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BlackRock Pays SEC Penalty For Silencing Whistleblowers With Employee Agreements

Asset management corporation BlackRock Inc. has agreed to pay a $340,000 penalty to settle allegations that it improperly used separation agreements to muzzle exiting employees, forcing them to forfeit their whistleblower rights and protections, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Tuesday. The settlement makes BlackRock the latest in a series of companies that have settled similar allegations with the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower in recent months, ending the practice of silencing would-be whistleblowers by threatening separation agreement arrangements and severance payments. According to the SEC’s order, more than a thousand departing BlackRock employees signed separation agreements containing ... Read More

Shire Pharmaceuticals Pays $350 Million To Settle ‘Landmark’ False Claims Act Suit

Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC and subsidiaries of the Ireland-based drug maker have entered into a “landmark” settlement with the U.S. government, agreeing to pay $350 million to resolve a series of whistleblower lawsuits alleging the company used kickbacks and unlawful tactics to boost sales of its Dermagraft treatment for diabetic foot ulcers. According to Benjamin Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s civil division, the settlement is the largest False Claims Act recovery in the U.S. in a kickback case involving a medical device. Allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in six lawsuits filed under the qui tam, ... Read More

Hy-Vee Recalls Candy Trays Over Potentially Contaminated Chocolate Products

The Hy-Vee chain of Midwestern grocery stores is recalling several candy trays it produced under the Hy-Vee brand using chocolate supplied by the Palmer Candy Company, which was recalled earlier in the week due to potential Salmonella contamination. The Hy-Vee recall, announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the company Jan. 12, stems from the use of milk powder produced by Valley Milk Products LLC. The potentially contaminated powdered milk was used by Palmer as an ingredient in a compound chocolate coating for its candy products, which it supplied to grocery, convenience store, and wholesalers nationwide for ... Read More

United Shore Financial Services Resolves Mortgage Fraud Allegations In $48 Million Settlement

United Shore Financial Services, a Troy, Mich., based mortgage lender, will pay the U.S. government $48 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, committing mortgage fraud by knowingly originating and underwriting federally insured mortgage loans that did not meet regulatory requirements. The agreement makes United Shore the latest financial institution to reach a settlement with the U.S., putting to rest allegations that it effectively defrauded taxpayers by originating and underwriting mortgage loans insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Federal Housing Administration (FHA), even though the loans did not meet requirements for government ... Read More

NHTSA sets Ambitious Plan To Eliminate Traffic Fatalities

Federal auto safety regulators have announced an ambitious new plan that they say could lead to “an America free of motor vehicle fatalities.” “Americans deserve safer roads, and that starts with culture,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says on its website. “[We] are taking the initiative to create the future as opposed to just letting it happen. In our view, the only acceptable goal for roadway fatalities is zero.” NHTSA envisions its strategic plan to eliminate traffic fatalities as a three-lane highway, which it calls “The Road Ahead.” Each lane is an aspect of auto safety that the ... Read More

Fuel Tanker Crashes And Explodes In Deadly Baltimore Multi-Vehicle Pileup

A massive pile-up involving nearly 70 vehicles, including a fuel tanker truck that plummeted off a bridge and exploded, left two people dead and dozens of others injured on I-95 in Baltimore Saturday morning. Baltimore authorities investigating the deadly pileup haven’t determined what might have set off the chain reaction of crashes, but they took place at a time when ice and arctic temperatures caused havoc on interstates and roads across much of the country. Maryland Department of Transportation officials said that 68 vehicles were involved in the pileup. A man identified as Marvellous Amasiatu was filming traffic on I-95, ... Read More

First testosterone side effects trials involve heart attacks, strokes, blood clots

Of the eight cases scheduled to be tried as bellwethers in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Illinois involving hundreds of lawsuits alleging cardiovascular risks with testosterone replacement treatments, the first four involve plaintiff claims of heart attack or strokes, and the final four are cases in which plaintiffs allege venous thromboembolism, or blood clots. Plaintiffs include Jeffrey Konrad, Jessee Mitchell, Edward Cribbs, Cecile Frost, Arthur Myers, Froylan Garcia, Robert Nolte and Robert Rowley. While numerous testosterone treatment manufacturers are named in the multidistrict litigation – such as Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., Eli Lilly & Co., and Endo Pharmaceuticals ... Read More

British diabetes group issues position statement on DKA risk with certain diabetes drugs

A class of diabetes medications known as SGLT2 inhibitors can increase the risk of a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a leading body of diabetes consultants in the United Kingdom said in a recently released position statement. The Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD) warned physicians to exercise caution when prescribing SGLT2 inhibitors to diabetic patients because the medication elevates their risk of developing DKA, a life threatening condition in which too much acid builds up in the blood. SGLT2 inhibitors, which include the brand name drugs Invokana and Invokamet, are indicated for patients with type 2 diabetes, however they have ... Read More

Grand Central Camera Captures Exploding E-Cigarette Severely Injuring Man

An employee of a wine shop in Grand Central Station suffered from severe burn injuries when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket at work Nov. 23. Otis Gooding, 31, of Jamaica, Queens, is seen on a high-definition surveillance video talking with two other employees of the Central Cellar wine shop inside Grand Central Terminal in New York City when flames and sparks begin to blast from his pants. The incident sent the employees and a customer who had been signing a receipt at the time running for safety. The same video shows firefighters and rescue workers removing Mr. Gooding from the ... Read More

Multiple Offenses Prompt Feds To Bar Idaho Truck Driver From Commercial Driving

Federal safety regulators have declared a commercial truck driver from Idaho to pose “an imminent threat to public safety” and ordered him to immediately stop driving any commercial motor vehicles. Justin Dennis’ troubles with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the law started in January of last year when he was subjected to a random test for controlled substances. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires random controlled-substances tests to be performed on holders of a commercial driver’s license. The test administered to Mr. Dennis revealed the presence of methamphetamine in his body. The positive result for meth ... Read More