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Posted On: July 21, 2011

Walgreens to Pay Massachusetts $2.8 Million in Restitution For Overcharging Workers´ Compensation Prescriptions

The Walgreens Company (Walgreens) has agreed to pay the Commonwealth and approximately 75 Massachusetts cities and towns $2.8 Million in a settlement with Attorney General Coakley’s Office. An ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Insurance and Financial Services Division exposed that the pharmacy company was overcharging public entities for prescription drugs under the workers´ compensation insurance system. Attorney General Coakley accused Walgreens of billing and receiving payments from cities, towns and state agencies for filling prescriptions for workers compensation claimants at higher prices than what is allowed by Massachusetts laws.

In a statement released by Coakley´s office, she valued Walgreens excess charges at $1.4 million since 2002. Walgreens has agreed to pay these overcharges as well as an additional $1.4 million to the Commonwealth. Coakley stated: “Cities and towns are under a great deal of economic stress, and every dollar counts…Here, the cities and towns were overcharged for prescription drug purchases. Today’s action recovers nearly three million back for local communities, and works to prevent these kinds of overcharges from happening in the future.”

Under the settlement, which was filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the city of Boston will receive approximately $200,000 in restitution. Springfield, Holyoke, Fairhaven, Needham, Lowell, Auburn, New Bedford, Norwood, Revere, South Hadley, and Winchester will also each receive restitution of approximately $10,000. Towns will approximately receive $8,900 each in restitution. The Attorney General has reached settlements also with CVS, Shaws Supermarkets, and Stop & Shop for similarly filling prescriptions for workers´ compensation claimants at higher prices than what is permitted.

According to a Walgreens spokeswoman, the company “did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing and agreed to settle this issue to avoid further legal expense.”

Sources:

Walgreens to pay $2.8m to resolve allegations of overcharging, The Boston Globe, July 14, 2011

Walgreens to Pay $2.8 Million to Resolve Allegations of Prescription Overcharges, Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley Press Release, July 14, 2011

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Continue reading " Walgreens to Pay Massachusetts $2.8 Million in Restitution For Overcharging Workers´ Compensation Prescriptions " »

Posted On: July 15, 2011

Trash Collector Dies After Falling Underneath Truck in Methuen

A trash collector has died after falling off the back of a trash truck and was run over by the vehicle in Methuen. On the morning of July 12, Keimani Bell, 28, from Dorchester, was working for F.W. Russell & Sons of Somerville, when he grabbed a trash bag from the street, lost his footing off the back of the truck, and fell underneath the vehicle. The truck was backing up at the time of his fall and Bell was subsequently run over. Spokesman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, Steve O'Connell, confirmed that the worker was pronounced deceased at the scene of the work-related accident shortly before 11:30 a.m. O'Connell said the Bell "slipped off the back of the truck as it was going in reverse."

John Mariano, a witness who lives on the street, commented that he saw the worker at the rear of the truck grab a trash bag off the street, lose his footing, and then fall backwards underneath the trash vehicle. Mariano said, "The worst part was when I saw him roll under the truck ... The driver didn't know he was under the truck. If he had known he was there, he would have stopped."

The company has provided trash collection services in Methuen for the past six years. O'Connell said there was no indication that the accident was in any way intentional and that no charges have been filed. The name of the trash removal vehicle driver has not yet been released. The city's public works director, Raymond DiFiore, who oversees the city's trash collection, commented that he could not remember any accidents involving F.W. Russell & Sons trash trucks in the past six years since they had been employed by the city.

The accident is being thoroughly investigated by local police and state troopers who specialties are accident reconstruction and truck safety, in addition to troopers from District Attorney Blodgett's office. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating the accident to determine whether or not workplace safety standards were violated.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Sources:

Trash collector dies after being run over by truck in Methuen , The Boston Globe, Eagle Tribune, July 13, 2011

Trash collector dies after fall from truck, The Boston Globe, July 14, 2011

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Continue reading " Trash Collector Dies After Falling Underneath Truck in Methuen " »

Posted On: July 11, 2011

Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

In a July 5th work-related accident, a 58-year-old street sweeper from Penacook, New Hampshire, was killed in his street sweeping vehicle at an intersection in Norwood, Massachusetts. According to David Traub, spokesman from the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, the street cleaner, Patrick J. MacDonald, was killed after getting trapped in the street sweeping machinery. David Procopio, State Police spokesman, said that MacDonald appeared to have been doing repairs on the machine when he became entangled into the container that holds debri.

Norwood Fire Department spokesman George Morrice confirmed that paramedics who arrived at the scene pronounced MacDonald dead. The State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction team were called to the scene to investigate. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating the accident to determine whether or not workplace safety standards were violated. OSHA inspections must be completed within 180 days, involve an onsite inspection, interviews, record reviews, and any required testing.

OSHA Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said that if the administration did find that the accident occurred due to safety violations, then the company would be cited and likely fined. If a violation is cited as serious, the fine could be up to $7,000. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm could likely result from a hazard that the employer should have known about and failed to fix. If the violation is cited as a willful violation, the fine to the company could be up to $70,000. OSHA issues a willful violation, the most serious of violations, when the employer knows that a hazardous situation exists and intentionally makes no attempt to fix it. MacDonald was working for an Everett-based sweeping company called Bay State Sweeping.

Although this fatal accident is still under investigation, many questions arise from the circumstances of the accident as it could have occurred due to operational error or due to a hazard that the employer could have prevented, such as a lack of training. Another possibility is that the sweeping machine malfunctioned, entitling the deceased family to a Massachusetts Defective Products Liability Lawsuit. There are many unknowns about this case. From afar, there may be a defective product claim, but that would likely require the hiring of an expert or numerous experts. The issue of proper training is another avenue that an attorney will look at to see if that may have contributed to the accident. Additionally, knowing if that machine had similar problems in the past or any other operational issues in the past would be important, just as knowing when the last time that machine was inspected. These are just a few issues an attorney would look at. There may be many others that are not apparent right now but may be important as the investigation unfolds.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer soon after the accident.

Sources:

Worker killed in street sweeping accident in Norwood, The Boston Globe, July 5, 2011

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