The check cleared the bank months before Purdue filed bankruptcy.
Last night I visited briefly with Dr Jason Beaman of OSU Medical College. Beeman was & is instrumental in AG Mike Hunter's crusade against pharmaceutical corporations. He offered some insights on the special settlement deal made between our state AG's office & Purdue Pharmaceutical.
Last winter, AG Mike Hunter announced that Purdue settled out of court with his legal team. According to the terms, Purdue claimed no culpability in any of the charges, but agreed to charitably fund a drug rehab program in Oklahoma. According to the terms, Purdue is a benefactor in a new drug rehab program created & run by the OSU Tulsa Medical School & Regional Hospital, in Tulsa. The one-time lump sum funding that Purdue agreed to amounted to $270 million dollars.
So, last night I asked Beeman a few questions about his civic involvement. He said that he often is called to testify in lawsuits. He did agree to help the AG's office in the lawsuits involving Purdue and the landmark ruling against Johnson & Johnson. The latter case involved massive damages awarded to the state, but that case will be tied up in appeals and may drag out for years.
While the legislature & governor were correct in the principle they asserted, the pragmatic result actually benefited the state to the tune of $300 million, when you consider the litigation costs which were averted.
The Sackler family (principal owners of Purdue Pharma) diverted billions to Swiss banks prior to filing bankruptcy, this summer. Now, nearly every state & the federal govt. is fighting the bankruptcy and will be forced to share whatever funds can be recovered. Oklahoma is now the subject of nationwide jealousy, because of the lucky outcome from Hunter's bold, albeit controversial, decision to take the deal. One news source says Purdue has 2600 legal suits filed against them. Today, a judge suspended all litigation against Purdue, hoping that a settlement will soon be reached.
The other factor is, according to Beaman; that Purdue was not willing to give the settlement money to the state, directly. Even though Hunter acts like Purdue admitted to their guilt, that's definitely not how Purdue spins it. Purdue was still trying to claim innocence in multiple state lawsuits. Had they cut a check directly to the state of Oklahoma, they feared it would create the appearance of "just paying the citation instead of fighting it in court". Sorta like when a person gets a speeding ticket which they dispute on principle, but know it would cost more to fight it than just pay the ticket instead of taking several days off work for court appearances.
- For Purdue, this was a chance to get free of their first of these kinds of lawsuits and look like a generous corporate citizen.
- For OSU, this was a chance to parlay activism into a new addition to their campus and increase their role in Oklahoma's public health narrative.
- For AG Hunter, it's a way to strengthen his image and shake off an electoral challenge like the brutal challenge he had just last year.
- For other players on this Opioid crusade of Hunters, there are several other payoffs in it for them, as well. But we'll save those stories for another day.