2019 was a big year in the law, with some monumental cases making their way through the American Justice system. From major jury verdicts to national politics – the final year of the decade was full of major legal issues.
So, without further explanation, let’s look at the top legal stories of 2019:
In a stunning result, a Philadelphia jury returned an $8 Billion Dollar verdict against Johnson & Johnson over it’s drug, Risperdal. The maker of the antipsychotic drug was slammed with the verdict after over three weeks of trial. The award represents the largest to date in the Risperdal litigation, but more are expected in the New Year.
College Bribery Scandal
Affluent and influential parents were indicted on charges that they paid bribes to rig their children’s credentials in an effort to get this admitted to elite universities – often under fraudulent pretenses that they were college athletes. Included in these indictments was “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two weeks in prison. Also involved was “Full House” star Lori Loughlin. Loughlin maintains her innocence and is expected to stand trial in 2020.
An 18-year-old man accused Spacey of groping him at a Nantucket Bar in 2016 – though prosecutors ended up dropping the case citing a lack of evidence. Notably, the “House of Cards” actor’s accuser invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked to testify about text messages from the night of the incident. A separate sexual battery case against Spacey was also dismissed when the alleged victim passed away.
Texting Suicide Conviction
Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter when she sent a text to her then boyfriend suggesting that he commit suicide. He was later found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, and prosecutor’s in Massachusetts brought criminal charges against Carter for her role in the suicide. The State Parole Board denied her request for early release, and Carter has appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which has yet to accept it.
Opioid Kickback Scheme
A pharmaceutical company founder was found guilty by a jury of racketeering for his role in paying doctors millions of dollars in bribes to entice them to prescribe the companies highly addictive Fentanyl spray. Among the allegations involved in this case was one particularly colorful anecdote in which the founder even used a stripper-turned-sales-representative to give a physician a lap dance. The 76-year-old Founder, John Kapoor, was sentenced alongside four other ex-employees of Insys Therapeutics in 2019.
Trump in Court
2019 was a particularly litigious year for the office of the Presidency, and Donald Trump specifically. Maura Healey, the Massachusett’s Attorney General, as well as the State ACLU mounted fresh legal challenges to the Trump administration’s policies on immigration. These lawsuits focused on immigrants medical needs and the governments limitations on accepting refugees from countries dealing with war or environmental catastrophes. the Trump Foundation and Trump Campaign also came under legal scrutiny.