Company at Center of Opioid Crisis Sued for Claims about Drug

May 15, 2019

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(Photo courtesy Times News)

Endo Pharmaceuticals, the same company which was at the center of a $193 million settlement with one of James Hoyer’s whistleblower clients, is now facing another major legal battle. The Tennessee Attorney General is suing Endo for making unlawful and false claims about the safety and benefits of its opioid products.

The AG’s office says Endo violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and contributed to a devastating health crisis in Tennessee. Here are details from the news release by Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office:

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today sued Endo Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions Inc. (Endo) for making unlawful and false claims about the safety and benefits of its opioid products.

The State’s lawsuit, filed in Knoxville, alleges Endo violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and contributed to a devastating public health crisis in Tennessee.

“Our Office has conducted an extensive investigation into Endo’s unlawful marketing practices which included targeting vulnerable populations like the elderly,” said Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III. “Endo has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for its unconscionable conduct, which is why we are taking this action.”

The allegations in the State’s 180-page complaint detail how Endo deceptively marketed its opioid products as being less addictive and more effective than others on the market. It did this despite evidence to the contrary, including the FDA’s explicit rejection of Endo’s claim that Opana ER was resistant to abuse as well as overwhelming evidence that Opana ER was being abused throughout Tennessee.

The Complaint alleges that Endo also knew the dangers of its opioid products, including increased risks of respiratory depression and death in elderly patients, and failed to clearly disclose those risks while it specifically targeted patients in that age group.

The State also has reason to believe Endo used the recommendations and educational materials of third-party groups like the American Pain Foundation without disclosing that Endo was by far the biggest donor to the Foundation and provided more than half of its total funding. Endo provided significant funding to other third-party groups and subsequently relied on material generated by those groups without disclosing the financial relationship.

The Attorney General requested the complaint be filed under a temporary seal because Endo claims the information produced during the State’s investigation is confidential. The order sealed by the judge allows the seal to expire in 10 days unless Endo acts to extend it.

The Attorney General believes the complaint should be made available to the public in its entirety and efforts to keep it confidential will only prolong and diminish Endo’s accountability for its conduct.

Don’t Take Your Employee Rights for Granted

April 25, 2019

Employee-Rights-1200x600The fight for worker rights took another blow this week.  The Supreme Court ruled employees at a California company could not band together in an effort to get compensation from their employer for a breach of their data.  The 5-4 decision put yet another limitation on the ability to use class arbitration and class actions to battle against bigger, more powerful opponents.

Attorney Dave Scher, head of the James Hoyer Employment Law Division, says the decision is disappointing but “really not surprising, given the conservative shift on the court.”  Recent rulings have chipped away at employee rights and, unfortunately, this will make it even more difficult for employees to tackle joint grievances in the workplace.

“It impacts any issues where employees band together to fight unfair circumstances in their workplace—not paying overtime, underpaying tips, break times, not getting benefits they’re entitled to—things like that,” Scher explained.

Forcing Individual Arbitration

The ruling allows companies to ban class action lawsuits and class arbitration proceedings to address disputes; instead, forcing employees to bring their cases on an individual basis.  It essentially creates a divide and conquer scenario for companies to take away the ‘strength in numbers’ individuals can get by working together.

Attorney Dave Scher

“It allows corporations to take advantage of low income employees and prevents them from being held accountable for improper practices,” Scher said.  “They do what they want, because they know there’s really nothing these employees can do about it.”

It’s cost prohibitive in most cases for employees to bring individual cases for claims that don’t amount to large sums, even if the collective damage to all employees is large.  Class actions and class arbitrations are supposed to help even the playing field for employees and consumers by spreading out the costs, but that gets harder now with this ruling.

“Companies can afford to fight, but an individual with a $1000 or $5000 claim can’t afford it.  They can’t pay a lawyer to help them, and the way it’s now structured, many lawyers can’t afford to bring the case, because they won’t recoup their costs.”

According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 54-percent of non-union, private sector employers require mandatory arbitration clauses and 65-percent of large companies with more than 1000 employees have them.  These arbitration agreements require workers to give up their rights to have disputes settled in a court of law. They are often a take-it-or-leave-it deal, where if you don’t sign, you don’t get the job. Unfortunately, many don’t even realize the rights they are giving up and that it puts them at a significant disadvantage should a dispute arise.

What can you do about it?

Some employment attorneys are developing a head-on approach to tackle ‘class’ bans by filing large numbers of arbitration cases, one by one.

“Creative employment lawyers are saying—‘Fine, instead of having a class, I’ll find a thousand workers who fit into this category, and I’ll represent each of them. And I’ll bring a separate arbitration claim for each of them, and you’re going to have to pay for the cost of each of those arbitrations.’ And that is having some degree of affect,” Scher explained.

In other words, in the world of unintended consequences, class bans could end up backfiring on some employers.

“Essentially employers are coming back and saying, ‘Well, wait a minute, that’s completely inefficient. It’s all the same issue’—which is the whole point of having a class action,” Scher explained. “So ultimately, we can put them all together in a class or you can oppose class actions. Which do you want? You’re making me do this.”

If you find yourself facing an unfair workplace issue, click here to contact attorney Dave Scher for an evaluation.

Home Sale Preps that Get More Money at Closing

April 3, 2019

Angie -CWN- Home Sale TipsPutting in a little effort BEFORE you put your home on the market can help you get more money at closing.  In this CWN video, Managing Editor Angie Moreschi shows us what preps pay off and which ones aren’t worth the time and money.

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DO DARK WEB SCANS REALLY WORK?

March 20, 2019

Angie Moreschi CWN Managing Editor

Internet based identity theft can create serious problems if you get hacked and your information is sold on the dark web. Some companies are promoting dark web scans as a way to protect yourself, but do they really work?

Consumer Warning Network Managing Editor Angie Moreschi checks out whether getting a dark web scan is really worth it and looks at other ways to protect yourself.  Click below to see what she found out.

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The Riskiest Scams of 2018: Don’t be a Victim!

March 6, 2019

BBB 2018 Scam ReportTech savvy scammers are working hard to scam more consumers. Employment scams were the riskiest scams in 2018, according to the latest report from the Better Business Bureau.

The reported employment scams had more instances and higher losses than in previous years when they ranked the third riskiest. The report is based on data supplied by consumers to BBB Scam Tracker and is based on the BBB Risk Index, which is a unique algorithm that calculates exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss to offer a more accurate assessment of scam risk.

“This was a surprise,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, which produced the report. “It’s the first time since we began this report three years ago that one scam dominated across so many demographic subgroups. It was the riskiest scam in three of the six age groups, and for both men and women. It was also the riskiest scam for military families and veterans, and students.”

The BBB says digging into the Risk Report shows one possible answer: Amazon was in the news a lot in 2018 with its high profile search for a second headquarters. It was also the 6th most impersonated organization mentioned in BBB Scam Tracker reports, after not even making the top 15 in previous years. In 2017, only 24 BBB Scam Tracker reports were employment scams that mentioned Amazon. In 2018, that jumped to 564.

“Scammers are opportunists,” says Trumpower. “Whatever is in the news or being talked about on social media, they see as an opening to imposter a recognizable and respected organization or brand.”

The Internal Revenue Service is the leading impersonated organization, and other government agencies together rank second. Other leading brands that scammers impersonate include Publishers Clearing House, Microsoft, Apple… and the Better Business Bureau.

Amazon, a BBB Accredited Business, has only one authorized job application site: amazon.jobs. Any other link is a scam, said Trumpower.

“Employment scams are particularly egregious because they prey on people who are already feeling pinched and may be desperate for work,” she said. “If the scam gets far enough, scammers collect the same information that real employers do – address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account – everything needed for identity theft.”

The ten riskiest scams of 2018 were: employment, online purchase, fake checks/money orders, home improvement, advance fee loans, romance, tech support, investment, travel/vacation, and government grant.

Click here to check out a report on the findings on CBS Morning News.

To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

To learn more about different scam types, go to BBB.org/ScamTips.

Shopping Behavior: Tricks used to get you to buy more

March 1, 2019

Shopping picIn this CWN report– learn to understand the psychology of shopping. Angie Moreschi looks at what retailers do to get you to buy more.

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