Judge Pauses Legal Action In Major Opioid Case

Ongoing litigation against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family over their role in the opioid crisis has been temporarily paused. Judge Robert Drain issued the temporary injunction on October 11 in the pending bankruptcy case. The decision will halt legal action in both state and federal courts for three weeks. The Sackler family, who owns Purdue, has not yet filed for bankruptcy. But in what Drain said was an “extraordinary” circumstance, he extended the bankruptcy protection to cover them.

One major obstacle in the case will be addressed during the break: access to more information about the Sacklers’ finances. Purdue Pharma agreed to allow this, in response to state attorneys general who objected to the injunction. The Sacklers have been accused of playing a major role in the opioid epidemic. Financial information could ultimately open the door to another source of revenue to address public health costs associated with it.

Purdue says it asked for the reprieve to allow progress on a tentative settlement reached in September. That deal was reached with approximately 2,600 plaintiffs who have sued over the company’s OxyContin drug. The break, Purdue argues, is necessary to ensure the Sacklers’ continued support for the settlement. It is also viewed as a means to preserve assets that would otherwise be spent on attorneys and litigation expenses.

That potential settlement remains a point of contention for many states. Part of the deal would require the Sackler family to give up control of its company. It would also be required to contribute $3 billion to a settlement fund. However, deposition testimony revealed that the Sacklers drained at least $12 billion in cash from Purdue. This, say the objecting states, makes the $3 billion contributions insufficient.

Although Purdue asserts that it and the Sacklers are supportive of resolving the case, the plaintiffs are not so certain. They claim that $3 billion will come nowhere close to treating the victims of OxyContin and other opioids. They’ve also objected to terms in the settlement by which profits from continued opioid sales would be distributed to plaintiffs. This, they say, would only perpetuate what caused the problem in the first place.

The temporary injunction is viewed as a setback for the states and other municipalities that have taken on Purdue. They allege, among other things, that Purdue and other drug makers have:

  • Failed to notify doctors and patients about risky side effects of opioids, such as addiction
  • Sold and marketed opioids without any regard for public safety
  • Ignored the black market that has been caused by opioids
  • Aggressively pushed doctors to over-prescribe opioid drugs, which has unnecessarily harmed many

Opioids such as OxyContin, morphine, and hydrocodone are highly addictive pain relievers. About 47,000 Americans have died from overdoses, prompting the Department of Health and Human Services to declare an emergency. Victims could experience addiction and withdrawal symptoms, respiratory and heart problems, overdose, and death.

If a settlement fund is ultimately established, it may help treat opioid addiction and other problems. The money could also be used for rehabilitation programs and withdrawal treatment. Ask our mass tort attorneys about possible compensation for your injuries.

If You’ve Been Injured by Opioids or Other Drugs, Let Our Experienced Mass Tort Attorneys Help

The pause in litigation is by no means an end to the controversy, although Judge Drain has urged compromise. Lawsuits may still be filed against Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies. If you or a loved one have been harmed by opioids, our law firm wants to hear from you. Rueb Stoller Daniel continues to look into this case and wants victims to understand their legal rights. Call one of our experienced mass tort attorneys today to discuss your case.