Supreme Court justices temporarily blocked Thursday a settlement with Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, which would protect members of the Sackler family from civil lawsuits filed due to the damage done by opioids.
The Associated Press reported that the Biden administration requested the justices hold off on a deal made last year with local and state governments, and the justices agreed to do so.
Also, by the end of the year the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the settlement can move forward.
The agreement allows Purdue Pharma to come out of bankruptcy as a new entity, and the new company’s profits would go toward fighting the opioid epidemic.
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Also, as part of the deal, the Sackler family would agree to contribute up to $6 billion.
A key piece of the agreement protects members of the Sackler family who are not seeking protection from bankruptcy, from civil lawsuits.
Some, like the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, is opposed to letting the Sackler family off from legal liability.
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The company’s proposed reorganization was allowed to move forward after a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Purdue’s attorneys and others named in the agreement requested justices to avoid getting involved in the case.
“We are confident in the legality of our nearly universally supported Plan of Reorganization, and optimistic that the Supreme Court will agree,” the company said in a statement following the court’s action Thursday. “Even so, we are disappointed that the U.S. Trustee, despite having no concrete interest in the outcome of this process, has been able to single-handedly delay billions of dollars in value that should be put to use for victim compensation, opioid crisis abatement for communities across the country, and overdose rescue medicines.”
A group made up of mostly parents of those who died from opioid overdoses urged the court to not accept the settlement, while a lawyer representing victims of the crisis who could get some of the settlement, Ed Neiger, said he was disappointed the clients would have to wait any longer for the compensation. Still, Neiger praised the courts for promptly hearing the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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