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Kansas 123 articles

Fireman’s Fund pays $44 million to settle insurance fraud allegations


An insurance company that sells federally reinsured policies nationwide to farmers in need of crop insurance has agreed to pay the U.S. $44 million to settle False Claims Act allegations that it knowingly issued ineligible policies and falsified documents to boost its profits. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, an Allianz SE subsidiary headquartered in Novato, Calif., participated in the federal crop insurance program, selling and servicing crop insurance policies that were reinsured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a portion of the risks. U.S. prosecutors alleged that the insurance fraud scheme involved Fireman’s Fund ... Read More

OSHA blasts Union Pacific Railroad’s anti-whistleblower activities

railroad tracks

Federal safety regulators this week slammed Union Pacific Railroad for its “culture of retaliation,” demonstrated by its repeated safety violations and attempts to silence whistleblowers who report workplace injuries or seek medical attention. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that Union Pacific violated the Federal Railroad Act for the third time since 2011 by disciplining employees at its rail yard in North Platte, Neb., for exercising their rights to report workplace hazards and seek medical attention for on-the-job injuries. OSHA also said Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific has faced more than 200 whistleblower complaints from its workers throughout the ... Read More

Blue Bell recall expanded to cover ice cream cups

Recall - blue bell ice cream cups

Following the announcement of ice cream maker Blue Bell’s first recall, the company has decided to expand the recall to include its 3 oz. institutional/food service cups of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream after testing discovered listeria in one of the cups recovered from a Kansas hospital. Blue Bell claims that the listeria-ridden ice cream cup was produced in April 2014 by a plant located in Broken Arrow, Okla. However, the first recall of Blue Bell products, prompted by the deaths of three people at a single Kansas hospital, was made at a plant in Texas. The following products ... Read More

Appeals court reinstates asbestos lawsuit against Missouri county


The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled in favor of an asbestos lawsuit filed against Jackson County, Mo., and a contractor in 2010, allowing the case to move ahead after it was struck down by a Jackson County judge last year. The appellate court’s ruling opens the door to potentially thousands of courthouse workers, county employees, and others who spent significant amounts of time in the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City since 1983 – the year that the county and its contractor allegedly mishandled asbestos removal during a courthouse renovation. Citing the lawsuit, the Kansas City Pitch reports that ... Read More

Blue Bell recalls ice cream products after illnesses, deaths

Blue Bell Recalled Products

Blue Bell Creameries is recalling 10 varieties of frozen treats after reports of five listeria infections including three resulting in death were linked to batches of tainted ice cream products. Strains of listeria were discovered during routine testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Blue Bell officials said they have removed the contaminated batches of ice cream products have closed the production lines where they were made. All those sickened were treated at a single Kansas hospital between January 2014 and January 2015. Listeria is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be fatal to developing fetuses and newborns, and ... Read More

Janssen ordered to pay $136 million for Risperdal illegal marketing


The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmacetuicals to pay $136 million to the state for deceptively marketing its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The decision upholds penalties against the company but reduces the damages, which were originally set at $327 million by a trial court in 2011. Justices said the penalty had to be reduced because of South Carolina’s three-year statute of limitations. Risperdal, known generically as risperidone, is used to treat adults and children with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability with autism. The drug has also been prescribed off label to treat attention deficit hyperactivity ... Read More

Whistleblower, expert engineer say Trinity guardrails failed critical safety test

guard-rail - KCPQ-TV image

A whistleblower who sued Trinity Industries under the False Claims Act and won, filed documents in court last week alleging the guardrails at the center of the case failed one of the tests ordered by the court. Joshua Harman, a Virginia guardrail installer, alleged in his whistleblower complaint that Dallas, Texas-based Trinity secretly modified its ET-Plus guardrail system in 2006 to save money but failed to tell the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) about the alterations. Mr. Harman claimed that the illegal modifications turned the guardrails into giant spears that cut through vehicles, sometimes impaling their occupants. A federal jury in ... Read More

Listeria illnesses, deaths linked to Happy Apples Company prepackaged caramel apples

Happy Apples caramel apples

Happy Apples Company of Washington, Mo., is recalling its prepackaged caramel apples after the products were found to be the source of a listeria monocytogenes outbreak that sickened 29 and killed five in 10 states. All 29 people who were sickened were hospitalized, and nine of the illnesses occurred in pregnant women. The recall comes about a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to consumers not to eat prepackaged caramel apples as it investigated which commercially made brands were responsible for the outbreak. Though the apples are most popular around Halloween, the CDC ... Read More

NTSB investigating Chicago area plane crash that killed three physicians

airplane propeller

Three Kansas hospital physicians were killed in a plane crash Sunday Oct. 12 when their twin-engine Beechcraft Baron crashed in a vacant lot in a densely populated Chicago suburb. The victims were identified as neurosurgeon Tausif Rehman, pulmonologist Ali A. Kanchwala, and Dr. Kanchwala’s wife Maria Javaid, a cardiologist. Drs. Rehman and Kanchwala worked for Stormont-Vail Healthcare in Topeka, Kansas, and Dr. Javaid worked for Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. No other casualties or injuries were reported. The airplane carrying the three physicians, all of whom were originally from Pakistan, crashed in the Palos Hills community about five minutes ... Read More

OSHA fines Wireless Horizon for tower collapse that killed two workers

Working on the Wall

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Wireless Horizon Inc. with two willful and four serious safety violations following an investigation of a March 25 cell tower collapse that killed two workers in Kansas. The deaths of the workers, two technicians ages 25 and 38, bring the number of U.S. communication tower deaths to 11 so far this year. There have been 24 deaths among cell tower workers since the beginning of 2013, according to OSHA records. The Wireless Horizon workers were dismantling a tower in Blaine, Kansas, using a gin pole, a special load-lifting device. The ... Read More