RSSCategory: Law

Pay for Delay

March 31, 2013 | By | Reply More
Pay for Delay

Why is it that generic drug makers sometimes delay entering the market, sometimes long after the drug patent expires? This is another tale in corporatocracy, told by Alternet:

[I]magine you’re a big-time drug company. You want to keep competitors off the market as long as possible. Your move is to basically sue the pants off the generic drugmaker for copyright infringement, setting in motion a long and tortuous legal process. And these usually end with “pay-for-delay” deals. The brand-name drug company pays the generic manufacturer a cash settlement, and the generic manufacturer agrees to delay entry into the market for a number of years. In the case before the Supreme Court, the drug company paid $30 million a year to protect its $125 million annual profit in AndroGel, a testosterone supplement.

It’s hard to see this as anything but bribery, designed to preserve a lucrative monopoly for the brand-name drug maker. In fact, this is what the Federal Trade Commission has argued for over a decade. They consider it a violation of antitrust law, arguing that the exchange of cash gives the generic manufacturer a share of future profits in the drug, specifically to prolong the monopoly. As SCOTUSBlog summarizes from the FTC’s court brief, in the regulator’s view, “Nothing in patent law … validates a system in which brand-name companies could buy off their would-be competitors.” Indeed, everyone wins with pay-for-delay but the consumer: the FTC estimates that the two dozen deals inked in 2012 alone cost drug patients $3.5 billion annually, with the brand-name and generic manufacturers splitting the ill-gotten profits.

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Checkpoint refusals

March 22, 2013 | By | 5 Replies More

These drivers really know the law, to the consternation of these border patrol agents.

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Putting mortgage trustees under the microscope

March 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

I’m going to offer several facts, then I’ll ask a few questions.

  • Many states allow foreclosures to occur entirely outside of the court system. In these “non-judicial” foreclosure states, a “trustee” is deemed to be a “neutral” party charged with the duty to make sure that the foreclosure process is fair.
  • Since 2008, U.S. banks have foreclosed on more than 10 million families. About half of these have been non-judicial foreclosures supervised by trustees.
    Trustees are appointed by the banks at the time homeowners take out their home loans. These trustees are strangers to the homeowners, but highly paid repeat-player legal advocates for the banks.
  • Many foreclosures occur despite the fact that homeowners are disputing whether the foreclosure should occur at all. In many of these cases, the homeowner claims that he or she has made all mortgage payments timely, indicating that the bank has lost or misallocated the payments. In significant numbers of these cases, the homeowner has offered written proof that he or she has made every mortgage payment on time. In other cases, the bank unjustifiably added charges to the bill (such as forced-place insurance, even though the home-owner already has insurance) and the homeowner refuses to pay these bogus charges. On other occasions, the bank has mangled the accounting, giving the homeowner no confidence that the bank has any idea of what is owed or what has been paid.
  • I have seen each of these situations in cases I’ve handled. Despite knowledge of each of these problems, the “neutral” trustee in each of these cases nonetheless proceeded with the foreclosure.
  • On occasions too numerous to count, homeowners facing unjustified foreclosures had turned for help and advice to these supposedly “neutral” trustees, calling them up and asking questions. In many of these cases, the trustees gave the customer terrible legal advice—advice that was helpful to the banks and harmful to the homeowners. In many cases, the trustees gave the homeowners no advice at all, indicating that the customers should simply pay the banks unwarranted late fees and back interest, or else lose their homes.
  • Many “trustees” are also law firms (consumer advocates refer to them as “foreclosure mills”), who in addition to falsely claiming that they are “neutral trustees,” also serve as attorneys in fact to the banks.

    [More . . . ]

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Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

February 27, 2013 | By | 10 Replies More
Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]

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Big banks complicit with online payday lenders.

February 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

Big banks are providing the funds for online payday lenders. This story from the NYT is not the least bit surprising, not that it makes this article any less disturbing.

While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals.

The article indicates that without the backing of the big banks, many of these payday lenders would cease to exist.

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FBI entrapment revs up “terrorism” prosecutions

February 17, 2013 | By | Reply More

From Alternet:

In the ten years following 9/11, the FBI and the Justice Department indicted and convicted more than 150 people following sting operations involving alleged connections to international terrorism. Few of these defendants had any connection to terrorists, evidence showed, and those who did have connections, however tangential, never had the capacity to launch attacks on their own. In fact, of the more than 150 terrorism sting operation defendants, an FBI informant not only led one of every three terrorist plots, but also provided all the necessary weapons, money, and transportation.

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We the People proposed Amendment

February 11, 2013 | By | Reply More

This proposed Constitutional Amendment from We the People Amendment is loaded with good ideas:

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

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U.S. sues S&P; It’s about time.

February 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

Reported by Huffpo:

But the government’s lawsuit paints a picture of a company that misled investors knowingly, more concerned about making money than about accurate ratings. It says S&P delayed updating its ratings models, rushed through the ratings process and was fully aware that the subprime market was flailing even as it gave high marks to investments made of subprime mortgages. In 2007, one analyst forwarded a video of himself singing and dancing to a tune about the deterioration of the subprime market, with colleagues laughing.

Ratings agencies like S&P are a key part of the financial crisis narrative. When banks and other financial firms wanted to package mortgages into securities and sell them to investors, they would come to a ratings agency to get a rating for the security. Many securities made of risky subprime mortgages got high ratings, giving even the more conservative investors, like pension funds, the confidence to buy them. Those investors suffered huge losses when housing prices plunged and many borrowers defaulted on their mortgage payments.

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Scouts and Honor and Fair

February 1, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More
Scouts and Honor and Fair

My relationship with the Boy Scouts of America was not the most pleasant.  I was an oddity, to be sure.  I think I was at one time the only—only—second class scout to be a patrol leader. Second class.  For those who may not have been through the quasi-military organization, the way it was structured in […]

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