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Five reasons to read Unsettled by Ryan Hampton

posted by Melissa Jacoby

UnsettledRyan Hampton, author of a book about the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy published earlier this month, is a "national addiction recovery advocate, community organizer, author, and person in long-term recovery" who also was a member of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy official unsecured creditors' committee. On Purdue's committee, Hampton and three other personal injury claimants sat alongside five institutional/corporate creditors, at least some of which were defendants in other opioid crisis lawsuits.  This is a quick post to recommend that the bankruptcy world read Unsettled for at least the five following reasons: 

  1. Creditor versus creditor, with some twists. The book alleges that government representatives undercut the leverage of personal injury claimants. To that end, the book takes a deep dive into the rise and fall of the idea to establish an emergency relief fund, to be used while the case was ongoing, by people suffering from the opioid overdose crisis. Hampton's recent interviews with the press further emphasize how tiny a fraction of the billions in the bankruptcy plan are going to personal injury claimants relative to states and others. 
  2. Professional fees. It was news to me that the bankruptcy estate had agreed to pay the professional fees of the "consenting states" - the states that supported Purdue's original entrance into bankruptcy to seal a deal that they endorsed. Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg; in Hampton's telling, even "the lawyers had lawyers." 
  3. Professional mediators. In discussing the role of mediation in moving the bankruptcy toward closure, a lawyer for Purdue Pharma and the bankruptcy court both lauded the two initial mediators as among the best in the nation and even the world (no citation provided). Hampton had a different take. 
  4. The claims administrator's notice strategy for personal injury claimants. Hampton was unimpressed with the strategy. His critique is quite detailed. I found this discussion especially interesting given Hampton's expertise. 
  5. Bankruptcy as Fight Club. According to the book, newly appointed committee members were immediately instructed to keep quiet about basically everything. I use the passive voice intentionally here because the book does not always specify the source of instruction. That's just the beginning of the secrecy surrounding elements of this case, like so many other big chapter 11 cases. Whether or not you already worry about the lack of transparency in big business bankruptcy  (worlds away from the expectations of consumer and small business debtors), this book provides food for thought. Perceptions matter. 

So don't wait for the television version of Hampton's book (although you can soon watch the limited series version of Beth Macy's amazing book Dopesick). Read Unsettled today.  



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