Legal Roundup: Pharmacies Under Fire for Opioid Crisis in New Hampshire, DOJ Targets Poultry Industry’s Labor Practices and More

New Hampshire's attorney general has accused CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and their subsidiaries of failing to serve as a gatekeeper between opioids and the public.
By: | August 6, 2022

CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens Under Fire for Opioid Crisis in New Hampshire

The case: The New Hampshire attorney general filed suit against CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and their subsidiaries, calling them “ ‘the last link in the opioid supply chain and the critical gatekeeper between dangerous opioid narcotics in the public,’ ” according to the Associated Press.

Scorecard: The case was recently filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: New Hampshire has a higher than average opioid-related death rate, despite expenditures in the millions “to create a hub-and-spoke model called ‘The Doorway’ in which hospitals and others work with local providers to ensure that help is less than an hour away anywhere in the state,” the AP reported.

While most lawsuits have taken aim at opioid manufacturers and distributors, pharmacies are increasingly targeted. “In the only verdict in a pharmacy case so far, an Ohio jury last year found that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart recklessly distributed opioids in two counties,” according to the AP.

DOJ Targets Poultry Industry’s Labor Practices

The case: The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland against three major poultry suppliers. The DOJ alleges “a decades-long scheme to deceive workers and suppress wages,” according to The New York Times, which added that “the moves are part of the department’s broader investigation into the poultry industry’s anticompetitive practices.”

Cargill, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms, plus 18 other unnamed companies “employ more than 90 percent of all poultry processing plant workers in the United States,” according to the court filing.

The data company Webber, Meng, Sahl was also named in the suit, and along with the three processors, “unlawfully shared information about employee compensation to suppress wages and stifle competition,” according to the NYT.

Scorecard: The case was recently filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: The DOJ also filed a consent decree that would prevent companies from sharing worker information and require defendants to pay $84.8 million in compensation to affected laborers. Poultry is the most-consumed animal protein in America, according to the suit.

T-Mobile Reaches $500M Settlement for Data Breach

The case: In August 2021, a cyberattack led to a data breach that affected 76.6 million T-Mobile customers. A consolidated class action proceeded in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The breach “exposed highly sensitive data, including customers’ first and last names, Social Security numbers and driver’s license information,” according to The New York Times.

Scorecard: T-Mobile has agreed to settle the suit for $500 million.

Takeaway: Under the proposed settlement, T-Mobile is allocating $350 million to settle customer claims, and an additional $150 million “over the next few years bolstering its cybersecurity protection and technologies,” according to the Times.

While exact payout amounts were not specified, individual compensation will be capped at $2,500 per customer, according to the proposed agreement. The data of customers as well as those who had applied for credit was exposed.

Consumer Antitrust Suit Filed Against Veterinary Products Company

The case: An antitrust lawsuit in California federal court accuses veterinary products maker IDEXX Laboratories of “thwarting competition for diagnostic testing” and forcing “consumers to pay artificially high prices for animal health services,” according to Reuters.

The proposed class action claims that Maine-based IDEXX “abused its market power since 2018 through exclusive and long-term contracts with veterinary practices across the country,” reported Reuters.

Scorecard: The case was recently filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: The company’s pet products division had a reported revenue of $2.88 billion in 2021, employing over 10,000 workers in 33 countries.

“The lawsuit, which said it represents the interests of thousands of would-be class members, was filed by pet owners from 14 states including New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois,” according to Reuters. “The complaint seeks an injunction and unspecified damages of more than $5 million.” &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected].

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