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Legal Roundup: Parkland School Shooter Sentenced to Multiple Consecutive Life Sentences

Various legal decisions recently reached the news, including sentencing of the Parkland shooter, a nation-wide takedown of a catalytic converter theft ring, CVS and Walgreens agreeing to settle opioid cases for roughly $10 billion with state, local, and tribal governments, and more. 

Parkland School Shooting

A Florida judge sentenced the Parkland school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to life in prison without parole. When the jury hearing the case could not unanimously agree on a death sentence, Cruz avoided the death penalty for 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shooting. The victims included 14 students and three school staffers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. For each count of murder and attempted murder, Cruz received a life sentence, which the judge ordered to run consecutively.

Sexual Misconduct and Insider Trading

Former CBS chief executive Les Moonves and CBS parent company Paramount agreed to a $30.5 million settlement over allegations from several women accusing Moonves of sexual misconduct. Other allegations included insider trading and misleading investors. The settlement with the New York attorney general’s office comes after a state investigation revealed that CBS and its senior leadership hid the accusations. Moonves will pay $2.5 million into a settlement fund with Paramount paying the remaining portion. CBS shareholders are slated to receive $24.5 million, with the remaining $6 million directed to supporting programs for reporting and investigating allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Climate Protests

The two climate activists who targeted Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting in October were sentenced to serve two months in prison, with half of the sentence suspended by a judge. While one of the two Belgian men glued his head to the glass that protects the painting, the other poured a can of thickened tomato soup over his head and then glued his own hand to the wall next to the painting, according to the Associated Press. A third man, who filmed the protest, is slated to appear in court on 4 November. The painting was not damaged, but prosecutors said the actions “crossed a line” as a form of protest. Climate protesters have increasingly targeted famous works in galleries in Europe and the United States.

Opioid Crisis Settlement

Drugstore giants CVS and Walgreens reached tentative agreements to pay roughly $5 billion each to settle lawsuits with state, municipal, and tribal governments. “While most of the big opioid manufacturers and drug distributors agreed to pay billions of dollars in national settlements in recent years, the retail chains had so far resisted negotiating a broad settlement deal,” The New York Times reported, indicating that this development could mark the beginning of the end of opioid crisis litigation. Approval of the settlement is currently contingent on majority agreement from the plaintiffs.

Catalytic Converter Thefts

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a takedown of a national network of criminals involved in the theft of catalytic converters. In coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement across the country, arrests of 21 individuals, plus searches and seizures, occurred in California, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wyoming. The individuals arrested were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to steal, deal, and process catalytic converters, which were later sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions in illegal profits. The United States is seeking over $545 million in forfeitures, according to the DOJ announcement.

Private Security Liability 

After reaching a deal for an undisclosed sum, a civil lawsuit—where three plaintiffs claim they were attacked in 2015 by bodyguards working for former president Donald J. Trump—has been dismissed. The plaintiffs claimed that while they were protesting outside of Trump Tower, they were violently attacked by the bodyguards. The protesters held Trump responsible, alleging that Trump explicitly authorized his bodyguards to use force.