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Purdue Pharma judge rejects call to halt opioid deal

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A pharmacist holds a bottle OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/George Frey

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(Reuters) - Purdue Pharma has defeated a request to pause the implementation of its reorganization plan that provides legal protections to the Sackler family members who owned it.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan issued a brief ruling on Wednesday evening denying without prejudice a motion from the Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog, the U.S. Trustee, to stay a bankruptcy judge’s September order approving Purdue’s plan and underlying opioid litigation settlement while the appeals process is playing out.

However, McMahon said her ruling is conditioned upon an agreement from the OxyContin maker that it will not attempt to argue that appeals of the order are “equitably moot,” or effectively irrelevant, down the road.

Purdue attorney Marshall Huebner of Davis Polk & Wardwell indicated during a hearing on Tuesday that his team would be willing to make that stipulation.

The U.S. Trustee and some states have appealed the order approving the plan, challenging the protections against future opioid litigation that it affords the Sacklers, who did not file for bankruptcy.

The U.S. Trustee has made the same request to stay the plan’s implementation to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, who approved the plan in September. A hearing on that request is set for Nov. 9.

The case is In re Purdue Pharma LP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 21-07966.

For Purdue: Marshall Huebner, Benjamin Kaminetzky, Timothy Graulich, Eli Vonnegut and James McClammy of Davis Polk & Wardwell; and Paul Breene, Ann Kramer, Anthony Crawford and Lisa Szymanski of Reed Smith

For the U.S. Trustee: Linda Riffkin, Matt Sutko of the U.S. Trustee; and Beth Levene, Sumi Sakata, Paul Schwartzberg and Benjamin Higgins of the Department of Justice

Read more:

Purdue Pharma judge to rule on bid to pause opioid deal Wednesday

Judge will approve Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan that shields Sacklers

Maria Chutchian reports on corporate bankruptcies and restructurings. She can be reached at maria.chutchian@thomsonreuters.com.

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