SAN FRANSICO – At the request of prosecutors, the lawsuit against shipping giant FedEx Corp. was dropped, which accused it of knowingly shipping illegal online prescription drugs.
The government case against FedEx was abruptly ended mid-trial when prosecutors asked for the case to be dropped after being asked by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to provide testimony from Drug Enforcement Agency officers about the investigation against FedEx.
After the motion for dismissal, Breyer said, “The defense was factually innocent and did not have intent. The act of dismissal is entirely consistent with the government’s overarching obligations to see justice, even at the cost off embarrassment.”
For the lawsuit, FedEx was facing up to $1.6 billion in fines should it have been found guilty of intentionally shipping online prescription drugs. In a similar suit, UPS agreed took a non-prosecution agreement and paid a $40 million fine. In FedEx’s case, it decided to fight the charges.
“FedEx said no and stood up to them and they faced incredible repercussions from a case like this,” said Ted Cassman, attorney at Arguedas, Cassman & Headley told the Northern California Record.
“It was an eight-year investigation, essentially. It went all the way up to the Department of Justice and numerous agencies where involved and yet, it bought this immense power against a publicly traded corporation and filed false charges against a company. It takes such a great courage and resources to defend oneself against this thing. Companies usually fold.”
Key to the defense argument that proved FedEx’s innocence was the three-hour opening statement by attorney Cris Arguedas, also from Arguedas, Cassman & Headley. During her statement, she laid out the argument against the government with supporting evidence that FedEx was indeed working in cooperation with law enforcement officials.
“The case should have never been brought,” said Arguedas. “The dismissal today is an acknowledgement that there was no wrongdoing by FedEx.”
“FedEx was a company that was assisting law enforcement with their investigation of these online pharmacies and was not in a position to determine who was illegal and was not,” said Cassman. “They were just delivering packages. They were assisting the government in their investigation and relying on the government and hoping that they would give them guidance and tell them who was illegal and who was not. The government refused to do that or was unable to do that. They were trying to deputize a private company to do law enforcement work in appropriately – work that either the government wouldn’t do or couldn’t do.”
Right before the trial was to begin, prosecutors decided against a jury trial and chose instead to have Breyer try the case. Breyer was skeptical about the case saying it was “novel” and that he had doubts before the trail even began that prosecutors could prove that FedEx actually knew about the illegal drugs and intended to distribute them illegally.
FedEx has said it would stop shipping packages to or from illegal pharmacies as directed by law enforcement.