Arkansas Judge Refuses To Dismiss Lawsuit Over Execution Drug

Jul 12, 2017

A medical supply company's challenge to Arkansas' three-drug execution protocol remains alive, though the state doesn't have enough drugs to put any inmate to death.

The state's lawyers went to court Wednesday to argue that Arkansas was immune to a lawsuit by McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. They said lawsuits against the state aren't valid unless Arkansas is committing egregious acts.

McKesson doesn't want Arkansas to use its vecuronium bromide in the execution chamber. The company won a preliminary injunction in April, but the Arkansas Supreme Court set the order aside and let the drug be used in four executions that month. Circuit Judge Alice Gray on Wednesday rejected the state's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit.

Arkansas also wants Gray to transfer the case to a court outside of Little Rock. Gray said she will decide that request later. The judge also turned down McKesson's attempt to delay work on the case until the state Supreme Court settles the sovereign immunity question.

Arkansas currently has only two of the three drugs it needs to put inmates to death.