Legal Roundup: Phillie Phanatic Back Following Settlement, Alec Baldwin Faces First Round of Lawsuits After ‘Rust’ Shooting and More

Seattle DA seeks $38B from opioid distributors, and the first suit following the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set alleges negligence.
By: | December 5, 2021

Phillie Phanatic Is Back Following Settlement

The Case: The Philadelphia Phillies filed a copyright infringement suit in 2019 against mascot designer Harrison/Erickson, which created the beloved Phanatic back in 1978. That’s after the green, furry goofball had been entertaining fans for years.

In 1984, the Phillies agreed to acquire rights to the Phanatic design, according to Reuters. “H/E notified the Phillies in 2018 that it was terminating the grant” in order to renegotiate the agreement.

In 2020, the Phillies brought out a slightly altered version of the Phanatic following the 2019 suit, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Scorecard: The Phillies have settled the case for an undisclosed amount, allowing the team to return the original Phanatic to the field.

Takeaway: The original Phanatic is indeed back. The Phillies official team Twitter account shared a two-word statement from the Phanatic himself: “I’m back.”

The settlement was reached back in October but wasn’t made public immediately because both parties had 30 days to finalize terms.

AstroWorld Lawsuits Pile Up in Texas Court; Latest Seeks $750 Million

The Case: In the latest legal action following the AstroWorld concert tragedy that left 10 people dead, a $750 million lawsuit has been filed against concert organizer Live Nation, Apple, Travis Scott, Drake and others.

“The family of Axel Acosta Avila, one of 10 people who died in the chaotic crowd surge during the Astroworld Festival in Houston this month, is among 125 plaintiffs,” CNN reported.

“The lawsuit seeks damages for loss of mental and physical health, and human life.”

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

Takeaway: At least 170 lawsuits have been filed in the short time since the crowd surge turned deadly at the November 5 concert, according to Billboard.

Long before Travis Scott took the stage at 9 p.m., hundreds of injuries had already been reported. The show was shut down just after 10 that night.

Scott, Drake and Live Nation have all issued statements of condolence, and Scott has pledged to pay for victims’ funerals.

First Lawsuit from Fatal Shooting on “Rust” Movie Set Alleges Negligence

The Case: The first of an anticipated slew of lawsuits following the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has been filed.

“Rust” crew member Serge Svetnoy filed a negligence suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against over 20 defendants, including star and producer Alec Baldwin, assistant director David Halls and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, according to the Associated Press.

Svetnoy, the head of lighting for the low-budget western, held Hutchins in his arms as she lay dying. In the filing, he alleges “severe emotional distress,” as reported by the AP.

The plaintiff seeks “compensatory and punitive damages to be determined later.”

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

Takeaway: Criminal charges have yet to be filed by the Santa Fe district attorney’s office.

“Experts predict a tremendous legal fallout from the tragedy, definitely in civil lawsuits and potentially in criminal charges,” according to the AP.

Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger while acting in the film; he is potentially liable, however, for his role as a producer. The film production’s insurer, which will conduct its own investigation, will likely incur payouts in the millions.

Seattle DA Goes After Three Opioid Distributors

The Case: Washington State district attorney general Bob Ferguson is on the offense against “the nation’s three biggest drug distributors … saying they must be held accountable for their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic,” the Associated Press reported.

Ferguson seeks $38 billion in damages from distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

His aim is “to pay for treatment services, criminal justice costs, public education campaigns and other programs over a 15-year period, plus billions more in additional damages,” the AP reported.

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

Takeaway: This past summer, Ferguson rejected a $527.5 million settlement offer by the drug companies, calling it “woefully insufficient,” as reported by the AP.

Lawsuits related to opioids have had mixed results. Recently, an Oklahoma Supreme Court judge overturned a case that was due to fine Johnson & Johnson $465 million.

Three California counties lost a case similar to Ferguson’s, because they “had not proven the pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing to increase unnecessary opioid prescriptions and create a public nuisance,” according to the AP.

The Washington DA’s case is expected to last around three months. &

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

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