opioid epidemic

Q&A: AG Tong Reacts to Purdue Pharma Court Ruling

NBC Universal, Inc.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is reacting to a court ruling on a high-profile case tied to the opioid epidemic.

At the center of the case is Purdue Pharma - the oxycontin maker owned by the Connecticut-based Sackler family.

Purdue Pharma was looking for a bankruptcy deal that would settle thousands of lawsuits filed against them over the opioid epidemic. But now, a federal judge has tossed that deal out.

The judge said it's because of a provision that would've granted lifetime legal immunity to the Sackler family, meaning they would be protected from facing any civil lawsuits.

NBC Connecticut's Jane Caffrey spoke with Tong about the ruling.

Caffrey: "Mr. Tong, what is your reaction to this ruling regarding Purdue?"

Tong: "This is a huge win for victims, survivors and their families, people across Connecticut who are suffering from the opioid and addiction crisis. And it's a huge win, and victory for Justice and Accountability against the Sacklers. For their role, and for the death and destruction that they've caused across Connecticut and across this country."

Caffrey: "Connecticut joined half a dozen other states appealing the bankruptcy court decision that would have allowed this settlement and extinguished the state's claims against Purdue. Explain why Connecticut stands against the deal."

Tong: "Because it's wrong, because it's not just because it's about more than just money. It's about two moms who I met with yesterday in my office, who between them have lost three sons, and they want justice and they want accountability. And yes, we want resources for treatment and prevention. But we also want the Sacklers to be held responsible, and it's wrong for them to try to use the bankruptcy of Purdue pharma, the company, when they themselves are not bankrupt. It's wrong for them to use the the bankruptcy of the company to shield themselves after paying a few billion dollars. And so I said, this is wrong. You can't force the state of Connecticut to give up its claims. The bankruptcy court has no authority to do that. And yesterday, the judge agreed with this and threw out the entire bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma."

Caffrey: "And this ruling is bound to be appealed by Purdue Pharma, Sackler family members, even some gunner for government entities that support the settlement plan. How will Connecticut respond to those appeals?"

Tong: "We're ready, and and we're gonna fight all the way to protect Connecticut to make sure that we can assert our claims against the Sacklers and to hold them accountable and responsible and to fight for victims survivors and their families. More than 1,400 families in Connecticut have lost somebody this year. That's 1,400 families wracked by the opioid addiction crisis, the worst public health crisis in America, COVID not withstanding, and that's 1,400 families that will have an empty chair during the holidays this year and more than $10 billion in damage to our state. And until the Sacklers step up and do the right thing, until they acknowledge their role in starting this crisis and pouring gasoline on it until they do the right thing. And really put much needed resources into treatment and prevention for families and for victims and survivors, until they do what they're supposed to do and acknowledge their role in this crisis, I'm going to keep fighting."

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