Purdue Pharma seeks to appeal U.S. ruling that overturned its opioid settlement

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Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

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Dec 31 (Reuters) - Purdue Pharma is seeking to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a judge's decision to unravel its restructuring plan that would have insulated its owners from liability in civil opioid-related cases, according to a court filing late on Thursday.

The appeal came after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, extended temporary protections until Feb. 1 against opioid-related litigation for the Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma, giving Purdue and the Sacklers time to pursue the appeal.

The decision Purdue seeks to appeal was made on Dec. 16, when U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon overturned Drain's ruling that freed the billionaire Sackler family from liability in civil litigation over opioids in exchange for a $4.5 billion payment.

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In the court's decision on the OxyContin maker’s bankruptcy settlement, McMahon found the bankruptcy court did not have authority to grant the release and had asked the appeals court to address whether such releases were legally acceptable.

Purdue argues in the Thursday filing that the Bankruptcy Code permits non-consensual third-party release in its case. It also says the U.S. Trustee, which appealed Drain’s approval of the plan, does not oppose its ability appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September 2019 amid 3,000 lawsuits accusing the company and Sackler family members of contributing to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of about 500,000 people since 1999.

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Reporting by Krystal Hu in Toronto Editing by Matthew Lewis

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