(CN) – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, claiming they’re moving money to keep from paying potential legal judgments stemming from the opioid addiction epidemic.
Brnovich claims eight members of the Sackler family, all either current or former members of the Purdue Pharma board, received “massive cash transfers totaling billions of dollars” which threaten Purdue’s ability to pay a potential judgment in Arizona’s case against the company.
The attorney general also says the family members and their company, which makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, have ultimately profited on the opioid crisis facing the United States today.
In a phone interview, Brnovich said that taking this step is necessary to begin holding people accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.
“Not only could this ultimately help Arizona, but it will also help other states and other individuals who want accountability for what’s happened with the opioid crisis,” he said.
Brnovich hopes the Supreme Court will ultimately find the members of the Sackler family must face the consequences of their unlawful profits.
“We want to make sure that all that money the Sackler family unfairly profited from gets returned to the states and the people that are suffering from this crisis,” he said.
In a statement, Purdue called Brnovich’s lawsuit an unnecessary overreach.
“The Unites States Supreme Court is an improper forum to conduct a trial of the claims being made by Arizona. This petition was filed solely for the purpose of leapfrogging other similar lawsuits, and we expect the court will see it as such,” the company said in a statement.
But Brnovich said going directly to the Supreme Court is just about getting results.
“This was not a crisis that started overnight,” he said. “We want to make sure that we can avoid some of that long, drawn out litigation and get results quickly,” he said.
The Supreme Court must first agree to hear Arizona’s case, however.