Arizona now has misgivings about Purdue opioid settlement

Business

FILE – In this Sept. 12, 2019, file photo, cars pass Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Local government lawsuits against the family that owns Purdue Pharma should be allowed to proceed even as the company attempts to reach a nationwide settlement in bankruptcy court over the toll of the opioids crisis, according to a court filing on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Arizona’s attorney general is having misgivings about agreeing to Purdue Pharma’s proposal to settle litigation over the opioid crisis.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, said in a court filing late Monday that the OxyContin maker has “sought to undermine material terms of the deal.”

He did not specify how he alleges the company has done that.

But in a statement Tuesday, Brnovich said, “It’s in everyone’s best interest to secure a just and timely settlement. Purdue and the Sackler family need to take responsibility for their role in the opioid crisis.”

Brnovich agreed to the Purdue settlement right before the company filed for bankruptcy protection as part of its settlement deal. The states that agreed to the deal, which could be worth $12 billion over time, were not supposed to object to the company’s request to halt litigation against it and members of the Sackler family that own the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm.

Purdue has said in court that the Sacklers may not be able or willing to kick in the $3 billion to $4.5 billion they’ve agreed to pay in the settlement if they must continue to face litigation across the country.

Purdue declined to comment on the Arizona filing, as did the office of the attorney general for Texas, which played a key role in reaching the settlement.

Brnovich has not gone as far as backing out of the tentative settlement. His spokesman, Ryan Anderson, said the state is “not interested in renegotiating terms that we’ve already agreed upon.”

He made waves in July, when he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to find that some of the Sackler money was fraudulently transferred from Purdue and to force family members to return it to the company so it could be part of any settlement with or judgment against the company.

The court has not said whether it will consider the request. Brnovich said in his court filing that an order from the bankruptcy court should not stop the nation’s top court from considering that.

Last week, the attorneys general for the 24 states that declined to sign onto the settlement told a judge that suits against Sackler family members should not be stopped, as did lawyers representing more than 500 local and tribal governments across the country.

The company replied on Tuesday, arguing that letting the states’ suits against the Sacklers keep going would irreparably deplete assets that would be used in the settlement because the company is averaging $2 million a week in legal and other costs related in those lawsuits. By contrast, it said the states would face little harm if their lawsuits were to be paused for nine months. “The Objecting States should not be rewarded for pursuing dilatory, value-destroying tactics that threaten the success of these proceedings,” Purdue said in its filing.

If approved, the settlement could end more than 2,600 lawsuits against the company over the toll of opioids.

The objectors say the proposed settlement would not do enough to hold members of the Sackler family accountable. Several have also said the amount the family has agreed to pay as part of the deal is not enough.

A court filing last week said the family had been paid $12 billion to $13 billion by the company. A lawyer for some family members noted that the amount was lower than that after taxes and reinvestment.

Also on Tuesday, a Massachusetts judge denied a request by Purdue, members of the Sackler family and others who have been executives or board members for the company to dismiss that state’s lawsuit. But if Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain sides with Purdue, that suit and others like it could be halted.

Critics of the settlement have also objected to the company’s request to pay $38 million in bonuses and severance packages for employees. Amid the objections, the company has asked a judge not to consider that request at a hearing scheduled for Thursday but rather to wait until next month.

___

Follow Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill

___

This story has been corrected to show that Purdue is asking for a hearing on bonuses for its employees to be moved to next month, not next week.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Videos

Experts say a child's first visit to an orthodontist should come at age 7

Thumbnail for the video titled "Experts say a child's first visit to an orthodontist should come at age 7"

New medication offers postpartum depression relief

Thumbnail for the video titled "New medication offers postpartum depression relief"

Coach Caught Stealing Money From Players

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coach Caught Stealing Money From Players"

Baby dies in fire after children are left home alone

Thumbnail for the video titled "Baby dies in fire after children are left home alone"

Burk city commissioners vote down the ban of flavored e-cigarettes

Thumbnail for the video titled "Burk city commissioners vote down the ban of flavored e-cigarettes"

What The Tech: new Facebook design

Thumbnail for the video titled "What The Tech: new Facebook design"

Vacant home of James Staley vandalized

Thumbnail for the video titled "Vacant home of James Staley vandalized"

Property flipping brothers to revitalize two properties in Graham

Thumbnail for the video titled "Property flipping brothers to revitalize two properties in Graham"

Flu season is here, public health urges residents to get vaccinated

Thumbnail for the video titled "Flu season is here, public health urges residents to get vaccinated"

Pastor raising money from church roof

Thumbnail for the video titled "Pastor raising money from church roof"

Donny Davis released on bond

Thumbnail for the video titled "Donny Davis released on bond"

Man assaults wife

Thumbnail for the video titled "Man assaults wife"