Press Release

Attorney General Ellison asks court to deny Purdue’s and Sacklers’ move to avoid accountability for death and destruction

Joins 24 other AGs in bankruptcy-court filing against Purdue’s motion to halt lawsuit; Ellison’s office plays leading role in drafting oppositions

October 4, 2019 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined 24 other attorneys general in asking a bankruptcy court not to halt their states’ legal actions against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family that control Purdue, makers of blockbuster opioid OxyContin. Purdue recently filed a motion in bankruptcy court for a preliminary injunction to stop lawsuits against it and the Sackler family that controls it. Today, Attorney General Ellison and the other attorneys general joined together to fight Purdue’s request so that they can continue to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable for the death and destruction they have caused in the opioid crisis. Attorney General Ellison’s office played a leading role in drafting these two oppositions.

Among other points, Attorney General Ellison and the attorneys general argue that federal law creates an exemption for states’ “police powers” that allows their legal actions against Purdue and the Sacklers to continue despite Purdue’s bankruptcy filing.

“Purdue says it would be costly and inconvenient for them and the Sacklers to continue to face litigation during the bankruptcy proceedings.  What’s really costly and far more than inconvenient is the death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers are responsible for in creating the opioid crisis we face. I am fighting every step of the way to hold them accountable for it,” Attorney General Ellison said. “They’re sparing no effort in hiding themselves and their billions from accountability. Not on my watch.”

Earlier this week, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition of attorneys general also objected to Purdue’s request to pay $38 million in executive bonuses.

The State of Minnesota first filed suit against Purdue in Hennepin County District Court on July 2, 2018. In the suit, the State alleges consumer fraud, including that Purdue deliberately minimized the addiction risk of long-term opioid use and failed to sufficiently disclose the risks of long-term opioid use; deceptive and unlawful trade practices, including that Purdue made misrepresentations designed to mislead healthcare providers about the benefits of opioids; false statements in advertising; public nuisance; unjust enrichment; false claims; and other causes of action.

On May 17, 2019, Attorney General Ellison announced that his office had amended the original complaint against Purdue Pharma to include eight members of the Sackler family, which controls Purdue, as individual defendants. On August 5, 2019, Attorney General Ellison’s office filed the unredacted amended complaint, which shows that the Sackler defendants knew as early as 20 years ago of the risks of addiction and death that their products posed, but denied and downplayed those risks, stigmatized addicted people, then moved to profit from the market for addiction treatment. 

The State alleges that the Sackler defendants paid themselves billions of dollars in profits from opioids, including tens of millions of dollars they made off Minnesotans.

Approximately one Minnesotan a day dies from opioid addition.

Minnesota’s and the other states’ opposition to Purdue’s motion for a preliminary injunction of the states’ law-enforcement actions against Purdue and the Sacklers are attached.