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Cal. court rules colleges, universities liable for safety of students on campus

The California Supreme Court has determined that public universities and colleges in the Golden State owe a duty of care to their students to protect from foreseeable acts of violence by fellow students. The 7-0 decision issued today in The Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County reversed a decision by the Second District Court of Appeal which sided with UCLA and dismissed a lawsuit against the University of California Regents filed by Plaintiff Katherine Rosen, a UCLA pre-med student who had been slashed across the throat and brutally stabbed multiple times by a mentally ill student while working in a chemistry lab on campus.

Plaintiff was represented before the California Supreme Court, on appeal and throughout eight years of litigation by Brian Panish, Deborah Chang and Patrick Gunning of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP as well as attorney Alan Charles Dell’Ario on appeal.

“To this day, I still struggle to understand how I was viciously attacked amidst a room full of my classmates and TA in the middle of the day while working on an experiment in Young Hall at UCLA,” says Katherine Rosen. “I am thrilled and relieved by the justices’ decision to overturn this ruling and I am hopeful it will provide the impetus for colleges throughout the country to mobilize their resources to develop and implement real, effective strategies to protect their students.”

Prior to Ms. Rosen’s 2009 attack, different departments and personnel at UCLA had documented numerous red flags about her assailant Damon Thompson relating to erratic, violent behavior as a result of schizophrenia. He’d made numerous threats against students, including Ms. Rosen, and despite these multiple red flags, UCLA failed to perform any type of threat assessment pursuant to its own policies and procedures. In 2010, Ms. Rosen filed a negligence action against the Regents of the University of California and several UCLA employees, alleging that defendants had breached their duty of care by failing to adopt reasonable measures that would have protected her from Thompson’s foreseeable violent conduct. The Defendants brought a motion for summary judgment, which was denied by the trial court in 2014. On appeal, two of the three justices concluded in October 2015 that a public university has no general duty to protect its students from the criminal acts of other students. Attorneys for Plaintiff immediately petitioned the California Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeal’s decision and their request was granted on January 20, 2016.

“Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court not only begins to bring justice to Katherine Rosen but forces universities and colleges to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of their students,” says Brian Panish. “The violent and brutal actions of Ms. Rosen’s attacker were foreseeable and this decision reinforces what we believed all along: UCLA and colleges throughout the state have a duty to protect their students from known risks while on campus.”


Credit reports to remove tax liens

The three big credit-reporting firms are planning to remove tax liens from Americans’ credit reports, a move that will make some risky borrowers appear more creditworthy and increase the chance they will get new loans from banks.

The firms, TransUnion, Equifax Inc. and Experian PLC have decided to delete the liens from credit reports and to stop adding new tax lien information, according to a court document and two of the companies. The changes will go into effect as soon as April.

The effort to remove the tax liens could affect millions of borrowers. More than 5.5 million liens will be removed from consumers’ credit reports as a result of the new changes, according to estimates by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a unit of RELX Group that provides lien and judgment information to credit-reporting firms and lenders.

For consumers, the change means that a negative event that could have held them back from getting approved for financing will be wiped off their credit reports. That could increase their credit score and make them look more creditworthy to lenders.

The three companies, which provide vital, behind-the-scenes services in consumer credit, have been grappling with class-action lawsuits over their handling of consumers’ tax liens and judgment information.

In TransUnion’s case, the lawsuits are playing a role in its decision to remove tax liens from credit reports, according to a court paper. Experian and Equifax say the lawsuits weren’t involved in their decision making.

This would be the second time in approximately nine months that the credit-reporting firms have moved to remove public records information from credit reports. In July they began removing most civil judgments and many tax liens.

That effort was focused on removing judgments and liens on which the companies didn’t have enough personal information to be certain that they were matching the events to the correct consumer credit reports.

An Experian spokesman said the company removed approximately half of tax liens from its credit-report information database last year and that it has continued to monitor tax-lien submissions for compliance with a settlement the three credit-reporting firms reached with state attorneys generals dating back to 2015. “Based on our monitoring, we made the decision to remove all remaining tax liens,” he said.

An Equifax spokeswoman said that “after a continued review of tax liens, Equifax determined that with only a small amount of tax liens remaining on our files, all tax liens would be removed and no longer be reported.”

For lenders, the move creates a potential blind spot for risk. Lenders rely on credit reports to help determine whether consumers are likely to pay back loans that they are applying for. A tax lien, which basically follows when a taxpayer hasn’t paid what is due in taxes, is a negative event that can result in lenders declining loan applicants.

Lenders who want to keep tabs on such liens and other judgments will need to take the extra step of finding a company that will sell them that information or go through public records themselves.

The latest move comes as credit-reporting firms face class-action lawsuits. Allegations in those suits include that the companies haven’t been accurately updating tax-lien information to reflect when the matter is withdrawn or otherwise put to rest.

That has meant that lenders and other parties who review credit reports could see that a consumer owed a debt even when the debt was no longer owed. That can result in lenders choosing not to approve the consumer for a loan. Other entities including insurance companies and employers often review credit reports to help make decisions.

TransUnion is in the process of completing a nationwide class-action settlement to address allegations that it didn’t update tax liens and civil judgments on credit reports. TransUnion denies the allegations, according to papers filed last week seeking a preliminary approval of the settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The proposed settlement states that TransUnion will cease reporting tax- lien and civil-judgment public records for three years. TransUnion has also agreed to compensate eligible consumers who have been adversely impacted by judgments and liens on their TransUnion reports.

In an email to clients in recent days, TransUnion said that tax liens will be removed from consumer credit reports the week of April 16, according to a person who saw the email.

Colleges that give you the best value for your money

These are college degrees that actually pay off.

A degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will give you the best value for your dollar, according to the personal-finance website SmartAsset. The site ranked colleges by their value, using data about their tuitions, living costs, scholarship and grant offerings, retention rate and graduates’ starting salaries.

Some Ivy League schools were featured, but those that specialize in science and technology tended to rank higher.

MIT came out on top for the third year in a row and was followed by another school known for technology, California Institute of Technology. Those schools were followed by Stanford, Harvey Mudd and Princeton.

The list could be valuable for students considering a college degree. The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has reached $1.4 trillion, a burden shared by 44 million people.

Here’s SmartAsset’s complete ranking.

Rank School Average scholarships and grants Average starting salary Tuition cost Living cost Student retention rate
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology $41,674 $81,500 $46,704 $16,546 98%
2 California Institute of Technology $36,632 $78,800 $45,390 $18,081 98%
3 Stanford University $47,782 $73,300 $46,320 $18,157 98%
4 Harvey Mudd College $33,895 $81,000 $50,649 $18,706 98%
5 Princeton University $44,128 $69,800 $43,450 $17,710 98%
6 Harvard University $48,195 $69,200 $45,278 $19,122 97%
7 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus $12,274 $68,100 $12,204 $13,576 97%
8 SUNY Maritime College $7,547 $71,600 $7,809 $16,516 85%
9 Yale University $48,126 $66,800 $47,600 $18,845 99%
10 University of Pennsylvania $43,856 $68,100 $49,536 $17,264 98%
Nationwide averages $7,894 $48,542 $15,082 $13,698 70%

Who is healthcare wins/loses in omnibus bill

Congressional leaders released the long-awaited $1.3 trillion, two-year omnibus spending bill after days of wrangling behind closed doors over contentious policies that included an embattled stabilization package for the individual market that would fund cost-sharing reduction payments and a $30 billion reinsurance pool. Here’s what did and did not make it into the bill.

Total HHS appropriation: $88 billion


Insurers that fought to keep a new policy that phases down their share of the cost of prescription drugs not covered by Medicare while raising it for drugmakers.

The National Institutes of Health, which received a $3 billion boost in funding, bringing its total budget to more than $37 billion.

Opioid addiction abatement efforts, which received $500 million to develop alternative pain medications. HHS also received $3.6 billion to fight drug abuse.

Rural communities, which will see a hefty $135 million increase in healthcare program funding, including $100 million for drug addiction treatment and prevention.

Telehealth in rural areas will get a boost in grants and HHS’ total spending on rural communities will be $290.8 million.

Community health centers will receive a $135 million increase over last year to expand addiction prevention and treatment services as well as access to overdose reversal drugs.

Providers would see a quicker resolution to their Medicare appeals as Congress funnels $182 million toward reducing a backlog of more than 500,000 appeals.

Children’s providers will get a boost in their reimbursement rates under the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which got a major $2.4 billion increase over last year. The Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program will get a $15 million boost to support pediatric medical training.

Abstinence-only sex education gets $25 million in state grants.

Flu prevention. Congress is increasing funds to combat the flu by $218 million, a 68% boost, to improve the response to pandemic flu and ramp up research to develop a universal flu vaccine.


Insurers that had been optimistic following the weekend’s negotiations for CSRs and reinsurance.

The Affordable Care Act, which now faces several attempts to limit data or grant opportunities related to the legislation.

Drugmakers, who wanted to offload some of their newfound financial liability for the Medicare Part D donut hole back to insurers.

Long office wait led 20% to change physicians

Long wait times in the office are tied to both patient satisfaction and physician ratings, according to physician review site Vitals‘ annual survey.

Wait times have made 30% of surveyed patients walk out of an appointment and led 20% to change their physician, according to the report. It cited an average 18 minutes, 13 second wait in the office nationally, which is down just slightly (by 22 seconds) from last year.

Physician ratings on the site tracked directly with wait times, Vitals found: for physicians with a one-star rating the average was 34 minutes, versus about 13 minutes for five-star doctors.

Catalent may see ‘rising momentum’ on biologics expansion: Raymond James

Catalent, Inc. CTLT 2.19%’s plans for expansion of its biologics segment are likely to bring the stock back after weak second-quarter comps and reaccelerate growth through 2019, according to Raymond James.

The Analyst

Michael Baker of Raymond James upgraded Catalent from Market Perform to Outperform and assigned the stock a $48 price target.

The Thesis

Catalent is an American biotech company and leading drug development, delivery and supply partner.

While Catalent reported disappointing comp figures in Q2, this negative catalyst has been largely priced into the stock, Baker said in a Wednesday note.

Catalent’s acquisitions of Cook and Accucaps, along with the “aggressive” expansion of its Madison, Wisconsin biologics facility, have strengthened the company’s competitive standing in the biologics space and increased its revenue exposure, the analyst said.

“We are confident that CTLT will enter fiscal 2019 with rising momentum and an attractive setup that includes strong biologics top-line growth and continued delevering and diversification of the business.”

The biologics segment is a strategic concentration of Catalent’s focus on specialty medicines for targeted patient populations, Baker said.

“This is achieved by focusing investment on smaller batch size capability, typically under 5,000 liters, which also allows for the increased flexibility that is a priority for these type of clients, who typically lack the desire to build internal infrastructure”

Price Action

At the time of publication, Catalent shares were trading up 2.7 percent at $41.61.

Biotech winners, losers from Congress’ latest funding bill

Congress introduced the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 on Wednesday, and the bill contains fewer health care provisions than many traders expected.

Still, Height Capital Markets analyst Andrea Harris said on Thursday there are several pharmaceuticals and managed care winners and losers from the new bill.


Among the biggest winners is Omeros Corporation OMER 35.31%.

“Title XIII, which begins on page 2028 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, is a narrowly designed provision that extends by two years the pass-through status period for qualifying drugs, including OMER’s Omidria,” Harris said.

Novartis AG (ADR) NVS 1.48% and Pfizer Inc. PFE 1.85% will continue to benefit from the status quo, but the same can’t be said for a couple of other big names.


Amgen, Inc. AMGN 3.03% and Johnson & Johnson JNJ 2.9%investors are likely disappointed the new bill doesn’t include provisions both companies had been pushing for.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act does not include a separate pass-through-related provision advocated by Amgen and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) that would have reversed a reimbursement disadvantage that resulted from the 340B payment cuts in the 2018 outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) rule,” Harris said.

“This policy, which would have applied 340B reimbursement cuts to drugs with pass-through status (they are currently exempt from the cuts) originally surfaced in the House-passed spending bill in February (the Senate version, which became law, did not include the change).”

Congress didn’t scale back the required drug discounts sold in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, meaning manufacturers are still on the hook for providing 70 percent discounts starting in 2019.