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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

AG Donovan Seeks Reversal of Bankruptcy Court Order Granting Sacklers’ Liability Shield

December 7, 2021

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that Vermont filed a brief seeking the reversal of the Purdue bankruptcy order granting unprecedented legal immunity for the Sackler family. The brief, submitted by a five-state coalition, came at the request of the U.S. District Court and argues that the Court should consider the Sacklers’ extraction of $11 billion from Purdue in the years leading up to its bankruptcy in determining whether the Sacklers’ nonconsensual liability release abuses the bankruptcy process.

“The evidence here shows that the Sacklers had a long-term, calculated strategy to use a Purdue bankruptcy as a haven for their own wrongdoing, to protect their vast opioid wealth from their many victims. Starting in 2007, as they became aware of the scope of their personal liability for lying about Oxycontin’s dangers, they began consulting bankruptcy experts about how to shield their assets. They then extracted billions of dollars from the company and moved it overseas, following advice they received from people involved in asbestos bankruptcies…[T]he nonconsensual Sackler Release cannot be approved because it abuses the bankruptcy process,” argues the coalition in its brief.

From 2008 to 2010, the Sacklers took annual distributions of roughly seventy percent of Purdue’s revenue, and from 2011 to 2016 they took annual distributions ranging from forty to fifty-five percent. The distributions totaled over $10.7 billion during the period from 2008 to 2018.

Attorney General Donovan, along with the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington, has appealed the controversial and unprecedented Bankruptcy Court decision that purports to extinguish claims against both Purdue and the non-bankrupt Sackler family. Purdue’s bankruptcy plan requires the Sackler family to pay $4.3 billion—though they are worth multiple times that amount—over nine years to help abate the opioid crisis they fueled. By the time they are finished paying this settlement, the Sacklers will be wealthier than they were when they started.

Attorney General Donovan was joined in the brief by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Washington.

A copy of the brief is available here.

Last modified: December 7, 2021