Judge will halt lawsuits against Purdue Pharma

Geoff Mulvihill Associated Press
Friday, October 11, 2019

A judge will halt lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners for six months in hopes of finalizing a settlement over the OxyContin maker’s role in the national opioid crisis, he said Friday.

In a hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain strongly brushed aside the argument from a group of state attorneys general that lawsuits against members of the wealthy Sackler family would be essential to getting accountability in the case. His decision does not mean that a tentative settlement struck between the company and about half the states would become a final agreement.

How much members of the Sackler family should be held accountable for the role Purdue Pharma played in the crisis was at the center of the hearing.

State attorneys general are evenly divided over whether to accept terms offered by Purdue to settle some 2,600 claims against it. About half of them say the proposed deal is too lenient to family members who siphoned billions out of their privately held company and stashed much of it overseas.

Those attorneys general are pressing separate state claims against the Sacklers and want those cases to continue even as Purdue’s bankruptcy case plays out.

“If the States accepted the offer, there would never be a trial to determine the Sacklers’ liability for one of the greatest public health crises of our time,” the attorneys general.