Johnston City Council Votes To Approve Settlement Of Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Class Action
By RORY SCHULER
Four members of Johnston City Council held an executive session Monday evening to discuss the opioid dispute.
According to Vice-Chairman of City Council Joseph Polisena Jr. and Deputy City Counsel Dylan Conley, City Council has voted to approve acceptance of a settlement related to Purdue Pharma’s proposed bankruptcy plan.
“This is the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy, linked to a national class action lawsuit,” Conley said Tuesday evening.
Lawyer Dylan Conley did not attend the meeting. However, her father, city attorney William J. Conley Jr., attended the meeting and briefed councilors in a closed session.
When city council resumed its regular session, it made no mention of voting.
Johnston City Clerk Vincent P. Baccari Jr. said city council voted 4-0 to accept a settlement.
City council chairman Robert Russo did not attend the meeting.
Polisena and Dylan Conley both said they could not release details of the settlement as litigation is still ongoing.
The settlement concerns the partial resolution of the ongoing national opioid dispute, according to the city council agenda that night.
Council members also received a general update on the “status of opioid litigation,” according to the agenda.
“We voted to accept the opioid settlement,” Joseph Polisena Jr. said on Tuesday. “I cannot go into the details of the situation because it was in executive session. The litigation is still ongoing and it is still before the courts. The city is involved in a class action lawsuit.
Dylan Conley compared the litigation “as a national phenomenon” similar to class actions brought against Volkswagen about five years ago and to the “main lawsuits and cigarette lawsuits” of decades past.
“They are similar in the way governments have received funds,” Conley said. “Just on a scale more equivalent to cigarettes and lead.”
It could be some time before the settlement funds reach the city coffers.
“We’re going to get a different set of settlements from a different set of lawsuits because the lawsuits are against a variety of different companies that have been involved in the distribution of the opioid market,” Conley explained.
Plaintiffs and creditors were to vote on Purdue Pharma’s proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan by July 14.
Conley said his firm represented several Rhode Island municipalities in the matter, including Johnston and Westerly.
“After the voting period, the bankruptcy court will hold a confirmation hearing for the bankruptcy court to consider whether to approve the plan,” says a website set up for applicants to respond to the case .
The confirmation hearing is scheduled for August 9.
“If the plan is upheld, anyone having an actual or potential claim against Purdue Pharma LP or any of its affiliated debtors, or having an actual or potential claim against members of the Sackler family, and certain other persons and related entities , regarding Purdue Pharma LP and its affiliated debtors (including prescription opioids from Purdue, such as OxyContin®, or other prescription opioids manufactured, marketed or sold by Purdue), will be bound by the terms of the plan, including discharges and the injunctions contained therein, ”according to the website. “In return for providing the releases, applicants who have filed a timely application will be eligible to participate in the trust distribution process. By following the trust allocation procedures, applicants may be eligible to receive recoveries from the applicable trust established in accordance with the plan. For example, holders of personal injury claims, including holders of NAS personal injury claims, are eligible to receive compensation from the Personal Injury Trust (“PI”).
The courts will eventually dissolve the Purdue company.
“After the emergence of Chapter 11, its operating assets will be transferred to a newly formed company with a public interest mission of dealing with the opioid crisis,” according to the website, www.purduepharmaclaims.com.
“The new company will be subject to the highest standards of conduct, including a ban restricting the promotion of opioid products to medical professionals,” according to the website. “The new company will eventually be owned by a new National Opioid Abatement Trust created for the benefit of the American people. State and local governments will not own or operate the new company. “
The former owners of Purdue Pharma, the Sackler families, “currently have no role in Purdue Pharma and will have no involvement in the new company,” according to the website.
“The Sackler families will sell almost all of their interests in their foreign pharmaceutical companies, and members of the Sackler families will be prohibited from actively participating in the manufacture and sale of opioids in the future. Under the proposed plan, the Sackler families agreed to pay $ 4.275 billion over nine years, in addition to the $ 225 million previously paid to the United States to resolve civil claims, for a total settlement of $ 4.5 billion. of dollars.
The proposed plan limits the liability of the founders and former owners of the business.
Johnston’s mayor Joseph M. Polisena said on Tuesday that he had not been informed of Monday’s executive session.
“If we get the money for the settlement, we’ll use it for education,” he said. “The Council and I have already spoken about this. “
Mayor Polisena described the dispute as “a kind of win-win situation” for the city.
“We approached this issue with our eyes wide open,” he said. “Unfortunately for people who have been victimized by opioid abuse, this is not a win-win solution for them.”
The mayor said the settlement money would likely help fund “long-standing opioid abuse programs” and “drug use education.”