United States Supreme Court Decision Supports First Nations’ Fight Against the Sacklers

June 27, 2024

The United States Supreme Court has delivered a monumental ruling that upholds the rights of Canadian municipalities and First Nations to pursue claims against the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, for their role in the opioid crisis. This decision is a significant victory in the ongoing battle to hold accountable those responsible for the widespread devastation caused by opioid addiction.

Background on the Case

Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, aggressively marketed the opioid painkiller OxyContin, leading to a massive increase in opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Facing numerous lawsuits, Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019. As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the Sacklers sought immunity from future opioid-related claims in exchange for a monetary settlement. This controversial proposal included a clause that would have prevented affected parties from pursuing further legal action against the Sacklers.

Supreme Court’s Landmark Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision in Harrington v. Purdue Pharma L.P. unequivocally states that the bankruptcy code does not authorize the release and injunction of claims against nondebtors without the consent of affected claimants. This ruling effectively blocks the Sacklers from using bankruptcy proceedings to shield themselves from accountability.

Implications for First Nations

For the First Nations, this ruling is particularly significant. The opioid crisis has disproportionately impacted Indigenous communities, exacerbating existing health and social issues. By ensuring that First Nations retain the right to pursue their claims against the Sacklers, the Supreme Court has affirmed the importance of justice and accountability.

First Nations communities have been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, grappling with increased addiction rates, overdose deaths, and the subsequent social and economic fallout. The ability to seek compensation and hold the Sacklers accountable is a crucial step towards healing and recovery for these communities.

Statement from Napoli Shkolnik Canada

Casey Churko, an attorney with Napoli Shkolnik Canada who represented the Canadian municipalities and First Nations, celebrated the decision, stating:

“This is a tremendous victory for justice and accountability. The Supreme Court’s decision ensures that the Sacklers cannot escape responsibility for the devastating impact of the opioid crisis on our communities. Canadian municipalities and First Nations can now pursue their rightful claims and seek the justice they deserve. We are proud to have stood by our clients in this fight and will continue to advocate vigorously on their behalf.”

Looking Forward

The Supreme Court’s decision marks a pivotal moment in the fight against the opioid crisis. It empowers First Nations and other affected parties to continue their pursuit of justice and compensation, holding those responsible for this public health catastrophe accountable. As we move forward, this ruling serves as a reminder of the power of legal advocacy and the importance of standing up for the rights of those harmed by corporate negligence and wrongdoing.

At First Nations Law, we remain committed to supporting the legal rights of First Nations communities and ensuring that their voices are heard in the pursuit of justice. This victory is a testament to the strength and resilience of our clients and the unwavering dedication of our legal team.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need legal assistance, please contact us at First Nations Law.

About First Nations Law

First Nations Law is dedicated to advocating for the rights and interests of Indigenous communities across Canada. We provide expert legal representation and are committed to achieving justice and accountability for our clients.

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