(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a bid by eight drug retailers and distributors to disqualify the judge overseeing nationwide opioid litigation, after they claimed his rulings, public statements and efforts to encourage settlements created an appearance of bias.

The ruling, by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, means U.S. District Judge Dan Polster can continue presiding over the litigation, including a landmark trial scheduled to begin in Cleveland on Oct. 21.

Companies that sought Polster’s removal included retailers CVS Health Corp, Rite Aid Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Walmart Inc, and distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc, Henry Schein Inc and McKesson Corp.