Oregon Objects to Purdue’s Bankruptcy Plan Granting Legal Shield to Sackler Family

July 19, 2021
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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and eight other Attorneys General today filed a formal objection asking a federal judge to reject Purdue Pharma’s proposed bankruptcy plan, which includes a lifetime legal shield for the company’s owners, the Sackler family. The states argue that a bankruptcy court does not have the authority to prevent attorneys general from enforcing state law.

“This proposed bankruptcy plan fails to achieve justice for the millions of Americans, including thousands of Oregonians, harmed by the Sacklers greed. This family-owned company manufactured and marketed opioids in the most damaging ways possible, enriching themselves enormously in the process,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “As the deal is written, the Sacklers pay too little and keep too much–yet they still get to keep their names on hospital wings and museums while avoiding airing the facts in open court. The Sacklers owe us more. I hope to ensure that Oregon is able to pursue the Sacklers in the future, if we choose to.”

The proposed plan would require the Sackler family to pay $4.3 billion to the group of states, municipalities and private plantiffs that sued the company in 2017. The states’ objection, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings, asserts $4.3 billion is miniscule when considering the Sackler family made over $11 billion in profits from producing and deceptively marketing OxyContin, a major driver in the rise of the opioid crisis. The crisis has cost the nation millions of lives and more than $2 trillion in damage.

As noted in a recently published New York Times editorial, the Sacklers will earn more than $4.3 billion on their remaining wealth after paying the settlement, which Purdue would pay in 11 annual payments. In other words, by the time they are finished paying this settlement, the Sacklers will be wealthier than they were when they started. In addition, the bankruptcy plan would release the Sacklers for life from all liability, and the states would be permanently barred from bringing consumer protection lawsuits against the Sacklers. Today’s objection asserts that a bankruptcy court judge does not have the authority to take away a state attorney general’s power to enforce consumer protection laws.

The states’ opposition to this settlement does not prevent us from receiving our share of the settlement funds. If the judge denies the objection and approves Purdue’s proposal, Oregon and the other objecting states will still receive our share of the $4.3 billion settlement fund.

In addition to Oregon, Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia also filed or joined formal objections today.

Background on Oregon’s lawsuit against Purdue and the Sackler family can be found here.