At least 2,700 lawsuits and hundreds of thousands of lawsuits have been registered against Purdue, beginning in 2014 when the opioid epidemic peaked. Plaintiffs span a broad spectrum including 48 states, local governments, tribes, hospitals, individuals and caregivers of infants born with symptoms of withdrawal from opioids, all of whom are devastated and financially exhausted from opioids.

In the last few years, more and more cases, individual sackers have been named themselves.

Nearly two years ago, Purdue filed for bankruptcy restructuring that automatically suspended those lawsuits. However, the Sacklers themselves did not file for bankruptcy, despite insisting that they too benefit from their company’s expected indemnities.

The issue of releases for the Sacklers and other third parties is at the center of opposition to the bankruptcy scheme that is now being pursued by nine states, including Maryland, Washington and Connecticut. The District of Columbia, the Federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Trustee, a Department of Justice program that monitors bankruptcy cases, as well as several Canadian local governments and First Nations have joined in the opposition.

Under applicable law of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Judge Drain Court is located, the judge may grant exemptions to the Sacklers and other third parties who have not filed for bankruptcy. But, by and large, the issue is unresolved.

Other federal districts prohibit it. The issue has been taken up by members of Congress and could well lead to an appeal by the opponents if Judge Drain approves the plan. The pounding questions of contradicting attorneys so far should not only raise questions about the plan, but lay a foundation for such appeals.

Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.