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Hawking Sealed Whistleblower Lawsuits Gets DC Lawyer Prison Sentence

A former U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) lawyer who pleaded guilty to charges related to his stealing and selling copies of whistleblower lawsuits has been sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison. Jeffrey Wertkin, 41, left his Justice Department job in 2016 and joined a prominent Washington D.C. law firm, taking with him copies of 40 whistleblower complaints that were under seal. At the Justice Department, Mr. Wertkin worked in a division that handles civil whistleblower complaints filed under the False Claims Act. The lawsuits, filed by informants who allege fraud against federal programs and agencies, remain under ... Read More

Whistleblower Case Recovers $1.65 Million From Vermont Hospital

A whistleblower complaint filed against a Vermont hospital by one of its former administrators has ended in a $1.65 million settlement. Brattleboro Memorial Hospital agreed to pay the U.S. and the State of Vermont the sum to resolve allegations that it knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Amy Beth Main filed the lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. and Vermont under the whistleblower provisions of the federal and Vermont False Claims Acts. Plaintiff’s counsel told the Brattleboro Reformer that Ms. Main, an administrator in Brattleboro Memorial’s financial services department, “protested internally” ... Read More

Kansas Man Burned By Exploding E-Cigarette Sues

A Kansas man seriously injured by an exploding e-cigarette is suing the Wichita shop where he bought a lithium-ion battery to power the device, claiming it was unsafe to use. Like many people who use e-cigarettes, Daniel Anderson put the spare lithium-ion battery in his front pocket, along with his car keys and some coins, his lawsuit says, according to The Wichita Eagle. Contact with the other metal objects caused the lithium-ion battery to short and eventually to overheat and explode. The incident occurred on Feb. 29, 2016. A lawyer representing Mr. Anderson described the incident to The Wichita Eagle ... Read More

West Virginia’s Opioid Crisis The Focus of Congressional Investigation

The opioid epidemic in West Virginia is a focus of a Congressional investigation seeking to determine why three major opioid distributors flooded the state with more than 780 million hydrocodone and oxycontin painkillers in a recent six-year period – about 433 opioid pills for every West Virginia resident. According to The (Huntington, West Virginia) Herald-Dispatch, the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce had mailed inquiries to drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen looking for answers about their involvement in opioid pill dumping in the state. The inquiries, which The Herald-Dispatch says present more than 70 questions and 40 ... Read More

NTSB Reports on Deadly Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash

A sightseeing helicopter that crashed in Grand Canyon, killing three British tourists and injuring four others, drifted from its designated landing site and spun 360 degrees twice in the opposite direction of its main rotor, federal investigators said in an early report on the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still in the fact-finding phase of its investigation, but its report on the final movements of the Airbus EC130 B4 helicopter offers some insight about the potential problems of the aircraft. The helicopter involved in the Feb. 10 crash was owned and operated by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters ... Read More

Supplement CEO arrested for violating parole

More bad news for dietary supplement distributor Enhanced Athlete Inc. Scott Cavell, the company’s CEO, was arrested for allegedly violating his parole from a previous fraud conviction, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. His parole violation includes possession of marijuana, use of controlled substances, failing to report an expenditure of more than $500, and traveling out of the judicial jurisdiction without permission. The violations were uncovered after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) executed a search warrant at the Enhanced Athlete facility and Cavell’s residence. During that search, agents found receipts from a Lake ... Read More

Hankook Tire Settles Church Bus Crash Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by the victims of a deadly church bus crash and their families against Hankook Tire has been settled for an “undisclosed confidential amount” after years of litigation. The case centered on the Oct. 2, 2013, crash of a Front Street Baptist Church bus in Statesville, North Carolina, that killed six church members, the driver of a tractor-trailer, and a passenger in an SUV. The bus was returning to North Carolina from a yearly Fall Jubilee at the Gatlinburg Convention Center when the left front tire blew out, causing driver Randolph “Randy” Morrison to lose control of the ... Read More

Conductor’s Widow Sues Amtrak, CSX Over Deadly South Carolina Crash

Amtrak and CSX are facing a lawsuit filed by the widow of the train engineer who was killed Feb. 4 when Amtrak Train 91 was wrongfully diverted onto a side track, where it collided with a CSX freight train near Cayce, South Carolina. Attorneys for Christine Cella and her two children filed the lawsuit against Amtrak and CSX alleging negligence in the operation of a track switch caused 36-year-old Michael Cella’s death. The collision also killed 54-year-old Amtrak engineer Michael Kempf and injured 116 passengers and crew aboard the train, which was traveling from New York to Miami. The National ... Read More

Opioid makers paid millions to pain-treatment groups

The financial ties between opioid manufacturers and pain-treatment advocacy groups appears to have played a significant role in creating the necessary conditions for the country’s opioid epidemic, according to a new report released by Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The report, Fueling an Epidemic: Exposing the Financial Ties Between Opioid Manufacturers and Third Party Advocacy Groups, reveals that during a five-year period beginning in 2012, drug companies funneled millions of dollars to pain-treatment groups, essentially crafting public opinion in favor of the highly addictive painkillers like OxyContin and fentanyl. “The pharmaceutical industry spent a generation downplaying the risks of opioid ... Read More

Purdue will no longer promote OxyContin to doctors

Purdue Pharma, maker of the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin, under growing pressure and lawsuits from groups blaming the company for fueling the country’s opioid epidemic, will stop promoting its opioids to doctors. From now on, questions and requests for information about Purdue’s opioid products will be handled through direct communications with its medical affairs department, the company said in a statement. “We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting our opioids to prescribers,” the statement said. Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma whittled its sales force in half. Only 200 sales representatives remain in the U.S., ... Read More