Saturday, July 17, 2021
Schuyler County has joined with over two dozen municipal governments, and others, in suing the makers of generic drugs over alleged price-fixing.
The county, along with local governments in New York and elsewhere, filed an over 1000-page Summons and Complaint on June 30 against more than fifty companies, seeking injunctive relief, damages, and relief from harms that the complaint alleges resulted from an unlawful agreement among the defendants to allocate customers, rig bids, and fix, raise, maintain, and/or stabilize the prices of all of their generic pharmaceutical products,
The lawsuit follows a vote by the County Legislature in 2020, authorizing County Attorney Steven Getman to join forces with Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, a New York City law firm “in the investigation and/or prosecution of any legal claim against manufactures of generic pharmaceuticals and/or their executives based upon their actions in fixing prices, allocating markets, and engaging in other antitrust violations or other wrongdoing with respect to generic pharmaceuticals.”
According to Getman, the lawsuit is pursuing claims in several areas. These include increased health insurance premiums for county employees, additional workers’ compensation costs and higher costs of pharmaceuticals purchased for use by the county jail, all based upon artificially inflated generic drug prices.
Various government agencies have already commenced suit, Getman said, alleging violations of state and Federal antitrust laws and consumer protection statutes.
“In 2014, the Department of Justice began an investigation into the pricing of various generic pharmaceuticals,” Getman explained. “In the wake of the Federal investigation, in 2017, the state attorneys’ general of 48 states brought a civil action alleging price fixing, market division, and other antitrust violations by 16 defendant pharmaceutical companies related to fifteen (15) generic prescription drugs.”
“As alleged, the defendants' anticompetitive conduct falls principally into two categories. First, the defendants, allegedly communicated with each other to determine and agree on how much market share each would control and which customers each competitor was entitled to. Second, competitors allegedly communicated -- either in person, by telephone, or by text message -- and agreed to collectively raise and/or maintain prices for a particular generic drug.”
The lawsuits, Getman said, now involve over 100 generic drugs and more than fifty pharmaceutical defendants, including Teva, Sandoz, Mylan, Pfizer, Actavis, Amneal, Apotex, Aurobindo, Breckenridge, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Glenmark, Greenstone, Lannett, Lupin, Par, Taro USA, Upsher-Smith, Wockhardt USA and Zydus.
“As noted, hundreds of generic drugs have been implicated nationwide. Each affected county or municipality can bring an action asserting overpayments for each applicable generic drug,” Getman explained. “The key question in formulating a lawsuit was determining for which generic drug(s) each county has overpaid, and whether each was direct or indirect purchaser of same.”
According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the county, as Napoli Shkolnik is working on contingency basis that covers all costs associated with the lawsuit.
“By going forward with the litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers responsible for any unlawful role in the high cost of generic drugs,” O’Hearn said.
Locally, along with Schuyler County, Chemung, Yates and Livingston Counties are acting as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Other municipalities in New York and elsewhere are part of the case as well. The case is currently scheduled to be heard in Federal District Court in eastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to the generics case, Schuyler County has been working with Napoli Shkolnik to prosecute a pending action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the county arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the county. That case remains pending in state court.
A related trial, involving Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, is now underway on Long Island against several companies accused of fueling the opioid crisis. The trial on Long Island will be used as a test for the claims made by Schuyler County and other municipalities in New York, as well as an indicator of what may lie ahead for the drug makers, distributors and pharmacies in other states.
A copy of the June 30 complaint is available here.
Monday, July 12, 2021
• Plain language guides for tenants and the general public, developed in collaboration with grantees under the OAG initiative;The website also includes an Advocate Gateway with specialized resources for attorneys and other advocates assisting tenants during this time.
• A legal help directory to assist tenants in connecting with volunteer attorney programs in their region, and
• A list of Frequently Asked Questions about available COVID-19 housing protections
For a full announcement of the website launch, and other information, click here.
Monday, July 5, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
As of March 9, 2021, drivers no longer have their licenses suspended for unpaid traffic fines. As of June 29, those suspensions will be cleared from all records.
Suspensions are still permitted for unanswered tickets/missed hearings. However, defendants will be able to clear these suspensions by entering into payment plans, which also go into effect June 29.
Supporters of the new measure have argued that suspending driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines "criminalizes poverty and perpetuates structural racism in the criminal legal system." Some critics of the statute have argued that the suspension of the license was a strong incentive for people to actually go clear their outstanding tickets.
A complete copy of the new law can be found here.
Monday, June 21, 2021
It is a free program, designed to help people without an attorney who either have or would like to start a court case in: Erie County Surrogate’s Court, Civil Supreme and Surrogate’s Courts in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties.
Virtual Court Navigators are specially trained, supervised and available to help court users prepare for virtual appearances, file court forms, organize court papers, get answers to general questions, find community programs and services, refer people to legal service providers, navigate the court’s website, and more.
The New York State Courts Access to Justice Program "is dedicated to improving equal access to justice for New Yorkers of low-income and modest means who cannot afford an attorney by making it easier to navigate the court system. The NYS Courts Access to Justice program develops resources, including self-help services and pro bono programs, to equalize the playing field for all litigants."
For more information about the Virtual Court Navigator Pilot Program click here.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Meeting in regular session on Monday (June 14), the county legislature voted unanimously to enact a Local Law that approves a pilot program allowing 12- and 13-year old youths to do so through 2023 under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter.
Prior to its passage, Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman, Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, County Clerk Theresa Philbin and County Attorney Steven Getman all endorsed the law. In addition, members of the community, including a retired New York State Conservation officer, spoke in favor of the law at Monday’s meeting. No one spoke in opposition to the legislation.
The law as passed states that “deer hunting is a valued tradition for many Schuyler County families, providing quality food to county residents and reducing the negative impacts of overabundant deer populations on our agriculture, forests, and communities.”
As of June 6, the number of counties statewide that had opted into youth hunting totaled 18, according to the state Department of Conservation website. Other counties in the region that have opted in, the website shows, include Yates, Steuben, Chemung and Livingston.
These counties will be listed in the DEC’s upcoming hunting/trapping guide, which will be released soon. As more counties pass resolutions, they will be added to a regularly updated map on the DEC’s Junior Big Game Hunting website.
A complete copy of Schuyler County’s local law can be found here
Monday, June 14, 2021
Three graduates will be selected to win $500 awards. Winners will be selected based upon an essay on one of the following topics:
1. The Constitution: Is it past its expiration date?
2. The Bill of Rights: Do we need all 10 Amendments?
3. The Intersection of the First and Second Amendments: Do they depend on each other?
The contest is open to any 2021 high school graduate (including home-schooled students) legally residing in Schuyler County who will be continuing their education or entering military service after graduation.
Entries must be submitted prior to 12:00 AM on July 4, 2021. Winners will be announced at the Schuyler County Republican Committee meeting on July 21. They will receive their awards at the August 18 committee meeting.
For more information, and a complete copy of the contest rules and entry forms, click here.
Monday, June 7, 2021
Monday, May 31, 2021
NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN, that the Schuyler County Legislature will conduct a public hearing on the proposed Local Law at 6:30 p.m. on June 14, 2021, in Room 120 at the Human Services Complex, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, NY 14865, at which time all persons interested will be heard.
The complete text of the proposed local law is reproduced below.
Monday, May 24, 2021
National Safety Month: Schuyler County Scope To Make Free Gun Locks Available Through Partnership With County Attorney
The locks can be obtained from the County Attorney’s Office by calling 607.535.8121 during normal business hours and scheduling a pickup time. One lock will be available per household and will be provided on a “first come, first serve” basis. Supplies are limited.
“Partnering with County Attorney Getman allows SCOPE to participate in a countywide effort to promote gun safety as a critical part of home safety and increase awareness of just one of Governor Cuomo’s many gun laws. We are 100% membership funded and made up of concerned gun owners and conservation clubs across New York State.”
“In particular, this year, we want to focus on getting the message out to women gun owners and their families,” Phillips said. “Female gun ownership has been on a firm ascent and women are considered the fastest-growing segment in the gun-ownership population.”
According to Getman, the giveaway will help ensure that gun owners are in compliance with New York’s strict firearms storage laws, which require them to lock up their firearms while living in a home with someone under the age of 16.
“We encourage county residents to pick up a free lock so that they can securely store their firearm,” said Getman. “The locks fit on most types of handguns, rifles and shotguns. The cable is threaded through the weapon and blocks the barrel or the use of ammunition. It’s secured by a padlock and key.”
“We want to help minimize demands on health care workers and first respondents by emphasizing home safety, and firearm safety in particular, so together we can prevent accidents,” Getman said. “The goal is to prevent a young child or any other unauthorized person from accessing a firearm in the home.”
Phillips and Getman noted that the locks have been donated by SCOPE and, therefore, there is no county charge to the taxpayers for this service.
Observed annually in June, National Safety Month highlights leading causes of preventable injury and death on a national scale, providing the latest information and resources in an effort to help keep more people safe. Hunting and gun rights groups, such as SCOPE, typically emphasize gun safety as a critical part of home safety.
SCOPE is a non-partisan statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to educating the public about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. The Schuyler County chapter’s meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm in January, March, May, October and as necessary at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge, 2096 Co Rd 14, Montour Falls, NY 14865.
The Schuyler County Attorney is the legal advisor to the county legislature, county administrator and other county officials. In addition, that office prosecutes family court cases of child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and other civil matters on behalf of county officials.
Monday, May 17, 2021
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) National Technical Assistance Center, is hosting a national, online “Welcome to Medicare” for people getting ready to retire, new to Medicare, and/or their caregivers on June 23, 2021, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET.
There will be presentations, pre-recorded educational videos, materials available for download, and virtual exhibits.
To register, click here.
Monday, May 10, 2021
The Resolution and Local Law are on the agenda for introduction at the Schuyler County Legislative Meeting at 6:30 pm on Monday May 10, 2021 in Montour Falls.
The proposed local law finds that “deer hunting is a valued tradition for many Schuyler County families, providing quality food to county residents and reducing the negative impacts of overabundant deer populations on our agriculture, forests, and communities.”
Under the proposed law, youth hunters aged 12-13 will now be allowed to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter. Currently, young hunters that are 12 or 13 years old can already hunt big game using archery equipment and can hunt small game with a firearm; however, until now, New York had been the only state to not allow these young hunters to hunt big game.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021
The legislature passed a resolution at its April 12, 2021 meeting, recognizing “Law Day” as an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s heritage of justice, liberty, and equality under the law. The resolution was submitted to the legislature by Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman.
In passing the resolution, the legislature found that “promoting public understanding of the roots of our freedom are an important component in the civic education of the citizens of the United States, the State of New York and the County of Schuyler.”
The American Bar Association selects an annual theme for each Law Day. Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in 1957 when the American Bar Association envisioned a special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.
A copy of Schuyler County’s resolution “Recognizing and Commemorating May 1, 2021 as ‘Law Day’ in Schuyler County” is available below.
Monday, April 26, 2021
These courts connect justice-involved veterans to appropriate services in a court setting, surrounded by an interdisciplinary team. These include the judge, court staff, prosecutors, treatment/service providers, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, volunteer veteran peer mentors, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Services, all of whom work collaboratively to help veterans.
Prior to this legislation, there were only approximately 33 VTCs in 25 counties. Due to the lack of a VTC in over half of the counties of the state, about one-third of New York veterans lacked access to a VTC.
The new law authorizes the transfer of cases from jurisdictions without VTCs to adjacent counties with VTCs and requires the chief administrative judge to establish new VTCs, to the extent practicable.
Monday, April 19, 2021
• The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
• If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
• An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
• The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
• This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
• Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
For more information, click here.
Monday, April 12, 2021
Thursday, April 8, 2021
In addition, the proposed resolution asks the state legislature to mandate that all such cryptocurrency mining operations permitted within the state operate solely on renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydropower.
The resolution was introduced by Legislator Mark Rondinaro (R-District 7). It was drafted by County Planning Director Kristin Van Horn, with input from County Attorney Steven Getman and the County’s Environmental Management Council. It targets mining operations having peak power demand of more than 50 kilowatts.
If passed, copies of Schuyler County’s resolution will be forwarded to state officials, requesting further action on potential regulations.
The resolution is directed at operations statewide and does not single out any specific cryptocurrency mining facility, such as the Greenidge Generation plant and bitcoin mining facility in neighboring Yates County. That facility recently began to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin and is reportedly seeking a permit from the Town of Torrey Planning Board to expand. Opponents of the expansion claim the additional computers will have adverse impacts on the environment. Greenidge officials have disputed that claim.
The April 12 meeting of the Schuyler County Legislature will be held at 6:30 pm at the County Human Services Complex, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, NY. The public is encouraged and invited to attend. All COVID-related social distancing and masking rules will apply.
A complete copy of the proposed resolution can be seen below.