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Product Liability – $2.2 Billion in Drug-Marketing Settlement

November 4, 2013

Health-care behemoth Johnson & Johnson will pay $2.2 billion to resolve civil and criminal allegations involving the marketing of off-label, unapproved uses for several prescription drugs, Justice Department officials announced Monday.The cases include allegations of kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to promote usage of the anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega, and a heart-failure drug, Natrecor.

Read more: Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion in drug-marketing settlement – The Washington Post.

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Personal Injury-Bicycle Crash – First in U.S. Guilty of Vehicular Homicide

August 13, 2013

Two things I find interesting in this story.

One, is that just like the driver of a vehicle, a bicyclist is as much responsible to follow the rules of the road. Failure to do so exposes the operator of the bike to vehicular manslaughter when failing to stop at a stop light and hitting people causing injury and death.

Two, the importance of social media such as Facebook and comments one makes after an incident. Courts, throughout the United States are forcing parties to a lawsuit to open up their accounts to scrutiny and any comments, posts or photographs may be used against them. It is important to not make any comments about an incident in which a party is involved. Doing so, will likely lead to a Court granting access to the account to see what is in it and how anything may be used against that party–whether plaintiff or defendant.

A bicyclist who struck and killed a 71-year-old pedestrian in San Francisco has been convicted of felony manslaughter, the first conviction of its kind for a cyclist in the U.S.

via Bicyclist First in U.S. Guilty of Vehicular Homicide – ABC News.

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Criminal Law – Supreme Court Rules That Pre-Miranda Silence Can Be Used In Court

June 18, 2013

In order to invoke your right to remain silent, you must speak. Silence in and of itself is, evidently, not evidence of your intention to invoke protections provided by the Constitution’s 5th Amendment Rights and/or the Miranda Rights. I can understand the prosecutor’s claim that because he was not under arrest and was answering some questions and remained silent on some others, his silent could be use as evidence of his guilt. But, I think that is splitting hairs. The spirit of the law is to prevent a person who is not well versed on the laws to not say something, without the presence of his attorney, that might be self-incriminating.

The Supreme Court says prosecutors can use a person’s silence against them if it comes before he’s told of his right to remain silent.

The 5-4 ruling comes in the case of Genovevo Salinas, who was convicted of a 1992 murder. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas answered some questions but did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon.

Prosecutors in Texas used his silence on that question in convicting him of murder, saying it helped demonstrate his guilt. Salinas appealed, saying his Fifth Amendment rights to stay silent should have kept lawyers from using his silence against him in court. Texas courts disagreed, saying pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Constitution.

The high court upheld that decision.

via Supreme Court Rules That Pre-Miranda Silence Can Be Used In Court.

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Criminal Law – Go to Trial – Crash the Justice System

March 19, 2012

In this era of mass incarceration — when our nation’s prison population has quintupled in a few decades partly as a result of the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. Most people charged with crimes forfeit their constitutional rights and plead guilty.

“The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,” said Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. In other words: the system is rigged.

In the race to incarcerate, politicians champion stiff sentences for nearly all crimes, including harsh mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws; the result is a dramatic power shift, from judges to prosecutors.

via Go to Trial – Crash the Justice System – NYTimes.com.

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Their Lawyer Says Corporate Integrity is Their No. 1 Goal.

September 3, 2009

Medical News: Pfizer Settles Fraud Charges for $2.3 Billion

Pfizer will pay the government $2.3 billion to settle criminal and civil charges that it promoted off-label uses for the disgraced painkiller valdecoxib (Bextra) and three other drugs.

The Justice Department said it was the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history.

More than half the settlement — $1.3 billion — involves Pfizer’s efforts to promote valdecoxib, a COX-2 inhibitor withdrawn from the market in 2005 because of cardiovascular and other risks.

Pfizer’s sales staff had urged doctors to prescribe the drug for surgical pain and to prevent deep vein thrombosis, according to court records from a criminal trial of a Pfizer manager earlier this year.

The other $1 billion covered charges that Pfizer improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug ziprasidone (Geodon), the antibiotic linezolid (Zyvox), and pregabalin (Lyrica), approved for epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain.

The settlement will be shared between the federal government, state Medicaid programs, and whistleblowers. The latter include a Pennsylvania psychiatrist and at least one former Pfizer employee whose allegations helped launch the investigation.

Their complaints, which had been sealed until the settlement was reached, provided details on Pfizer’s alleged transgressions.

For example, according to one complaint, Pfizer pushed linezolid for several types of infections not named on its FDA-approved labeling, and also claimed it was superior to vancomycin without FDA approval.

Similarly, Pfizer was said to have promoted ziprasidone — approved only for schizophrenia or acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder — for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, and a host of other conditions.

In addition to promoting the off-label uses, Pfizer was also accused of paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drugs.

Sales of ziprasidone, pregabalin, and linezolid in 2008 totaled about $2.5 billion, according to the consulting firm SDI Health.

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Death Penalty on Hold

November 1, 2007

US supreme court calls a halt to executions

Death penalty campaigners yesterday said they expected the informal moratorium to last at least until next summer when the supreme court is expected to issue its ruling.The moratorium follows a decision by the supreme court on Tuesday night to block the execution of a Mississippi inmate minutes before he was to be put to death. Earl Wesley Berry, who has been on death row for 19 years for the murder of a woman, had been served his last supper and was 15 minutes away from execution when the court intervened.

The order for a delay marked the third time in just over a month that the supreme court has overruled state courts and the US court of appeals to block an execution.

Death penalty campaigners yesterday called the successive rulings a powerful sign that the supreme court wanted to put executions on hold while it considers a challenge to the way executions are conducted in America brought on behalf of a prisoner in Kentucky.

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Justice Served

July 8, 2007

Man Gets Time Served for Staging Crashes

A Belarus native who helped put together a scheme that involved staged car crashes and phony insurance claims was sentenced to 16 months he already served and ordered to pay $334,000 restitution Friday in U.S. District Court.

Maxim Levin, 29, was also ordered by Judge William M. Skretny to finish his last semester at the University at Buffalo as part of a five-year period of supervised release. Levin took a guilty plea in March, one of nearly two dozen people to plead in the case, and admitted that he ran the former First Buffalo Medical Clinic in Williamsville.

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