On June 2, 2023, Davis Polk partner and Restructuring co-head Marshall Huebner and Civil Litigation partner Ben Kaminetzky were featured as the AmLaw Litigation Daily’s “Litigators of the Week” for securing final approval of Purdue Pharma’s chapter 11 plan of reorganization.

On May 30, 2023, in a landmark 83-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court on all issues and affirmed the original opinion of the Bankruptcy Court confirming Purdue Pharma’s chapter 11 plan. The Second Circuit exhaustively reviewed the law and set forth a new seven-factor test for evaluating third-party releases.

Purdue is one of the largest and most complex mass tort cases in U.S. history – and with the largest claims pool of any bankruptcy in U.S. history. Davis Polk began working with Purdue in 2018 to overhaul the company’s governance and craft a comprehensive resolution of more than $40 trillion of asserted claims.

Explaining the importance of the case, Marshall said, “As much was at stake in this case as any in which I have been involved in over 30 years of practice. 100% of all distributions under the plan are required to go to opioid abatement and victim compensation. And those distributions—$5.5-$6 billion in cash from the Sacklers, and 100% of Purdue’s cash and valuable operating assets—are very material, and have the potential to improve, and in some cases even save, tens of thousands of American lives.”

Discussing the most significant issues litigated during the course of this bankruptcy, Ben said, “Even putting the layers of appeals aside, there were dozens of litigated issues in the 44 months since the cases were filed, which is not surprising in a case of this scope and notoriety—with over $40 trillion of claims filed by over 614,000 parties. But two litigations certainly stand out: The first is the preliminary injunction we filed in the first days of the case that stayed all the pre-petition litigation. It served as the backbone of the case by forcing all public and private stakeholders to the table to negotiate a comprehensive plan. The second was the contested confirmation hearing during the pandemic. This was a remote, multi-week trial with 41 witnesses and oral argument on countless statutory and constitutional issues.”

Reflecting on reaching this milestone in the case, Marshall noted, “It is the victims and other stakeholders for whom I and Davis Polk have been working for more than five years, and it is mission-critical that we get this company’s assets out of Chapter 11 as soon as possible to put the allocated billions to work to help with the opioid crisis. Eighty-three pages of complete and total vindication on the law was gratifying, but it is all of very little moment unless and until the dollars and lifesaving medicines are flowing to those in desperate need.”

“I am just so proud of the extraordinary effort of our team,” Ben added. “To get to where we are today, this case required unprecedented creativity, patience, thick skin, focus—and crushingly hard work.”

A true team effort, many lawyers from across the firm played a pivotal role in achieving this result. Restructuring partners Eli Vonnegut and Angela Libby, counsel Chris Robertson and associates Dylan Consla, Stephanie Massman and Jake Weiner and Civil Litigation partner Jim McClammy, counsel Marc Tobak and associates Kathryn Benedict and Garrett Cardillo were also recognized in the article.

Litigators of the Week: Davis Polk Gets 2nd Circuit Blessing for Purdue Pharma’s Multibillion-Dollar Bankruptcy Settlement,” AmLaw Litigation Daily (June 2, 2023)