Purdue Pharma is based in Stamford Photo Credit: Daily Voice file
Raymond Sackler of Greenwich, with his wife, Beverly, died July 17, 2017, at the age of 97. Sackler founded Stamford-based Purdue Pharma, which developed Oxycontin, with his brothers, Raymond and Mortimer. Photo Credit: Purdue Pharma

Around The Towns: Purdue Pharma Disputes, Candidate Blasts Developers, Vaccine Stats Lawsuit

Local government lawsuits against the family that owns Purdue Pharma should be allowed to proceed even as the company attempts to reach a nationwide settlement in bankruptcy court over the toll of the opioids crisis, according to a court filing on Wednesday, Oct. 2

The filing by 19 cities and towns in Connecticut and three other states comes amid settlement negotiations with the maker of the painkiller OxyContin that is now in a bankruptcy court in White Plains, NY.

Purdue and members of the Sackler family that owns it, are seeking a grand settlement to end more than 2,600 lawsuits against the company that have been filed in federal court and hundreds more filed against the family in state courts. The federal cases against Purdue and many other players in the opioid industry had been consolidated in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, a process that produced the outlines of a tentative settlement last month between Purdue and some of the plaintiffs. Purdue’s bankruptcy filing was anticipated under that tentative deal. Half of state attorneys general have rejected the terms so far and have vowed to continue suing the Sacklers in their state courts.

Wednesday’s filing by the local governments argued against having an injunction placed on the lawsuits targeting the family while Purdue’s federal bankruptcy case plays out:  “In light of the well-documented pattern by the Sackler Family of hiding their assets from creditors, the Debtors’ application is simply a transparent and improper effort on the part of the Debtors to protect the bulk of their beneficial owners’ fortune from disclosure and recovery by any of their creditors,” the local governments’ court filing states.

The Sackler family, which is listed as one of the 20 wealthiest in the nation with estimated assets of $13 billion, said the bankruptcy judge should halt all lawsuits against it.

“The stay is designed to allow all parties, even those parties who oppose that proposed settlement, to collaborate in finding a solution to the current litigation morass that the company faces,” descendants of Raymond Sackler, one of the late patriarchs of the company, said in a statement. “We are hopeful the bankruptcy court will grant the stay so that progress toward meaningful solutions can continue. If a stay is not granted, precious resources will be wasted on litigation expenses and that will benefit no one.”

The settlement terms call for Purdue to contribute as much as $12 billion over time to help states and local governments address the opioid crisis, with the Sackler family contributing $3 billion to $4.5 billion. The amount depends on how much they would get from selling their international drug companies.

Purdue’s subsequent bankruptcy filing removes the Stamford-based company from the first federal trial over the toll of the opioids crisis, scheduled to begin this month in Cleveland.

Wednesday’s filing by the cities and towns says the settlement discussions remain “in their infancy” and that neither Purdue nor the Sackler family has so far made financial disclosures. Those disclosures are necessary to show whether the Sacklers would actually make good on their promise to pay, according to the court filing.

The local governments also take aim at a statement in a Purdue legal filing that sought to have all lawsuits against the family halted. That filing said the Sacklers might be “unwilling -- or unable -- to make the billions of dollars of contributions” if they have to face additional lawsuits.

The local government lawyers say that with the family willing to back out and half states pushing back, the nationwide settlement long sought by the Sacklers is unlikely to happen. Some state attorneys general are expected to make similar arguments in filings due to the bankruptcy court by Friday, Oct. 4.

Setaro Blasts Developer Gag On Homeowners’ Rights

Documents show that deeds from Toll Brothers, Woodland Group prohibit homeowners from honestly speaking to government agencies against the developers

Chris Setaro, a Democrat running for mayor of Danbury, took aim at efforts by developers to restrict homeowners’ first amendment rights. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Setaro's campaign said it discovered language in warranty deeds that legally restrain hundreds of homeowners and business owners from speaking publicly against developers about their projects. The restriction has been running for more than a decade on all property transfers in the area formerly known as The Reserve -- which predates the Toll Bros. purchase. Setaro says that Mayor Mark Boughton should have been aware that this restriction was in place.

One of Setaro's examples: A statutory warranty deed from Toll CT III for a home on Winding Ridge Way sold in 2016 includes a notice reading: “As set forth in Paragraph 11 of a Warranty Deed from Woodland Group II LLC to WCI Communities, Inc. … the Grantees’ rights to object, appeal, otherwise influence, or take similar actions regarding the development of other parcels at The Reserve and other property is limited as more fully set forth in said Warranty Deed.”

“Manipulating homeowners and business owners into forfeiting their freedom of speech is wrong,” Setaro said. “This is a consumer protection issue and it’s not okay. We need a mayor that can tell the difference. Sometimes there are moral issues that require the attention of elected officials and this is one of them. As mayor I will oppose clauses of this type as a matter of public policy.”

Judge Sides With State On Vaccine Statistics

A Hartford Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Connecticut couple seeking to stop the Department of Public Health from publicly releasing additional information about immunization rates at private and public schools.

The couple also sought to have school-by-school immunization data from 2017-18 removed from the department’s website.

Judge Susan Quinn Cobb said Brian and Kristen Festa of Bristol had not exhausted their “administrative remedies” with state public health officials and therefore the court lacks jurisdiction in the matter.

Parents of an unvaccinated son, the couple had filed a suit in June seeking a temporary injunction. They say they’ve suffered “mental and emotional distress due to the vitriolic and hateful statements from the public” since the state released immunization rate data in May.

See Attachment