The Commercial Appeal

FedEx drug shipping trial begins today

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The U.S. government and FedEx are set to do battle in federal court in San Francisco over the claim that the shipping company knowingly delivered illegal prescripti­on drugs such as Ambien from pill mills to dealers and addicts, some of whom died.

FedEx has denied the charges and says it only shipped what it believed were legal drugs from licensed pharmacies. Opening statements are scheduled to start today.

The trial is unusual both for the government’s decision to bring drug charges against a package delivery company and for the lack of a settlement. Rival UPS Inc. paid $40 million in 2013 to resolve similar allegation­s.

The stakes are high for Memphis-based FedEx. Though no FedEx officials are facing prison time, the charges carry a potential fine of $1.6 billion.

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