The Supreme Court has temporarily halted the Purdue Pharma opioid settlement for review.

Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

In a significant legal move, the Supreme Court said that it would examine the contentious $6 billion settlement that Purdue Pharma’s owners, the Sackler family, had offered in exchange for protection from additional lawsuits about the opioid crisis. The agreement, which has generated a great deal of controversy, calls for the Sacklers to give up ownership of Purdue Pharma in exchange for $4.5 billion going toward the reduction of opioid use. The remaining $1.5 billion will be given to plaintiffs who have sued the company.

The Sacklers shouldn’t have been able to escape responsibility without declaring bankruptcy, according to the government.

Opponents contend that the settlement absolves the Sacklers of personal responsibility for their part in the opioid crisis, which has destroyed communities across the country and taken countless lives. The Supreme Court’s decision to examine the agreement highlights the seriousness of the problems involved and poses concerns about how to strike a balance between victim justice and corporate accountability.

Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019 to restructure the pharmaceutical company. At this point, there were 400 lawsuits against the Sacklers personally and almost 3,000 against the business, totaling more than $40 trillion. Due to Purdue’s bankruptcy filing, no lawsuit could be filed against the firm.

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But the legal battle against the Sacklers continued. The Sacklers settled out of bankruptcy instead of going through with another file. Purdue would become a public benefit corporation with an opioid abatement focus under the idea. Any funds left over from the estate would be distributed to other trusts that would support the areas affected by the opioid crisis as well as the victims of the epidemic.

Individual victims or their families might anticipate receiving $3,500 to $48,000 as part of the settlement, less costs for legal counsel. Additionally, billions would be given to the states, towns, and tribes that filed the claims.

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