General counsel at major corporations are closely watching a case filed in federal district court in New Haven, Conn. The case — records of which were just unsealed on Dec. 7 — involves an appeal by Howard Udell, the first general counsel known to have been debarred for 12 years from working at companies that do business with federal agencies.

Udell’s appeal, expected to be argued next spring or summer, stems from a May 2007 settlement between the U.S. Attorney for Western Virginia and three top executives at Purdue Frederick Co. Inc., over the misbranding of the addictive painkiller OxyContin. Udell was one of those executives. The government claimed that Purdue Frederick misled patients and doctors about the drug’s dangers and addictiveness.

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