Nearly 4,000 notices have been sent to West Virginia families of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome who might be eligible to seek damages from Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy case.
As the deadline for mediation nears, 3,802 notices were sent out last week after a Kanawha County judge signed an order allowing addresses where the children are believed to live to be released by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The notices stem from a class for West Virginia children born with NAS who may have been affected by Purdue Pharma, specifically because of its production of the opioid pill OxyContin. The company filed for bankruptcy after hundreds of federal lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages were filed against it. The lawsuits say the company was partially responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic throughout the country.
The bankruptcy court was not allowed access to the information of the children by the West Virginia DHHR, and because of that many families did not know they qualified to submit a claim, Charleston attorney Booth Goodwin previously said.
Earlier this month, the judge appointed two guardian ad litems to receive the addresses on behalf of the children. The information released can only be used for up to three mailings and can only be used in connection with the case. The representatives, G. Nicholas Case and Bruce L. Freeman, sent the first letter last week.
A complaint filed seeking access to the names said while the West Virginia Birth Score Program, which has a registry to identify children born with NAS, has been in place since October 2016, the DHHR says the data cannot be used to provide notice of the ongoing litigation affecting the children, citing confidentiality provisions in state laws.
The attorneys said the laws cited by DHHR don’t apply when health is a concern and they believe the Birth Score Program is meant to protect the health and well-being of a child, which a claim with the bankruptcy court would do.
The two groups were able to reach a settlement in the case earlier this month.
While the time to file an individual claim against Purdue Pharma has passed, a group of West Virginia attorneys sought the creation of a class for children born from October 2016 until now to be represented. The judge in the case has asked that mediation finish by August.
Anyone who thinks they might have a claim in the case is asked to call 833-682-3060.