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    New teachers are finding it hard to rent a home

    A study shows that entry-level educators must spend more than half their income on rent in many markets

    It isn’t just the price of homes that is going up -- rents are getting more expensive too, creating hardships for people just beginning a career.

    If that career involves teaching, then the burden is even heavier. A new survey from real estate marketplace Zillow shows new teachers are having to spend more than half of their salaries to rent a home in 19 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. That’s a huge problem because personal finance experts advise consumers not to allocate more than 30 percent of their income to pay rent or a mortgage.

    A new teacher in San Francisco or San Jose -- two of the nation’s most expensive housing markets -- are simply out of luck. Rents there would take 100 percent of their salary, the Zillow study says. Even relatively affordable markets like Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Raleigh are hard on new teachers. To rent an apartment in those markets, it would take half of a new teacher’s pay.

    Roommate?

    Zillow’s advice to new teachers? Get a roommate or move in with Mom and Dad. Other than that, finding a job in Pittsburgh might be an answer since that city is the only one in the top 50 that a starting teacher can afford.

    "Most acknowledge that building more homes is required to address the root cause of eroding housing affordability,”said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research. 

    “Without that new influx to take the pressure off rent and aggressive home value growth, it's the public servants, like teachers, firefighters, and nurses – the professions that keep us safe, our kids smart, and our families healthy – that often feel the pinch most."

    Not enough new homes

    Homebuilding is about half what it was a decade ago before the housing crash. Today’s major homebuilders -- many of them publicly traded companies -- have focused on more expensive homes that fewer and fewer consumers can afford because profit margins are higher.

    Zillow says teachers who are somehow able to purchase a home are in better shape financially. The company reports that new teachers pay less than 27 percent of their income for the typical mortgage payment nationally. They spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing in 31 of the 50 largest housing markets.

    It isn’t just the price of homes that is going up -- rents are getting more expensive too, creating hardships for people just beginning a career.If tha...
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    United Airlines removes mileage expiration for loyalty members

    Members of the carrier’s MileagePlus program can now use their miles indefinitely

    United Airlines has announced that it will no longer bar members of its MileagePlus program from using their frequent flyer miles after 18 months of account inactivity. 

    In an announcement, the carrier said it’s done away with mileage expiration in an effort to show its “long-haul” commitment to customers. The change is taking place effective immediately. 

    "We want to demonstrate to our members that we are committing to them for the long-haul and giving customers a lifetime to use miles is an exceptionally meaningful benefit," said United's vice president of loyalty, Luc Bondar. 

    "Our MileagePlus program provides customers more ways to earn and use miles than any other US airline. More customers used miles to book award trips in 2018 than in any year before, and we expect with today's announcement that even more will use miles to travel the world in the years to come."

    Delta put an end to its policy of letting miles expire after 18 months back in 2011. JetBlue has also chosen not to place an expiration date on its members’ frequent flyer miles.

    American Airlines’ AAdvantage members must still redeem their miles before 18 months of account inactivity have been detected. Southwest Airlines’ frequent flyer points expire after two years of account inactivity. 

    United Airlines has announced that it will no longer bar members of its MileagePlus program from using their frequent flyer miles after 18 months of accoun...
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      Parental burnout can negatively affect every family member

      A study shows that both children and parents suffer when daily stresses become too much

      While most consumers associate burnout with their jobs, a new study is shedding light on how it can also affect parents and their children.

      Researchers from the Association for Psychological Science found that when parents experience burnout, the effects can impact their own mental well-being and be burdensome to their kids. 

      “In the current cultural context, there is a lot of pressure on parents,” said researcher Moira Mikolajczak. “But being a perfect parent is impossible and attempting to be one can lead to exhaustion. Our research suggests that whatever allows parents to recharge their batteries, to avoid exhaustion, is good for children.” 

      Preventing burnout

      The researchers completed two complementary studies to better understand how parental burnout can affect both parents and kids, both of which tracked parental attitudes over time. The first study required parents to complete three rounds of surveys, which were spaced six months apart.

      Each survey was extensive, covering various questions about overall emotional exhaustion and spreading out from there to cover how likely that exhaustion is to lead to physical or verbal violence. They also delved into parents’ feelings about escaping their families and their attitudes about how neglectful they are of their children in any capacity. 

      The researchers’ second study was similar in scope and used online surveys to question parents about different facets of feeling burned out. Both studies yielded nearly identical results: both parents and children suffer -- though in different ways -- when parents feel burned out by their responsibilities. 

      The surveys revealed that when parents are burned out, their children’s needs -- either physical or emotional -- are often neglected, and parents feel more tempted to run away from their families in an effort to escape the constant pressures. 

      “We were a bit surprised by the irony of the results,” said Mikolajczak. “If you want to do the right thing too much, you can end up doing the wrong thing. Too much pressure on parents can lead them to exhaustion which can have damaging consequences for the parent and for the children.” 

      Self-care

      The researchers want to encourage parents to seek out moments of peace when possible to regroup and prevent burnout before it becomes unbearable. 

      “Parents need to know that self-care is good for the child and that when they feel severely exhausted, they should seek help,” said Mikolajczak. “Health and child services professionals need to be informed about parental burnout so they can accurately diagnose it and provide parents with the most appropriate care.” 

      While most consumers associate burnout with their jobs, a new study is shedding light on how it can also affect parents and their children.Researchers...
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      Former Google engineer charged with stealing autonomous vehicle trade secrets

      Federal prosecutors claim Anthony Levandowski stole thousands of files before leaving Google

      Federal officials have filed an indictment against former Google and Uber executive Anthony Levandowski, accusing him of stealing confidential files when he departed Google’s Waymo to launch his own self-driving truck startup that was later bought by Uber. 

      At a news conference on Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced more than 30 charges of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets against Levandowski. 

      The indictment claims that the former Google employee knowingly stole 14,000 files containing “critical” information relating to Lidar technology used for self-driving vehicles and downloaded them onto his own laptop three years ago, just before leaving Google. 

      "All of us have the right to change jobs, [but] none of us has the right to fill our pockets on the way out the door," U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said in a written statement. "Theft is not innovation."

      Facing prison time

      Levandowski is facing up to 10 years of jail time on each count, as well as fines, CNBC reports.

      A Waymo spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “always believed competition should be fueled by innovation, and we appreciate the work of the US Attorney's Office and the FBI on this case.” 

      Following Tuesday’s arraignment, Pronto -- the autonomous vehicle company Levandowski previously led -- swiftly removed him from its information page and appointed a new CEO. 

      “The criminal charges filed against Anthony relate exclusively to Lidar and do not in any way involve Pronto’s ground-breaking technology,” Pronto said in a statement. “Of course, we are fully supportive of Anthony and his family during this period.”

      Levandowski, who has been deemed a flight risk, must wear an ankle monitor and provide notice to the court before leaving the region. His next court appearance is set for September 4. 

      Federal officials have filed an indictment against former Google and Uber executive Anthony Levandowski, accusing him of stealing confidential files when h...
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      Purdue Pharma holding opioid settlement talks, report claims

      The company says it is prepared to defend itself in court against claims it caused the opioid crisis

      On the heels of a judge’s award of $572 million to the state of Oklahoma from Johnson & Johnson, there could be a move by other opioid makers to seek a settlement, no matter the cost.

      Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, is reportedly in talks to settle as many as 2,000 pending lawsuits for $10 billion to $12 billion. NBC News quotes two unidentified sources it says are familiar with the negotiations.

      Purdue has already settled some cases, including with Oklahoma in March, for $270 million. It and other opioid drug manufacturers and distributors face charges from state and local  governments and Indian tribes that they brought on the opioid addiction epidemic by hiding the addictive power of the drugs.

      Reports of a meeting

      NBC News reports that attorneys general from at least 10 states and other plaintiffs lawyers met recently in Cleveland with Purdue officers to discuss the possibility of a settlement. The litigation at issue claims Purdue’s sales practices for OxyContin were deceptive and played a role in the spread of the opioid addiction crisis. 

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 400,000 people in the U.S. died from overdose or addiction-related causes from 1999 to 2017.

      In mid-March, Purdue Pharma held out the option of declaring bankruptcy as a possible way to remain solvent in the face of massive litigation. 

      Bankruptcy option

      “It is an option,” Purdue CEO Craig Landau told the Washington Post at the time. “We are considering it, but we’ve really made no decisions on what course of actions to pursue. A lot depends on what unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.”

      At the time at least 22 states and several Indian tribes had already sued the company seeking damages. A couple of weeks later New York joined them, accusing eight members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, of triggering and then profiting off the opioid epidemic through their marketing of Oxycontin.

      According to the NBC News report, a proposed settlement would involve Purdue declaring bankruptcy and restructuring into a for-profit “public benefit trust.” 

      Purdue, meanwhile, has vigorously denied that it or members of the Sackler family have taken actions that caused the opioid addiction crisis. The company told NBC News that it is prepared to defend itself against the growing number of lawsuits.

      On the heels of a judge’s award of $572 million to the state of Oklahoma from Johnson & Johnson, there could be a move by other opioid makers to seek a set...
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      Happy Plugs recalls wireless headphones

      The headphones to overheat, posing a burn hazard

      Happy Plugs of New York is recalling about 9,400 Happy Plugs Bluetooth Wireless II Headphones sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The micro-USB charging cable packaged with the headphones can cause the headphones to overheat, posing a burn hazard.

      The firm has received one report of the headphones overheating while plugged into their micro-USB charging cables. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Happy Plugs Wireless II Bluetooth Headphones sold with an external micro-USB charging cable.

      The micro-USB charging cable is a black cable about 20 inches in length with a USB 2.0 port on one end and a micro-USB port on the other.

      The UPC is printed on the back of the product packaging in the lower right corner and the item number is printed on the bottom of the product packaging.

      The following headphones are included in this recall:

      Item #

      Color

      UPC

      Item # 7620 Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Black Gold

      811613031059

      Item # 7621 Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Black

      811613031066

      Item # 7622‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      White

      811613031073

      Item # 7623‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Pink Gold

      811613031080

      Item # 7624‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Matte Gold

      811613031097

      Item # 7625‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Space Gray

      811613031103

      Item # 7626‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      White Marble

      811613031110‎

      Item # 7627‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Botanica Exotica

      811613031127

      Item # 7629‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Pink Marble

      811613032056

      Item # 7630‎ Happy Plugs Wireless II

      Leopard

      811613032063

      The headphones, manufactured in China, were sold at Macy’s stores nationwide and online at happyplugs.com from January 2019, through May 2019, for between $10 and $40.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled headphones and charging cable, and return them to the place of purchase or contact Happy Plugs to receive free replacement headphones and charging cable.

      Consumers may contact Happy Plugs at (800) 419-2988 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, by email at customerservice@happyplugs.com and include “Recall” in the subject line, or online at https://happyplugs.com and click on “Support,” at the bottom of the page, then “Warranty and Returns,” then click on “Voluntary Recall and Exchange Program.”

      The direct link to the recall page can be found at https://happyplugs.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360024787134-Voluntary-Recall-and-Exchange-Program.

      Happy Plugs of New York is recalling about 9,400 Happy Plugs Bluetooth Wireless II Headphones sold in the U.S. and Canada.The micro-USB charging cable...
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      Olympia Meats recalls ready-to-eat pork sausage

      The product contains pistachios, an allergen not declared on the label

      Olympia Meats of Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 198 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausage.

      The product contains pistachios, an allergen not declared on the label.

      Additionally, the product is labeled as “Mortadella Classica” but contains Mortadella Pistachio sausage.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following item, produced on July 29, 2019, is being recalled: 

      • Varying weights of vacuum packed “OLYMPIA PROVISIONS MORTADELLA CLASSICA WITH GARLIC AND SPICES” with a best by date of l2-30-2019.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “Est. 39928” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to retail locations in California, Oregon and Washington.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Alexis Heimlich, at (503) 894-8275 or by email at alexis@olympiaprovisions.com.

      Olympia Meats of Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 198 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausage.The product contains pistachios, an allergen not de...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalling C300 and C43 class vehicles

      The battery may shift, possibly disconnecting the terminals in a crash

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 26,584 model year 2018-2019 C300s, C300 4MATICs, and C43 AMG 4MATICs.

      The mounting bracket for the 12-volt battery may not be secured, allowing the battery to shift, possibly disconnecting the terminals in the event of a crash.

      Loss of power from the battery can impair post-crash functions, such as communicating with emergency services and activating hazard lights. The battery may also detach and become a road hazard. Either can increase the risk of injury.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the battery mounting bracket free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin October 8, 2019.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at (800) 367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 26,584 model year 2018-2019 C300s, C300 4MATICs, and C43 AMG 4MATICs.The mounting bracket for the 12-volt batter...
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      Facebook’s Libra bug bounty program goes live

      The program is intended to test the security of the company’s Blockchain while it’s still in development

      Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with HackerOne on a bug bounty program for its Libra cryptocurrency project, which is still in development. 

      The company has faced resistance to its cryptocurrency project, with some regulators even calling for the project to be halted altogether. On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) released a statement reiterating her concerns about “allowing a large tech company to create a privately controlled, alternative global currency.”

      Earlier this summer, Waters pointed out that if services like these are left “improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could pose systemic risks that endanger U.S. and global financial stability.” 

      Pending regulatory approval

      Facebook says it’s launching its bug bounty program “well before the Libra Blockchain is live” with the aim of ironing out any potential issues ahead of time. Vulnerabilities uncovered while the project is in its early stages could impact the final version, the company said.

      “Our hope is that people around the world can turn to Libra for their everyday financial needs, so the infrastructure must be dependable and safe,” said Dante Disparte, Head of Policy and Communications, Libra Association, in a statement. 

      “It’s important to note that the Libra Blockchain remains in testnet, which is an early-stage version of the code that is far from final. We remain committed to taking the time to get this right and we will not launch the Libra Blockchain until regulatory concerns have been taken into account and required regulatory approvals have been received.”

      The Libra Association said inviting security researchers “with diverse skills and backgrounds” to test the security of Libra’s blockchain will help to ensure the service is secure at launch. Participants who spot critical bugs can earn up to $10,000. 

      “We want to help our researchers uncover issues while the Libra Blockchain is still in testnet and no real money is in circulation,” wrote Michael Engle, head of developer ecosystem at the Libra Association, in a blog post on Libra’s website.

      Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with HackerOne on abug bounty program for its Libra cryptocurrency project, which is still in developme...
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      Apple scraps technology that would allow users to text off the grid

      Apple Watch lovers will still have a version of the app

      Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Apple has paused the rollout of technology that would allow people to send text messages to other iPhones (not other platforms like Android, though) when those users are off-the-grid -- meaning without cell service. 

      For people who find themselves in remote locations like ski slopes or hiking in the mountains, the upsides of the technology could have been a game-changer in locating someone who’s lost or needs help.

      According to The Information, Apple and Intel were collaborating on the technology, with plans to integrate Intel’s chips into future iPhones. The original patent Apple applied for details technology that functions something like a walkie-talkie in which the messaging between the phones would be transmitted via a 900MHz radio spectrum. 

      There was no reason -- like a security flaw -- given as to why the project was scrapped. However, The Information said that the person at Apple who was championing the technology had left the company. It’s also possible that Apple’s recent squabble with Qualcomm could have been a factor.

      Apple Watch wearers who like the watch’s version of the walkie-talkie feature will be happy to know that that version isn’t going away. However, it does require a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, which the scrapped version didn’t.

      Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Apple has paused the rollout of technology that would allow people to send text messages to other iPhones (not other platf...
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      Apple patches iOS jailbreaking vulnerability

      The move comes after a vulnerability thought to have been fixed in a previous update was accidentally reverted

      Apple has released an iOS update which features a fix for a vulnerability that opened devices to jailbreaks. 

      Last week, security researcher Pwn20wnd found that devices running iOS version 12.4 could be jailbroken. The flaw had been previously discovered and was believed to have been addressed in a May update. However, Apple mistakenly unpatched the bug in version 12.4. 

      The company has now released iOS 12.4.1, which again patches the vulnerability. 

      “A malicious application may be able to execute arbitrary code with system privileges,” the company said in an advisory on Monday. “A use after free issue was addressed with improved memory management.”

      “We would like to acknowledge @Pwn20wnd for their assistance,” Apple added.

      iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users are urged to update to iOS 12.4, which Apple says “provides important security and stability updates.” Users can update their device by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update, and then tapping “Download and Install.” It’s recommended that users back up their device before installing the update.

      Apple has released an iOS update which features a fix for a vulnerability that opened devices to jailbreaks. Last week, security researcher Pwn20wnd fo...
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      Survey finds consumers overwhelmed by proliferation of rewards credit cards

      J.D. Power says lenders need to better communicate the cards’ benefits

      The recent introduction of the Apple Card drives home a point: just about everyone is now getting into the rewards credit card game.

      With so much competition to become consumers’ primary payment method, lenders are increasing the rewards and benefits. But analysts at J.D. Power and Associates say that puts the burden on consumers to sort out the best deals.

      "The average credit card customer today has roughly 16 different benefits available, yet only about one-third of customers say they completely understand all of the benefits available to them," said John Cabell, director, Wealth and Lending Intelligence at J.D. Power. 

      As credit card companies have ramped up the rewards to win over customers, consumers have reported increased customer satisfaction, enjoying cash back on purchases and increased rewards for travel. But JD Power reports consumers are now having a hard time processing it all.

      Better communication needed

      What’s needed, the research company says, is better communication with customers to help them better understand the benefits available to them and to extract the maximum value from them.

      The latest study found that 66 percent of consumers said they completely understand the rewards offerings, but only 36 percent fully understand their supplementary benefits. 

      When asked to rate the factors leading to their satisfaction with a rewards credit card, a surprisingly small number cited a card’s benefits and services. That feature tied with the card’s terms as the least important factor. Not surprisingly, consumers rated the credit card company’s explanation of benefits near the bottom in terms of overall satisfaction.

      In the dark about travel

      Cash back rewards may require little in the way of explanation, but the J.D. Power study found travel benefits are a big source of confusion. Consumers appear particularly in the dark about free late hotel checkout and free companion airline tickets.

      The study also identified the companies that appear to be doing the best job in communicating with customers. Among national issuers, Discover ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction, followed by American Express, Capital One, and Chase.

      Among regional banks BB&T’s card leads in customer satisfaction, followed by PNC.

      The recent introduction of the Apple Card drives home a point: just about everyone is now getting into the rewards credit card game.With so much compet...
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      Fewer consumers pay their credit card balances in full each month

      A survey shows many people are less confident that they’ll be able to do so

      Consumers have increased their credit card spending throughout 2019, and the latest data suggests they’re letting those credit card balances get bigger -- not a good sign with recession talk in the air.

      CompareCards.com tracks both credit card spending and payments, and it reports that consumers are now paying their balances in full less often than in the past. That’s not necessarily a negative statistic -- sometimes a confident consumer will make a major purchase and pay it off over two or three months.

      But the company’s Credit Card Confidence Index suggests that’s not the case here. Consumers report being less confident that they will be able to get their credit card balance back to zero in the near future. Women appear to particularly less confident.

      "We're starting to see signs that the nation's $1 trillion credit card debt is finally taking a toll on cardholders' confidence,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. “This isn't a full-blown crisis, by any stretch, but it doesn't seem to be a one-month blip either." 

      A trend that bears watching

      With fewer people paying their statement balances in full and cardholder confidence dipping to yearly lows, Shultz says it’s a trend that bears watching. CompareCards has followed this trend closely, recently reporting that only 13 percent of millennials pay their credit card balance in full each month.

      The average credit card debt in the U.S. is $5,700, according to the Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve. That may not sound like a lot of money, but credit card debt is extremely costly because of its high interest rate. 

      Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban advises young people to cut up their credit cards if they want to be rich one day. In 2018, he told CNBC that the 16 percent interest consumers can save by not carrying a credit card balance is better than any return they could get in the stock market.

      Use the lender’s money for free

      Using a credit card to pay for purchases, then paying the bill in full each month, allows you to use the lender’s money for free for 30 days. The key, however, is to always pay the bill in full.

      The CompareCards report found that 21 percent of cardholders said they never pay their cards’ monthly statement in full. Only 30 percent of consumers with credit cards say they never carry a balance -- the fewest number over the last 12 months.

      Fewer consumers paying off their balance each month is worrisome enough. The fact that they are getting less confident they’ll be able to do so in the future is something else to worry about.

      Consumers have increased their credit card spending throughout 2019, and the latest data suggests they’re letting those credit card balances get bigger --...
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      Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $572 million in Oklahoma opioid suit

      The state had asked for $17 billion

      A judge in Oklahoma has ruled in favor of the state and against Johnson & Johnson, finding that the drugmaker bears responsibility in part for Oklahoma’s opioid addiction crisis.

      But Judge Thad Balkman handed the pharmaceutical giant a major victory, ordering it to pay the state $572 million instead of the $17 billion the state asked for. Wall Street hailed the decision, and Johnson & Johnson stock shot higher in after-hours trading Monday.

      Balkman ruled that the state “met its burden” in showing Johnson & Johnson, through its subsidiary Janssen, carried out a misleading marketing and promotion campaign for opioid painkillers and that it stood up to the law’s definition of “creating a public nuisance.”

      “Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that’s evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths, and neonatal abstinence syndrome,” the judge wrote.

      The state had asked for a $17 billion judgment to cover 30 years of efforts to combat the problem. However, the judge ruled the state did not present sufficient evidence to show that the abatement effort would take that long. The $572 million judgment represents one year of an anti-opioid campaign.

      While Wall Street seems happy with the verdict Johnson & Johnson clearly is not. The company described the ruling as “flawed” and said it plans to appeal.

      Company statement

      “Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome,” Johnson & Johnson general counsel Michael Ullmann said in a statement. “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.”

      The judge was swayed by the state’s claims that Johnson & Johnson systematically downplayed the risks of opioid addiction. It allegedly identified doctors known to prescribe large amounts of the drug as key customers.

      In March, Purdue Pharma settled with the state of Oklahoma rather than go to trial on similar charges. The company agreed to pay the state $270 million to fund addiction research and treatment in the state.

      A judge in Oklahoma has ruled in favor of the state and against Johnson & Johnson, finding that the drugmaker bears responsibility in part for Oklahoma’s o...
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