Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier Statements on Federal Court Rejecting Bankruptcy Settlement for Members of the Sackler Family
Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and senior Committee Member Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, issued the following statements after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected Purdue Pharma’s plan of reorganization, which would have granted sweeping immunity to members of the Sackler family for their role in flooding American communities with OxyContin and fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.
“Today’s ruling striking down Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan and its illegal releases for the Sacklers is a monumental step toward justice for the victims of the Sacklers’ cruel, deliberate plan to flood our communities with the highly addictive opioid, OxyContin,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “At the behest of the Sackler family, Purdue Pharma fueled an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than half a million American lives. The Sacklers must not be permitted to evade accountability by abusing our bankruptcy system, and I applaud the District Court for recognizing what I’ve long believed—that nonconsensual third-party releases are not only immoral and unjust, but also illegal.”
“Today’s ruling is a victory for fairness and justice. The Sackler family does not deserve to be given a get out of jail free card after being linked to hundreds of thousands of opioid overdoses and deaths. I am grateful to Chairwoman Maloney for her tireless work with me to ensure justice is served,” said Rep. DeSaulnier.
On December 17, 2020, the Committee held a landmark hearing where, under threat of subpoena, two members of the Sackler family testified in public under oath for one of the first times in history.
On March 19, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier introduced the SACKLER Act, which would prevent individuals who have not filed for bankruptcy from obtaining releases from lawsuits brought by states, Tribes, municipalities, or the U.S. government in bankruptcy.
On June 8, 2021, the Committee held its second hearing on the role of the Sackler family in fueling the opioid epidemic and the need for policies to promote accountability for their actions. During this hearing, families affected by the opioid crisis and bipartisan state attorneys general testified to the need for Congress to pass the SACKLER Act and prevent the abuse of the Bankruptcy Code by powerful bad actors.
On June 30, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to oppose Purdue’s plan of reorganization on the grounds that it would grant legal immunity to members of the Sackler family over the objection of state attorneys general and in direct contradiction to DOJ’s prior position on nonconsensual non-debtor releases.
On July 19, 2021, DOJ filed a statement expressing its “fundamental concerns” with the nonconsensual non-debtor releases proposed in Purdue’s plan of reorganization, noting that these legal releases violate due process and are not permitted under the Bankruptcy Code.
On July 28, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in announcing the Nondebtor Release Prohibition Act of 2021, which expands on the SACKLER Act to prevent individuals who have not filed for bankruptcy from obtaining releases from lawsuits brought by private parties, states, Tribes, municipalities, or the U.S. government in bankruptcy.
On August 6, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier joined Sens. Warren and Blumenthal in sending a letter to Attorney General Garland urging DOJ to immediately appeal Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy on the grounds that it would deny victims and state attorneys general the opportunity to litigate their cases against the Sacklers.
On September 16, 2021, following the bicameral letter, the U.S. Trustee, a component of DOJ responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases, announced that it was appealing the confirmation of Purdue’s bankruptcy plan.