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Wyoming News Briefs 03/18/2019

Cheyenne files suit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

CHEYENNE (WNE) -– The city of Cheyenne has added its name to the growing list of government bodies taking legal action against major opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Jackson-based attorney Jason Ochs filed the 199-page complaint on Cheyenne’s behalf March 8 in federal court. That suit now sits side by side similar complaints from the city of Casper, which filed in February; Carbon County, which filed last spring; and the Northern Arapaho Tribe, which filed in early 2018.

Ochs is representing Casper and Carbon County, as well, and Cheyenne’s complaint is nearly identical to those two suits.

The complaint names a handful of opioid manufacturers and distributors, including the pharmaceutical company that created Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma. The state of Wyoming also has pending litigation against Purdue Pharma, but in Laramie County Circuit Court.

Cheyenne’s complaint alleges the named defendants, which also include big-name prescription distributors like Walmart and Walgreens, created a “false and deceptive” marketing scheme “designed to dramatically increase the demand for and sale of opioids and opioid prescriptions.”

The complaint also alleges the named defendants created a supply-chain scheme that failed to flag suspicious orders and failed to stop suspicious orders when they were identified.

The heavily sourced complaint references data from academics, government sources and a litany of studies to underscore the depth of opioid addiction and overdose, a problem that was declared a national emergency by then-President Barack Obama in 2017.





Flaring requests increase

CASPER (WNE) — The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission green lit another flaring request last week, albeit a narrower one than usual, due to a packed docket of hearings.

Navigation Powder River, LLC, an oil and gas exploration and production company, sought an exemption to Wyoming’s limitations on flaring gas at a new well. A pipeline that is currently contracted to be built to serve the well site is not complete. The company brought a slew of experts to argue for the duration and necessity of flaring up to 2 million cubic feet of gas on average, per day, for up to 90 days. 

But to expedite the day’s hearing process, the commission gave Navigation a month to continue flaring at 2 million cubic feet on average per day for up to 30 days. If Navigation is still in need of additional flaring by next month’s hearing, it may approach the commission and provide the full presentation explaining why it needs to flare and how it will attempt to minimize waste, according to commission rules. 

With more oil and gas drilling in areas of the state that do not have extensive infrastructure to capture and transport gas, flaring exemption requests have increased before the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. 

“The number of flaring requests is a result of more activity and interest in the Powder River Basin now that prices have recovered and have remained in the $50 range,” said Kim Mazza, spokeswoman for the commission in an email. “One thing the commission requires is a plan from the operator on how they will address the flaring to stay within agency’s guidelines and not waste the state’s valuable resource. This has proven effective as we see operators more consistently stay within or below their approved amount and time frame.” 





Teenager accused of stealing, wrecking three cars in one day

RIVERTON (WNE) — A 16-year-old Ethete boy has been arrested, allegedly for stealing and crashing three vehicles in the Lander area on the same day. 

Officials did not report any injuries related to the incidents. 

Deputies were informed of the boy’s activities at about 10:45 p.m. Monday, when a resident on Upper North Fork Road called law enforcement to report that someone had driven into his back yard with a horse trailer. 

In a press release, undersheriff Mike Hutchison referred to the incident as a “vehicle crash.” As deputies responded to the scene, Hutchison continued, the reporting party called back to say the driver involved in the crash had now stolen the reporting party’s vehicle and fled the area.

“Deputies pursued the vehicle until the suspect crashed again on North Fork Road where he was taken into custody,” Hutchison wrote. 

An investigation revealed that the suspect first had stolen a vehicle in Lander and driven to Lower North Fork Road, where an initial crash occurred, Hutchison said; the first stolen vehicle was abandoned at the time. 

“The suspect then allegedly stole another vehicle from a nearby home and drove to Upper North Fork Road before crashing again, into the yard of a residence,” Hutchison wrote. “The suspect then allegedly stole a third vehicle and fled from the scene before crashing on North Fork Road where he was taken into custody by deputies.” 

Multiple charges are pending in the case, including charges related to the vehicle thefts as well as for driving under the influence, Hutchison said.



Sheridan man pleads not guilty to poaching more than 100 deer

SHERIDAN (WNE) — A 62-year-old man accused of poaching more than 100 deer over a two-year period pleaded not guilty to all charges in 4th Judicial District Court Thursday.

Gregg Lambdin faces 11 counts of wanton destruction of trophy or big game animals — nine felony and two misdemeanor counts — after a two-month investigation by the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department discovered 114 big game carcasses on Lambdin’s property outside Sheridan.

If convicted, Lambdin could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $110,000.

Local Wyoming Game and Fish wardens responded to reports from Lambdin’s neighbors that accused Lambdin of beating deer and dragging deer carcasses across his property in November.

A hunter also reported several deer carcasses on land adjacent to Lambdin’s property in 2017.

During the course of the investigation into Lambdin, a Wyoming Game and Fish investigator recorded a video that allegedly shows Lambdin killing a deer on his property.

Lambdin’s trial date has not been set.


Gillette man Wyoming’s Small Business Person of Year

GILLETTE (WNE) — Ryan Gregory, president of Wyoming Roofing LLC, has been selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the 2019 Wyoming State Small Business Person of the Year.

Gregory bought Wyoming Roofing in 2012 after working for the company for a number of years. Wyoming Roofing is headquartered in Sheridan, but also has a an office in Gillette. It provides roofing services for residential and commercial customers.

“Your hard work, innovative ideas and dedication to your employees and community have helped you build an outstanding business that has strengthened your state’s economy,” said Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration, in a letter to Gregory. “The SBA is pleased to celebrate your achievements and recognize your personal role in driving our nation’s economic growth.”

All state and national winners will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 5 and 6.

It’s the second straight year that someone with a Gillette connection won this award. In 2018, Tyler Miller of Earthwork Solutions was named the Wyoming State Small Business Person of the Year.



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