Opioid-Related Court Battles Against Purdue Pharma To Expand

After nearly 1,000 lawsuits were planned to combat Purdue Pharma, an opioid manufacturer owned by the Sackler family, a possible settlement is ongoing. Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the news on September 12, 2019: he would sue the Sackler family for instigating the growing addiction to prescribed pills.

Shapiro’s statement outlined his arguments: Purdue Pharma “seems to be concerned with only one thing — keeping their hands on the ill-gotten gains they made while pumping our commonwealth full of OxyContin. Through our negotiations with Purdue Pharma, it became crystal clear the Sacklers have no intention of taking any ownership for engineering an epidemic that claims the lives of 12 Pennsylvanians each day.”

Eight counties in Pennsylvania are pursuing the same court agenda. They include: Crawford, Beaver, Washington, Lawrence and Westmoreland. Robert Peirce & Associates are pursuing the litigation.

Robert N. Peirce Jr. said, “It’s about time that they admitted responsibility for their role in bringing about this crisis, and this problem. But negotiations are still ongoing. It’s too early to give any predictions as to how much is being paid to whom. And we anticipate at least another week of negotiations.”

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state pulling the trigger — Miami launched a separate civil case in Miami-Dade County Court. Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach Counties have launched suits, as have 250 cities throughout the country.

Similar complaints have been filed across most of these lawsuits. According to court-released documents, Purdue and other opioid manufacturers routinely try to flood medical offices around the country with apparent misinformation to falsely indicate OxyContin’s efficacy. 

The potential settlements for 1,000 lawsuits — out of a total 2,000 plaintiffs — are “a slap in the face to everyone who has had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed,” Shapiro said. “The Sacklers’ mission to avoid accountability and transparency stops here.”

He continued, “The lawsuit I filed on behalf of all Pennsylvanians seeks to require this family of billionaires, who orchestrated opioids into as many doctor’s offices, pharmacies and medicine cabinets as possible, takes responsibility for the pain they caused.”

Whatever the outcome of the cases against Purdue, it’s clear that many plaintiffs won’t tolerate the subject being swept under the rug as it has been for so many years.

Shapiro plans to hold the Sackler family accountable for liability claims. Many of the relevant cases are slowly making their way through federal court in the Northern District of Ohio, Cleveland. 

Purdue did not respond to requests for comment.