OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge to temporarily halt the 2,600-plus lawsuits against the Stamford firm, and to protect the wealthy members of the Sackler family who own it from additional litigation.
Purdue attorneys on Wednesday asked White Plains-based U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain for the rulings. Normally a bankruptcy filing immediately halts such lawsuits. But in this case Purdue is still preparing for some states to argue their lawsuits cannot be halted by a Chapter 11 filing, as their suits are based in part on enforcing public health and safety laws; such a tactic would exempt those suits from the standard bankruptcy procedures.
In its filing, the pharma giant said its request for halting the lawsuits for roughly nine months was not “out of a desire to benefit or protect” anyone, “including any member of the Sackler families.” Instead, it argues, the lawsuits would slow down the proposed settlement of up to $12 billion that Purdue is trying to work out.
Twenty-four states have tentatively accepted that offer, but another 24 – including Connecticut and New York – have not.