A federal judge overturned a $4.5 billion settlement that legally protected the Sackler family, who have been accused of fueling the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Per Reuters, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon said the New York bankruptcy court that approved the settlement, part of a restructuring plan for Purdue Pharma, didn’t have authority to give the Sacklers legal protection in opioid-related cases.

  • The Sacklers didn’t file for personal bankruptcy but made immunization from opioid claims a requirement in exchange for a contribution of $4.5 billion.

Purdue Pharma said it would appeal the decision, saying it would “delay, and perhaps end, the ability of creditors, communities, and individuals to receive billions in value to abate the opioid crisis,” said Steve Miller, chairman of the Purdue Pharma L.P. board of directors, according to CNN.

  • “These funds are needed now more than ever as overdose rates hit record-highs, and we are confident that we can successfully appeal this decision and deliver desperately needed funds to the communities and individuals suffering in the midst of this crisis,” Miller said.
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Per Reuters, there were many who were pleased with the ruling, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

  • “The bankruptcy court did not have the authority to deprive victims of the opioid crisis of their right to sue the Sackler family,” Garland said.
  • Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, “there cannot be two forms of justice — one for ordinary Americans and a different one for billionaires. I’m prepared to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to ensure true accountability for the Sackler family.”
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Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in September 2019, per the report, when faced with 3,000 lawsuits accusing the company and the Sackler family of contributing to the opioid crisis — claiming the lives of over 500,000 people since 1999.

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