Maloney and DeSaulnier Condemn Legal Releases for Members of the Sackler Family
Washington, D.C. (September 1, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and senior Committee Member Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, issued the following statement following the confirmation of Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan of reorganization, which 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 is a dark day for justice in America. For years, Purdue Pharma flooded our nation’s communities with OxyContin and misled the public on its addictive potential at the behest of the Sackler family. The Sacklers amassed a fortune by fueling a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of more than half a million people in the United States. And today, they succeeded in jamming through a legally questionable bankruptcy plan that prevents states from holding them accountable and forecloses meaningful justice for victims.
“The Department of Justice must immediately appeal this confirmation, and Congress must act to prevent the abuse of our Bankruptcy Code by future bad actors like the Sacklers. We cannot permit powerful people to evade accountability through legal releases in bankruptcy court. We cannot turn a blind eye to this miscarriage of justice.”
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.