Supreme Court Rejects Purdue Pharma Opioid Settlement With Sackler Shield

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 27, 2024 - 04:05 PM

The Supreme Court on Thursday morning rejected a bankruptcy reorganization of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma that would've shielded Sackler family members from civil lawsuits related to the hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths attributed to the opioid crisis. 

In a narrow 5-4 ruling written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Supreme Court's majority determined that the federal bankruptcy code does not permit a liability shield for third parties in bankruptcy agreements. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Justice Gorsuch in the decision. 


"Someday, Congress may choose to add to the bankruptcy code special rules for opioid-related bankruptcies as it has for asbestos-related cases, Justice Neal Gorsuch wrote for the majority, adding, "Or it may choose not to do so. Either way, if a policy decision like that is to be made, it is for Congress to make."

Meanwhile, Justices Brett Kavanaugh, John G. Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented. 

"Opioid victims and other future victims of mass torts will suffer greatly in the wake of today's unfortunate and destabilizing decision," Kavanaugh wrote.

Today's Supreme Court ruling ends the bankruptcy plan that would have shielded members of the Sackler family from civil litigation. As part of the accord, Sackler members agreed to give up Purdue ownership and pay upwards of $6 billion. 

"Today's Supreme Court ruling marks a major setback for the families who lost loved ones to overdose and for those still struggling with addiction," Edward Neiger, a lawyer representing 60,000 overdose victims, wrote in a statement quoted by AP News. 

Neiger said, "The Purdue plan was a victim-centered plan that would provide billions of dollars to the states to be used exclusively to abate the opioid crisis and $750 million for victims of the crisis, so that they could begin to rebuild their lives. As a result of the senseless three-year crusade by the government against the plan, thousands of people died of overdose, and today's decision will lead to more needless overdose deaths."

The ruling means that settlement talks must be reset, which ultimately means more time.

Purdue Pharma and the billionaire Sacklers have long been viewed as the source of America's opioid crisis, starting in the 1990s with the debut of prescription painkiller OxyContin. The crisis has since morphed into the worst overdose death crisis this nation has ever seen, with the drug death catastrophe eclipsing the Vietnam War every six months. 

In recent months, the House Select Committee on China revealed that the Chinese Communist Party used tax rebates to subsidize the manufacturing and exporting of fentanyl chemicals abroad. Mexican drug cartels are cooking fentanyl chemicals and flooding the nation via Biden's open southern borders.