Denver will help lead settlement talks in national opioid litigation

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DENVER — The city and county of Denver will help lead settlement talks with the defendants in the national Purdue Pharma opioid litigation who want to negotiate.

According to a news release from the Denver Attorney’s Office, Purdue Pharma tentatively agreed to a $12 billion settlement, and Wednesday, the judge presiding over the litigation, approved the first-ever Negotiation Class in U.S. history with the goal of reaching settlements quickly.

“As the recent proposed settlement from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler defendants demonstrates, the industry understands it is a great liability risk and is interested in reaching settlements with the Plaintiffs,” said Kristin M. Bronson, Denver city attorney, in the release.  “While the proposed Purdue settlement will be through a prepackaged bankruptcy proceeding, the Negotiation Class presents a legal mechanism for the industry to settle claims and get funds to communities where it is desperately needed.   Denver is still closely evaluating the proposed settlement to ensure that the Sacklers are held appropriately accountable for the devastation they caused.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in the release everyone knows someone who has been hurt in the opioid crisis.

“People in our families and communities are dying,” Hancock said.  “For more than a decade, this industry callously profited at the expense of human lives knowing that their product is dangerous and highly addictive.  Our cities, our states and our people are bearing the emotional and financial costs. This litigation has exposed the high-level executives in the industry who knew about these dangers and concealed it from the public.”

The negotiation will include every U.S. city and county except any that opt out by Nov. 29. Denver’s city and county will be part of the 49 cities and counties leading negotiations.

“Once a settlement deal is tentatively reached with an opioid defendant, a 75% supermajority of the Class must approve of the settlement amount,” the release stated.

The distribution of any settlement dollars will be based on a formula, which will include the following factors, according to the release:

  • The amount of opioid drugs distributed within a county
  • The number of opioid deaths that occurred in a county
  • The number of people who suffer opioid use disorder in a county

In January, Denver joined 14 other Colorado entities in filing its own lawsuit against opioid defendants, but, according to the release, the coalition now has 20 entities and continues to grow.

For more information, go to the Negotiation Class website.

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