Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $10 million to two Ohio counties

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals manufactured opioids and Johnson & Johnson also owned two companies that processed and imported the raw material used to manufacture oxycodone, a highly addictive opioid, shown above. Photo credit: www.drugs.com.

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals manufactured opioids and Johnson & Johnson also owned two companies that processed and imported the raw material used to manufacture oxycodone, a highly addictive opioid, shown above. Photo credit: www.drugs.com.

Johnson & Johnson has reached a tentative settlement in Ohio in response to a federal lawsuit over the nation’s opioid epidemic, The Washington Post reports.

The health-care giant will pay $10 million to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, Ohio, as well as reimburse $5 million in legal fees and donate $5.4 million for opioid-related programs in the communities, The Post reports.

The case was brought by more than 2,500 counties, cities, and Native American tribes. 

In August, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million in the first opioid-related state case to go to trial.

Cleveland County (Okla.) District Judge Thad Balkman found the pharmaceutical company responsible for the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, one of more than 40 states waging lawsuits, The Washington Post reports.

An estimated 400,000 people have died of overdoses from painkillers, heroin and illegal fentanyl since 1999.

States unveil bipartisan antitrust probe of Google

Image credit: Wikipedia.

Image credit: Wikipedia.

Tech giant Google faces a sweeping bipartisan antitrust probe by state attorney generals, an investigation announced on Sept. 9 with an initial focus on online advertising.

“Google is expected to rake in more than $48 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue this year, far rivaling its peers, while capturing 75 percent of all spending on U.S. search ads, according to eMarketer,” The Washington Post reports.

The probe is supported by 50 U.S. states and territories, excluding Alabama and California, home of Silicon Valley.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” though he clarified that states are launching an investigation and not a lawsuit.

“The probe marks the latest regulatory headache for Google and the rest of Silicon Valley, which have faced growing criticism — and widening state and federal scrutiny — into whether they’ve grown too big and powerful, undermining rivals and resulting in costlier or worse service for web users,” The Post reports.

Federal regulators have decided against assessing major penalties against the company, including breaking it up, but “The European Union has issued the company $9 billion in competition-related fines over the past three years,” The Post reports.

Okla. judge orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for opioid crisis

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman made a landmark ruling, which found Johnson & Johnson liable for fueling an opioid epidemic in Oklahoma. (Photo credit: Reuters as reported by The Washington Post on 8/26/19.)

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman made a landmark ruling, which found Johnson & Johnson liable for fueling an opioid epidemic in Oklahoma. (Photo credit: Reuters as reported by The Washington Post on 8/26/19.)

Johnson & Johnson must pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million in the first opioid-related state case to go to trial.

Cleveland County (Okla.) District Judge Thad Balkman found the pharmaceutical company responsible for the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, one of more than 40 states waging lawsuits, The Washington Post reports.

Judge Balkman issued his ruling Monday, Aug. 26, which The Post dubbed a “landmark decision” and “the first to hold a drugmaker culpable for the fallout of years of liberal opioid dispensing that began in the late 199os.”

An estimated 400,000 people have died of overdoses from painkillers, heroin and illegal fentanyl since 1999. according to the report.

Oklahoma attorneys sought $17.5 billion over 30 years for treatment, emergency care, law enforcement, social services, and other addiction-related needs, but Judge Balkman ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million “to remedy the drug crisis in the first year, based on the state’s plan,” The Post reports. The company has vowed to appeal.

Court rebukes President Trump for blocking followers on Twitter

Photo Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times as reported in The New York Times on 7/9/19.

Photo Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times as reported in The New York Times on 7/9/19.

How the First Amendment functions in the social media age gained further clarity this week when a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump violated the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account.

“Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously,” The New York Times reports.

Tuesday’s ruling may be appealed.

“Mr. Trump’s legal team argued, among other things, that he operated the account merely in a personal capacity, and so had the right to block whomever he wanted for any reason — including because users annoyed him by criticizing or mocking him,” The New York Times reports.

“Courts have increasingly been grappling with how to apply the First Amendment, written in the 18th century, to the social-media era,” The Times continues. “In 2017, for example, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a North Carolina law that had made it a crime for registered sex offenders to use websites like Facebook.”

Multibillion-dollar insurance corporation sued for data breach

photo-1555374018-13a8994ab246Insurance giant First American Financial faces a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, claiming the company “left more than 885 million sensitive documents dating as far back as 2003 exposed online,” Forbes.com reported on May 28.

“Now the company is facing a class action lawsuit for its apparent negligence. Gibbs Law Group LLP announced today that it is bringing the first nationwide class action lawsuit against the multibillion-dollar corporation,” the article reported.

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by David Gritz, a house flipper from Pennsylvania.

“First American was the title insurer for at least 11 of his housing transactions, according to the lawsuit,” Forbes.com reported. “The complaint suggests the members of the class affected by First American’s data exposure could be in the millions, and the lawsuit is seeking over $5 million.”

Does a New Breed of Pilot Error … Fighting Automation to the Ground … Need a New Kind of Pilot?

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 4/11/19.

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 4/11/19.

By Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher

Statistically speaking, traveling by plane is the safest mode of transportation. However, when there’s a system challenge in flight, a pilot’s ability to quickly identify and respond to the issue can often be the difference between life and death.

Mid-air accidents are much more often than not the result of pilot error, and it is expected that the global aviation community will reaffirm the safety of the 737 MAX 8. 

A similar pattern of malfunctioning controls that automated unsolicited nose pitches while in flight occurred with Airbus back in 2008. Qantas flight 72 serves as a good case study on how pilots should respond when faced with what has become a catastrophic situation for others. Read more

Connecticut’s highest court rules against Remington over Sandy Hook

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts, as included in the report by Reuters on 3/14/19.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts, as included in the report by Reuters on 3/14/19.

Remington Outdoor Co. Inc. can be sued for the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 school children aged 6 and 7 and six adult staff dead, a court ruled on March 14. 

This marks a “setback for gun makers long shielded from liability in mass shootings,” Reuters reported.

“In a 4-3 ruling widely expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Connecticut’s highest court found the lawsuit could proceed based on a state law protecting consumers against fraudulent marketing,” noted Reuters.

Litigants argued that Remington marketed its AR-15 Bushmaster rifle “based on its militaristic appeal.”

USA Today noted the larger ramifications of the ruling: “By ruling against a gun-maker, the Connecticut Supreme Court appears to have pierced a legal shield that could lead to more lawsuits and damaging disclosures involving the arms industry, gun control advocates say.”

The newspaper added that the method of marketing was questioned, quoting Justice Richard Powers in the majority opinion: “The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers.”

Testing the 1st Amendment: Journalism Becomes a Proving Ground for Anti-SLAPP Laws

by Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher
(Originally published in CityWatch LA on 3/14/19)
 

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 3/14/19.

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 3/14/19.

On February 11, L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta based lawyer, filed a complaint in conjunction with Kentucky based lawyer, Todd McMurtry, in the Eastern District of Kentucky against the Washington Post (Wapo).

Kentucky does not have Anti-Slapp Laws — laws designed to allow for early dismissal of lawsuits related to Freedom of Speech. Mr. Wood is an experienced defamation litigator who has represented multiple high-profile clients, including accused Atlanta bomber Richard Jewell, former Congressman Gary Condit, and Burke Ramsey the brother of Jon Benet. 

The complaint was filed on behalf is Mr. and Mrs. Sandmann, as guardians of. The Plaintiff seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages for the harm Nicholas allegedly suffered as a result of the negligent, reckless, and malicious attacks both digital and in print. Sandmann asserts that these events have caused permanent damage to his life and reputation and were directed by malice. It is the events of January 18, 2019, that occurred on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that serve as the basis for the civil complaint.  Read the full story …

Arbitration gains currency after Supreme Court decision

unnamed-4Employees trying to take companies to court face more likelihood of arbitration based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, The Recorder at law.com reports.

A string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions favoring arbitration contracts, including the recent split decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, changed the landscape of workplace litigation, the site notes.

“Claims of persistent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, fast-food workers shorted on pay and gig economy contractors fighting for employee status have all been routed to arbitration in decisions citing Epic,” The Recorder notes.

“[Epic] changes the dynamics in a profound way,” Gerald Maatman, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago told The Recorder. “It’s one of the most important decisions from the Supreme Court that impacts workplace issues.”

“In collaboration with San Francisco-based legal research company Casetext, The Recorder affiliate The National Law Journal analyzed 92 decisions from U.S. courts of appeal and federal district courts that cited Epic in the seven months between when it was handed down last May and the end of 2018,” the article notes. “Among those cases, 10 circuit court and 49 district court decisions centered on arbitration and dealt with workplace claims — and the majority either compelled arbitration or revived it as a live issue.”

Global warming, fossil fuels focus of new wave of lawsuits

 Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, as reported by Vox, 2/22/19.


Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, as reported by Vox, 2/22/19.

Fossil fuel producers could follow in the footsteps of tobacco companies, based on a new string of lawsuits targeting global warming, according to a Vox Media story.

“In 1998, 46 states and the District of Columbia signed on to the largest civil litigation settlement in US history, the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement,” Vox notes, referring to the litigation that forced tobacco companies to pay out more than $206 billion over 25 years.

“Now another wave of lawsuits is trying to hold powerful institutions accountable for an even bigger crisis, by making them pay and change their ways,” Vox reports. “At least eight US cities, five counties, and one state are suing some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies for selling products that contribute to global warming while misleading the public about their harms. In parallel, 21 young people are trying to suspend fossil fuel development as part of their high-profile climate rights case, Juliana v. United States, against the government. (The case is currently awaiting a hearing at the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals.)”

Fossil fuel litigation could gain traction based on early precedents, Vox notes.

“The Environmental Protection Agency was forced to regulate carbon dioxide to fight climate change as the result of a 2007 Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit, Massachusetts v. EPA,” the site explains.

Yet, these broad lawsuits can backfire as well.

“Climate change lawsuits could lead to multibillion-dollar payouts, and force an unwilling government to make cutting greenhouse gases a central priority. Both types of cases could set precedents that would last for decades,” Vox notes. “But litigation takes years of effort and can cost millions. If a court or a jury rules against the plaintiffs, they could end up worse off than when they started.”