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    1. West Virginia Sues Rite-Aid/Walgreens Over Opiod Rx Flood

      West Virginia Sues Rite-Aid/Walgreens Over Opiod Rx Flood

      Rite-Aid and Walgreens failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of prescription painkillers in West Virginia while inundating their retail pharmacies with tens of millions of pills, according to a state lawsuit.

      The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey alleges violations of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and conduct that caused a public nuisance. It said the company’s individual state pharmacies also had to buy pills from other distributors to keep up with demand.

      West Virginia has by far the highest death rate from prescription overdoses. Nationally, the drug crisis has resulted in more than 430,000 deaths since 2000.

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    2. Talc Miner Imerys to Forfeit North America Units to Settle 14,000 Cancer Lawsuits

      Talc Miner Imerys to Forfeit North America Units to Settle 14,000 Cancer Lawsuits

      Imerys SA, which mines talc used in Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder and other products, agreed to turn over its North American operations to resolve more than 14,000 lawsuits claiming the mineral caused cancer in some consumers.

      Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont and Imerys Talc Canada — units that sought bankruptcy protection last year — will be sold at auction with the proceeds going into a trust to compensate talc victims, the company said in a statement. In return, plaintiffs will drop their suits, allowing the businesses to emerge from Chapter 11. Paris-based Imerys SA, the company’s parent, didn’t file for bankruptcy protection.

      The deal aims to end six years of litigation over Imerys’s role as ...

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    3. How Cruise Ticket Legal Language May Foil Class Action Suits Over COVID-19

      How Cruise Ticket Legal Language May Foil Class Action Suits Over COVID-19

      After two passengers on their luxury cruise tested positive for Covid-19 in March, Emilio and Barbara Hernandez were so frantic to get off the ship, they wrote a note to the captain.

      The Costa Luminosa sailed on with them still onboard, and they ended up with the virus. Now recovering, the Hernandezes and 98 fellow passengers have sued Costa Cruise Lines Inc., a brand owned by Carnival Corp., alleging the firm endangered passengers’ lives through negligence and bad decision-making.

      A Costa spokeswoman said the company stepped up its sanitation of ships and then took action, including quarantining passengers, after it learned of the positive test results.

      The Hernandezes and their fellow plaintiffs are seeking class-action status. They may have rough ...

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      Mentions: Florida
    4. Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration’s View of Clean Water Act

      Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration’s View of Clean Water Act

      The Supreme Court ruled last week that sewage plants and other industries cannot avoid environmental requirements under landmark clean-water protections when they send dirty water on an indirect route to rivers, oceans and other navigable waterways.

      Rejecting the Trump administration’s views, the justices held by a 6-3 vote that the discharge of polluted water into the ground, rather than directly into nearby waterways, does not relieve an industry of complying with the Clean Water Act.

      “We hold that the statute requires a permit when there is a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court.

      The decision came in a ...

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    5. Worker Fired for Medical Marijuana Use Can Pursue Disability Discrimination Claim

      Worker Fired for Medical Marijuana Use Can Pursue Disability Discrimination Claim

      The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that an employee can pursue a disability discrimination claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) after being fired due to his legal use of medical marijuana outside of work. This decision could provide some clarity in how medical marijuana use by employees outside of work should be handled by New Jersey employers.

      The decision comes after plaintiff Justin Wild brought an unlawful discrimination suit against his former employer, Carriage Funeral Holdings Inc., and others under NJLAD after he was fired following a drug test that showed positive for marijuana use.

      Wild alleged that he began working for Carriage in 2013 as a licensed funeral director, and in 2015, he was diagnosed ...

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    6. Coronavirus Impact on Workers' Compensation Limited

      Coronavirus Impact on Workers' Compensation Limited

      The outbreak of coronavirus has already resulted in some workers’ compensation claims and more are expected. But whether those claims are going to succeed depends on the individual circumstances and the state where the infection occurred.

      While compensability issues will play out case-by-case, workers’ compensation insurers in at least two states have decided that they will guarantee workers’ compensation benefits for health care workers and first responders.

      Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance Co. announced Friday that effective immediately it will pay wage-replacement benefits for any first responder or employee in the medical field who is quarantined because of direct exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
      Ryan Worthern, communications director for KEMI, said the insurer’s staff decided to adopt the ...

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    7. Investor Lawsuit Against Bayer Cites ‘Disastrous’ Monsanto Acquisition

      Investor Lawsuit Against Bayer Cites ‘Disastrous’ Monsanto Acquisition

      A Bayer AG investor sued the board and other top company officials, claiming the “disastrous” 2018 acquisition of Monsanto Co. eroded the company’s share value by saddling it with potentially billions of dollars in liability from Roundup lawsuits.

      Bayer AG’s board and other top officials were sued by an investor who claims the “disastrous” 2018 acquisition of Monsanto Co. saddled the company with potentially billions of dollars in costly lawsuits over Roundup herbicide.

      The German chemical giant “has been engulfed by a tsunami” of litigation alleging Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer, eroding Bayer’s share value, Rebecca Haussmann said in a suit filed Friday in New York state court in Manhattan. She demanded compensation and punitive damages, as ...

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    8. ExxonMobil Paying $1M as Part of New Mexico Settlement

      ExxonMobil Paying $1M as Part of New Mexico Settlement

      ExxonMobil will contribute $500,000 to a fund used to clean up leaks from petroleum storage tanks as part of a settlement reached with New Mexico.

      The settlement stems from a 2010 lawsuit that alleged the company used money from the state Corrective Action Fund to clean up petroleum contamination at a service station in Taos but that it also collected on its own insurance coverage for the costs of remediation at the same site.

      ExxonMobil was accused of failing to disclose the existence of the insurance coverage and the reimbursement it received from its insurance policies.

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    9. McKesson Board Settles for $175M Over Distributor’s Role in Opioid Crisis

      McKesson Board Settles for $175M Over Distributor’s Role in Opioid Crisis

      McKesson Corp.’s board reached a $175 million settlement with investors who claimed directors failed to maintain adequate internal systems for spotting suspicious opioid shipments, as the U.S.’s largest drug distributor continues to grapple with claims it helped fuel a public-health crisis tied to the painkillers.

      As part of the accord, McKesson executives also agreed to beef up the company’s corporate-governance protections by separating the role of the chief executive officer and board chairman and toughening bonus claw-back policies for officials who don’t perform properly, according to court filings in California and Delaware. The money from the so-called derivative settlement — coming from directors’ insurance policies — goes into the company’s coffers.

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    10. Roundup Plaintiffs, Bayer in Talks to Settle Claims For $10 Billion

      Roundup Plaintiffs, Bayer in Talks to Settle Claims For $10 Billion

      In an effort to settle tens of thousands of claims that Bayer AG’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, lawyers for some plaintiffs are discussing with the company deals that could lead to a total payout of about $10 billion, according to people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

      In some discussions, Bayer’s lawyers have said the chemical maker will set aside $8 billion to resolve current cases and reserve $2 billion for future claims, the five people said. Roundup has been blamed for ailments including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which can take years to be diagnosed. Bayer declined to comment on the numbers or any terms under negotiation.

      Bayer’s American depositary receipts jumped on the news.

      To be sure ...

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    11. Key local governments opt out of opioid negotiation class

      Key local governments opt out of opioid negotiation class

      While 98% of 34,000 local governments agreed to be bound by a class action against major pharmaceutical companies, 541 major counties opted out. 

      Some of these counties were most affected by the opioid crisis. The Florida and West Virginia counties that opted out were among the hardest hit by the epidemic. 

      The negotiation class must get a 75% approval for any settlement.

      Lawyers explained those towns and counties not as affected had little incentive to pursue their own lawsuits while the areas hit hardest do have that incentive.

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    12. Most Common Workers’ Compensation Medical Provider Fraud Schemes

      Most Common Workers’ Compensation Medical Provider Fraud Schemes

      While most insurance claims are legitimate, studies indicate that 10% or more of all property/casualty insurance claims are fraudulent.

      In the workers’ compensation industry, combatting fraud can seem like a game of Whack-A-Mole. When certain schemes and scenarios are addressed, another pops up elsewhere, costing insurers and employers more than $7 billion per year, according the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

      Fraudsters have become more sophisticated and brazen in recent years. One example is with medical provider fraud, which occurs when a doctor, hospital or other caregiver attempts to profit off the workers’ compensation system. According to the State of California’s Department of Industrial Relations, medical provider fraud can include schemes and scenarios like:

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    13. America Is Still Waiting for Trump’s ‘Much Better’ Replacement for Obamacare

      America Is Still Waiting for Trump’s ‘Much Better’ Replacement for Obamacare

      Nearly three years after taking office, Americans still are waiting for Trump’s big health insurance reveal. Prescription drug prices have edged lower, but with major legislation stuck in Congress it’s unclear if that relief is the start of a trend or merely a blip.

      Meantime the uninsured rate has gone up on Trump’s watch, rising in 2018 for the first time in nearly a decade to 8.5% of the population, or 27.5 million people, according to the Census Bureau.

      “Every time Trump utters the words ACA or Obamacare, he ends up frightening more people,” said Andy Slavitt, who served as acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration. He ...

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    14. Louisiana Office Manager Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $1.2M

      Louisiana Office Manager Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $1.2M

      The former office manager of a business headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison after being convicted of embezzling more than $1 million from her employer.

      United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin reported that Katherine S. Dyson, age 65, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison following her wire fraud conviction. Dyson also was sentenced to two years of supervised release following her prison term and ordered to pay $1,232,075 in restitution to the victims.

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    15. Ohio Doctor Charged for 25 Patient Deaths Sues Hospital

      Ohio Doctor Charged for 25 Patient Deaths Sues Hospital

      An Ohio doctor accused of ordering drug overdoses in the deaths of 25 hospital patients has sued his former employer for defamation, arguing that he did nothing wrong and did not deviate from hospital policy on end-of-life care.

      Dr. William Husel, who is accused of murder, filed the lawsuit in Franklin County against the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System and its parent organization, Trinity Health Corp.

      “It would not be an exaggeration to state that Dr. Husel has suffered perhaps the most egregious case of defamation in Ohio’s recent history,” according to the lawsuit. Patients died from their illnesses, not the administration of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller ordered by Husel, he said in the lawsuit.

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    16. United Airlines Settles Sexual Harassment Suit Filed in Texas for $321K

      United Airlines Settles Sexual Harassment Suit Filed in Texas for $321K

      United Airlines Inc., a Chicago-headquartered international airline operating in over 300 airports across five continents, has agreed to pay $321,000, plus attorney’s fees, to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in Texas by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

      The federal agency says its lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, alleged that over the course of many years a United captain frequently posted explicit images of a flight attendant to multiple websites, without her consent, making reference to her name, home airport, and the airline’s tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies.”

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    17. Cigna Sells Disability Insurance Business to New York Life for $6.3B

      Cigna Sells Disability Insurance Business to New York Life for $6.3B

      Health insurer Cigna Corp. agreed to sell its disability insurance and accidental death coverage unit for company employees to New York Life Insurance Co for $6.3 billion.

      The company said it expects to use the net proceeds of about $5.3 billion for share repurchases and repayment of debt in 2020 and raised its share repurchase authority by $3 billion to $4 billion.

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    18. ‘Dangerous Dog’ Label Not Needed for Prosecution

      ‘Dangerous Dog’ Label Not Needed for Prosecution

      A dog suspected of posing a danger to people does not have to carry an official “dangerous dog” label under state law for prosecutors to charge an owner for violating the law, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.

      As long as prosecutors have evidence that the dog in question would meet the definition of the law — including previously hurting someone — they can move forward with charges and prove their case at trial, the court said in resolving conflicting opinions by two lower courts.

      “Because the dangerous-dog designation turns on the dog’s past behavior, the statute provides fair warning to a dog owner that he or she may be subject to the dangerous-dog provisions” in the law, Justice Melody Stewart ...

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    19. California Business Owner Nailed for Workers’ Comp Fraud to Pay $944K

      California Business Owner Nailed for Workers’ Comp Fraud to Pay $944K

      Michael Zendejas, 47, of Turlock, Calif., was sentenced to 180 hours of community service, three years formal probation and ordered to pay $944,718 in restitution after pleading no contest to insurance fraud for under-reporting payroll by roughly $4.9 million that resulted in a $944,718 loss to his insurer.

      Zendejas, as the owner and president of Trinity Personnel Inc., an employment agency that provides temporary workers, obtained a workers’ compensation policy from State Compensation Insurance Fund in September 2014 through December 2016.

      SCIF reportedly performed an audit of the policy and found that Zendejas significantly underreported the company’s payroll by $4.9 million and number of employees in order to receive a lower workers’ comp insurance premium.

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    20. Deadly Defect Causes Takata to Issue Another Major Air Bag Recall

      Deadly Defect Causes Takata to Issue Another Major Air Bag Recall

      Takata Corp., the auto-parts supplier that went bankrupt after its air bags spurred the largest-ever recall, told U.S. safety regulators that another 1.4 million U.S. vehicles need to be repaired over a potentially deadly defect.

      Inflator devices Takata supplied to five of the world’s biggest car manufacturers may absorb moisture that could either cause the air bag to rupture or under-inflate, according to a notice published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. The recall involves components produced from 1995 through 1999 and sold to Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

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    21. E-Cigarette Makers Lose Legal Challenge to FDA’s Authority

      E-Cigarette Makers Lose Legal Challenge to FDA’s Authority

      U.S. rules for marketing e-cigarettes withstood a legal challenge by a maker of the devices and an industry group.

      A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over electronic cigarettes, which deliver to users a vaporized form of nicotine. The ruling in a lawsuit brought by e-cigarette maker Nicopure Labs and an industry group affirms the FDA’s power at a time when the agency is expected to announce restrictions on flavors, which have become the focus of proposed legislation and lawsuits claiming they are used to hook children on nicotine.

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    22. Swiss Re to Sell U.K. Insurer ReAssure to Phoenix Group for $4.3B

      Swiss Re to Sell U.K. Insurer ReAssure to Phoenix Group for $4.3B

      Swiss Re announced an agreement to sell its U.K. life subsidiary ReAssure Group plc to Phoenix Group Holdings plc.

      As part of the agreement, which values ReAssure at £3.25 billion ($4.3 billion), Swiss Re will receive a cash payment of £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion), shares in Phoenix representing a 13% to 17% stake and be entitled to a seat on its board of directors. ReAssure is a life and pensions company that buys and administers closed books of business from other companies.

      As part of the transaction, Swiss Re will reacquire the 25% stake in ReAssure currently held by MS&AD. The consideration for this purchase will be Phoenix shares with value of up to ...

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    23. Railcar Service Company Faces $551K in Penalties After Worker Death

      Railcar Service Company Faces $551K in Penalties After Worker Death

      The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dana Railcare, based in Wilmington, Del., for confined space hazards after an employee fatality in Pittston, Penn. The railcar service provider faces $551,226 in proposed penalties.

      An employee asphyxiated in May 2019 while servicing a rail car containing crude oil sludge. OSHA cited the company for four willful and three serious violations for failing to protect employees from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces and inadequate respiratory protection procedures. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

      “This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had followed proper safety procedures for entering and cleaning railcars,” said Loren Sweatt, principal ...

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    24. FDA Bowed to Industry for Decades Over Talc Risks

      FDA Bowed to Industry for Decades Over Talc Risks

      The “Asbestos in Talc Symposium,” sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration, was dominated by industry hands: Most of the 21 non-government participants had done work for talc companies, such as testing and serving as expert witnesses and consultants, symposium documents and other records show.

      Key sessions were led by witnesses for Johnson & Johnson in lawsuits alleging the company failed to warn customers that its Baby Powder was tainted with cancer-causing asbestos, the records show. Others who sought invitations were turned away, including a physician who had testified against J&J in trials that resulted in billions of dollars in damage awards against the company.

      Over the past 50 years, the FDA has relied upon – and often deferred to – industry ...

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