Would a Purdue Bankruptcy Protect the Sacklers? Good Question.


Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina, who is preparing to sue the Sacklers, said, “I allege that these people are among the most responsible for the trail of death and destruction the opioid epidemic has left in its wake.”

Similarly, various leaders of the fight against the Sacklers issued withering statements.

“We will continue to pursue Purdue and the Sacklers both in the bankruptcy court and in our state court,” said Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general.

And the New York attorney general, Letitia James, whose office announced on Friday that it had evidence of about a billion dollars in undisclosed wire transfers out of Purdue by a member of the Sackler family, said that “any deal that cheats Americans out of billions of dollars, allows the Sacklers to evade responsibility, and lets this family continue peddling their drugs to the world is a bad one.”

But legal scholars say that previous rulings by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which oversees the federal bankruptcy court in White Plains where Purdue filed its case, could be read in a light favorable to the position that lawsuits against the Sacklers as well as the company should be halted.

The battle, Ms. Simon said, is about whether states or the federal bankruptcy courts should hear these disputes.

Most likely, yes.

In a statement, Herbert H. Slatery III, the attorney general of Tennessee, who supports the deal, emphasized that the settlement framework was agreed upon by a bipartisan group of 29 attorneys general and more than 2,000 cities and counties. In addition to billions of dollars in cash plus medicines to treat addiction and overdoses that the company would donate to the public under the settlement, he said, “Purdue will no longer exist,” and the Sacklers “will be out of the pharmaceutical industry forever.”

He added, “No other plan on the table has any assurance of accomplishing these things.”

The states and thousands of municipalities that have endorsed the deal could likely file supporting motions. As such, governments equally ravaged and depleted by the opioid crisis will be implicitly squaring off in bankruptcy court, speaking for and against the Purdue filing.



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