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Baton Rouge Legal Blog

New traffic laws in Louisiana are in effect

The number of traffic fatalities in Louisiana has been increasing since 2013, most notably in urban areas of the state. In a serious effort to improve traffic safety and increase accountability, Louisiana’s Highway Safety Commission is championing several new traffic laws went into effect as of August 1, 2018.

 

A cancer drug company agrees to an $885 million settlement

A leading wholesale drug company that distributes a significant share of pharmaceuticals to Louisiana and the rest of the country, agreed to a settlement based on a claim that it repackaged and sold contaminated oncology drugs to the federal government. The $885 million settlement includes more than $600 million in civil damages.

The initial allegations were brought as the result of a qui tam lawsuit. In such an action, a private citizen can sue a company for allegedly cheating the federal or state government in some way. The citizen, who typically works for the company and is known in the court action as the "relator" or whistleblower, acts as a third-party suing in place of the government. If successful, the private citizen may be eligible to receive between 15 -25 percent of the recovery.

Large drug company agrees to huge settlement

A large cancer drug company recently settled a massive qui tam lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice worth more than $600 million. The lawsuit alleged that the AmerisourceBergen Corporation repackaged oncology drugs that contained bacteria and other non-sterile particles and sent them out to health care providers in Louisiana and throughout the United States. This legal action was initiated by a whistleblower whose actions are protected under the False Claims Act, also called Lincoln's Law.

Qui tam is a type of action under this law where, on behalf of the federal government, a third party can sue a government contractor. Employees who blow the whistle in these case are sometimes known as "relators," and they can be rewarded 15 to 25 percent of the recovered funds. Whistleblowers receive such a high reward because there is value in their action and finding employment after turning on an employer can be difficult.

Louisiana police officer injured in motorcycle accident

A police officer suffered life-threatening injuries when the motorcycle he was riding was struck by a car on the afternoon of Sept. 25 according to media reports. The officer, who has served with the Slidell Police Department for more than a decade, was escorting a funeral procession at the time of the crash. Subsequent reports indicate that the officer's condition has stabilized, but doctors have not speculated about his chances or recovery.

The motorcycle and car accident took place as the procession left a funeral home on Gause Boulevard West at approximately 12:30 p.m. Eyewitnesses say that a black sedan pulled in front of the officer's motorcycle as it headed westbound after pulling out of a parking lot. The officer was ejected from his motorcycle after striking the car according to reports.

3 men facing prison time and forfeitures for alleged Ponzi scheme

A criminal case against three men accused of running a $364 million Ponzi scheme serves as a reminder to investors in Louisiana to choose their money managers carefully. A federal investigation in Maryland has resulted in the arrest of three men and charges of wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft. Convictions on any of these charges could produce 20-year prison sentences.

According to the 14-count indictment, the men attracted investors by lying about investment returns. They were supposed to buy defaulted debts that would be sold supposedly at a profit to other parties. Many individuals, including doctors, accountants, professional athletes and bankers, reportedly gave the men money to invest in debt trading, but the men allegedly spent the money on themselves. Investigators collected details about the men spending $74 million on luxury homes, fancy cars, boats and diamond jewelry. They also allegedly gambled away $25 million at casinos. The indictment called for the forfeiture of the recoverable assets.

Reckless driver kills motorcyclist in Louisiana

A 39-year-old man was killed on the morning of Sept 12 when his motorcycle struck a minivan being driven recklessly according to the Louisiana State Police. The man behind the wheel of the minivan has been cited for failing to yield, but reports suggest that the investigation is ongoing and further charges may be filed. Police are said to be waiting for the results of toxicology tests performed on both drivers to reveal whether or not drug use or alcohol consumption could have played a role.

The collision took place on Louisiana Highway 3127 in Vacherie at approximately 5:30 a.m. According to a LSP report, the rider of a northbound motorcycle was ejected when his machine struck a Pontiac minivan that turned left directly into his path. Reports reveal that the Pearl River resident was wearing an approved crash helmet at the time of the accident, but he was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. James Parish Coroner's Office.

Contractor agrees to restitution in fraud case

A Louisiana construction contractor gave an Alford plea on Sept. 4 to filing or maintaining false public records after being accused of over 135 counts of various white collar crimes in several separate parishes. The 41-year-old man maintained his innocence but said that the plea was in his best interest. In an Alford plea, a person can plead guilty without admitting to the criminal act and while continuing to assert innocence. The man, along with his company, Complete Construction Contractors LLC, was accused of insurance fraud, theft, extortion and contractor fraud, among other issues in Livingston, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, St. John the Baptist and Terrebonne parishes.

The man was accused of a number of white collar crimes after he signed contracts with numerous victims of the August 2016 flooding in the area. These clients said that he never performed the work or showed up for the jobs; when they refused to pay for incomplete or shoddy work, the man filed liens on their property. In addition, other subcontractors that took on projects for the company were not paid for their work.

Three tips for businesses to prevent corporate fraud

Every business worries about offenses that could lead to criminal charges. The mere allegation of corporate fraud could have devastating effects for an entire company, including decreased business, negative publicity and lower morale. The average business in the United States loses 5 percent of its revenue to fraud. Globally, fraud causes $3.7 trillion in loss every year.

It behooves businesses to take proactive measures to prevent white collar crime within their ranks. In this post, we will examine three few useful tips that businesses can implement to avoid criminal fraud charges.

Liability for bicycle accidents in Louisiana

Liability for accidents between cars and bicycles comes down to the question of who was negligent. In most cases, both parties are at fault to some degree, but fault must be determined based on state and local traffic laws. Both drivers and cyclists have what is called the duty to exercise ordinary care regarding their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Drivers can be negligent in a variety of ways by speeding, ignoring traffic signs or drifting into the bike lane, for example. Drivers can be accused of recklessness if they knowingly disregard the safety of others. While some acts of negligence must be proven through eyewitness testimony or other evidence, traffic violations fall under "negligence per se" and require no other proof to be considered negligence. Drivers are also held to a higher standard when children on bicycles are involved.

NFL player faces insider trading charges

Football fans in Louisiana and around the country will likely know Mychal Kendricks best as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles team that won Super Bowl LII. Reduced playing time prompted the former second-round draft pick to sign with the Cleveland Browns in June 2018, but media reports reveal that the Browns released him on Aug. 29 after media outlets reported that federal prosecutors had charged him with insider trading.

Kendricks is alleged to have made illegal profits of almost $1.2 million on four investments. Prosecutors say that a friend of Kendricks, who worked as an analyst at an investment bank, tipped him off about four pending corporate acquisitions. Kendricks is said to have paid the man $10,000 for the confidential information. Prosecutors say that the investment analyst has also been charged, and both defendants face long custodial sentences if convicted.