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Merck shareholders lawsuit accuses Vioxx maker of securities fraud

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A multidistrict litigation involving Merck & Co. shareholders claiming they were misled about heart attack risks with the drug company’s painkiller Vioxx will move forward though one claim against the company was scaled back. U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler denied a motion by Merck to dismiss the claims saying there was insufficient evidence that the company’s statements about Vioxx risks before study data from VIGOR was released on March 27, 2000, were made with wrongful intent that would establish a securities fraud violation. VIGOR (Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research) was a study to gauge gastrointestinal effects of Vioxx compared to naproxen, ... Read More

Allegations of child abuse, retaliation in Iowa teacher’s whistleblower case


An Iowa special education associate who claims work conditions became hostile and intolerable after she reported the physical and psychological abuse of disabled students by fellow associates is seeking monetary damages in court, the Des Moines Register reports. Trial started Tuesday for Rhonda Thramer, a Des Moines-area special needs educator who filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she was harassed and ultimately forced to quit her job after she reported child abuse committed by a colleague to Akeny, Iowa, school leaders. Ms. Thramer started working as a full-time associate at Northview Middle School in November 2011, working with a class of ... Read More

$200 million settlement to compensate fungal meningitis victims


A federal bankruptcy judge in Boston, Mass., announced he plans to approve a $200 million settlement agreement to compensate victims of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroid shots manufactured and distributed nationwide by the now-defunct New England Compounding Center (NECC). The fund will be used to cover the compounding pharmacy’s creditors as well as patients who received the shots and developed fungal infections including fungal meningitis. More than 98 percent of creditors voted on the plan and approved it unanimously. Victims are expected to begin receiving compensation by the end of 2015. More than 3,000 parties have ... Read More

Whistleblower’s $19-million lawsuit against N.Y. hospital settled posthumously


The family of a hospital compliance officer who sued his former employer over federal anti-kickback law violations and retaliation but died before his case was settled will receive an undisclosed amount in the million-dollar range, lawyers involved in the litigation told Westchester County’s The Journal News. Dan Bisk worked for Westchester Medical Center in Westchester, N.Y., making sure the hospital’s administrators and staff operated in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Mr. Bisk repeatedly complained to the hospital’s CEO of an illegal kickback and referral scheme involving some of the area’s top cardiologists, but instead of responding to ... Read More

Judge awards whistleblower $318k in case against Philly School District


A former Philadelphia School District administrator who claims he was fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on a mishandled $7.5-million security-camera contract will receive a $318,000 award, a Philadelphia federal judge ordered on Monday. Francis X. Dougherty sued the Philadelphia School District, its former top human resources official, Estelle Matthews, and the estate of Arlene Ackerman, who died in February 2013, alleging he was wrongfully suspended and subsequently fired for talking to the press about the dubious contract. Mr. Dougherty’s lawsuit claimed that Ms. Ackerman violated his First Amendment right to free speech by placing him on leave from ... Read More

Lumber Liquidators CEO Bob Lynch “unexpectedly” resigns during formaldehyde controversy

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Lumber Liquidators CEO Bob Lynch has abruptly left his leadership position within the discount flooring retailer, adding even more uncertainty to the company’s standing during its recent formaldehyde controversy. In response to the surprising news, Thomas Sullivan, founder of Lumber Liquidators, announced he will serve as CEO until the company finds Lynch’s permanent replacement. Sullivan commented that Lynch’s resignation occurred “unexpectedly,” much to the shock of executives and investors alike. Lumber Liquidators CFO Dan Terrell also announced his departure from the company last month, effective the beginning of June. “60 Minutes” first broke the story on Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminate flooring ... Read More

Janssen agrees to pay $7.8 million to settle Risperdal lawsuit


Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $7.8 million to settle a lawsuit claiming the drug company’s subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals committed Medicaid fraud and violated state law in its promotion and labeling of the antipsychotic Risperdal to Arkansas doctors. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2008. Three years ago, a Pulaski County jury found the drug company guilty of the charges and imposed a $1.2 million fine on Johnson & Johnson. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the decision. Janssen Pharmaceuticals said the settlement agreement is not an admission of guilt. Risperdal, known generically as risperidone, was originally approved by the ... Read More

UPS whistleblower helps U.S. recover $25 million for late-delivery refunds


United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) has agreed to pay the U.S. government $25 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the delivery service took measures that prevented federal agencies from getting a refund on packages delivered after the guaranteed delivery date. The federal government contracts UPS through the General Services Administration (GSA) and U.S. Transportation Command to provide delivery services to the Defense Department and other federal agencies. Under these contracts, UPS guarantees it will deliver packages by specified times the following day. However, according to a former UPS employee, for at least a decade UPS concealed its failure ... Read More

First Blue Bell lawsuit filed after listeria-related illness

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Blue Bell has now been confronted by its first recall-related lawsuit, alleging the company’s products caused one ex-Houston, Texas, resident to contract listeria-related meningitis while working at a retirement complex. According to the Blue Bell lawsuit, David Philip Shockley was employed as the associate executive director of nursing at the retirement community, Eagle’s Trace. While on the job in October 2013, Shockley ate Blue Bell ice cream purchased by his superiors. Not long after consuming the Blue Bell products, Shockley called 911 for assistance, but was diagnosed with migraine and sent home. Shockley then collapsed alone at his home just hours ... Read More

Trucking firms allege Pilot Flying J rebate scam was bigger than most realized


Several trucking firms that refused to settle fraud claims with truck-stop chain Pilot Flying J say that they have discovered another dimension of the alleged fraud that other trucking companies overlooked. In November 2013, Pilot Flying J, the largest travel center chain in the U.S., agreed to pay $85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the company defrauded thousands of trucking firms by not paying them the proper fuel rebates. According to that complaint, the plaintiffs agreed to buy fuel exclusively from Pilot Flying J in exchange for lower fuel prices, which were to be based on the cost ... Read More