Sacklers increase bid to settle billion-plus opioid lawsuits

Members of the billionaire Sackler family have sweetened their cash offer to settle thousands of opioid-related lawsuits against them and their company, Purdue Pharma, offering up to $6 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion compared to a previous offer, according to a mediator. report filed Friday afternoon in bankruptcy court.

But the case is not concluded. The Sacklers did not move from the line they drew in the sand at the start of the affair. In exchange for their billions, they continue to demand an end to all civil lawsuits against them related to Purdue and opioids, and that such claims be barred in the future.

Legal experts and the public have criticized efforts by the Sackler family to seek personal liability protection. This is a shield usually granted to companies seeking to restructure in the event of bankruptcy, as Purdue is, but rarely extended to owners who do not file for personal bankruptcy. Eight states and the District of Columbia declined to sign an earlier proposal due to Sackler liability shields.

The mediator, federal bankruptcy judge Shelley Chapman, said in her report that a “supermajority” of those states had now accepted the new offer. But the recalcitrants remain and the case is not yet concluded.

The earlier to offer included a promise from the Sacklers of $4.55 billion, including a federal settlement of $225 million, to be paid over approximately nine years. Under the new offer, the Sacklers would pay a total of $5.5 billion, with an additional contribution of up to $500 million, subject to the sale of their international pharmaceutical companies. The Sacklers would be 18 to make the extra billion dollar payments.

The bankruptcy plan calls for the Sackler money, along with billions more from Purdue, to be directed to funds for states, municipalities and tribes dedicated to the treatment and prevention of opioid addiction, and to compensate the victims.

Known as “the Nine,” the resisters, including Connecticut, Washington, California and Maryland, have been at the mediation table with Purdue and the Sacklers since January.

As negotiations continue, a stay on all litigation against Purdue and the Sacklers, which has been in place since September 2019, was extended this week and is now due to expire on March 3.

A representative of a branch of the family, descendants of Mortimer Sackler, declined to comment; representatives of another branch, descendants of Raymond Sackler, did not respond to a request for comment.

Judge Chapman has requested an extension of the deadline for mediation talks until February 28. Noting that the “unanimous acceptance” demanded by the Sacklers has not yet been achieved, she suggested that further talks could either achieve that goal or come up with a different set of plans. it would not require unanimity.

Meanwhile, Purdue, whose plan was rejected by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in December, is pursuing an appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Pleadings are expected in April.

Purdue released a statement saying, “We remain focused on achieving our goal of providing the American people with the urgently needed funds for the alleviation of the opioid crisis. We believe that a global settlement is the fastest and most cost-effective route out of Chapter 11 and we will continue to work to reach consensus throughout the appeals process with the United States Court of Appeals. for the second circuit.

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