Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New York State Supreme Court denies drug companies’ motions to dismiss counties’ Opioid cases

A New York State Supreme Court Judge has refused to dismiss lawsuits against several large opioid manufacturers in one of the first decisions to come out of the cases brought by local governments over the prescription painkillers.

In a pair of rulings on Monday (June 18), Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo rejected motions to dismiss brought by Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Insys Therapeutics Inc.

“The plaintiffs allege the manufacturer defendants employed assiduously crafted, multi-pronged marketing strategies that targeted the general public … as part of their respective campaigns to change the perception of the risks associated with prescription opioids and to de-stigmatize and normalize the long-term use of opioids for chronic nonmalignant pain,” he wrote.

Therefore, Garguilo allowed cases brought by various New York counties to go forward alleging violations of New York’s fraud and false advertising laws, as well as public nuisance and other claims.

One such case has been brought by Schuyler County. In August 2018, the County Legislature voted to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik to work with Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, as special counsel, to bring an action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County. In May of this year, Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in the County. That case was transferred to Suffolk County Courts shortly thereafter, along with other cases brought by New York counties in the state.

“We are obviously pleased by the court’s decision,” Getman said. “This is one of the first decisions to fully address all the substantive arguments in these various cases, and the court issued a well-thought-out opinion covering many of the issues raised throughout the state, including in our case. We consider it valuable precedent.”

“Schuyler County’s lawsuit will move forward to seek reimbursement for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as to provide the County with financial assistance to fight addiction, overdoses, drug-related crimes and drug deaths,” Getman stated.

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.

Schuyler County is one of several New York municipalities to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

New York State Opioid Litigation Part 48, Suffolk County orders June 18, 2018. by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, June 18, 2018

Schuyler County launches its Community Health Survey

Schuyler County Public Health and partners are doing a Community Health Survey with the intent of completing a new Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan by the end of December 2019.

The link to the online survey will be active for the next 4-6 weeks and Schuyler County encourages all to please complete it.

The same survey will be offered in each of the nine Finger Lakes Counties (Schuyler, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston and Monroe). The coordinated effort is with the Public Health Department in each county and with Common Ground Health (the Regional Health Systems Agency).

Participants who provide their name and phone number or email address will be entered into a drawing for a $500 grocery or gasoline gift card.

For more information, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Schuyler County joins opposition to Romulus incinerator project

Schuyler County is the latest local government to oppose the proposed “Circular enerG” garbage incinerator project at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, Seneca County, New York.

Citing environmental concerns, negative effects on agriculture and tourism, and local opposition from the Town of Romulus and County of Seneca, the Schuyler County Legislature voted Monday (June 11) against the project, which would be the state’s largest trash incinerator.  The vote was unanimous.

“The wine, craft beverage, agriculture, and agri-tourism industry is driving job creation and economic growth in the Finger Lakes,” the legislature held, further noting that, “trash incineration is not compatible with current or future economic development goals of the region, nor with New York State’s renewable energy standard.”    Therefore, the resolution says, state and federal officials should reject the project.

In a separate vote, the legislature unanimously resolved to support legislation introduced by Senator Tom O’Mara, Senator Pam Helming, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Michael Cusick, that would help block the facility.   That legislation would prevent power projects that burn garbage from receiving expedited permitting through the “Article X” process. Instead, those projects would be required to conform with local laws, applicable environmental rules, and the state solid waste management permitting process.

Both resolutions were submitted to the legislature by the County’s Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn, Director), with assistance from the County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), the Schuyler County Attorney (Steven Getman), the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County’s Community Development and Natural Resource Committee.  The motions to pass each were made by legislator Mark Rondinaro (Town of Reading) and seconded by legislator Van Harp (Town of Hector).

Romulus Town Supervisor, David Kaiser, an opponent of the project, praised Schuyler County officials.

“I want to personally thank the Chair of the Schuyler County Legislature, Dennis Fagan, and his fellow county officials who worked to pass these resolutions,” Kaiser said.  “If this incinerator project is approved, it will have a devastating impact on Romulus and the Finger Lakes region. Allowing a giant trash incinerator disguised as a power plant to move forward over local opposition is unfair to our residents and existing businesses.”

The Circular enerG facility would require the daily delivery of more than 1,000 tons of trash to the site, primarily from New York City, and withdraw 445,000 gallons of water daily from Seneca Lake.   News reports indicate that a 260-foot smoke stack will emit chemicals that may be harmful to human health, and that the facility will be located near the Romulus Central School and the Hillside Children’s Center. 

After the project met strong opposition from the community, the company asked for “Article X” approval from the state's Public Service Commission rather than the Town of Romulus in an attempt to bypass local review.   Circular enerG also sued the town in a bid to overturn recent local zoning decisions blocking its construction.

Schuyler County joins county legislatures in Seneca, Tompkins, Yates and Ontario as well as the town boards of Romulus, Geneva, Lodi, Ovid, Seneca Falls, Varick and others in opposing the project.

The text of each Schuyler County  resolution is available here.

Resolutions of the Schuyler County Legislature: Opposing Proposed Garbage Incinerator, Seneca County, New Y... by Steven Getman on Scribd

Bill to crack down on child sex trafficking set to pass

New York Post:
A bill to crack down on predators who force or manipulate children into prostitution is headed for passage this year, lawmakers said Thursday.

The revised law would punish anyone who intentionally promotes or profits from prostitution of people under the age of 18 with a felony sex trafficking charge — without having to prove the child was compelled....

The Senate has already passed a similar version of the ... bill, which was sponsored by Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island)....

The bill set for passage makes it a separate class B felony for anyone 21 or over to promote or benefit from the prostitution of anyone under 18.

It also says that arguing that a perpetrator didn’t know a victim’s age is no longer a valid defense.

Monday, June 4, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court: police need warrant to search vehicle located near home

Via Washington Examiner:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled police must obtain a warrant to search a vehicle parked near a home on private property, setting new limits on law enforcement's ability to conduct searches...

The man at the center of the case is Ryan Collins, who twice eluded police while riding a motorcycle in Albemarle County, Va., in 2013. Officers eventually found the motorcycle covered with a tarp and parked on a parking patio outside a house belonging to Collins’ girlfriend.

Police lifted the tarp and ran the motorcycle’s vehicle identification number. Upon running the VIN, officers discovered the motorcycle had been stolen in New York several years earlier, and Collins was arrested.

Collins argued the police violated the Fourth Amendment with its warrantless search because the motorcycle was located within the curtilage of the home.

But a trial court, state appeals court, and the Virginia Supreme Court disagreed, and said the search was constitutional.

In its decision, the Virginia Supreme Court cited the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception, under which an officer can search a vehicle without a warrant if he or she has probable cause to believe the vehicle was involved in a crime.

But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying nothing in its case law indicates that the automobile exception gave law enforcement the right to enter a home or its curtilage to access a vehicle without a warrant.

The complete decision can be found here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Schuyler County calls on New York State to increase financial resources to County Veteran Service Agencies

Declaring that “our veterans represent the very best of America, having bravely answered the call to serve …and having earned the dignity that comes with ... defending our great nation’s values,” the Schuyler County Legislature has called on New York State to amend the Executive Law, in the relation to the cost of maintenance and operation of veterans’ service agencies.

The resolution, prepared by the County Veterans’ Service Agency (Joan Scott, Director)

with assistance from the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County Attorney (Steven Getman) asks the state legislature to remove the fifty percent cap on total expenditures for maintenance and operation that can be reimbursed by the state. The resolution also supports increasing the maximum reimbursement allowable to each county, noting that the amount of funding currently provided by the State to local veterans’ service agencies is minimal.

The resolution was passed at the legislature’s May 14 meeting and directs that the Clerk of the Legislature forward certified copies of the Resolution to Governor Cuomo, Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano, and all other appropriate state officials.

The Schuyler County Veterans Service Agency advocates on behalf of Schuyler County veterans and their families, as individuals and as a group, to ensure they receive benefits granted by law for service in the United States Armed Forces.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Version of N.Y. Family Court "Do it Yourself" Form Programs Launched

All New York State Family Court DIY (Do It Yourself) Form computer programs have been updated to improve the unrepresented litigant’s experience.

Program users no longer require Adobe Flash or Microsoft Word or Word Viewer to prepare their court papers. Instead the papers generated by the programs open in a PDF document. The computer program is also now available on mobile devices.

The DIY Forms FAQ page has been updated to reflect the changes to the program. According to the Court System, improved DIY Form Programs for Surrogate’s, Supreme, County, District, City, Civil, Housing and Justice Courts will be coming soon.

These forms cannot give you legal advice.  Litigants having questions about family court procedures should consult an attorney.  In certain cases, you may be eligible for assigned or low-cost counsel.

For more information about DIY Form Programs click here.