Money is still not flowing more than a year since OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma agreed to a tentative settlement regarding the opioid crisis that was almost universally accepted by the groups who sued the company, including thousands of people hurt by the drug.
The parties waiting to complete the deal await a ruling from a court on the legality a crucial detail: whether the Sackler family, who owns the company, can be shielded from lawsuits relating to OxyContin if they hand over up to six billion dollars in cash and the company over time.
Lawyers told judges this week that the delay is causing issues. This was just days before the anniversary of April 29, 2022.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York was asked by lawyers on both sides, including Purdue's, to issue a ruling or provide an update soon. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, located in New York, is expected to make a decision or give an update as soon as possible. This is because the money needed to combat the opioid epidemic cannot be used until it starts to flow.
Although it is not uncommon for an appeals committee to take up to a year from the date of a hearing before releasing a decision in a case, this one was initially expedited by the court. At the hearing in 2013, there were indications that the three judge panel may not have ruled unanimously.
In a second filing, a lawyer representing creditors said that the waiting is problematic for other reasons. Arik Preis wrote that until the funds were distributed, the 'vast majority' of the more than $6 billion could be used to combat the opioid crisis, and compensate individuals claimants who continue to accrue interest on Sackler accounts.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee has objected to the settlement even though most Purdue creditors have agreed.
The legal costs are also increasing as the case drags on. Purdue stated in a court document that, as of March 31st, it had spent around $900 million in non-recurring legal fees in an attempt to settle its lawsuits.
Purdue’s proposed settlement may not be the largest in a series opioid-related settlements that have totaled over $50 billion in recent years, but it is a large one and is closely watched due to the blame given by many for the company’s role in sparking this crisis through its marketing of OxyContin in the 1990s.
This is also the first settlement to date where money will be paid directly to those who have lost loved ones, or even years of their lives due to opioids. Around 149,000 people made claims, and they could each receive up to $48,000.
Lindsey Arrington does not know the amount she will be eligible to receive. Everett woman, whose addiction began when she was a teenager and used OxyContin, says money will be helpful.
She said, 'It's been 12 years since I recovered from my addiction and yet I'm still cleaning the financial wreckage.'
She owed money to the Washington State government, which she repaid for the assistance that her son, who is now 14 years old, should not have been entitled to because he was not with her.
Some money could improve her relationship with him. She said, 'I owe him money so that I can do something with him or for him, as a symbol of the time we would have spent together if my situation had not changed.
Stephanie Lubinski is one of the approximately two dozen victims that testified last year at an Sackler family member-attended hearing. She doesn't even know what she may be entitled to under the settlement. Her husband, a Minneapolis firefighter who was suffering from an opioid addiction, committed suicide in 2020.
Lubinski is a cancer patient and hopes to receive the settlement while she is still alive to pass on to her children.
She said that by continuing to do so, we are reliving all of the emotions and suffering.