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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday Purdue Pharma can shield its owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from thousands of lawsuits over the role the company played in the opioid crisis in exchange for a contribution of up to $6 billion to a proposed bankruptcy settlement.

The Sackler family members insisted a bankruptcy deal would not be possible unless they were released from all future liability related to the harm caused by Purdue’s OxyContin painkiller. Their insistence became a sticking point, since unlike Purdue — which filed for bankruptcy protection — none of the Sackler family members and their many associates had taken the same step.


Several states balked but later agreed to the settlement. But the U.S. Trustee, whose office oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases for the Department of Justice, was a holdout. The Trustee objected over concern the immunity was too broad and raised constitutional issues concerning due process because it denied opioid victims an opportunity to be heard, among other things.

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