By ALAN J. ORTBALS
With work to rehabilitate the American Bottom levee system nearing completion, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois is getting ready to post the “Open for business” sign.
“We’re gearing up in a major way to market this entire area to certain industry sectors,” said Ronda Sauget, the Leadership Council’s executive director. “The energy industry, the agricultural industry, logistics and freight are some of the areas we’ll be targeting. When you look at transportation infrastructure across the country, the American Bottom is one of the areas where you have availability of land and all modes of transportation coming together. We want to go out to the economic development and site selector communities and market this resource to help our companies expand and bring new companies here.”
High river levels have made for some slow going this year. There are six projects that are currently underway but it is hoped that all can still be completed by year end, according to chief supervisor of construction Chuck Etwert.
“High river levels have been a problem for three of our projects since the December/January flooding,” Etwert said. “The river hasn’t yet receded enough to lower the ground water elevation and allow for the installation of over nine million dollars of reinforced concrete pipe.”
The levees protect more than 155,000 people and 5,000 businesses from the waters of the Mississippi River. Etwert said that the council is well on its way to achieving accreditation in 2017, using only the revenue from the dedicated Flood Protection District sales tax. The project that began nine years ago when FEMA announced its intention to declare the entire American Bottom a “high hazard flood area” is being hailed as one of the largest and most successful projects in Southwestern Illinois in decades.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
HIGHLAND — It’s 10 a.m. on a weekday, and the halls of San Gabriel Memory Care are amazingly quiet. Many of the residents are resting comfortably in their rooms.
Within the hour, though, things begin to stir as staff prepares for lunch. One by one, the residents begin to appear, many walking under their own power. Others are helped along by a walker or an outstretched, friendly arm. Niceties are exchanged as residents spot familiar faces.
Familiarity is a welcome commodity in this specialized world of senior living.
“We have a very nice, quiet feel,” co-owner Carrie Dietzen said. “It’s very helpful to this population.”
Memory care is a growing concern for an aging society, and businesses throughout Metro East are rapidly moving to address it. The field encompasses a wide variety of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
San Gabriel, at 2509 Frank Watson Parkway in Highland, is a 34-unit building, comprised of two, mirror-image wings, each housing 17 apartment-like dwellings. San Gabriel in Highland is only a year old, but already owners Carrie and John Dietzen are hard at work on a second facility, a $3 million operation to be located in Glen Carbon.
Ground was broken for the newest facility in August. It will be located just off Illinois Route 157, just north of the Meridian Village retirement community. It will be the first development on a 9-acre plot along Auerbach and Magnolia Place.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
An interweaving pair of road and bridge projects is coming into the homestretch near the East St. Louis riverfront, which will delight drivers who have been challenged in recent months navigating their way into Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Transportation says it’s pleased with the progress on a connector ramp being built onto the Martin Luther King Bridge, which will replace some of the access lost when a Poplar Street Bridge ramp into Illinois was removed in 2013 for the expansion of the Poplar Street Bridge on the Missouri side.
And, progress is also moving smoothly on the first phase of relocating Illinois Route 3 as it comes from the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge into Illinois. That project should be done by this fall.
IDOT suspects that the new rabbit-warren combination of roadways will eventually allow drivers coming off the Eads and King Bridges to have better access to reach Route 3 and Interstates 70 and 64, in all directions.
NEW YORK – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest law firms focused on consumer protection and mass tort actions, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Suffolk County against pharmaceutical companies and physicians over aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opium-like painkillers (opioids) that has led to a drug epidemic in the county.
According to the complaint filed in the New York Supreme Court, the county including Long Island, N.Y., is seeking relief including compensatory and punitive damages for the millions of dollars it spends each year to combat the public nuisance created by the drug companies’ deceptive marketing campaign that misrepresents the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use.
The county’s incurred costs related to opioid addiction and abuse include health care, criminal justice and victimization, and lost productivity. The lawsuit also takes into account the commission of criminal acts to obtain opioids as among the costs to society that are inevitable consequences of opioid addiction. As an example, the complaint cites the June 19, 2011, robbery and execution of four customers and employees at a Medford, N.Y., pharmacy by two prescription opioid abusers who were desperate to obtain the drugs.
“It is fair and accurate to compare this action by Suffolk County to the landmark tobacco industry litigation of the 1980s that alleged that cigarette manufacturers knew – but did not warn consumers – that smoking caused lung cancer and that cigarettes were addictive,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Paul Hanly, lead counsel for Suffolk County in this case. “As a result of this litigation, we believe other jurisdictions across the country may evaluate their own monetary and societal losses due to the opioid epidemic and come to a similar conclusion about the conspiratory and fraudulent actions of drug companies that have fueled this epidemic.”
The lawsuit alleges deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, public nuisance, violation of New York Social Services laws, fraud, and unjust enrichment against defendants Purdue Pharma L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; as well as physicians Russell Portenoy, Perry Fine, Scott Fishman and Lynn Webster, who were allegedly instrumental in promoting opioids for sale and distribution nationally and in Suffolk County.
Commonly known by brand names including OxyContin and Percocet, opioids are derived from or possess properties similar to opium and heroin, and are highly addictive and dangerous, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates them as controlled substances.
“While opioids are considered an appropriate treatment for certain types of short-term pain and for palliative end-of-life care, drug companies have manufactured, promoted and marketed opioids as pain relievers by misrepresenting or omitting key information about the appropriate uses, risks and safety of the drugs,” Hanly said. “The defendants in this case have long known about the addictive qualities and other risks associated with prolonged use of opioids and they must be held accountable for the misrepresentations and the harms to society as a result.”
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants sought to create a false perception in the minds of physicians, patients, health care providers and health care payors that using opioids to treat chronic pain was safe for most patients and that the drugs’ benefits outweighed the risks. This was allegedly perpetrated through a civil conspiracy involving a coordinated, sophisticated and highly deceptive (unbranded) promotion and marketing campaign that began in the late 1990s, became more aggressive around 2006, and is ongoing. The National Institutes of Health also identifies drug companies’ “aggressive marketing” as a major contributor to the nation’s opioid abuse problem.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence that supports the use of opioids for long-term pain management, since 1999, the amount of prescribed opioids in the United States has nearly quadrupled to a total of 254 million prescriptions in 2010 – enough to medicate every U.S. adult around the clock for a month. In 2012, opioids generated $8 billion in revenue for drug companies.
In 2012, Suffolk County recorded 214 overdose deaths and 8,271 emergency room visits due to opiate use, and the county’s substance abuse programs served 18,724 people for opioid abuse. Between 1996 and 2011, the number of people entering substance abuse programs in Suffolk County increased 1,136 percent.
Simmons Hanly Conroy shareholders Paul Hanly and Jayne Conroy have held court-appointed leadership roles of national scope in litigation against pharmaceutical companies brought by consumers harmed by dangerous drugs. In 2006, Hanly and Conroy successfully resolved litigation against Purdue Pharma LLP and Abbot Laboratories, Inc., alleging that 5,000 clients’ addictions to OxyContin was a result of the manufacturer’s fraudulent marketing campaign that claimed the drug was not as addictive as alternative drugs.
About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms and has recovered more than $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Vioxx, Yaz and Toyota Unintended Acceleration. The firm also represents small and mid-size corporations, inventors and entrepreneurs in matters involving business litigation. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Alton, Ill. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.