A lawyer for Purdue Pharma said Monday that a judge must agree to the OxyContin maker’s plan to settle thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic or face “years or decades of Hobbesian hell” with complicated litigation that would not result in fair payments to reduce the epidemic or pay individual victims.
Marshall Huebner, an attorney for Purdue, has argued his case in an ongoing videoconference hearing before U.S. bankruptcy judge Robert Drain, who is expected to rule this week on whether or not to accept the plan to reorganize the based company. in Stamford, Connecticut.
State and local governments and individual victims who voted on the plan overwhelmingly supported it. But nine states, the District of Columbia, the City of Seattle and the United States’ Bankruptcy Trustee are opposed to the plan because it would protect members of the Sackler family who own the business from future opioid lawsuits.
Huebner said allowing lawsuits against members of the wealthy family “would be a long, bitter, uncertain and incredibly expensive struggle.”
And if some places won billions in judgments against family members, Huebner said, that might not leave anything for the rest of the United States.
He also noted that suing the Sackler families is complicated. The family is extended across the world, with some assets held in foreign trusts. And many family members were never involved with Purdue.
In return for legal protections, family members would bring in a total of $ 4.5 billion in cash and control of a charitable fund. They would relinquish ownership of Purdue and the company would be reformed into a new entity whose profits would be used to fight the epidemic and pay the victims and their families. Most of those whose claims are found to be valid are expected to receive between $ 3,500 and $ 48,000.
The company is also reportedly making millions of internal documents public, including communications with its lawyers. And the Sacklers are expected to eventually pull out of the opioid trade in other countries.
Some parties in the cases also agreed on Monday to change the details of the settlement.
While members of the Sackler would still be protected from opioid-related lawsuits, they would be allowed to face litigation regarding other Purdue products and actions. Additionally, contractors and advisors would no longer have protections against certain civil opioid claims, which have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States since 2000.
After testimony ended last week at the confirmation of charges hearing, Drain – a veteran bankruptcy judge based in White Plains, New York – said it was the most complex case ever. he never presided. Before ending the testimony abruptly as he seemed to cry, he said he would not forget another type of voice in the case: that of the victims.
He mentioned the letters he received from some of them.
One, Stephanie Lubinski, spoke about how her husband Troy, a former Minneapolis firefighter, coped with years of addiction before committing suicide in 2020. She said it started when she was prescribed medicine. ‘OxyContin for a back injury. “It was the beginning of the end for Troy,” she wrote.
“I’m just a little fish in this ocean of devastation the Sackler family has caused with their greed,” she wrote. “They increased their opulent wealth, beyond anything a worker like me could ever have imagined. Yet my family paid the ultimate price for them to obtain this wealth.
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