(Refiling to correct story designation to UPDATE 1)
By Jon Herskovitz and Steve Barnes
April 18 U.S. drug wholesaler McKesson
Medical-Surgical Inc sued Arkansas a second time on Tuesday,
saying the state acted fraudulently in obtaining a drug it
intends to administer in a record number of executions this
month and demanding it not use the batch to kill people.
Arkansas, which last put someone to death 12 years ago, is
seeking to resume capital punishment, with a plan that
originally called for the executions of eight inmates in 11
days. That would be the most in the United States in as short a
period since the death penalty's reinstatement in 1976.
Arkansas has faced a barrage of legal challenges, which have
so far resulted in three of the executions being halted and
criticism that it was acting recklessly.
In a separate action on Tuesday, lawyers for all eight
inmates filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt all
the executions on issues including drug protocols and access to
Arkansas' capital punishment push came as the number of U.S.
executions fell to a quarter-century low in 2016. (For a graphic
on the number and method of U.S. executions, see: tmsnrt.rs/26wAN2v)
Capital punishment in several states has been stymied by
problems with procuring lethal-injection drugs due to sales bans
by global drug firms and legal questions over death chamber
Arkansas contends it must act quickly because one of the
drugs in its lethal injection mix, the valium-like sedative
midazolam, expires at the end of April.
In its lawsuit, McKesson Medical-Surgical, a unit of
McKesson Corp, said the Arkansas Department of
Correction (ADC) acted deceitfully when it purchased another
drug, vecuronium bromide, a commonly used muscle relaxant given
in extreme doses in executions to paralyze the body and halt
"ADC intended to use this product in connection with
executions, a fact that was never disclosed to McKesson," the
company said in the filing at a state court in Little Rock, the
In addition to the Department of Correction, the lawsuit
named the department's head, Wendy Kelly, and Arkansas Governor
Asa Hutchinson as defendants.
McKesson had originally sued Arkansas last week in state
court, but withdrew that action when a federal court on Saturday
issued stays that temporarily halted the executions of the eight
inmates. The stays were overturned by a federal appeals court on
The company wants the drugs impounded. Arkansas contends it
has acted legally.
Arkansas next plans to execute convicted murderers Stacey
Johnson and Ledell Lee on Thursday in a dual execution,
something that has not occurred in the United States in 17
Lawyers for the two men have asked Arkansas courts to halt
the executions for DNA testing they say could prove their
clients' innocence and to consider judicial shortcomings,
including a previous trial lawyer for Lee who came to court
drunk, was removed from the hearing and ordered to undergo a
drug test. On Tuesday, a state judge denied the DNA test for
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Steve Barnes
in Little Rock; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)