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AG Ferguson files objection to opioid manufacturer Purdue's bankruptcy plan

Christian Fernsby |
Attorney General Bob Ferguson led eight other attorneys general in filing a formal objection asking the judge to reject Purdue Pharma’s proposed bankruptcy plan, which includes a lifetime legal shield for the company’s owners, the Sackler family.

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The states argue that a bankruptcy court doesn’t have the authority to prevent attorneys general from enforcing state law, including the decision to pursue the Sacklers for their illegal conduct.

“This settlement plan allows the Sacklers to walk away as billionaires with a legal shield for life,” Ferguson said. “It’s up to the states — not a bankruptcy court — to decide whether states should hold the Sacklers accountable in a court of law. We’re asking the court to reject this flawed proposal. The Sacklers should not be allowed to profit from their misconduct.”

Purdue’s bankruptcy plan proposes that the Sackler family pay $4.3 billion to the group of states, municipalities and private plantiffs, including Washington, that sued the company in 2017.

Ferguson’s objection, filed today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings, asserts $4.3 billion is miniscule in context: The Sackler family made over $11 billion in profits from producing and deceptively marketing OxyContin, a major driver in the rise of the opioid crisis.

The crisis has cost the nation millions of lives and at least $2 trillion in damage. Based on expert reports, it will cost Washington state alone tens of billions of dollars to fix the state’s opioid crisis.

Purdue’s bankruptcy plan releases the Sacklers for life from all liability, meaning that the states would be permanently barred from bringing consumer protection lawsuits against the Sacklers. The objection asserts that a bankruptcy court judge does not have the authority to take away a state attorney general’s power to enforce consumer protection laws.

The states’ objection argues the Sacklers should not be handed a federal injunction shielding the lion’s share of their multi-billion-dollar fortune in exchange for payments that cover less than one percent of the damage they caused.

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