Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Mon 8/28 - ADHD Medication Generic Approved, 3M Settles Earplug Lawsuit, Tesla Readies for Autopilot Death Case, WSJ Reporter in Russian Jail Updates, and GA GOP to Retaliate Against Trump Prosecutor

Mon 8/28 - ADHD Medication Generic Approved, 3M Settles Earplug Lawsuit, Tesla Readies for Autopilot Death Case, WSJ Reporter in Russian Jail Updates, and GA GOP to Retaliate Against Trump Prosecutor

Good news on the ADHD medication shortage front, 3M settles in earplug suit, Tesla faces first Autopilot trial, lawyers for WSJ reporter in Russian jail appeal, and Georgia GOP tries to remove Willis.

On this day in history August 28, 2003, the Supreme Court of Alabama removed a monument of the Ten Commandments from its courthouse. 

The Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Supreme Court building was initially installed by Chief Justice Roy Moore, garnering support from evangelical Christians nationwide. However, Moore's refusal to comply with a federal court order to remove the monument by August 20 led to divisions among religious conservatives. Prominent figures like Pat Robertson criticized Moore for undermining the rule of law, while others like James Dobson praised him for prioritizing "God's law." Eventually, the monument was moved to a storage room, complying with the federal court order, but causing protests and prayers from demonstrators. The issue remained divisive, with Moore filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, even as eight of his state Supreme Court colleagues overruled him and ordered the monument's removal. Ultimately, the Supreme Court denied certiorari and the case died there–with the monument in a storage room and Roy Moore eyeing bigger things.

Moore’s bid for those bigger things – namely a special election to the Senate – would similarly end in failure. In 2017, in the midst of a campaign, Moore faced allegations of misconduct from multiple women. Some of these women allegedly claimed that Moore had assaulted them when they were minors and he was in his 30s. Moore denied all allegations and received varying levels of support from Republican figures, including an endorsement from President Donald Trump. Despite the allegations, Moore's name remained on the ballot, and he ultimately lost the election to Democratic candidate Doug Jones. Legal battles ensued, including defamation lawsuits from both Moore and one of the accusers, and as of August 2022, Moore was awarded $8.2 million in a defamation lawsuit, which is currently under appeal.

The monument, as of 2020, was on display on private property in Montgomery, at Roy Moore’s “Foundation for Moral Law” building. 

Millions of Americans struggling with ADHD medication shortages may find relief as U.S. regulators have approved a generic form of Vyvanse, a drug by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. This generic version could serve as an alternative to generic Adderall, which has been in short supply for a year. The approval is expected to bring financial relief to over one million Americans who use branded Vyvanse for ADHD or binge-eating disorder, as the cost of a 30-day supply has risen to $369. Fourteen companies are now authorized to manufacture and sell generic Vyvanse, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The shortage of generic Adderall began last August due to limited production at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, its main manufacturer. This led many patients to switch to Vyvanse, although its availability was also affected by manufacturing issues. Until now, Vyvanse was only available as an expensive branded drug, making it unaffordable for some patients.

David Goodman, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, noted that the main issue has been the cost. He has been switching some of his patients from Adderall to Vyvanse due to the shortage. The approval of generic Vyvanse is also expected to simplify the prescription process, as some insurance companies currently require special permission for Vyvanse coverage.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals acquired Vyvanse in 2019 through its purchase of Shire Plc and has since tripled the drug's price. The company stated that its pricing aims to reflect the "value and innovation" of the treatments but did not comment on how the introduction of a generic version might affect prices.

ADHD Drug Shortage Set to Ease as Generic Vyvanse Approved

3M Co. has tentatively agreed to pay over $5.5 billion to settle more than 300,000 lawsuits alleging that it sold defective combat earplugs to the U.S. military. The settlement amount is significantly lower than the estimated $8-10 billion financial analysts had predicted the company might have to pay. This agreement comes after 3M's controversial attempt to limit its liability through a bankruptcy case, which ultimately failed. The company has lost 10 of 16 early trials over the earplugs, with over $250 million awarded to service members so far.

The lawsuits claim that 3M knew its earplugs were too short to be effective and failed to warn the U.S. government or users. The settlement would be paid out over five years, pending approval from 3M's board. The company had tried to manage the litigation through its Aearo Technologies unit seeking Chapter 11 protection, but this move was criticized and eventually thrown out by a bankruptcy judge.

The settlement would put an end to a significant portion of 3M's ongoing litigation, although the company still faces other lawsuits over PFAS "forever chemicals," which are likely to cost even more to resolve. In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle civil allegations by the U.S. Justice Department regarding the same earplugs. The company's shares rose by as much as 4% in pre-market trading following the news of the tentative settlement.

3M Agrees to Pay More Than $5.5 Billion Over Military Earplugs

Tesla is facing its first trial over allegations that its Autopilot feature led to a fatal accident, marking a significant test for the company and its CEO, Elon Musk. The first trial, scheduled for mid-September in California, involves a 2019 crash where a Model 3 veered off a highway, hit a palm tree, and burst into flames, killing the owner and seriously injuring two passengers. A second trial in Florida in early October concerns another 2019 crash where a Model 3 drove under an 18-wheeler, resulting in the death of the owner. Both lawsuits accuse Tesla of knowing that its Autopilot system was defective.

Tesla has denied liability, attributing the accidents to driver error and insisting that Autopilot is safe when properly monitored by humans. The company has previously won a case by arguing that its technology requires human monitoring, despite the names "Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving."

The upcoming trials could reveal new evidence about what Musk and Tesla officials knew regarding Autopilot’s capabilities and limitations. Internal emails have been cited to argue that Musk is the "de facto leader" of the Autopilot team. Tesla has not commented on the trials but has been transparent about Musk's involvement in self-driving technology.

Legal experts suggest that wins for Tesla could bolster confidence and sales for its software, which costs up to $15,000 per vehicle. However, losses, especially with large damage awards, could significantly impact the company's narrative and financial future.

The stakes are particularly high for Tesla as these are the first trials involving fatalities linked to Autopilot. Court documents have also indicated that both sides are aware of the system's shortcomings, and punitive damages are being considered in the Florida case. Tesla has filed an emergency motion to keep deposition transcripts and other documents secret, a move that is being opposed by the plaintiffs.

Focus: Tesla braces for its first trial involving Autopilot fatality | Reuters

Lawyers for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich have appealed a Moscow court's decision to extend his pretrial detention until November 30. Gershkovich, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested on March 29 while on a reporting assignment in Russia. He is accused of espionage by Russia's Federal Security Service, a charge that both he and the Wall Street Journal, as well as the U.S. government, strongly deny. If the extension holds, Gershkovich will have been in detention for at least eight months before any trial begins, although a trial date has not yet been set. Previous requests by Gershkovich's lawyers for bail or house arrest have been denied. Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. State Department has labeled him as wrongfully detained and is exerting pressure on Russia for his release.

Lawyers for Evan Gershkovich Appeal Extension of Pretrial Detention - WSJ

Georgia Republicans are planning to use a new law to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who recently indicted former President Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The law, signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp in May, allows a commission of political appointees to remove elected prosecutors for various reasons, including not prosecuting certain offenses. State Sen. Clint Dixon accused Willis of using the justice system against political opponents and aiming to become a "leftist celebrity." The Public Rights Project, a nonprofit, has filed a preliminary injunction to halt any disciplinary or removal proceedings against prosecutors while litigation over the law is ongoing.

The new law is part of a larger trend across the U.S., where nearly 40 similar measures have been introduced in a third of states since 2017. These laws often target prosecutors who are implementing criminal justice reforms and are usually driven by white Republican lawmakers against Black Democrats in cities. The law has already had a chilling effect on prosecutors across Georgia, making them hesitant to discuss their work or pursue reforms for fear of being targeted for removal.

Georgia GOP Gears Up to Remove Atlanta Prosecutor Who Indicted Donald Trump

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at