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U.S. Supreme Court reviews Purdue Pharma opioid settlement

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday about a bankruptcy settlement that would pay billions of dollars for harm caused by the opioid crisis.

The Justices are reviewing the settlement by Purdue Pharma, the maker of the additive painkiller OxyContin.

Purdue previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay $6 billion to settle thousands of opioid-related claims.

Much of the money would go to people who became addicted to the painkillers or their family members.

But the deal also shields members of the wealthy Sackler family, who once ran Purdue, from personal liability.

That means the Sacklers wouldn’t be able to be sued personally in opioid-related lawsuits.

The Justice Department argues the deal violated bankruptcy law, and the U.S. Trustee Program with DOJ challenged the deal.

“It permits the Sacklers to decide how much they’re going to contribute,” said Deputy Solicitor General Curtis Gannon in court.

But the attorney for the Sacklers pointed out most of the victims agreed to the settlement and want it to go forward so they can be compensated.

“If the Trustee succeeds here, the billions of dollars that the plan allocates for opioid abatement and compensation will evaporate,” said Gregory Garre, attorney for Purdue Pharma. “Creditors and victims will be left with nothing.”

The Justices are now weighing if a bankruptcy plan can be used to give legal immunity to a third-party like the Sackler family.