In New Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Filing, Lawyers for Children Born Dependent on Opioids Say Plan Unfairly Excludes the Youngest and Most Innocent Victims of the Opioid Crisis
Babies born to mothers struggling with opioid addiction due to painkillers resulting in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) will face lifelong challenges and require substantial long-term aid
Purdue's bankruptcy plan excludes most children who filed claims and seeks to severely limit payments to those who qualify
Attorneys representing Purdue's adult victims stand to receive significantly more money than the over 6,000 babies and children expect to receive from the $7 billion bankruptcy case
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Apr 27, 2021, 17:36 ET
NEW YORK, April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- After months of failing to publicly disclose terms of how personal injury victims will be paid in the Purdue bankruptcy case, less than 48 hours before objections were due, Purdue publicly filed its distribution plan that allows adult victims to recover considerably more than the children.
Today, in response to the 11th hour disclosure in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Ad Hoc Committee (NASAHC), which represents children born with NAS in the Purdue proceedings before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in New York, filed its objection to that distribution process and, for the first time, exposed in stark terms the lack of adequate relief for infants and children swept up in the nation's opioid crisis.
The group criticized Purdue's month-old bankruptcy plan, which is said to be valued at over $7 billion and is partly funded by the Sackler family, heirs to the Purdue fortune, because, under the plan, very few infants and children born dependent on opioids will be eligible for any payment. On the other hand, hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to states and municipalities as well as giant insurance companies and hospitals.
While Purdue's bankruptcy plan allots $750 million to personal injury victims of Purdue opioid sales, including babies and children born suffering from opioid dependency, adult victims, and other parties, the overwhelming majority of children who make it through the claims process may only receive $3,500 before deducting attorney fees, expert costs, Medicaid lien resolution, and minor settlement costs. This amount is wholly inadequate for the potential decades of care that these children will need to survive and live healthy lives. Meanwhile, adult victims may receive significantly more.
The NASAHC's objection can be found here.
The thousands of children born opioid dependent have been documented to suffer from long-term motor problems, such as problems with bones, muscles, and movement, in addition to development delays, such as reaching developmental milestones like walking, sitting, talking, and other activities of daily life.
"Purdue needs to make this right by ensuring that the distribution plan provides more compensation to these permanently injured children and their families who are often unable to afford the necessary medical care for proper treatment," said Scott Bickford of New Orleans-based Martzell, Bickford & Centola, an attorney who is a member of the NASAHC and represents a number of children born with NAS.
"The current plan favors those adult victims who were prescribed opioids or who purchased them on the open market," continued Bickford. "It fails the most innocent victims of the opioid crisis who are born with lifelong injuries. Purdue must propose a distribution plan that takes into account the harm that these babies may face. Unlike adult addicts who have the chance to recover, these children will never experience a day without opioid impairment – they don't get to go to treatment facilities and get better. These children are suffering from NAS due to no fault of their own and they are being left behind. Purdue must dig deeper to ensure these young victims can get the care they need in years to come."
Last week, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed an objection on behalf of West Virginia, stating that proceeds should be allocated based on "the intensity of the opioid addiction crisis" in each state, as opposed to population size.
The NASAHC joined with West Virginia to support its objection as well, arguing that West Virginia has certainly been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic, relying on the fact that grandparents are raising 76.3% of children with NAS in Boone County, West Virginia – a figure that is only rising with the severity of the crisis in the state.
Nationally, an opioid-dependent baby is born every 15 minutes and these infants (and children) will face lifelong physical, behavioral and emotional health challenges. Despite being one of the hardest hit communities, children and grandparents impacted by the crisis are not being provided the necessary relief and abatement resources to maintain healthy lives or realize their true potential.
Find out about these issues here: http://opioidjusticeteam.com/opioid-infants/
Caroline Beckmann – Trident DMG
SOURCE Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Ad Hoc Committee