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Family of Killed Ramapo Worker, Lenape Member Wins $2.1 M Verdict in New Jersey

Family of killed Ramapo worker, Lenape member wins $2.1M verdict in New Jersey

 
Nov. 30, 2011

The family of a former Ramapo town worker killed by a New Jersey park police officer has won a $2.1 million award from a Bergen County jury.

The civil court jurors found that Chad Walder used unnecessary force when he shot and killed Emil Mann during a April 1, 2006, confrontation outside Ringwood State Park.

Walder, now retired, was acquitted of criminal charges of reckless manslaughter in 2009 by a Superior Court jury at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.

Mann, 45, of Monroe and a member of the Ramapough Lenape Indian tribe, died nine days after suffering two gunshot wounds.

"It's pretty clear the jury found that the officer acted unreasonably when he shot Emil Mann, but lied repeatedly about his actions and Emil Mann," said attorney Nick Brustin, who represented the family in the lawsuit.

The trial lasted about three weeks and the civil jury deliberated for two hours before returning its verdict Monday, Brustin said.

The second phase of the trial began Tuesday with the jury being asked whether the Mann family should be paid punitive damages for their loved one's death and, if so, how much.

Brustin said the jury deliberated the question Tuesday evening but hadn't yet reached a decision. Deliberations are expected to continue today.

Mann's three sons and other tribe members were in court for the trial and verdict. Mann had worked as a heavy-equipment operator for Ramapo.

The shooting occurred during a barbecue near Stag Hill, outside the state park in Ringwood.

Violence ensued after Walder tried to stop tribe members from riding ATVs in the park, which is illegal.

Otis Mann, unrelated to Emil Mann, admitted in court last year that he grabbed Lt. Kelly Gottheiner of the state park police by the hair. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on a police officer.

Walder rushed to her aid, at which time he confronted Mann and shot him. Walder claimed he shot in self-defense, an argument that led to his acquital on criminal charges.

The standard of evidence is lower in a civil trial, and Mann's family has filed a multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit against New Jersey and the park police.

While Walder is the only defendant in the case, New Jersey's Tort Claims Act allows the family to collect its damages from the state of New Jersey, said Lydia Cotz, an attorney representing the Ramapough Indian tribe and family.

"We knew that a different jury would decide the facts differently from the criminal trial, and that is exactly what happened," Cotz said.

"The jury's decision was the proper outcome," she said, "and we now have some closure for the family and the Ramapough community."

Lawsuit, Sexual Assault, racial bias within NJ AG's Office

Lawsuit: Sexual assault, racial bias within NJ AG's Office

Photo by Dmitry Rukhlenko/DeviantArt

A New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice supervisor allegedly sexually assaulted a female fraud inspector within his department on a Sea Girt beach, according to a civil lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.

The incident occurred in August 2009 when the alleged victim and her supervisor, Harry Polihrom, attended a seminar conducted by the State Police Academy held on the beach.

The lawsuit alleges Polihrom began engaging in sexual harassment and the instructor of the seminar, named as “John Doe” in the suit, did nothing to stop it.

“Defendant Polihrom picked plaintiff up, grabbing her with one hand around her crotch and over her vagina, and the other gripping her breast, with the apparent purpose of throwing her into the surf,” the lawsuit states, adding previous to the incident the relationship between the two was “unremarkable.” “Plaintiff objected to this loudly and struggled to get away from Polihrom, while he continued to sexually assault and harass her.”

When Polihrom grabbed the alleged victim, her sanitary napkin dislodged, leaving the plaintiff’s light pants to be stained with menstrual blood, adding to the woman’s “embarrassment and humiliation,” according to the lawsuit.

Polihrom did not return a phone call for comment.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the Department of Criminal Justice, declined comment, citing the pending litigation.

Ramsey-based attorney Lydia B. Cotz, who is representing the Hispanic woman, said both her client and Polihrom have since been moved from the Department of Criminal Justice and are currently employed by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

Cotz added Polihrom is indirectly involved as her supervisor.

“When Mr. Polihrom groped my client’s breast and vagina, you can be sure he was not helping her to find her library card,” Cotz said. “The fact that Mr. Polihrom continues to work within the same room as (my client) is further proof that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office has condoned a hostile working environment and is a ratification of his egregious conduct.”

Polihrom, who is listed with a managerial position at the Department of Banking and Insurance, earned a salary of $99,943 in 2012, according to online records.

According to the court documents, the alleged victim did tell people about the beach incident, but did not immediately make a complaint.

Five months after the alleged sexual assault occurred, the plaintiff was asked to participate in a dangerous undercover assignment, court records indicate.

The officer in charge of that investigation allegedly called Polihrom to request his permission.

“On speakerphone, Polihrom was heard to say ‘her work ethic is (expletive) up. You know how those Spanish people are,’” according to the lawsuit.

That conversation was heard by two other investigators, who each reported it, the lawsuit states.

The alleged victim then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity office, and in February an investigation had started, according to court documents.

“After plaintiff complained about Polihrom to the EEO, he began to pressure her immediate supervisor, Greg Wallack, to lower her evaluation,” the lawsuit states. “Despite the reports of (the two investigators), the EEO found plaintiff’s complaints unsubstantiated.”

Cotz is outlining four counts in the suit, which allege her client is forced to work in a sexually hostile environment; the sexual harassment was aided and abetted; racial bias; and the racial bias was aided and abetted.

Former Attorney General Paula Dow, the instructor of the seminar, Polihrom, and the State of New Jersey are all named in the suit.

The alleged victim is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, counsel fees and costs associated with the suit.

The civil complaint is scheduled to be heard Monday in New Brunswick.

This is the second lawsuit disclosed in as many months against the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office with allegations of sexual harassment.

Last month, The Trentonian reported a sergeant with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his employer for retaliation, which he claims occurred after he reported sexual harassment allegations of another officer in an internal affairs investigation.

In that lawsuit, First Deputy Chief of Detectives Allan Buecker was alleged to seek “paybacks for those who went against” the lieutenant accused of sexual harassment. He also failed to properly file the sexual harassment complaint against the lieutenant, according to the criminal complaint.

The sergeant, who reported the complaint to Buecker, was allegedly demoted after bringing the allegations to him.

Ramapough Indians file $50M suit against "Out of the Furnace" creators

Monday, December 23, 2013
BY ALLISON PRIES
STAFF WRITER
The Record
AP

MAHWAH – Seventeen Ramapough Indians filed a $50 million lawsuit against the writers and producers of a film they say paints them in a false light.

The civil lawsuit filed Monday in federal court says “Out of the Furnace,” a movie released this month by Relativity Media, made them feel embarrassed and humiliated because of false representations it makes about people who live in the Ramapo Mountains.

Related: Ramapoughs say new film 'Out of the Furnace' portrays hurtful stereotypes

The movie follows Christian Bale as he tries to locate his brother, who has gone missing after participating in a bare-knuckle fight in the mountains of New Jersey.

The villain, named Harlan DeGroat, is portrayed as the leader of a gang of “inbreds” who are a lawless, drug addicted, poor and violent bunch who get around on ATVs. Another character is named Dwight Van Dunk. DeGroat and Van Dunk are common surnames among the Ramapoughs.

In one scene, a police officer standing beside a Bergen County Police car tells Bale to leave the area or the authorities will have to take him out in a body bag.

Related: Teaneck Cinemas' owner asks 'Out of the Furnace' protesters to skip opening night

The civil lawsuit alleges defamation because the movie sets scenes “in the Ramapough Mountains of New Jersey, by referring to the criminal gang and/or community as Jackson Whites and by using the DeGroat and Van Dunk surnames for the principal villains, all of which make for a ready association between these plaintiffs and the movie,” Lydia B. Cotz, the attorney for the 17 Ramapoughs, said in the court filing.

The plaintiffs include eight DeGroats and two Van Dunks. Six are Mahwah residents. The remainder live in Hewitt and Belleville in New Jersey and the New York towns of Hillburn, Wurtsboro, Middletown and Harriman. One resides in Tennessee.

A representative for Relativity Media said she could not comment on the lawsuit because she had not seen it.

Also named as defendants are Appian Way LLC, Energy Entertainment Inc., Scott Free Productions Inc. and Red Granite Pictures Inc. – all California-based companies. Co-writers Brad Inglesby and Scott Cooper, who also directed the movie, are additionally named as defendants.

Cooper said in an interview, with DP/30, that the character of Harlan DeGroat is based on someone who has been in his family’s life.

To establish false light a plaintiff must prove that the defendant made statements about the plaintiff to the public that are offensive and false.

“The movie perpetuates a racist and discriminatory stereotype of the plaintiffs,” Cotz said. “They have suffered emotionally and are justifiably upset.”

The movie opened in limited release Dec. 4 and widely Dec. 6. It had grossed $10.9 million as of Sunday and cost $22 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo.

The week of its release Mahwah officials held a press conference to denounce the film. Ramapough Indian Chief Dwaine Perry, Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet and Schools Superintendent Dr. C. Lauren Schoen gathered at town hall to take a united stand against it.

Perry, who is not a plaintiff, called the movie a hate crime during the Dec. 4 press conference at town hall.

The lawsuit says that the movie has caused shame, embarrassment and humiliation and that the plaintiff’s children have suffered teasing and harassment in school as a result of the movie.

Schoen said earlier this month that the district would take a zero tolerance stand toward bullying. She could not be reached Monday for comment.

A Relativity Media spokesman said when the movie was released “as is the case with most films, the filmmakers conducted research and drew upon their own personal life experiences in creating an original screenplay, and the story and the characters are entirely fictional.”

Amgen Whistleblower Fights to Unseal Documents

Despite a $762 million settlement between Amgen and the US Department of Justice for off-label marketing of various medicines (back story), the clash between the biotech and one of the whistleblowers is not over yet. A bitter dispute, in fact, continues to rage over an arbitration award – and the related proceedings – involving a former Amgen employee.

The long-running battle has pitted the biotech against Elena Ferrante, who once worked as a sales rep promoting the Enbrel rheumatoid arthritis treatment, but claimed Amgen sales managers encouraged reps to promote off-label and encouraged physicians to prescribe Enbrel to patients who may not have needed the drug. She also maintained the reps were also instructed to cull patient medical records and give the information to Amgen, which violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

In October 2006, Ferrante filed a complaint against the biotech for $10 million before an arbitrator, claiming she was fired in retaliation the year before for not complying with an allegedly improper marketing strategy. She was forced to seek arbitration because this requirement was imposed by Amgen (AMGN) on employees who filed such disputes.

Recently, though, an arbitrator dismissed her claim. In response, Ferrante filed a lawsuit in state court in New Jersey, where she once worked as an Amgen sales rep, alleging that Amgen manipulated the arbitration process. According to the complaint, there were undisclosed relationships involving the arbitrator and attorneys for Amgen, and is she seeking to have the award overturned.

Specifically, the complaint states the arbitrator, retired federal judge John Lifland, filed disclosures that were “misleading and incomplete.” He “failed to disclose that he had an ownership interest” in JAMS, the arbitration service chosen by Amgen, and as a result, he had a “financial interest in prolonging and complicating the proceeding as he got a percentage of all billings” generated by the long-running arbitration, the complaint states.

Ferrante also charges that the arbitrator wrongfully and prematurely precluded Ferrante’s attorney from proceeding with a deposition of a physician who purportedly served as a key opinion leader for Amgen and delivered talks about its medicines. The attorney hoped to extract information pertaining to off-label marketing, according to the complaint. “By terminating (the) deposition, arbitrator Lifland erred and severely prejudiced plaintiff’s ability to prove her case,” the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges the arbitrator should have been recused, because he was “actively involved” with Amgen’s lead counsel in the Lifland Inn of Court, a chapter of the American Inns of Court, which is a legal society devoted to improving professionalism. Lifland was not named as defendant, and did not respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for JAMS, which also was not named as a defendant, and Amgen declined to comment.

Ferrante also alleges that Amgen sought to keep some 300 documents, including internal Amgen e-mails and off-label studies, from the arbitration proceeding and is fighting in state court in New Jersey to have those released to the public, arguing that the arbitrator was incorrect to have granted a “blanket” confidentiality order. A state court judge overturned the order, but has ordered a document-by-document review to determine a litmus test for confidentiality, according to an attorney for Ferrante.

Her attorneys maintain confidentiality was never a condition of arbitration, and most of the documents subsequently became available in a separate arbitration proceeding involving another former Amgen employee who was locked in a similar dispute (back story). They also say many documents were reviewed by federal prosecutors and have since entered the public domain.

“We clearly and convincingly have shown that Amgen set in motion unconscionable schemes that were calculated to interfere with the arbitrator’s abilty to be impartial and adjudicate this matter, because Amgen improperly hampered the presentation of evidence,” says Lydia Cotz, one of her attorneys. She says that Amgen also improperly filed its motion to affirm the award in the wrong venue along with a motion to consolidate Ferrante’s challenge to the arbitration award.

“I think Amgen needs to be held acccountable and these arbitration forums that Amgen has created are specifically designed to minimize its accountability,” says Rob Henning, another attorney for Ferrante. He also represented another former Amgen rep, Marc Engelman, who participated in the recent settlement. Engelman subsequently resigned and later sued the biotech and an arbitration group for “procedurally unconscionable” practices (back story here and here).

Ferrante, meanwhile, has left the pharmaceutical industry and participated in the recent settlement as one of the so-called relators, or whistleblowers. She had previously worked for Immunex, which was purchased by Amgen, and maintains the biotech then began pressuring sales reps to promote Enbrel illegally. This included marketing Amgen for a stage of congestive heart failure for which the treatment was not approved by the FDA.

“Right off the bat, the message we got was that marketing the drug and increasing sales was more important than the health of our patients and that did not sit well with me,” she tells us. “There were two large studies – one in the US and one in Europe and Australia – that tested Enbrel in patients with CHF. And in one, some (patients) worsened and some patients with no CHF developed CHF.

“But it wasn’t just one or two things. They had a whole armamentarium to increase sales that were illegal or unethical or both. And that was the problem for me. My sales were fine the way they were. I had a problem with marketing the way I was directed and they had a problem with me having a problem.”

As for Engelman, who was another Immunex holdover, he also participated in the recent government settlement as a whistleblower. “Enbrel was approved for moderate to severe psoriais, but they went after patients with mild psoriasis. Their diagnosis did not match the labeling. This was a continuing theme during my tenure,” he tells us. “I was forced to quit in April 2007. I was in working conditions that were not comfortable, because I did not abide by the Amgen way, in their eyes. So I did not have a future at Amgen” (this is the whistleblower lawsuit that Ferrante and Engelman filed)

Amgen Plea Deal Accepted by Judge in Aranesp Misbranding

 

 

A federal judge accepted Amgen Inc. (AMGN)’s plea agreement on a charge that it misbranded its anemia drug Aranesp, putting to rest a five-year probe of the company’s marketing practices.

U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson in Brooklyn, New York, signed off today on the agreement with prosecutors, which will cost the company $150 million in criminal penalties. Amgen will also pay $612 million to settle civil claims by states and whistle-blowers alleging the company also illegally marketed other drugs.

The company’s guilty plea and resolution of civil cases“demonstrate our vigilance in protecting American’s health-care consumers and pursuing any corporation that seeks to profit by violating U.S. law,” Marshall L. Miller, head of the criminal division for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office, said in a statement.

Prosecutors alleged the company promoted Aranesp for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from about 2001 through March 2007 to compete with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s anemia treatment, Procrit. The company pleaded guilty yesterday to a single misdemeanor misbranding charge over the allegations.

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, was estimated to have reaped about $85 million in gains from misbranding Aranesp, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame said during today’s hearing.

Aranesp Revenue

U.S. revenue from Aranesp totaled more than $11 billion from 2001 through 2008, with about $6 billion coming from health-care programs Medicaid and Medicare, according to a complaint in a lawsuit unsealed today that was filed by a former Amgen employee.

Pharmaceutical companies aren’t permitted to market drugs for uses not approved by the FDA. Doctors may write prescriptions for off-label purposes as they see fit.

In lawsuits unsealed today, whistle-blowers alleged the company engaged in illegal promotion of other drugs including psoriasis medication Enbrel and Neulasta, a drug used to increase white blood cells in patients receiving chemotherapy. Plaintiffs in some of the suits alleged Amgen paid kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drugs for off-label uses.

Two of the whistle-blowers, former Amgen sales representatives Elena Ferrante and Marc Engelman, alleged they were directed by management to promote Enbrel for mild psoriasis even though it had been approved only for more severe forms of the skin condition, New Jersey lawyer Lydia Cotz, who is representing the whistle-blowers, said in a phone interview.

Records Reviewed

The sales reps were also instructed to cull patients’medical records and give the information to Amgen in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, she said.

“They resisted these type of illegal marketing tactics and they were both retaliated against,” Cotz said of Ferrante and Engelman. Ferrante was terminated in August 2005 and Engelman was terminated in April 2007, Cotz said.

Another whistle-blower, former Amgen marketing representative Jill Osiecki, gathered evidence for federal investigators after reporting her concerns to the government about the company’s marketing practices in August 2004, according to her attorneys, Brian Kenney and Tavy Deming. Osiecki made secret recordings at 13 sales and marketing meetings for the company, according to her attorneys.

‘Personal Risk’

“We know of the many hundreds of hours she devoted at personal risk to advance this investigation and her years of hiding in plain sight as the government investigated all the Amgen allegations,” Deming said in a statement.

As part of the guilty plea and civil settlements, Amgen agreed to sign a corporate integrity agreement under which it must regularly report to the government on its compliance with drug marketing regulations, according to prosecutors.

Regarding the whistle-blower claims, Amgen spokeswoman Ashleigh Koss said in an interview today that the company doesn’t discuss personnel issues involving specific employees.

Yesterday, Johnson declined to accept Amgen’s plea to the criminal charge of misbranding Aranesp, saying it was a “very important case” and the plea deal had been “dumped” on him. He also declined to rule during the hearing today, waiting until the afternoon to issue his decision.

The case is U.S. v. Amgen Inc., 1:12-cr-00760, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

To contact the reporter on this story: Christie Smythe in New York at csmythe1@bloomberg.net

Amgen Workers Helped U.S. in Marketing Inquiry

 

 

“I hope no one is taping this,” the Amgen manager remarked at a company sales meeting in 2005.

The manager then boasted of how she had given a $10,000 unrestricted grant to a pet project of a doctor who was an adviser to the local Medicare contractor. In turn, she said, the doctor would help persuade the contractor to provide reimbursement for an unapproved use of Amgen’s anemia drug, Aranesp.

Someone, it turned out, was taping it. Jill Osiecki, a longtime sales representative at Amgen, was wearing a recording device under her clothes, transmitting the proceedings to agents of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The result of Ms. Osiecki’s undercover work, and information provided by other whistle-blowers, led to Amgen’s agreement this week to pay $762 million to settle federal investigations regarding the marketing of some of its top-selling drugs.

Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of Federal District Court in Brooklyn accepted the settlement on Wednesday, clearing the way for 10 whistle-blower lawsuits to be unsealed.

Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, will pay $150 million in criminal penalties after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of marketing Aranesp for unapproved uses and in unapproved doses.

The rest of the money — $612 million — will go to settle civil false claims lawsuits filed by the federal government, states and whistle-blowers. These contain accusations that go well beyond the off-label marketing of Aranesp.

They include off-label marketing of other drugs like Enbrel for psoriasis and Neulasta, which increases the levels of white blood cells. Amgen is also accused of offering kickbacks to doctors and clinics to induce them to use its drugs. These reportedly came as cash, rebates, free samples, educational and research grants, dinners and travel, and other inducements. The government also accused the company of knowingly misreporting the prices of some of its drugs.

Except for those in the criminal count, Amgen denied the other accusations, though it did issue a statement on Wednesday acknowledging the settlement.

“The government raised important concerns in the criminal prosecution,” Cynthia M. Patton, chief compliance officer at Amgen, said in the statement. “Amgen acknowledges that mistakes were made, and we did not live up to our standards.”

Ms. Osiecki, 52, was one of the main whistle-blowers and will be entitled to a share of the settlement. The amount each whistle-blower will receive has not been determined or is being kept confidential, their lawyers said.

Ms. Osiecki worked as a sales representative for Merck for nine years before joining Amgen in 1990, soon after the biotechnology company won regulatory approval for its first product. The company, based outside Los Angeles, had “good science, good products, strong ethics,” Ms. Osiecki said in an interview.

But, she said, the corporate culture changed starting around 2000. That was when new management came in and Aranesp was approved, setting up a fierce marketing battle with Johnson & Johnson and its rival anemia drug, Procrit.

“It was more important to make your numbers than to follow the rules,” said Ms. Osiecki, who was based in Milwaukee and sold Aranesp.

In August 2004, with her concerns mounting, Ms. Osiecki called the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services and left a message. Within days, she was called back, and she went to see an agent, who persuaded her to secretly record meetings. She did that 13 times over about 15 months, mainly sales meetings.

Aranesp is used mainly in a hospital, clinic or physician’s office. It is bought by the medical practice, which can make a profit if the patient and insurers pay more for the use of the drug than the practice paid.

Ms. Osiecki said Amgen “marketed the spread,” trying to make it more profitable for doctors to use Aranesp rather than Procrit.

Such financial inducements could also spur greater overall use of a drug and can violate anti-kickback laws, said Ms. Osiecki’s lawyer, Brian P. Kenney of Kenney & McCafferty in Blue Bell, Pa.

Ms. Osiecki said the first sales meeting at which she wore the recording device, wrapped around her midriff under baggy clothes, was in October 2004 in a Milwaukee hotel. She could look down from the meeting room and see the car parked across the street containing the agent with the receiving device. She said she was not particularly nervous.

The speaker was a pharmacist from an oncology practice going through the numbers on how his practice could make a million dollars more a year using Aranesp rather than Procrit.

Ms. Osiecki said Amgen was careful to cover up such marketing. Spreadsheets showing doctors how much more money they could make using Aranesp were “homemade bread,” meaning they were created by each sales representative, not by the company. And representatives were told not to leave the presentations behind after showing them to doctors.

Her 107-page complaint, filed in late 2004, contains many other accusations.

Other whistle-blowers made other accusations. Kassie Westmoreland, a former sales representative, said Amgen overfilled vials of Aranesp, essentially providing free drugs to doctors. They could then bill Medicare or private insurers for the use of that drug, making an extra profit.

“Amgen was offering a kickback in the form of extra product subsidized by the taxpayers,” said Robert M. Thomas Jr., one of Ms. Westmoreland’s lawyers.

Elena Ferrante and Marc Engelman, both former sales representatives, contended that Amgen promoted Enbrel’s off-label use for mild psoriasis when the drug was approved only for moderate or severe cases of the disease.

Lydia Cotz, one of their lawyers, said the two refused to go along with the off-label marketing. They are now pursuing wrongful termination claims against Amgen in arbitration proceedings that Amgen requires be kept confidential, she said.

“It’s been a very long heroic journey for my clients,” she said.

Ms. Osiecki is now also a former Amgen sales representative. She said that she was fired in December 2005 after she let slip that she had retained a company voice mail message that she thought provided evidence of illegal activity. Leaving the pharmaceutical industry, she moved to Amelia Island, Fla. She now works for a small business.

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Mosi Secret and Barry Meier contributed reporting.

Family of Killed Ramapo Worker, Lenape Member Wins $2.1M Verdict in New Jersey

Written by: Steve Lieberman The Journal News
November 30, 2011

The family of a former Ramapo town worker killed by a New Jersey park police officer has won a $2.1 million award from a Bergen County jury.

The civil court jurors found that Chad Walder used unnecessary force when he shot and killed Emil Mann during a April 1, 2006, confrontation outside Ringwood State Park.

Read more...

Amgen Must Let Feds Interview Its Employees

by Ed Silverman | Pharmalot
June 20, 2011

For the past five years, the US Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, has been investigating Amgen for allegedly violating the False Claims Act. At issue are a host of allegations, most notably that Amgen violated HIPAA and offered kickbacks to doctors in order to boost sales of its various meds and steal market share from such rivals Johnson & Johnson.

Read more...

Fired for Balking At Off-Label Sales

by Attorney Lydia Cotz
March 21, 2011

A former Amgen sales rep is suing the biotech for $10 million before an arbitrator, claiming she was fired in retaliation for not complying with an aggressive and unethical marketing strategy for its Enbrel rheumatoid arthritis med, The Record reports. Elena Ferrante, 49, alleges Amgen sales managers encouraged reps to promote off-label and encouraged docs to prescribe Enbrel to patients who may not have needed the drug, according to Ferrante’s lawyer, Lydia Cotz.

Read more...

The Amgen Sales Rep, The Doctor and The Dog

by Ed Silverman | Pharmalot
December 1, 2010

More than a decade ago, Elena Ferrante worked as an oncology sales rep for Immunex and would leave her Yorkshire Terrier puppy in her car when visiting docs. One day, though, a nurse suggested Ferrante bring the dog inside in hopes of giving chemo patients a psychological lift. The gambit worked and soon Ferrante was bringing Justine with her into various offices, but only if given permission.

“I brought pictures of my dog like some people bring pictures of their children with them,” she says. “My dogs are my children. And most people are interested in dogs. But it was always in a carrier. And I never brought her in if she wasn’t wanted. She would brighten the day for chemo patients. She would sit in their lap. You know, these are people who are going through chemo, which is very tough.”

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Former Amgen Rep Says Arbitration Hides Misdeeds

by Ed Silverman | Pharmalot
August 5, 2010

Over the past few years, two Amgen reps have battled the biotech over arbitration proceedings they claim they were forced to enter as a consequence of employment disputes. In 2006, Elena Ferrante filed a $10 million lawsuit, charging she was fired in retaliation for not complying with an allegedly improper marketing strategy for the Enbrel rheumatoid arthritis med. Similarly, Marc Engleman accused Amgen of forcing reps to engage in off-label promotion and patient privacy violations. He subsequently resigned and later sued the biotech and an arbitration group for “procedurally unconscionable” practices.

Read more...

Lawsuit Claims Female Cliffside Park Officer was Singled Out for Harsh Treatment

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
By: Matthew Van Dusen, Staff Writer
The Record

CLIFFSIDE PARK – Borough police brass looked the other way while on-duty officers watched pornography and ogled sunbathing women but punished the department’s one female officer for minor missteps, a gender discrimination lawsuit filed Wednesday claims.

Jackie Lynn Flanagan, who was fired from the force in July 2009, claims in the suit that Chief Donald Keane singled her out for harsh treatment while ignoring the shortcomings and lewd behavior of male officers.

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Former Amgen Rep Stymied By Arbitration

by Ed Silverman | Pharmalot
January 11, 2010

In October 2006, a former Amgen sales rep filed a complaint against the biotech for $10 million before an arbitrator, claiming she was fired in retaliation the year before for not complying with an allegedly improper marketing strategy for the Enbrel rheumatoid arthritis med. Elena Ferrante claimed Amgen sales managers encouraged reps to promote off-label and encouraged docs to prescribe Enbrel to patients who may not have needed the drug, according to Ferrante’s lawyer, Lydia Cotz.

When Ferrante refused to cooperate, Lydia Cotz, Ferrante’s attorney, says her client was fired, but ostensibly for other reasons, including not attending client dinners. Ferrante was a top seller who made about $400,000 a year in sales at the time she was dismissed, according to Cotz.

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S5329-2009: New York Senate Open Legislation

NY Senate Website
January 6, 2010

Enacts the "Lydia Peikon Cotz act"; provides domestic violence victims and crime victims with supervision while taking depositions; directs the court to provide a secure location within the courthouse, and a court officer, for such persons taking depositions.

Sponsor: MORAHAN / Committee: CODES
Law Section: Civil Practice Law and Rules / Law: Amd S3104, CPLR

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