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Purdue Pharma Maker of OxyContin agrees to Settlement in Oklahoma via WHNT.com

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The maker of OxyContin and the company’s controlling family agreed Tuesday to pay a groundbreaking $270 million to Oklahoma to settle allegations they helped create the nation’s deadly opioid crisis with their aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller.

It is the first settlement to come out of the recent coast-to-coast wave of nearly 2,000 lawsuits against Purdue Pharma that threaten to push the company into bankruptcy and have stained the name of the Sackler family, whose members are among the world’s foremost philanthropists.

“The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger, but we’re doing something about it today,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.

Nearly $200 million will go toward establishing a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa, while local governments will get $12.5 million. The Sacklers are responsible for $75 million of the settlement.

In settling, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company denied any wrongdoing in connection with what Hunter called “this nightmarish epidemic” and “the worst public health crisis in our state and nation we’ve ever seen.”

The deal comes two months before Oklahoma’s 2017 lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first one in the recent barrage of litigation to go to trial. The remaining defendants still face trial May 28.

Opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs like OxyContin, were a factor in a record 48,000 deaths across the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oklahoma recorded about 400 opioid deaths that year. State officials have said that since 2009, more Oklahomans have died from opioids than in vehicle crashes.

Other states have suffered far worse, including West Virginia, with the nation’s highest opioid death rate. It had over 1,000 deaths in 2017.

In a statement, Purdue Pharma said the money that will go toward addiction studies and treatment in Oklahoma will help people across the country. CEO Craig Landau said the company is committed to “help drive solutions to the opioid addiction crisis.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Paul Hanly, who is not involved in the Oklahoma case but is representing scores of other governments, welcomed the deal, saying: “That suggests that Purdue is serious about trying to deal with the problem. Hopefully, this is the first of many.”

But some activists were furious, saying they were denied the chance to hold Purdue Pharma fully accountable in public, in front of a jury.

“This decision is a kick in the gut to our community,” said Ryan Hampton, who is recovering from opioid addiction. “We deserve to have our day in court with Purdue. The parents, the families, the survivors deserve at least that. And Oklahoma stripped that from us today.”

Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in the 1990s and marketed it hard to doctors, making tens of billions of dollars from the drug. But the company has been hit with lawsuits from state and local governments trying to hold it responsible for the scourge of addiction.

The lawsuits accuse the company of downplaying the addiction risks and pushing doctors to increase dosages even as the dangers became known. According to a court filing, Richard Sackler, then senior vice president responsible for sales, proudly told the audience at a launch party for OxyContin in 1996 that it would create a “blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.”

Earlier this month, Purdue Pharma officials acknowledged that they are considering bankruptcy . But Oklahoma’s attorney general said the company gave assurances it will not take such a step in the near term. And he said the settlement money is “bankruptcy proof” — that is, “it’s not at risk in the event Purdue declares bankruptcy.”

Lance Lang, a 36-year-old recovering user from Oklahoma City, said he is glad some of the settlement will go toward helping those still suffering from addiction.

“My heart breaks for those that we’ve already lost. I’ve buried several myself,” said Lang, who now helps recovering users find housing. “But I also know we have waiting lists of dozens and dozens for our facilities, and the state has waiting lists of hundreds and hundreds of people who need help right now.”

But Cheryl Juaire, whose 23-year-old son Corey died of an overdose in 2011, said she was devastated to hear about the settlement.

Jauire, who lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts, had been organizing a group of hundreds of mothers to go to the first day of the trial and stand outside with photos of their dead children. She said a complete airing of the facts is the only way to fully hold Purdue to account.

A settlement is “a huge disservice to the tens of thousands of families here in the United States who buried a child,” she said. “That’s blood money from our children.”

Members of the Sackler family are defendants in some of the lawsuits but were not actually parties to the Oklahoma case. The company said the family nevertheless voluntarily contributed to the settlement. “We have profound compassion for those who are affected by addiction,” the family said in a statement.

The Sacklers are major donors to cultural institutions, and the family name is emblazoned on the walls at many of the world’s great museums and universities. In the past few weeks, as the accusations have mounted, the Tate museums in London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York have cut ties with the family, and other institutions have come under pressure to turn down donations or remove the Sackler name.

A Massachusetts court filing made public earlier this year found that Sackler family members were paid at least $4 billion from 2007 until last year.

Purdue Pharma has settled other lawsuits over the years, and three executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2007. But this is the first settlement to come out of the surge of litigation in the past few years that focuses largely on the company’s more recent conduct.

More than 1,400 federal lawsuits over the opioid crisis have been consolidated in front of a single judge in Cleveland who is pushing the drug makers and distributors to reach a nationwide settlement.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The maker of OxyContin and the company’s controlling family agreed Tuesday to pay a groundbreaking $270 million to Oklahoma to settle allegations they helped create the nation’s deadly opioid crisis with their aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller. It is the first settlement to come out of the recent coast-to-coast wave…

via Maker of OxyContin agrees to $270M settlement in Oklahoma — WHNT.com

Duty to Protect / Correct Utilizing a Universal Standard of Principles (Part Two)

After determining which rights were violated (whether unintentional or outright fraud) utilizing a universal standard of principles and ULTRS (universal language for testimony and reports) to determine which duty was triggered, we can begin to rectify the situation.

This leads to two questions: 1. Where does this situation fall on the spectrum of fairness and, depending on where it falls, 2. What does that translate into in terms of specific procedures that must be followed?

Spectrum of Fairness

The court in Baker v. Canada (Minister of Immigration and Citizenship) listed four factors which help determine where on the spectrum of fairness a given decision lands. Note that the “legitimate expectations” of the person challenging the decision is a consideration, but it is considered before the factors listed below. The doctrine of “legitimate expectations” does not affect where the decision lands on the spectrum of fairness. Rather, it tells us some of the specific procedures that must be followed.

i. Nature of the decision being made and the process followed in making it: here, an assessment of how formal or informal the decision at hand is made. The more adjudicative the administrative decision maker’s nature and the process it follows (i.e. a formal decision), the more procedural safeguards necessary. The more operational or administrative (i.e. an informal decision), the less procedural safeguards necessary

ii. Nature of the statutory scheme and the terms of the statute pursuant to which the body operates: here, an assessment of the statutory scheme is made. If no further remedies or appeal are available under the statute, more procedural safeguards are necessary because the first level of the decision must be procedurally fair.

An assessment of the complexity of the decision being challenged is also made. If it is a relatively simple decision, it will fall at the lower end of the spectrum.

iii. Importance of the decision to the affected parties: here, an assessment of how important the outcome of the decision is to the parties affected. Where the decision is important to the affected parties, high procedural safeguards are necessary. For example, in Kane it was held that a high standard of procedural fairness is required when the right to continue in one’s profession/employment is at stake.

iv. Choices made by the decision-maker: here, an assessment of the power given to the administrative decision maker over its own procedures is made. If they have a lot of power, they are under a high procedural obligation and the decision is at the higher end of the spectrum.

Once these factors are considered, we end up with a point on the spectrum. The next question is: how does this translate into specific procedures?

Specific Procedures

The specific procedures required differs case by case. In Mavi, Justice Binnie stated that we ultimately need a fair process by considering what is relevant in the circumstances. There are general considerations that the court looks to when determining specific procedures:

  • The determination of specific procedures is a balance of fairness, efficiency and predictability of the outcome; and
  • The people affected by a decision have the opportunity to be heard and considered.

The doctrine of “legitimate expectations” can create specific procedures that must be followed where the administrative decision maker has made a certain representation or promise regarding specific procedures that will be followed.

An oral hearing is not necessarily required under the common law where a statute does not specify whether an oral hearing must be held. In Khan, the court held that, if an administrative decision maker is going to decide adversely against someone’s credibility and that person is affected by a decision of the administrative decision maker, an oral hearing must be held.

The enabling statute may state whether reasons for the decisions are required. An administrative decision maker who is subject to the SPPA must give reasons to the affected parties if they ask for them. At common law, Baker clarified that where a decision has important significance for an individual, where there is a statutory right of appeal or in other circumstances, some form of reasons should be required. In Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union, the court held that, at the procedural fairness stage, the only consideration is whether there is a duty to provide reasons. The adequacy of reasons is not a relevant consideration at this stage. In Baker, it was held that where some form of reasons are required, there is flexibility as to what those reasons generally look like. The courts are very flexible as to what counts as reasons.

Conclusion

At this stage of the analysis, there is a two step test. Determining what procedures are required after determining where on the spectrum a given decision lands is a contextual analysis.

My next blog entry will focus on procedural obligations arising under the constitution.

Jury Verdict: Lowell MA must pay $1.5 M, plus interest, to owners of condos built on top of former garbage dump via Independent American Communities

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Today’s post is an update to a story IAC has been following since 2016. In 2009, during installation of a drainage system, the Grand Manor Condominium Association discovered contaminated soil surrounding their housing complex. That prompted three years of investigation. The City of Lowell delayed responding at first, then […]

via Jury: Lowell MA must pay $1.5 M, plus interest, to owners of condos built on top of former garbage dump — Independent American Communities

Estate Planning & Land Trust

Planning for Future by Estate Planning & Land Trust

Section 502(e)(1) states the general rule requiring the court to disallow any claim for reimbursement or contribution of an entity that is liable with the debtor on, or that has secured, the claim of a creditor to any extent that the creditor’s claim against the estate is disallowed.

See how our estate planning and trust services can help you accomplish your many goals.

Planning for the future

Our planning services are fully integrated to meet your many objectives.

Estate planning and strategic wealth transfer

Let us help develop a plan to efficiently transfer wealth to your heirs and favorite charities, protect your family and business, grow your assets, and minimize taxes.

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Find out the best ways to support causes you believe in, promote family values and social responsibility, and leverage the tax-deductible nature of charitable gifts.

Business succession planning

Benefit from our guidance as you face key moments of transition in the life cycle of your business.

Executive benefit planning

Find out how our services can help you reduce risk, create liquidity, and defer taxes with your concentrated corporate stock.

Insurance planning

Get guidance on how you can structure your insurance plan to avoid costly estate and federal tax liabilities and ensure you have the coverage you need.

Divorce planning

Learn how we can help protect your best interests with guidance and sound financial solutions.

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We’ll identify and implement appropriate trust vehicles to accomplish your goals.

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Take advantage of the many wealth transfer and tax saving benefits a personal trust offers from highly experienced professionals in fiduciary oversight.

Personal trust administration

Experience how generations of families have benefitted from our considerable trust management skill.

Personal trusts in Delaware

Learn about the many advantages the state of Delaware offers for trusts, and how we’ve helped shape Delaware trust law for decades.

Speak with our advisors to ensure that your plan is on track and that you are making the most of your trust opportunities.

Don DiCarlo

Don DiCarlo
Head of Strategic Planning Advice

Great Advice for Selecting an Attorney

A long-standing joke about lawyers is that they are actually “liars” who will take any money from you that they can. Don’t become a statistic and fuel this joke – select a lawyer that will really work for you! Read this article for tips on selecting BTR Law Firm that really knows their stuff.

Inquire about the fees that you are going to have to pay. These fees can vary greatly depending on their demand and experience, so you must know what you’re paying before choosing them. It is highly problematic to lose your attorney after your matter is already underway.

Never hire the first lawyer you come across. There are so many out there that it can be tempting to select the first one you come in contact with. Take your time and consult with a few before you make your decision. You don’t want to make the mistake of choosing the wrong one.

A good tip to remember when looking to hire a lawyer is to make sure you find a lawyer that has the necessary experience that you’re looking for. If you’re going to court soon for a criminal case, it wouldn’t make sense to bring on a divorce lawyer, you’ll need a criminal lawyer.

There is a great deal of legwork necessary in a legal case, both research and actually talking to witnesses, which will lead to the development of the presentation of your lawyer in court. That means any lawyer who tells you you’ll win up front has no idea what they’re talking about.

You should make sure you have a solid case before attacking someone in court. Keep in mind that some lawyers only have their own interest in mind and will advise you to go to court regardless of how solid your case is. Present your case to different professionals and do some research on your own before you go to court.

When meeting with a prospective attorney, ask him or her who you will primarily be talking to about your case. In some situations, lawyers give part of their caseload to a junior associate. If you feel you really connect with a certain attorney, suddenly finding out you will be working with another person may be quite upsetting. These feelings could be exacerbated if you don’t get along with the other person, too.

If you need a good lawyer for your business, use your network. You could ask your banker, partners, insurance agent or even your distributors if they know any good lawyers in the area. Do not hesitate to refer this lawyer to people you know if you have a good experience.

Never just randomly pick a lawyer out of a phone book or directory to work on your case. Since you do not know anything about a lawyer using this method, you could end up with someone who is incompetent or inexperienced. You could ask loved ones if they know of a lawyer who can help or look at online reviews.

Avoid lawyers who actively seek your business. Consider it a red flag if a lawyer solicits you after an accident without you having expressed any interest. These “ambulance chasers” tend to have sketchy business ethics, so it is best to steer clear of them. A good lawyer will have clients seeking their help, and doesn’t need to resort to this type of behavior.

A big mistake that people make is hiring a lawyer who contacts them after some sort of accident. Not only is it against the rules of professional conduct, in many states it is illegal. This is sometimes referred to as “ambulance chasing” and is frowned upon in the legal community.

If you need a specialized lawyer, ask the lawyers you are considering about their specialized training. There are seminars and additional classes lawyers can take to learn more about a specific issue. For instance, lawyers who are qualified to help you with filing for bankruptcy should be members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Instead of becoming a victim who must pay high bills for little quality service, do your homework and find a reliable lawyer. You can easily find someone that will help you in the courtroom. Remember these tips next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, so you can come out on top!

via Knowing Where To Turn When You Need A Lawyer — Hire An Attorney For Debt Consolidation

Exxon Legal Issues with Establishing Environmental Accountability:

Watts Up With That?

This is in the news today via “Climate NEXUS”, which is a Madison Ave. PR firm:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he is launching a legal probe into Exxon’s climate denial. The inquiry will look into both consumer and investor protection laws, covering the oil giant’s activity dating back to the 1970s. Schneiderman’s investigation could open “a sweeping new legal front in the battle over climate change,” says the New York Times, which broke the story. Two separate reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times uncovered that Exxon has known about the dangers of climate change since the 1970s but sowed doubt by funding climate change skeptics to preserve its business. Exxon has been compared extensively to the tobacco industry, which was convicted of racketeering in 2000 for deliberately deceiving the public about the dangers of its products.

It seems all this is part of…

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