Perverse Bedfellows – Catholic Bishops & Sacklers Use Supreme Court to Shield Them Both
“This court ruling could create a paradigm shift – either in favor of large organizations or in favor of victims and survivors.” – Jeff Anderson
(Washington D.C.) – Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over a bankruptcy deal for Purdue Pharma that would provide billions of dollars to those harmed by the opioid epidemic in exchange for shielding members of the wealthy Sackler family. Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection a number of years ago, and the bankruptcy reorganization plan sought to shield the Sackler family, who owned Purdue Pharma and made billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin, from liability for thousands of overdose-related deaths.
The core issue being discussed is whether a bankruptcy plan can give legal immunity to a third party — in this case, members of the Sackler family, who once controlled Purdue Pharma. Or, in the case of sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Bishops – should third parties, such as parishes and schools, have legal immunity?
“The Sackler family is using Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as both a sword and a shield just like the Catholic Bishops are…They are both using the bankruptcy system to silence and suppress survivors.” – Jeff Anderson
In support of Purdue Pharma, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed a legal brief, claiming that releasing third parties would “provide the only viable means for the Catholic infrastructure in many communities to survive what has become decades of mission-crippling litigation,” In the shocking document, they also talk about “meritless claims,” “events in the past,” and their desire for “reconciliation.” Catholic Bishops across the county have followed the same playbook that the Sacklers did in the opioid crisis – move money around, fight legislative changes, fight the victims, and when accountability is circling them, file for bankruptcy. The next chapter in that playbook is to rely on third party releases in bankruptcy where the central entity is able to get releases for all of its entities and wrongdoers. Now the Catholic Bishops are joining Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers in their quest to use bankruptcy to shield their enterprise.
“To boost profits, the Sackler family lied about the dangers of opioids. To boost power and prestige, the Catholic hierarchy lied about its clerics, thousands of them, who repeatedly committed and concealed dangerous crimes against kids…The lies may change, but their intentions never do.” – Jeff Anderson
In the brief, the Catholic Bishops go on to say:
“Most of the people accused in these allegations have been long retired or deceased, and reliable evidence on the claims is difficult if not impossible to obtain. In many cases, Catholic dioceses have proven unable to separate the true allegations from the false ones, and equally unable to bear the burden of defending against all of them in court… If third-party releases were not allowed, everyone involved in diocesan bankruptcies would be worse off. Claimant recoveries would suffer, and third-party parishes, schools, and charities would be driven into separate individual bankruptcies.”
“Decades of criminal decisions, cover-ups, and sexual abuse don’t just go away because it’s not convenient,” said Anderson. “The fact that they [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] even mentioned that in their legal brief speaks volumes about what they truly care about – and that’s not the survivors.”