Walmart says it is seeking a declaration from a federal judge that the government has no lawful basis for seeking civil damages from the company. It is also seeking to clarify its legal rights and duties under the Controlled Substance Act.
Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies in its stores around the country.
"Walmart and its pharmacists find themselves in an untenable position," the company based in Bentonville, Arkansas, says in the lawsuit filed in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.
"Under defendants" sweeping view, Walmart and its pharmacists may be held liable perhaps even criminally for failing to second-guess DEA-registered doctors and refuse their prescriptions. But if pharmacists do so, they may face the wrath of state medical boards, the medical community at large, individual doctors, and patients."
The lawsuit names the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr as defendants. It also names the DEA and its acting administrator, Timothy Shea.
In the suit, Walmart describes a government probe of the company that began in December 2016 and calls it a "misguided criminal investigation" conducted by the US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Texas. Walmart says it fully cooperated with the probe.
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