Major pharmacy chains are being held liable.
The opioid epidemic. Last month, two northeastern Ohio counties – Lake and Trumbull – took CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart to federal court. During the six-week trial, the counties argued the pharmacies did nothing to stop the flow of an estimated over 140 million pills that led to hundreds of overdose deaths. And that the crisis has cost each county $1 billion. But the retailers’ lawyers put the blame on doctors, drug cartels, and drug manufacturers. And apparently pointed fingers at the FDA and DEA for approving and not monitoring the drugs. Now, after nearly six days of deliberations, a jury has weighed in.
It unanimously found that the chains helped fuel the crisis. It’s a historic ruling in an epidemic that’s claimed the lives of over 500,000 Americans and reached record levels in the US. This is reportedly the first time a jury’s been able to weigh in on an opioid case. Federal judges have settled previous suits (think: with Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson). It’s also the first time pharmacies have actually finished a trial to defend themselves. And could set a precedent for future lawsuits claiming drug chains and manufacturers created a “public nuisance” (aka made an ongoing crisis worse) – similar arguments that failed in California and Oklahoma. But others are saying ‘not so fast.’
CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart are expected to appeal. Walgreens argued the trial court had made “significant legal errors” by even letting the case go before a jury. The chains could also argue that a mistrial should’ve been declared after a juror showed outside research to the rest of the jury (a big no, no). And claim the trial was “engineered” to favor the counties. But lawyers for the counties called the verdict an “overdue reckoning.” And reportedly said it was a “wake-up call” for US pharmacies. Meanwhile, future hearings will help the trial judge determine how much each company has to pay up.
Families across the US have lost parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones to the opioid epidemic. And entire communities have been struggling to find a way out of the devastating crisis. Now, this verdict paves a way for some accountability from those helping fuel the epidemic.
Charlottesville. Yesterday, a jury told more than a dozen white nationalist leaders and organizers of the Unite the Right rally to pay more than $25 million in damages. In 2017, hundreds of white nationalists marched through Charlottesville after the city announced plans to remove a Confederate statue. But things turned deadly after an individual intentionally drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters – killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens. After a weeks-long civil trial, a jury decided that the white nationalists pay up. But they couldn’t agree on two federal conspiracy charges. Lawyers for the far-right organizers reportedly will try to reduce the award amount, saying their clients can’t afford it.
Parkland. On Monday, the families of Parkland shooting victims reached a tentative $127.5 million settlement with the federal gov. In January 2018, the FBI received a tip that a former student was “going to explode” and carry out a school shooting. And he did just that about five weeks later – killing 14 students and three faculty members. In the days following the shooting, the FBI confirmed they received warnings but didn’t follow proper protocols. And that the tip wasn’t forwarded to the bureau’s Miami field office. Now, the lead lawyer for the families is calling the settlement a “step toward justice,” but said no amount of money can bring back their loved ones.
The Biden admin. Yesterday, President Biden announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from a US reserve to bring gas prices down. The US has a stockpile of about 605 million barrels in case of natural disasters, national security issues, or anything else. But the Biden admin has been facing mounting pressure to cut down gas prices that are averaging about $3.40 per gallon. Especially since the higher price at the pump can mean higher costs for things like food, transportation, and this winter’s heating bills (hi, inflation). Now, Biden is taking matters into his own hands. And plans to coordinate with India, China, the UK, Japan, and South Korea – which are also tapping into their reserves. The US barrels won't begin to be released until mid-December and the admin warns that the change isn’t expected to bring prices down right away.
Enter, pushback: Last year, the US used an average of about 8 million barrels of gasoline per day. Many Republican lawmakers are criticizing the admin's move, saying it highlights America's poor energy policies. Meanwhile, some are encouraging Biden to bring back the Keystone XL pipeline running from Canada.
...Oh and speaking of rising prices, Dollar Tree is raising most of its prices to $1.25. Someone update the logo to A Dollar 25 Tree, please.
Show them this survey. It found that more Americans who don’t already have kiddos say they’re unlikely to have them. And that it’s because of financial reasons, medical issues, and singledom. Or they just don’t want them. It’s got experts worried about the future of the US as birth rates decline for the sixth year in a row – a trend that can affect your wallet. Maybe more people would consider having kids if they had paid family leave. Nudge, nudge, Congress.
PS: We spoke to Sec. Pete Buttigieg about the importance of parental leave as President Biden’s spending package heads to the Senate. Continue to spread the word and share your own experiences by using #ShowUsYourLeave on social media.
The Grammy nominees. Yesterday, the full list of nominated artists, songs, and records was released. Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, HER, and Olivia Rodrigo got some of the most nominations. While Jay-Z became the most Grammy-nominated artist with No. 83.
Also pay attention to your body. The holidays can be triggering when it comes to disordered eating, so here's what you need to know about taking care of yourself.
Skimm’d by Rashaan Ayesh, Maria del Carmen Corpus, Mariza Smajlaj, and Julie Shain
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter.
Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.
While US vaccination rates increased because of the delta variant, it also ushered in a new wave of COVID-19 infections. And now with omicron’s spread, Americans are learning more about how variants are able to mutate and become more transmissible. Learn more here.
It’s official, booster shots have been authorized for all adults. Remember: COVID-19 vaccines first debuted in the US in December. Since then, gov agencies have issued a slew of new recs. Here’s what you need to know.
Got COVID questions? We did, too. "Skimm This" talked to US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy about what to call this big spike in cases, how bad things might get before they get better, and whether employers should be mandating employees get vaccinated.