Legal Roundup: Usher’s Legal Trials, Opioid Litigation Spreads Further and More

A look at recent court decisions and how their rulings have an impact on risk management and the insurance industry.
By: | December 31, 2019

Usher’s STD Lawsuit Settles for $20 Million; Insurer Drops Ongoing Legal Battle

The Case: Back in 2012, an unidentified woman came forward with the allegation that singer/songwriter Usher had transmitted an STD to her after unprotected sexual contact with the singer. According to documentation from the Superior Court in Los Angeles, Usher reportedly told the woman that he was “fine,” but in time she learned that she had been exposed to the herpes virus.

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She confronted the singer, and he paid her $2,700 medical bill.

Then, three others came forward years later, alleging Usher had also exposed them to the disease.

“Laura Helm initially filed a $10 million in 2017 after learning that Usher has herpes and didn’t disclose it to her before they had unprotected sex,” reported Urban Islands.

Upon hearing this, Usher’s insurance company, New York Marine and General Insurance Company, filed suit against the singer, claiming it did not have to pay the damages Usher was ordered to pay. It also added that STD legal actions were not covered in their policies and that the singer did not inform them of the 2012 lawsuit when he signed with them in 2016, The Blast reported.

Scorecard: Usher quietly settled the lawsuit out of court for $20 million in late December 2019. Following the settlement, New York Marine and General Insurance Company dropped all legal proceedings against the singer.

Takeaway: Past wrongdoings, while painful to relive, should be discussed with potential new insurers upfront so as to avoid losing all coverage should an incident arise.

Walgreens Hit with Opioid Distribution Lawsuit

The Case: The state of Michigan recently sued four companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Walgreens — over the deadly painkiller epidemic, reported Fortune.

“The move makes Michigan the 49th state to have filed some kind of legal action against the opioid industry. Only Nebraska has not,” it noted.

In the suit, the state alleges that more than 2.8 billion opioid pills were distributed in state lines between 2006 and 2012.

“McKesson distributed more than 500 million, with Walgreens — which distributes opioids and also dispenses prescriptions at its stores — ‘not far behind,’ according to the complaint.”

Scorecard: The case is brand new, so developments are to come.

Michigan’s Attorney General has deemed that the companies have all used their licenses to distribute controlled substances in Michigan as a “cover for what is essentially a criminal enterprise.”

Takeaway: The opioid epidemic, and the ensuing lawsuits, are spreading out beyond manufacturers and prescribers. The size and scope of the liability reckoning is still to be seen.

Doctor Can’t Sue Over Report to Office for Insurance Fraud

The Case: Dr. Robert Haar, an orthopedic surgeon in New York, treated four patients injured in an auto accident. After treatment, Haar submitted claims to the patients’ insurer, Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Nationwide partially or wholly rejected the insurance claims.

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Instead, Nationwide filed a complaint with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), alleging insurance fraud. Upon investigation, however, the OPMC cleared Haar.

To retaliate, Haar sued Nationwide under the Public Health Law Section 230, which governs medical misconduct proceedings.

According to the court opinion, however, Haar was told that he could not sue Nationwide for reporting him to the state authorities for insurance fraud.

Haar soon filed an appeal.

Scorecard: The state appeals court agreed with the lower court in that Haar did not have the right to sue Nationwide. Haar cannot sue for bad-faith and malicious reporting.

Takeaway: Because of the prevalence of fraud, even those with the best of intentions can still be put under the microscope. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]