Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier Statements on Sackler Immunity in New Purdue Pharma Settlement
Washington, D.C. (March 3, 2022)—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 Purdue Pharma reached a new settlement requiring members of the Sackler family to pay as much as $6 billion as part of their settlement for their role in flooding American communities with OxyContin and fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic:
“Today’s settlement will provide additional critically-needed resources to families who have suffered at the hands of the Sackler family, but any agreement that allows the Sacklers to evade accountability for fueling America’s opioid crisis falls short of complete justice,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “I will continue pushing to finally close the loopholes in our bankruptcy laws that have allowed the Sacklers and other bad actors to evade accountability. Congress can help deliver justice to victims of the Sackler family’s actions by passing nondebtor release reforms like the SACKLER Act to promote accountability and prevent future abuses of our bankruptcy system by the wealthy and powerful.”
“The lack of accountability in the settlement announced today is an insult to victims of the opioid crisis, and is the latest example of the Sackler family seeking to buy their way out of accountability. To deliver true justice, Congress must pass legislation like the SACKLER Act, which would close loopholes in bankruptcy law and prevent bad actors from gaming the system. We owe it to the over 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives in the opioid crisis to push for real reform,” 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.
On December 6, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. DeSaulnier issued statements applauding the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for rejecting 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.