Editorial: Moral Bankruptcy Does Not Count in Sackler Family Protection Agreement | Editorial


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A federal judge Thursday night properly overturned a filthy federal bankruptcy court-approved deal that freed the infamous pharmaceutical Sackler family from future liability for the national opioid addiction crisis the family helped create . U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon saw through the flagrant abuse of the bankruptcy court system to protect family members who were morally bankrupt but nowhere near financial bankruptcy and had nothing to do to tie their personal liability protection to the larger settlement affecting their business, Purdue Pharma.

While McMahon’s decision could mean more years of delays and court battles, it’s worth the time and expense to ensure the Sacklers don’t escape full responsibility for knowingly flooded the market with a highly addictive product, OxyContin, while falsely claiming it was not addictive. .

The damage they have inflicted on cities and towns across the country, including many in Missouri, demands that the Sackler family be held fully responsible – financially and legally. They have enriched themselves by ruining millions of lives, tearing families apart and causing financial turmoil in cities like St. Louis, forcing their law enforcement and social agencies to deal with homelessness and addiction-related crime. Mexican cartels capitalized on OxyContin addictions by marketing heroin as a cheaper and more accessible alternative. Drug gangs have flooded the streets with guns, contributing heavily to today’s high urban homicide rates.

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The Sacklers have donated billions of dollars to fund major art facilities and museum wings across the country, as if to whitewash their guilt. On December 9, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced that the Sackler name would be removed from seven exhibition spaces.

In September, a federal bankruptcy judge reluctantly signed the agreement that granted the Sacklers protection. The Sacklers agreed to dissolve Purdue Pharma and pay $4.5 billion to states that had filed claims. But the family had already transferred around $10 billion to offshore accounts in the years before the settlement, putting the money out of reach.

Even at the time of the Missouri bankruptcy settlement, the judge who approved the deal expressed extreme unease with the arrangement, saying, “It’s a bittersweet outcome. BITTER.”

In rescinding the deal, McMahon echoed concerns raised by this newspaper and others that the federal bankruptcy system was never designed to award liability protections to people not directly connected with a filing for bankruptcy, who are not financially bankrupt and, in fact, are very wealthy.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson perhaps put it best: “There can’t be two forms of justice – one for ordinary Americans and one for billionaires.” He acknowledged that potentially difficult and contentious days are ahead, but the need to hold the Sackler family accountable remains paramount. “I’m prepared to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to secure true accountability for the Sackler family.”

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