Judge Allows Vermont's Opioid Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma to Proceed | Off Message

Judge Allows Vermont's Opioid Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma to Proceed


Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Vermont's lawsuit against Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma will proceed after a judge denied the company's request to toss out the state's claim that Purdue used deceptive tactics to market the drug.

Chittenden County Superior Court Judge Helen Toor was unmoved by Purdue's argument, among others, that the suit should be dismissed because the opioid epidemic the drugmaker fueled isn't a "public nuisance" under Vermont law.

"It cannot be seriously argued that the impacts of opiate addiction in Vermont have not affected the general public," Toor wrote in a March 18 ruling.

In a Thursday press release, Attorney General T.J. Donovan called the ruling "an important step toward holding Purdue responsible for its contribution to the creation of the opioid crisis.”

Donovan's office filed suit against Purdue last September, claiming the company should be forced to pay as Vermont works to contain the consequences of opioid addiction.

Vermont is one of numerous states, counties and cities pursuing Purdue in court over its role in the public health crisis. Donovan has said he filed suit after settlement talks between Purdue, Vermont and other states broke down.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that the drugmaker appears to be considering bankruptcy as a means to deal with mounting legal trouble and has hired experts in corporate restructuring.

A bankruptcy filing would put hundreds of lawsuits against Purdue on hold and could ultimately force the claims, including Vermont's, into a federal bankruptcy court.

"The company is looking at all of its options," Purdue spokesperson Bob Josephson told Seven Days, "but we have made no decisions, and have not set any timetables."