Due to the end of Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy case bitter taste For those who want to see more accountability to members of the Sackler family.
Sacklers will relinquish ownership of the company, withdraw from its international opioid business and pay $ 4.5 billion in cash and philanthropic assets under a settlement.But they will also be exempt from future liability for the crisis of national addiction and overdose as part of a given deal. Pre-approval According to a federal bankruptcy judge this week.
Some state attorney generals and one federal agency are planning an appeal.
The central question in their debate: Is it appropriate for members of a wealthy family who did not file for bankruptcy to receive such extensive protection?
Lawyers and victim advocates involved in the proceedings, including proceedings from about 3,000 governments and other organizations, said members of the Suckler family, who own Purdue, played an important role in overseeing the company and marketing Oxycontin. Stated.Critics say the company’s best-selling prescription painkillers helped the opioid crisis in the United States
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told The Associated Press, “They are causing addiction and death in our country and around the world, literally billions of dollars taken from Purdue Pharma. You can hold it in between. “
Mr Frosch said he was considering an appeal.
Lawyers in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Washington, and the US Bankruptcy Trustee, a division of the Federal Department of Justice responsible for protecting the bankruptcy process, said they intend to appeal.
Under the settlement, Suckler’s family is getting what is known as a “third-party release” in the bankruptcy world. This is one of the most controversial issues in bankruptcy law.
These releases have been used in complex bankruptcy cases involving multiple parties, facilitating settlements that are otherwise difficult or impossible to reach. Dow Corning’s owner, Dow Chemical, was released in the 1990s from a lawsuit over the dangers of silicone breast augmentation surgery by the latter company. The owners of the companies that manufactured asbestos were protected from the proceedings over the risk of cancer associated with their products that began in the 1980s.
Some federal Courts of Appeals rejected the release, but the majority accepted it. This includes the Second Circuit, which can handle the appeal of the decision from US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, who ruled in the Purdue case from the Courthouse in White Plains, New York.
A long-term bill pending in Congress entitled “Suckler Law” will ban the release of third parties. Even if it were adopted, it would be too late to influence the case of the same name.
In a preliminary decision from the bench earlier this week, Drain discussed in detail why he allowed family protection as part of the settlement.
“I wish the plan provided more,” he said from a member of the Sackler family. “But refusing to confirm does not endanger what the plan offers.”
The settlement relinquishes ownership of Purdue and makes it a new company with a board of directors appointed by government officials. Money from family, company accounting, and future interests is used to pay individual victims of the opioid crisis and to fund treatments, educational programs, and other efforts to combat epidemics. It is supposed to be.
The crisis has been associated with deaths from overdose of more than 500,000 people in the United States since 2000, involving either prescription analgesics or illegal analgesics such as heroin or illegally manufactured fentanyl. increase.
Purdue Pharma, based in Stamford, Connecticut, estimates that the settlement is worth $ 10 billion, including the value of overdose antidotes and addiction treatments under development.
Suckler’s family, whose total wealth is estimated to exceed $ 10 billion, has made it clear that it would not contribute to the settlement without protection from the proceedings.
In a hearing about the restructuring plan last month, experts said it may not be possible to force payments without reconciliation, as much of the family’s property is abroad. Bankruptcy judges said some families were foreigners and could put their assets even more out of reach.
To make matters worse, Purdue University pleaded guilty to federal criminal offenses last year and agreed to confiscate $ 2 billion. Under their judicial proceedings, the company will have to pay the federal government its $ 225 million as long as it resolves other opioid proceedings and uses the proceeds to combat the crisis. If the bankruptcy settlement is overturned, Purdue University will have to pay the federal government an additional $ 1.7 billion, far less money to split among state, local government, and opioid victims.
“If they continue to appeal, what will they get if they win,” said Lindsey Simon, an assistant professor of law at the University of Georgia, who teaches bankruptcy law. “
This is the view adopted by many state lawyers.
About half of the country’s state prosecutors, including almost all Democrats, initially opposed the settlement. In an interview with AP last June, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey strongly criticized the protection of the Sackler family. It’s not perfect for me, it’s not perfect for anyone, “she said.
But in July, after Sackler’s family paid more and agreed to do it sooner, Healy and the majority of other Attorney Generals began accepting the plan. Purdue also agreed to publish millions of company documents, including those normally protected by attorney / client privileges.
Still opposed to the deal is Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
“This is part of the worst corporate fraud we’ve ever seen. It’s not just about trading, making as much money as possible, or getting out of Dodge. It does justice and Make them accountable. “
Professor Anthony Casey of the University of Chicago Law School said those who were angry with the judge about the release of a third party may not be immersed in bankruptcy law. The judge does. “
The legal shield for Purdue Pharma owners is at the heart of the attraction | Work
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