Purdue Opioid Settlement on Verge of Collapse After Supreme Court Ruling

The hard-fought settlement of thousands of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma was close to capsizing on Thursday, after the Supreme Court rejected liability protections for the company’s owners, members of the billionaire Sackler family. The ruling effectively prevents the release of billions of dollars that could help alleviate the ravages of opioid addiction.

The future of the cases, some of which are a decade old, is now in limbo, as states, local governments, tribes and more than 100,000 individuals who sued the company, best-known for its prescription painkiller OxyContin, figure out next moves.

The court struck down a condition that the Sacklers had long insisted upon: immunity from all current and future opioid lawsuits in return for payments of up to $6 billion to plaintiffs.

In a statement, Purdue called the decision “heart-crushing,” because the settlement had been agreed to by an overwhelming majority of plaintiffs.

“We will immediately reach back out to the same creditors who have already proven they can unite to forge a settlement,” the company said, so that Purdue could emerge from bankruptcy and funds could begin to flow.

Descendants of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler issued a joint statement suggesting they were willing to keep talking and were “hopeful about reaching a resolution that provides substantial resources to help combat a complex public health crisis.”



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