Supreme Court temporarily blocks Purdue Pharma's $6B opioid settlement

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a national settlement with Purdue Pharma on Aug. 11 that would have shielded Sackler family owners from additional civil suits over the opioid epidemic and limited personal liability to $6 billion, The New York Times reported. 

The decision means thousands of plaintiffs who have sued Purdue and the Sackler family for the company's role in igniting the opioid epidemic will likely see delayed payments. 

Purdue is seeking to resolve the lawsuits through bankruptcy court, versus the traditional court system. Under the deal, the Sacklers would pay billions in personal wealth to state and local governments affected by the opioid epidemic. In exchange for that money, the Sacklers and their associates — many of whom haven't filed for bankruptcy — would be granted "third-party releases," which would block them from future opioid lawsuits. 

The Supreme Court's order was in response to a request from the U.S. Justice Department to block the deal. U.S. officials have called the plan flawed and unconstitutional, saying it allows the Sacklers to take advantage of legal protections meant for debtors in "financial distress," according to the Times

A Purdue Pharma spokesperson told the Times it was "confident in the legality" of the bankruptcy plan, while a representative for the Sackler family did not respond to a request for comment. 

The justices will hear arguments in December on whether the deal can proceed. 

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