The trouble for Purdue started in late August, when opioid-manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was found to have partially caused the opioid crisis. Although Purdue reached a liability-free settlement in this same, seven-week trial, the verdict against J&J set an important precedent and allowed thousands of other lawsuits against Purdue Pharma to move forward.
In addition to 2,300 lawsuits from state and local governments, Purdue faces criminal and civil charges from the United States Department of Justice. To keep itself out of court, and possibly to protect the company’s owners, the Sackler family, Purdue Pharma is seeking to collectively settle many of these claims. The company has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
While many people are satisfied by the closure of Purdue Pharma and the estimated $10 billion settlement, others argue that the Sackler family, who remains aggressively wealthy, is getting off scot-free. As a result, several state attorneys general are filing suit against members of the Sackler family directly. To add fuel to the fire, New York’s stare attorney general, Letitia James, has discovered an alleged $1 billion in wire transfers from Purdue to Swiss bank accounts under the Sackler family name.
Despite the gravity of the consequences and the bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma, neither the company, nor the Sackler family, has admitted to any wrongdoing or accepted any liability in relation to the opioid epidemic.
In response to an epidemic that has claimed over 700,000 lives since 1999, the Sackler family spokeswoman has stated:
“The [Sackler] family supports working toward a global resolution that directs resources to the patients, families and communities across the country who are suffering and need assistance. This is the most effective way to address the urgency of the current public health crisis, and to fund real solutions, not endless litigation.”
Leading the charge, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has accused the Sackler family of “being concerned with only one thing – keeping their hands on the ill-gotten gains they made while pumping our commonwealth full of OxyContin”
He has also called the settlement “a slap in the face to everyone who has had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed.”
If you have been personally affected by opioids, follow our Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. blog for news about lawsuits and settlements.
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