Blog: Today in Legal Reform
The Wall Street Journal reports that a lawyer is suing his former firm, accusing them of holding onto confidential documents from a competitor that could net millions of dollars in additional fees. The plaintiff, who says he was once “the number one filer of asbestos mesothelioma/lung cancer cases in the County of Los Angeles,” says he was fired after discovering the database.
ThomsonReuters examines the growing numbers of American class action lawyers that are looking for opportunities to export aspects of the U.S. tort system overseas, given that recent Supreme Court decisions have narrowed their options at home. “It’s pretty scary stuff,” said ILR president Lisa Rickard, who has warned European businesses of the dangers of such lawsuits.
The president of Cybex International, a fitness-machine company, writes in Forbes that American businesses are paying billions of dollars towards excessive and frivolous litigation, putting the economic recovery in jeopardy. He adds that businesses such as his, which was hit with a $66 million jury verdict in a case of misused gym equipment, are devoting more of their budgets to legal defense than to hiring and innovation.
The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post agree that a recent report detailing “intentional” prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens case underscores the need to revamp federal evidence rules. The report found that prosecutors concealed “significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens' defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government's key witness.”
The Department of Justice announced that it will meet with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its effort to develop guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Wall Street Journal reports. “It is important that the business community and the administration engage in a meaningful discussion that will produce the clearest guidance possible,” said ILR executive vice president Harold Kim.
ILR President Lisa Rickard spoke with Australian Lawyers Weekly about the danger of allowing litigation funders to operate without oversight. “There clearly needs to be something, and we have outlined a long list of safeguards that need to be considered,” she told the publication.
“We are seeing companies getting scooped up in aggressive enforcement actions and investigations,” ILR president Lisa A. Rickard told the New York Times about the Justice Department’s controversial crackdown on possible FCPA violations. Recent FCPA cases have been dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct and lack of evidence, and in February the department abruptly withdrew its largest ever FCPA case.
A new report from Towers-Watson finds that companies are spending more than ever to insure officers and directors from liability lawsuits, the result of “a highly litigious environment.” The report also finds that regulatory claims have surpassed securities class-action suits as the top concern for companies. (Wall Street Journal)
The Supreme Court has asked the lawyers in a pivotal Alien Tort Statute case to expand their filings to address whether American courts should ever hear ATS cases, regardless if the defendant is a corporation or not. Arguments will be heard again in the court’s next term, which begins in October, reports the New York Times.
BP announced that it has reached a nearly $8 billion settlement with private plaintiffs relating to the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform and subsequent oil spill, Bloomberg reports. The settlement does not resolve the federal government’s criminal and civil cases against the company.