Earlier this year, when a settlement agreement was announced between governments within the United States and Purdue Pharmaceuticals for damages related to the opioid crisis, one of the conditions was that the Sackler family would not be liable.
The Sacklers owned large stakes in Purdue Pharma before it was liquidated.Federal Judge Colleen] McMahon said that the conditional settlement Thursday, which was agreed upon in September, should not proceed because it releases the company’s owners, members of the billionaire Sackler family, from liability in civil opioid-related cases.
According to McMahon, she was perplexed by the $10 billion the Sacklers withdrew from Purdue between 2008 and 2018, at the height of the opioid crisis.
McMahon was not alone in her perplexity. Anyone who knew of the settlement, that Purdue Pharma made Oxycontin, and had any sense of right and wrong was more along the lines of livid. The Sacklers profited mightily from the opioid crisis, and it looked like they were going to get away with being accessories to the whole affair.
In , Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy as part of a settlement with 24 state attorneys general, excluding Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and thousands of others in a massive lawsuit regarding Purdue’s marketing of opioid products. In its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Purdue said it has assets valued at between $1 billion and $10 billion.
Under the terms of the resolution, Purdue will turn over for public disclosure the evidence from lawsuits and investigations of Purdue over the past 20 years, including deposition transcripts, deposition videos, and 13 million documents.
Purdue will also be required to turn over more than 20 million additional documents, including every non-privileged email at Purdue that was sent or received by every member of the Sackler family who sat on the board or worked at the company…
“Concerned about how their personal financial situation might be affected, the family began what one member described as an ‘aggressive’ program of withdrawing money from Purdue almost as soon as the ink was dry on the 2007 papers,” McMahon wrote.
McMahon said that the case raised constitutional questions but that she did not need to reach them, having found no authority for a judge to grant immunity to parties who do not seek bankruptcy protection.
Now the Sacklers will be held liable.
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