National Roundup

Yuba City to pay man $15,000 to stop suing them

YUBA CITY, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California city has agreed to pay a man $15,000 so he won’t file any more lawsuits against the city or businesses alleging violations of the federal Americans with Disability Act, officials said.
Officials in Yuba City, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, said they’ve agreed to pay the money to George Louie in what they described as the first agreement of its kind.
The deal is most likely a relief for business owners in the Sutter County community, some of which have described Louie’s lawsuits as frivolous.
“He’s agreed not to file ADA lawsuits in our city, period,” said Darin Gale, Yuba City’s economic development manager. “There’s no timetable. It’s forever.”
The Sacramento Bee reported that Louie was placed by a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge on a state list of “vexatious litigants” in 2011, and he is barred from filing lawsuits in California courts, though he could still file suits in federal court.
Cris Vaughan, a Northern California attorney who has defended dozens of clients against Louie’s lawsuits, told the newspaper that the claims targeting local governments and small-business owners usually end in out-of-court settlements.
The settlement doesn’t mean Yuba City can ignore ADA regulations, city officials said. Gale noted that Yuba City spends $300,000 each year to upgrade sidewalks and other public facilities to make them accessible for disabled people.
“We understand the need to educate our businesses about ADA,” Gale said, citing the education workshops conducted by the city.
Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Louie were unsuccessful, and a call to his attorney was not immediately returned.
The settlement, to be paid out of an insurance fund, was unanimously approved by the Yuba City Council in a closed-door meeting Oct. 2.

Judge dismisses ‘Bachelor’ show bias claim case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a case filed by two black men who claimed ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” discriminated against casting participants of color.
U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger’s ruling states that casting decisions by the network and the series’ producers are protected by the First Amendment and the case should not continue.
Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson sued the network in April, claiming their bids to appear on “The Bachelor” were never given serious consideration. They claimed the show and its spinoff “The Bachelorette” discriminated against nonwhite participants.
Trauger’s ruling calls the plaintiffs’ efforts “laudable” but says the lawsuit is aimed at regulating the show’s content, which is forbidden under the First Amendment.
“Ultimately, whatever messages ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ communicate or are intended to communicate — whether explicitly, implicitly, intentionally, or otherwise — the First Amendment protects the right of the producers of these shows to craft and control those messages, based on whatever considerations the producers wish to take into account,” Trauger wrote.
ABC lauded the ruling, saying, “We felt from the onset this case was completely without merit and we are pleased the Court has found in our favor.”
An email sent to attorney Byron Perkins, who represented Claybrooks and Johnson, was not immediately returned.
At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, all of the men given star billing in the first 16 seasons of “The Bachelor” were white. Through seven seasons of “The Bachelorette,” two male Hispanic contestants were selected winners and the rest were white.

CVS to pay $5M to settle drug price allegations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Justice said Monday that a unit of CVS Caremark Corp. has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle allegations that it reported false information on prescription drug prices to the government’s Medicare program.
Federal investigators said CVS’ RxAmerica subsidiary reported false information about the prices of generic prescription drugs between 2007 and 2008. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services used this information in a website called Plan Finder, which seniors could use to estimate their out-of-pocket drug expenses.
But Department of Justice officials said the actual drug prices offered by the company were “in some cases significantly higher” than those submitted for use on the website.
“Those navigating our Medicare system deserve accurate information so they can make informed choices and obtain the benefits to which they are entitled,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Medicare provides health insurance coverage to about 48 million American seniors and people with disabililties.
Since 2006 the federal plan has included coverage for prescription drugs, though the actual plans are administered by private pharmacy benefit managers like CVS and Express Scripts.
The civil settlement resolves allegations made in two separate whistleblower lawsuits against Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS in 2008 and 2009. The two cases were combined in the Eastern District in November 2011.
CVS said it agreed to the settlement to avoid protracted and expensive litigation. It noted the period in question came before it acquired RxAmerica through its takeover of Longs Drugs Stores.
In January, CVS agreed to pay $5 million to resolve similar allegations that had beenfiled by the Federal Trade Commission.

Teen homicide suspect to have new mental exam

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — A 13-year-old Sheboygan boy accused of killing and robbing his great grandmother has been ordered to undergo a competency exam.
A judge granted the defense’s request for the exam on Monday.
The boy and his 13-year-old friend allegedly used a hatchet and a hammer to kill Barbara Olson at her Sheboygan Falls home last month before stealing jewelry and a car. Her daughter discovered her body in the garage two days later.
WLUK-TV reports the great grandson is scheduled to return to court Nov. 2 for his competency hearing. That’s the same day the friend returns to court for a hearing.
A judge has previously ruled there’s enough probable cause for both teens to stand trial in the case. The boys are charged as adults.n