Posts Tagged ‘opioids’

Liability roundup

“Texas Officials Were ‘In Over Their Heads’ When They Struck Deals With Opioid Lawyers”

“You don’t auction professional services,” said Terry O’Rourke, assistant county attorney for Harris County (Houston), Texas, in charge of the opioid litigation, regarding the hefty 35% fee plus expenses the county has contractually agreed to pay to its contingency-fee outside counsel. Meanwhile, Dallas County for its representation in the same litigation “sets the contingent fee at the lesser of 12.5% or a “base fee,” calculated as four times hourly rates ranging from $900 an hour for partners to $200 for paralegals.” Some of the lawyers hired by Harris County have been active political donors: “It’s not uncommon for elected officials to hire their political allies for contingency fee work.”

Harris County’s contract with three outside law firms also requires the county to pay a fee based on its total recovery before expenses, while many municipal clients have negotiated more favorable deals in which the contingency fee is a percentage of the recovery after expenses….

The fact that some counties agreed to pay all of the expenses associated with their cases while others will pay fees net of expenses also shows a lack of sophistication and the potential for gamesmanship, [Cardozo emeritus professor and legal ethicist Lester] Brickman said. Lawyers in asbestos cases and securities litigation have been accused of double-billing and allocating the same expenses to multiple cases, and it can be difficult for individual clients to uncover wrongdoing unless they obtain records showing the overall distribution of expenses and recoveries – something lawyers rarely provide….

“Few of the cities and counties have required that the expenses claimed by the lawyers be detailed, including providing receipts and other supporting documents,” Brickman said. “There’s a possibility that some lawyers will emulate `The Producers’ and charge aggregate expenses that are in excess of actual expenses,” as has happened with asbestos litigation.

[Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline/Forbes]

Lawyers hunt massive opioid-suit payday

“A Bloomberg review of almost 100 [opioid-suit] agreements between the municipalities and their lawyers puts the stakes into focus: If the plaintiffs collect anything close to the maximum $50 billion that a global settlement may yield, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence estimate, a handful of attorneys could pocket at least one-quarter of that.” In all so far, “lawyers have brought more than 900 cases on behalf of states, local governments and tribes, as well as unions, medical practices and individuals.” [Andrew Harris, Jared Hopkins and Hannah Recht, Business Week/Bloomberg]

Medical roundup

  • Wrong on many other issues, the American Medical Association is right to resist an artificial 3-day limit on opiate prescriptions [Jeffrey Singer, Cato; Jacob Sullum]
  • “Does Ride-Sharing Substitute for Ambulances?” [Leon S. Moskatel and David J. G. Slusky, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 114]
  • Fourth Circuit tosses Maryland law banning “price gouging” of “essential” generic drugs, finding that state violates Dormant Commerce Clause by presuming to control transactions entirely outside its boundaries [Zack Buck, Bill of Health; Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
  • President Trump signs “right to try” legislation expanding right of terminally ill patients to enter unapproved therapies; squaring this with existing FDA regulation may present knotty problems [Michael Cannon, Cato; Michael Maharrey (“In fact, victories in 40 state legislatures preceded Trump’s signing ceremony”); earlier here, here, and at Cato Unbound last year] More cautions from Jim Beck on liability angle [Drug and Device Law]
  • Florida, departing from other states’ practice, caps its outside lawyers’ recovery at $50 million: “Latest Wave Of State Opioid Lawsuits Shows Diverging Strategies And Lawyer Pay Scales” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • In medical innovation, “equality is a mediocre goal. Aim for progress.” [Tyler Cowen]

On filling dicey prescriptions, sued if you do…

“Back in 2015, two cases were decided within days of each other that allowed claims to go forward suggesting that a pharmacy could be potentially liable for both filling suspect prescriptions (see here) and for not filling suspect prescriptions (see here). Hence ‘damned if you do (question a prescription) and damned if you don’t.'” A key element on one side: pharmacies that refuse to fill prescriptions that they believe show red flags are apt to explain themselves to customers, and those explanations can expose them to defamation actions filed by the doctors who wrote the scripts. [Michelle Yeary, Drug and Device Law]

Opioids roundup

  • Prisoners die of drug overdoses at a high rate in their first week after release. That’s in part a prohibition-related problem [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]
  • “Drug testing kits can detect the presence of fentanyl and other contaminants — but in many places, including Illinois, they are classified as illegal drug paraphernalia.” [Steve Chapman]
  • “Hospitalized Patients Are Civilian Casualties in the Government’s War on Opioids” [Jeffrey A. Singer, Cato, more]
  • Texas: “Opioid lawyers pumped $110K into LaHood’s campaign after Bexar County DA hired them” [David Yates, Southeast Texas Record] “State senator working with Watts on home turf opioid lawsuit, lawyers billing Hidalgo County $3,800 an hour” [SE Texas Record]
  • “Cities Vs. States: A Looming Battle For Control Of High-Stakes Opioid Litigation” [Daniel Fisher on Tennessee AG’s intervention]
  • All 50 states have now adopted prescription drug monitoring programs, but do they work as intended? [Jeffrey Singer, Jacob Sullum]

Medical roundup

  • Outcry among British doctors after trainee pediatrician convicted of negligent homicide in death of patient following systemic errors at understaffed hospital [Telegraph, Saurabh Jha, Medscape, General Medical Council]
  • “There’s no particular reason to think that smokers will be happier with denatured tobacco than drinkers have been with weak beer.” [J.D. Tuccille on FDA plans to reduce nicotine level in cigarettes]
  • “Why Doesn’t the Surgeon General Seek FDA Reclassification of Naloxone to OTC?” [Jeffrey Singer, Cato]
  • “1 in 3 physicians has been sued; by age 55, 1 in 2 hit with suit” [Kevin B. O’Reilly, AMA Wire] “Best and worst states for doctors” [John S Kiernan, WalletHub]
  • “Soon came a ‘routine’ urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug. A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.” [Beth Mole, ArsTechnica]
  • Milkshakes could be next as sugar-tax Tories in Britain pursue the logic of joylessness [Andrew Stuttaford, National Review]

Liability roundup

Medical roundup