Saturday, October 12, 2019

WASHINGTON POST: Judge grants Purdue Pharma, Sackler family pause in civil lawsuits.

Judge grants Purdue Pharma, Sackler family pause in civil lawsuits

The reprieve will last only three weeks to give the parties time to seek more financial information from the family.

“Litigation against the Sacklers is litigation against Purdue,” Ben Kaminetzky, an attorney for Purdue Pharma, told the court. “Continued litigation harms everyone.”
Artwork by Elizabeth Williams ( click on image to see larger)

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Friday temporarily halted scores of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family.
Extending that relief to the Sacklers, who haven’t filed for bankruptcy protection, is “extraordinary” but appropriate in this case, Judge Robert Drain said from the bench. Drain’s ruling stays action for three weeks in state and federal lawsuits against the Sackler family members, who own the company, as well as Purdue Pharma and related companies.

During the three-week reprieve, Purdue Pharma agreed to address one of the key concerns — access to more information about the Sacklers’ finances — raised by state attorneys general who objected to including the family in the temporary injunction.
“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling, but pleased that it is limited in time to less than 30 days. We will use this time to ensure that we get access to the Sacklers’ financial information,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.
“The states are extremely concerned about the injunction,” said Andrew Troop, a lawyer for states that oppose legal immunity for Purdue’s owners.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who also objected to including the Sacklers in the injunction, said: “We’re pleased with the court’s desire for transparency and its recognition of the public’s need to know the facts that led to this national epidemic. We look forward to further proceedings and holding the Sacklers responsible for the role they played in the opioid crisis.”
Purdue had asked for an 180-day injunction. After more than seven hours of arguments — during which Judge Drain became visible frustrated — some state attorneys voluntarily agreed to a much shorter pause in their cases. They have until Nov. 6 to work out some of their differences.
In a statement after the hearing, Purdue said the decision "is an essential next step in preserving Purdue’s assets for the ultimate benefit of the American public. The company will work tirelessly and collaboratively during this pause in the litigation to continue to build support for the settlement structure.“
Just prior to Friday’s six-hour hearing, Purdue attorney Marshall Huebner said the company, the official committee of unsecured creditors and the Sacklers worked out an information sharing agreement.
The company argued that halting litigation was necessary to allow progress on a tentative settlement with more than 2,600 plaintiffs who have accused Purdue of deceptively marketing its blockbuster opioid pain pill, OxyContin. Without that protection, the Sacklers had said they may back out of the settlement, valued at $10 billion to $12 billion. As part of that deal, the Sacklers agreed to relinquish control of their firm and contribute at least $3 billion to the settlement.

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