handles extensive pro bono work
On a Friday morning in early March, Motley Rice attorney Linda Singer began questioning former Purdue Pharma president Richard Sackler about the company’s responses to the opioid epidemic.
“Were you aware in the late 1990s that users of OxyContin were transitioning to heroin?” Singer asked, after she presented a National Drug Intelligence Center article from 2001 that said lower-cost heroin was attracting OxyContin abusers in West Virginia who had never used heroin.
“It doesn’t imply that they were patients,” Sackler said. “The implication is they were abusers.”
The transcript of Sackler’s deposition was made public in court filings as part of the multi-district case, taking place in Ohio, in which states, cities, and counties have brought suit against opioid manufacturers.
Singer, a former D.C. attorney general, was named a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the case in December 2017. She also serves as counsel to the first two governments that filed cases against opioid makers in 2014, Santa Clara County and the City of Chicago.
Recently, Singer celebrated a victory in the opioid lawsuit when four companies reached a $260 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties very shortly before going to trial.
“The proposed settlement will make significant progress to abate the epidemic by providing resources for and applying funds directly to necessary opioid-recovery programs,” said the co-leads of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in a statement, adding that the communities had “revealed facts about the roles of the opioid industry that created and fueled the opioid epidemic.”
Motley Rice says that litigation and settlement discussions continue for other municipalities and states.
During Singer’s questioning of Sackler in March, she read out emails including one to Sackler from a personal friend of his comparing the then-Purdue executive to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
“Dr. Sackler, is it fair to say that you have a great deal of contempt for people who abuse or become addicted to opioids?” she asked during her questioning.
“Quite the contrary. I have thought for a very long time that people who are addicted to any substance, whether it’s alcohol or opiates, their lives are damaged by the addiction itself, and they often become addicted because they’re in miserable circumstances,” he said.