Opioid Crisis Winding Its Way Through the Courts. Cases Settled?

Called the most complicated litigation in the history of jurisprudence by the Washington Post with approximately 3000 lawsuits filed across the country by local governments seeking to recoup the money they spent treating opioid addicts, this story was looking to be getting closer to an end as Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and ending up with a proposed settlement with both local governments and victims. My podcast, Cut to the Chase: has 3 episodes dedicated to this story, including an interview with Peter Mougey-one of the lead attorneys on the case who explained the basics of the settlement. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cut-to-the-chase/id1551362164?i=1000531274807.
Appearing on my podcast is one of the lead advocates for the opioid victims, Ryan Hampton. Ryan recently published a book titled Unsettled detailing his experience as one of nine individuals that were on the Unsecured Creditors Committee responsible for prosecuting the bankruptcy proceeding on behalf of the local governments and victims. Ryan explained his problems with the bankruptcy process, including the fact that the settlement provided the Sackler family with protection from being sued for their involvement in the crisis, even though they were not a party to the bankruptcy proceedings. The Sackler family, the founders of Purdue Pharma, siphoned off over $10 billion during the bankruptcy proceedings infuriating numerous advocates and stakeholders who yearn to see criminal charges against the Sacklers, and have their fortune used to help the opioid crisis that many believe the Sacklers to have caused. The settlement plan was appealed and an appellate court overturned the settlement based largely on the Ryan’s argument that the Sackler family would be released from civil liability as a result of the bankruptcy settlement. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cut-to-the-chase/id1551362164?i=1000541383158. And https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cut-to-the-chase/id1551362164?i=1000541746411. That appellate decision will be appealed so the final decision regarding the settlement is not over. That settlement was also criticized as it was only paying out the victims (or their families of those that died from opioids) $3,000 to $48,000 and many feel those figures were insufficient.
While many contend that the settlement was insufficient, other advocates are eager to conclude the litigation so they can get the proceeds and opioid recovery programs can be started and enhanced to deal with the crisis.
Since Purdue was not the only manufacturer of opioids, many of the lawsuits against other defendants have been handled in other jurisdictions outside the bankruptcy court. 2021 saw two Courts recently dismiss cases against other manufacturers (including Johnson @ Johnson) for legal reasons. The claims against these manufacturers have rested on the legal theory called public nuisance. Both a California State Court and a Federal Court in Oklahoma concluded that the conduct of these manufacturers did not give rise to a public nuisance. Several Courts will continue to deal with the opioid litigation through 2022.

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