While some may dislike Purdue Pharma’s plan to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits is better for states than allowing them to continue lawsuits against the company and its owners, an attorney for the company told a judge on Wednesday.
Purdue is using the bankruptcy process to try to end years of lawsuits alleging that its marketing and sales strategy for the powerful pain reliever OxyContin helped start and prolong the opioid epidemic.
Testimonies and arguments over the past two weeks have focused on the allegation of a group of state governments who want to oppose the plan, largely because members of the wealthy Sackler family, who own Purdue, are being protected from opioid lawsuits despite being protected do not apply for bankruptcy protection yourself.
US Bankruptcy Court judge Robert Drain, of White Plains, New York, said he was awaiting a verdict on the adoption of the plan on Friday.
On the final day of Wednesday’s hearing, the debate focused on other, narrower issues, though Drain also angrily told Purdue lawyers that they needed to make it clear that Sackler’s family members would not be protected from lawsuits on non-opioid issues.
Some opposition states claimed that they should be able to continue lawsuits against family members of Purdue and Sackler as the settlement is not in their best interests.
Marshall Huebner, a Purdue attorney, turned down the idea. He said that if lawsuits with claims totaling trillion dollars were brought, the value of Purdue would continue to decline and there would be much less to give than the settlement would offer.
“If all states have meritorious demands, it stands to reason that many other public creditors also have meritorious demands,” said Hübner.
Irve Goldman, a lawyer representing some of the opposition states, told Drain that the logic was incorrect.
“States are likely to receive judgments against one or more Sacklers,” Goldman said. And as a result of legal proceedings, family members could end up paying more than they agreed to in comparison.
But Drain noted that it would not be safe to pull Sackler trust funds in U.S. courts as some of it is protected by laws elsewhere.
Also on Wednesday, Drain heard arguments about whether West Virginia’s stake in a settlement was too small, whether it was appropriate for Canadian local governments to be excluded from programs as part of the settlement, or whether inmates should have more time to file monetary claims for individuals .
He was supported by the overwhelming majority of government agencies, individuals and others with lawsuits against Purdue of Stamford, Connecticut who voted on the company’s plan.
As part of the deal, Sackler’s family members would give up ownership of the company and contribute $ 4.5 billion in cash and control of charity funds. In other countries, too, they would have to get out of the opioid business at some point.
Most of the money they would contribute, plus future profits from the new company, would be used to help manage the crisis through a variety of programs, including anti-opioid education, housing the homeless and opioid addicts, and connecting opioid users Disorder with treatment. Some funds are also said to be used to pay individual victims or their families, which ranges from $ 3,500 to $ 48,000.
Overdoses of both prescription and illicit opioids like heroin and illegally produced fentanyl have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States since 2000.
Among the speakers at the hearing were two people who had been touched by opioids. One, Maria Ecke, a Connecticut woman whose son died of an opioid overdose in 2015, told the judge that there should be a new vote on the plan for the relatives of overdose victims “who are now living in heartbreak, depression and Leading loneliness ”. of this drug. “
“Are the Sacklers or their lawyers … ready to clone my dear son or bring him back to help me in my old, disabled and weak age?” Asked Corner. “I do not think so.”
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