Purdue Pharma, which belonged to the famed Sackler Family, was the manufacturers of prescription narcotic pain reliever Oxycontin. And Oxycontin became synonymous with America’s opioid epidemic and Purdue was found to have “pushed” the drug. The company had agreed to a massive settlement, but on the condition that the members of the Sackler family be granted immunity from any civil suits that might be brought in the future.
Now, however, a federal judge has determined that this part of the deal is not acceptable. Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that a judge does not have the power to grant any such immunity from future lawsuits, especially since the Sackler family members themselves have not sought bankruptcy protection.
The ruling leaves open the possibility of countless new lawsuits being brought forward all over the United States.
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In October of 2020, Purdue Pharma, agreed to a settlement of charges with the Federal government for a reported $8 billion. The money was to be divided into different payment. There was to be a $3.5 billion fine, forfeiture of $2 billion in past profits, and all of this in addition to $2.8 billion which Purdue Pharma had already agreed to pay in civil liabilities.
The company, which was owned by the famed Sackler family agreed to plead guilty to three separate charges. But it did not have the $8 billion in cash on hand and so it needed to dissolve as a corporation.
Purdue will continue to exist, however, but in a different form. The new company will continue to produce pain killers, but also drugs to treat addiction as well as overdoses.
But now, because of the judge’s ruling, all of this is now in doubt.
William Tong, the attorney general of Connecticut, stated, “This is a seismic victory for justice and accountability that will re-open the deeply flawed Purdue bankruptcy and force the Sackler family to confront the pain and devastation they have caused.”
In August, David Sackler, a member of the Sackler, threatened that the family would drop out of its settlement deal if the government did not guarantee the family members immunity from future civil suits.
Purdue said that the company will appeal the ruling. Steve Miller, Chairman of the Purdue Pharma L.P. Board of Directors stated, “These funds are needed now more than ever as overdose rates hit record-highs, and we are confident that we can successfully appeal this decision and deliver desperately needed funds to the communities and individuals suffering in the midst of this crisis.”