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Opioid Companies Reach Last-Minute $261M Settlement to Avoid First Federal Opioid Trial

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  • Five pharmaceutical companies reached a $261 million settlement to avoid a lawsuit that accused them of contributing to the opioid crisis. 
  • The settlements were reached around midnight Monday, just hours before the trial was set to begin.
  • The immediate trial was averted, but these companies—as well as Johnson & Johnson—are not free of the larger case, which is a consolidation of more than 2,500 lawsuits from various state and local governments.

New Settlements Avert Immediate Trial

Five companies involved in a massive federal opioid lawsuit settled with two Ohio counties early Monday morning, paying $261 million dollars to avert the first trial in a larger case.

These settlements do not prevent the full trial, but they do delay it significantly. The portion of the trial scheduled to begin Monday would have involved both Cuyahoga and Summit counties and would have been known as a “bellwether trial,” a beginning trial examining a smaller portion of the larger case.

The outcome of it would have then been used to anticipate the results of the larger case, which is a consolidation of more than 2,500 lawsuits lodged by cities, counties, tribes, and states. It accuses the companies of contributing to the opioid crisis.

Companies originally involved in the lawsuit include AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson—which are known as the “Big Three” drug distributors in the country. Walgreens, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Purdue, and Johnson & Johnson were also named.

Between midnight and 1:00 a.m., the “Big Three” averted the first of the trials by agreeing to pay a combined $215 million to Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Teva additionally reached an agreement to pay $20 million in cash and another $25 million in suboxone, which is a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

Additionally, Henry Schein Medical agreed to pay $1.25 million.

“If this was a war, today was supposed to be D-Day, where we engage the enemy and storm the beach,” Paul Farrell Jr., an attorney for the two counties, told NPR. “So, last night at 11:50 p.m., the defendants retired from the field and decided to settle this particular skirmish rather than fight.”

Previously, the lone judge presiding over the cases encouraged both sides to reach settlements in order to prevent a potentially lengthy and bitter trial, meaning victims of the opioid crisis would begin to start seeing money sooner.

Notably, Walgreens did not reach any settlements, but its trial has now been delayed for up to six months, provided the pharmacy doesn’t end up reaching a settlement of its own beforehand. 

As for that larger trial involving the other 2,500 lawsuits, those are still scheduled to begin early next year if these companies fail to reach additional settlements.

The case has been closely scrutinized as a potentially precedent-setting trial; however, by settling, these companies prevent a landmark decision by the federal government that could serve as a legal litmus test for holding opioid companies accountable. 

Purdue and Johnson & Johnson Settle

Purdue was the first pharmaceutical company listed in the trial to settle, notably reaching a global agreement of $12 billion.

Purdue then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is still pending and will eventually be expected to form a new company that will continue manufacturing the painkiller OxyContin. The new company is expected to also donate addiction treatment and overdose reversal drugs.

The owners of Purdue were also expected to pay no less than $3 billion and up to $4.5 billion of the grand total, though some state attorneys generals said the fine did not account for the damages they’ve seen their states. 

“These people are among the most responsible for the trail of death and destruction the opioid epidemic has left in its wake,” North Carolina AG Josh Stein said in a promise to go directly after the Sacklers.

On Oct. 1, Johnson & Johnson reached a settlement for $20.4 million dollars for Cuyahoga and Summit counties. 

Johnson & Johnson Loses Oklahoma Trial

In August, Johnson & Johnson became the first pharmaceutical company to lose a case holding it responsible for the opioid crisis.

The case, which is lost to the state of Oklahoma, was considered a precedent among experts, though Johnson & Johnson has appealed it to the state’s Supreme Court.

At the time, Johnson & Johnson had been ordered to pay $572 million, but that number was later brought down by $107 million after a miscalculation by Judge Thad Balkman. Balkman said the number could continue to change before he gives his final order.

See what others are saying: (Politico) (Reuters) (NBC News)

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Pet Shop Employee Fired After Streamer Catches Disturbing Dog Throwing on Video

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  • A Twitch user streaming inside an LA pet shop caught an employee violently throwing a dog whose head can be heard hitting the ground in a now-viral clip. 
  • The store owner quickly apologized for the incident on social media, saying that the dog is doing fine and was taken to a veterinarian.
  • The owner added that the worker in question is no longer employed at the business.

Dog Throwing Caught on Live Stream 

An employee at a Los Angeles, California pet shop and rehoming center is no longer working at the store after they were caught on a live stream violently throwing a dog onto a concrete floor. 


The incident happened Wednesday at Bark n’ Bitches Dog Boutique, a business that describes itself on its website as “L.A.’s first HUMANE Pet Shop.”

Twitch user RIPRoyce, whose real name is Royce Thomas, happened to be live streaming at the shop and caught the disturbing incident on camera. 

In a clip from the stream, which has since shocked many across social media, it appears that one dog begins to bite at a smaller puppy. Then, the employee in question separates them by aggressively grabbing the dog by the back of its neck and throwing it onto the ground.

A hard thud can be heard as the dog hits the floor offscreen. Witnesses gasp and are stunned by what they’ve just seen.

The dog is visibly shaken by the throw and hides under a nearby bench to recover. When witnesses go over to console the animal, they can be heard saying that it landed on its head. 

Thomas told ABC7 that she never saw the employee again after the incident. She added that another employee came to hold the dog and tried to calm customers.

According to Thomas, some people in the store and some of her followers have contacted police about the incident.

Shop Owner Responds 

The clip sparked outrage on social media, with many calling for the employee to be fired or charged over the incident.

The pet shop posted a public apology later that night on its social media pages, with its owner Shannon von Roemer writing, “My deepest apologies for this incident. The dog was playing and acting normal after this horrific incident. She was taken to the vet and was cleared 100%. We are grateful. #rescuedogs #inexcusable #rescuedogsrule”

A text image included with the apology also called the incident “inexcusable” and added, “We will not tolerate this or any actions that put our rescues in harms way. The appropriate actions are being taken. This is NOT what we stand for.” 

A few hours later, the owner followed up with a video where she thanked everyone who has reached out to them with their concerns. “We’ve been in business for almost 14 years, and this is a first,” she said.

“I just want you to be rest assured that all actions will be taken to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I do want you to know that the employee is no longer with us and that the dog is actually doing dine and did go to the vet.” 

See what others are saying: (ABC 7) (Dexerto) (Newsweek)

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Next Round of the Streaming War Kicks-Off With Disney+ Launch

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  • After months of anticipation, Disney+ officially launched. While its content was met with largely decent reviews, it did face criticism from fans who were upset that the site crashed and had connection problems on its first day.
  • Meanwhile, an executive at Apple TV+ stepped down after the platform premiered two weeks ago to less than exciting reviews.
  • Apple and Disney are the latest to introduce their own streaming services, with more to follow. With Disney+ now in full swing, many wonder what the future of streaming will look like, and what will happen to platforms like Netflix.

Disney+ Launches

With the launch of Disney+ in full swing, the streaming wars are seeing its latest– and potentially biggest– battle. 

On Tuesday, Disney’s highly anticipated streaming service launched in the United States. Containing content that ranges from Disney’s classic animated films, to Star Wars and Marvel productions, the buildup to Disney+ was filled with fanfare and anticipation. 

When users went to watch both old and new shows, however, many hit a bump in the road. Several fans reported having connection issues with the service. In an appropriate nod to the studio’s catalog, Ralph and Venellope von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet deliver the bad news in an error message. 

Fans online reported receiving this message when trying to view content, load shows, and log in to or edit their profiles. Disney was the number one trending topic on Tuesday morning, accompanied by hashtags like #DisneyPlusDown and #DisneyPlusFail. Disney+ responded on Twitter, saying demand for the service “exceeded our highest expectations.”

Despite this bump in the road, the content on Disney+ has generated a relative amount of praise. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has been hailed by USA Today as “nostalgia done right”

The Mandalorian, the highly anticipated Star Wars series, has also seen fairly decent reviews. The Los Angeles Times called it a “safe” but “entertaining blockbuster” while The Verge said it proved Star Wars can work on the small screen. 

The Mandalorian became a trending topic of its own, followed by other nostalgic Disney shows like Gargoyles and Lizzie McGuire.

Apple TV+ Executive Leaves

Disney, however, was not the only streamings service making headlines. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Kim Rozenfeld is leaving his role as the head of scripted, unscripted and documentary programming at Apple TV+. 

Rozenfeld will still remain with the company in some capacity. According to the Reporter, he will work as a producer and has a first-look deal with Apple.

Apple TV+ launched two weeks ago to less than enthusiastic reviews. Of its four scripted originals, the service heavily marketed its celebrity-packed series The Morning Show. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, and Reese Witherspoon, the show was picked up for a second season before it even aired. Reviews for it ended up being less than favorable. 

Rolling Stone said, “Apple TV+ Rises But Doesn’t Shine With Starry New Drama.” CNN said it sounded a “muted alarm for Apple TV+.”

Each of the service’s original shows generated low buzz in comparison to larger projects at other streaming services like Netflix. Variety published a study done by Parrot Analytics that looked at the demand for new shows in 2019 following their first 24 hours of release. Apple TV+’s content all fell at the bottom of the list, with The Morning Show squarely in last place. 

Not all press for Apple TV+ was negative, though. Starting at $5 a month, it is among the more affordable streaming options. The remainder of its scripted shows also got the green light for second seasons. 

Future of Streaming

These stories do shine a light onto the world of streaming and the so-called “streaming wars” that studios, networks, and other services are finding themselves fighting. In the cases of Disney+ and Apple TV+, both have had problems as they launched, a technical error in one case and a business shake-up in another. Still, based on excitement and critical review alone, it does feel that Disney+ is leading the charge as far as services that could become a serious threat to dethrone Netflix as the king of streaming. 

Disney owns multiple facets of the entertainment industry, including ABC, Marvel, ESPN, 20th Century Fox, and earlier this year gained full control of Hulu. With all these properties in its back pocket, it has almost always seemed the obvious leader in this fight. 

With other companies poised to launch services of their own, it begs the question: how do they plan to compete with Disney’s large catalog of content?

Right now, it seems NBC Universal will have their service, Peacock, be free to users with ads. On the other hand, HBO Max, which comes from Warner Media, is aiming to be on the more expensive side of the spectrum at $14.99 per month. Both have been in ongoing battles to get their content back from places like Netflix to put on their own services. Peacock has secured The Office and HBO Max grabbed Friends. Those two shows are among the most popular on Netflix.

See what others are saying: (Fox Business) (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNBC)

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Apple Card Faces Investigation After Accusations of Gender Discrimination

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  • A popular Twitter thread has accused Apple Card, which is put out in partnership with Goldman Sachs, of gender bias. 
  • A programmer said he got 20 times the credit card limit as his wife, despite the fact that they file joint tax returns and the fact that she has a higher individual credit score than he does. 
  • Others said they faced similar problems, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who now holds a ceremonial role at the company.
  • Goldman Sachs insisted that gender is not a factor in card applications and approvals, but New York’s Department of Financial Services said it will investigate.

Thread Accusing Apple Card of Gender Bias Goes Viral

The New York Department of Financial Services says it will be looking into potential gender discrimination from Apple Card after several people, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, accused it of having a bias.

Problems with Apple Card, which is made in partnership with Goldman Sachs, first made their way to the surface when programmer and author David Heinemeier Hansson posted a twitter thread accusing it of sexism.  He wrote that it approved him of a higher limit than his wife.

According to Hansson, even after his wife paid off her card in full, she was not allowed to spend until the next billing period.

He initially said that customer service was overall unhelpful when trying to address the problem. One day after posting his thread, however, he followed up to say that his wife’s limit was bumped up.

As for his wife’s experience with Apple, he says she spoke to two representatives. He claims that the first said it was not discrimination and blamed it on the algorithm.

The second encouraged his wife to check her credit score again. Hansson and his wife both ended up checking their scores and learned that his wife actually had a higher score than he did. 

He continued to share his frustrations with this algorithm and its lack of transparency.

Steve Wozniak and Others Back Up the Claim 

Once this thread blew up, many others said they had experienced a similar problem.

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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who now holds a ceremonial role at the company, also replied to Hansson. Wozniak said his wife got ten times less than he did, despite them having shared assets and accounts. 

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He also said his wife had difficulty with customer service, and could not use her card after paying it off as well.

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In a Sunday interview with Bloomberg, Wozniak elaborated on his concerns about Apple Card and the algorithm behind it. 

“These sorts of unfairnesses bother me and go against the principle of truth. We don’t have transparency on how these companies set these things up and operate,” he told the outlet. “Our government isn’t strong enough on the issues of regulation. Consumers can only be represented by the government because the big corporations only represent themselves.”

“Algos obviously have flaws,” he added. “A huge number of people would say, ‘We love our technology but we are no longer in control.’ I think that’s the case.”

Goldman Sachs and New York’s DFS Respond

While some did respond to both Hansson and Wozniak saying they did not experience this, tweets accusing Apple Card of gender bias blew up, prompting several responses. 

Goldman Sachs released a statement on Sunday saying that, “In all cases, we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.”

“With Apple Card, your account is individual to you; your credit line is yours and you establish your own direct credit history,” the statement read. “Customers do not share a credit line under the account of a family member or another person by getting a supplemental card.”

They also said that applications are evaluated independently, looking at things like income, credit score, and debt management.

Linda Lacewell, the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services said she would be looking into the matter. 

“We will work to investigate what may have gone wrong, and if the algorithm used by Apple Card did indeed promote unlawful discrimination we will take appropriate action,” she wrote in a Medium post on Sunday. “But this is not just about looking into one algorithm — DFS wants to work with the tech community to make sure consumers nationwide can have confidence that the algorithms that increasingly impact their ability to access financial services do not discriminate and instead treat all individuals equally and fairly no matter their sex, color of skin, or sexual orientation.”

She encouraged consumers who have been affected by this, as well as tech leaders who have commentary on it, to reach out to New York’s DFS.  

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (The Verge) (Bloomberg)

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