On July 15, the Yurok Tribal Council unanimously voted to oppose a proposed bankruptcy settlement agreement and restructuring plan for OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma.
The settlement is part of Purdue Pharma’s proposed bankruptcy plan, which seeks to resolve thousands of lawsuits brought against the company and members of the Sackler family for fueling the opioid crisis by intentionally misleading doctors and patients about the numerous risks associated with taking the highly addictive OxyContin. If White Plains, NY bankruptcy court judge Robert Drain approves the agreement, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma will have to pay approximately $150 million to all Tribes in the United States over nine years. The Yurok Tribe’s portion is roughly .5 percent of the tribal allocation. While the Sackler family is contributing approximately $4.5 billion to the bankruptcy settlement, due to the family’s vast fortune and investments, it is likely they will recover that contribution over the same time period. Furthermore, the Sacklers will not have to admit any wrongdoing and they will be permanently shielded from future opioid-related civil lawsuits.
“There is no justice in this settlement,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “The Yurok Tribe is incredibly disappointed with the agreement because it does not hold Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family accountable for the damage they have caused in our community and across the continent. Everything about the ability of this family to escape consequences and responsibility for premediated actions offends the world view of the Yurok people.”