Facebook Hit with Class-action Lawsuits

A class-action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California stating that Facebook violated the user rights of those using an Android device. The suit alleges that Facebook collected data including people’s phone lists that went beyond what was reasonable. The suit says that there was no indication to the normal user that this invasion of their privacy would occur. The suit continues by saying that there are no available legal alternatives that would make users whole again.

Facial Recognition Class-action Lawsuit

This is the second class-action lawsuit that Facebook has been hit with in recent weeks, reveals siliconrepublic.com. The first indicated that the social media company’s facial recognition and “tagging” technology was a violation of the person’s privacy.

Requirements for a Class-action Lawsuit

This case was also filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. A judge has ruled that the second case meets all four requirements for a class action lawsuit. Those conditions are:

  • The class is large enough that the action of bringing all members together is impractical
  • All members may have been hurt by the law in the same way
  • The parties’ claims are typical of those of other people in the group
  • The named parties have proven that they would protect other members of the group

Cambridge Analytica LTD

Facebook has recently been asked to testify in front of the United States Congress over its behavior in Cambridge Analytica LTD scandal. In that case, Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting data from over 50 million Facebook users.

It still remains to be seen what action a judge will take in this most recent court case. It also remains to be seen if Facebook can survive with new cases being put forth each day.

Car Loan Bias Rule Overturned

In a challenge to the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the United States House of Representatives voted to overturn an Obama-era rule aimed at preventing discrimination against consumers obtaining car loans. Based on a 234-175 vote mostly along party lines, the House struck down the rule that prevented auto lenders from having the ability to charge higher fees to buyers based on not only their credit score, but also national origin or race.

The rule, first implemented in 2013, was initially voted on in the U.S. Senate in April, where members determined they had the votes needed to repeal the rule. Once this vote was taken, the Government Accountability Office decided it was legal to reverse the rule, based on procedures contained in the Congressional Review Act.

Strongly opposed from the beginning by the National Automobile Dealers Association, the rule was viewed by NADA as an obstacle that severely limited the flexibility dealers would normally have to provide discounted auto loans to their customers. According to Peter Welch, who serves as NADA President, the rollback of the rule will now let local dealerships across the nation exercise their judgment in attempting to provide customers the best options for financing a vehicle.

However, as it usually is with any type of political decision, there is an opposite reaction to the ruling. According to attorneys representing the Center for Responsible Lending, there is now concern that by overturning the law, other federal agencies may be at risk of having their rules also overturned, especially those that focus on protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

Based on the actions of the House and Senate, many questions have now arisen as to how many more agencies similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have their rules dismissed by the federal government. As the resolution voted on by Congress now heads to the desk of President Donald Trump for his signature, the debate continues as to how effective the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be in the months and years ahead. While some applaud the additional freedoms now granted to individual businesses, others view the ruling as the first step in what could be a long line of rules and regulations being overturned. To learn more about the ruling and additional details surrounding the fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, please visit the link to this article at Reuters.com.

The Government Went Seeking Justice at Visium. But Was it Served?

Nearly two years after being rocked by an investigation, Visium Asset Management continues to wind down its business. In June 2016, the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office laid charges emanating from bond mis-marking and inflated portfolio assets as the result of evidence brought forward by whistleblower Jason Thorell.

Thorell’s concerns over mispricing surfaced in June 2013 when he raised the issue with Visium’s founder and CIO, Jacob Gottlieb while recording the conversation. Thorell subsequently reported his concerns to the SEC and in collaboration with the FBI and the SEC, Thorell spent more than two years gathering evidence in the form of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations. This evidence triggered an investigation into Visium’s holdings and resulted in the charges brought against two former employees. Despite the fact that only 2% of the company’s employees were involved, the charges resulted in the very public destruction of the $8 billion firm and left over 170 employees suddenly without jobs.

Today, the SEC settled charges against Visium Asset Management for insider trading and inflation of fund returns.

The only person remaining at the firm is Jacob Gottlieb, and he continues his work as CIO as Visium winds down. Gottlieb founded Visium in 2005 with a vision of creating a healthcare-focused hedge fund that would put company culture and employees first. Before creating Visium, Gottlieb had been an extremely successful portfolio manager at several other firms. However, he noticed that many companies had a cutthroat culture and suffered from a lack of team work and leadership support. Gottlieb wanted Visium to be different and he sought to create a company that offered employees a positive and collaborative culture, long-term career opportunities, and professional development.

Gottlieb’s long and deliberate recruitment process assessed not only skills and experience but also, and most importantly, cultural fit. New employees were supported with a formal onboarding process and regular meetings with Gottlieb himself to assess progress and set goals. New portfolio managers were also paired with research dirtectors to support them through the initial learning period, help them identify mistakes, and provide ongoing coaching on how to improve. With this strong support system, Visium portfolio managers were successful; and at its peak in 2016, the company had the aforementioned 170 employees and $8 billion in AUM.

Given the supportive environment that fostered many Visium employees to launch successful careers beginnings, it didnt’ come as a surprise when many of them were quickly picked up by competitors in 2016. Being accustomed to Gottlieb’s nurturing leadership style, the former employees quickly realized the sink-or-swim mentality that their new employers harnessed. 20 Visium employees were poached by Aptigon Capital, a subsidiary of Citadel, at the first sign of the unfurling insider trading scandal. Citadel founder and CEO, Ken Griffin lured employees away from Visium with generous pay packages and the promise of managing $1 billion portfolios. Griffin’s no stranger to poaching talent and has been quoted as saying “the talent you want to hire is the talent you want to pull from someone else.”

What Visium employees didn’t realize was that Griffin would live up to his reputation as an unforgiving boss who is quick to dismiss employees. Part of Griffin’s promise to employees was that they would receive the support of analysts to service their portfolios, but this promise went unfulfilled leaving the managers overworked and under-resourced. The Visium employees were also burdened by Aptigon’s aggressive fee structure. The higher fees Aptigon demanded meant that the managers needed to achieve higher returns than they were used to, without the assistance of the skilled analysts and collaborative culture that they were accustomed to under Visium (and Gottlieb)’s leadership. As a result, of the 20 Visium portfolio managers recruited by Aptigon, only two remain less than two years later.

The fall of Visium was caused by the actions of a small number of employees escaping detection for a short period of time- as confirmed by the SEC’s recent press release earlier today. Ultimately, many have suffered from the resulting layoffs and the lack of professional success at other firms, like Aptigon. To further illustrate the scope of the issues resulting from the dissolution of Visium, we can look at the fate of employees who have gone to competing firms. At the same time Aptigon was recruiting Visium employees, other Visium portfolio managers joined rival firm AllianceBernstein Holding LP. Although the Visium employees have been successful at AllianceBernstein, their success is lining the pockets of the foreign-owned parent company, AXA. Through Visium’s downfall, the American economy has lost talented workers and money to foreign-based entities.

The fate of the 170 innocent people who’ve suffered as a result of the events at Visium is often overlooked. The magnitude of the inflated assets are estimated to be approximately $4.5 million …a relatively small amount considering that it has forced the closure of an $8 billion company and the loss of 170 jobs. In the epilogue, there is no doubt that Gottlieb’s Visium was a firm with good intentions; a positive firm for investors and employees. The impact of Visium’s closure extends well beyond the named parties. Is this justice?

Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello

UPDATED May 2nd, 2018 – In the world of corporate executives and CEOs, perhaps few have a story as surprising and fascinating as Tony Petrello. From his humble beginnings growing up in a working-class environment in Newark, New Jersey, to running the world’s largest land-based drilling company, to helping fund hundreds of millions of dollars in research toward a global neurological disease, Petrello has experienced a truly astounding lifetime filled with successes and turns of fate.

It’s an understatement to say that Tony Petrello’s career has been one of great success. After all, in 2015, Tony Petrello was one of the highest-compensated CEOs in the U.S. thanks to his tenure as CEO of global oil company Nabors. But Tony’s story extends far earlier than his time at Nabors and includes a long list of surprising turns that eventually led him to the level of success he’s achieved today. Tony’s many achievements have been the products of natural gifts, consistent hard work, and creative thinking that’s spanned a diverse career over many decades.

It’s also important to note the ways in which Tony has given back to society, particularly how he’s worked to help children with neurological disorders. For certain, his life is worthy of admiration and emulation. But to truly understand how that level of success in multiple metrics came to be, it’s important to go back to the beginning and find out how Tony Petrello became who he is today.

A Remarkable Student

Tony grew up in Newark, N.J., where he attended public schools. He’s been described by former roommates and classmates as a working-class young man who carried the classic New Jersey accent and the outgoing attitude to match. He stood apart with his passion and willingness to speak out about the subjects he cared about most. His friends and those who knew him when he was young often described him as an extrovert, someone comfortable speaking his mind on a regular basis. Often his sense of humor was on full display, but it wasn’t the aspect of his personality that stood out the most.

When he was in high school, Petrello became downright famous in his hometown for his amazing math abilities. In classic Hollywood style, Petrello was even known to spend his free time writing down obscure equations and proofs on scraps of paper or napkins and solving them himself. While for the time being his incredible prowess was reserved to those in his immediate circle and social setting, that didn’t last long. Yale University took notice, and it awarded Tony a scholarship and the opportunity to be mentored by Serge Lang.

Lang was a brilliant mathematician, author, and professor. Born in France in 1927, Lang became famous for his groundbreaking work in number theory and for penning a series of math textbooks across a wide range of mathematical disciplines. He went on to become professor emeritus of mathematics at Yale, where he met Tony Petrello.

It’s possible that Lang was disappointed when he discovered that Petrello wasn’t interested in pursuing the field of mathematics or academia, opting instead to jump into the world of law.

But while still at Yale, from which he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he became known for his outgoing personality and strong sense of humor. In fact, Yale changed Tony Petrello’s social life and eventually his entire future in a truly special way. It was there that he met Cynthia, his beloved wife. Cynthia would go on to become a dancer, movie and TV actress, as well as a respected soap opera producer.

After graduating from Yale, Tony Petrello surprised many of his professors and classmates when he decided not to become a mathematician. Rather, he enrolled in Harvard Law School. His motivations for pursuing law rather than mathematics aren’t entirely known, but it’s possible that his boisterous personality and strong opinions made the quiet life of an academic seem less than appealing to him. Whatever the case, Petrello graduated from Harvard Law school in the 1970s and never looked back.

Law or Business?

In 1979, Tony Petrello joined Baker & McKenzie, a major American law firm. There he specialized in business law, especially taxation and arbitration. It was here that he discovered a passion for business, where law and finances intersect in fascinating and thrilling ways. In 1986, he became a managing partner of its New York division. He would function in this role for some time before a turn of fate led him down another path, this one even more unexpected than the last.

At Baker & McKenzie, Tony Petrello worked with a client by the name of Nabors Industries.

Tony Petrello CEO Nabors
Tony Petrello became the CEO of Nabors Industries in 2011

Founded in 1968, Nabors Industries is now listed on the S&P 500 and works to contract geothermal, natural gas and oil drilling equipment and projects throughout the world, mainly based on land. From their beginnings five decades ago they have gone on to become the largest land-drilling organization in the world, operating in 25 countries with over half-a-thousand rigs in operation worldwide.

But before all of that, Nabors was just a client that Petrello worked closely with during his time at Baker & McKenzie. And in any other circumstance, it would have likely ended at that. But Petrello had always been someone capable of making a lasting impression, and he did exactly that here as well.

During Petrello’s time servicing the Nabors account, he made an impressive impact that did not go unnoticed by the higher ups at the company. They didn’t’ just appreciate his hard work and re-up their business with his firm. Managers at Nabors were so impressed by Tony’s efforts and powers of analysis that they began trying to hire him away for themselves. It’s a testament to Petrello’s natural abilities in business that with no official business experience or education he was able to make such a powerful impact on a large-scale organization like Nabors.

Nabors lobbied and tried to convince Nabors to join them for some time, and eventually their efforts were destined to pay off. Petrello left Baker & McKenzie to join Nabors as an executive. A budding mathematician turned corporate attorney was headed for a new career. He was set to become a business executive.

Thus, after he’d lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, Tony Petrello was off to make his residence in an entirely new place: Texas. For a still-young and east-coast-centered individual like Petrello, Texas may as well have been the moon. But with an eye for adventure and excitement for where his new career might take him, Petrello packed up and headed off to the southwest. The Lone Star State is his home to this day.

Tony Petrello’s Life at Nabors and Beyond

tony-petrello-nabors-industries
Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling

In 1991, Tony Petrello began serving as Nabors’ Chief Operating Officer. In this role he was responsible for Nabors’ daily operations just below the CEO. That same year, he cemented his place at the firm even further when he took a seat on the board of directors as well as the board’s executive committee.

Anyone who’s followed Petrello’s story or knows anything about his approach to life and business can likely guess what happened next. Petrello was so impressive in his role as COO that when the time came, he was considered first in line to take the reins of Nabors.

In 1992, he became the president. From here he began to leave his mark on Nabors’ and the industry with a series of moves that cemented their place as the world’s largest land drilling company and a powerhouse of business success. His achievements in those positions were undeniably helpful in terms of building up the company. For instance, in 1993, Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling. Also, a much larger transaction in 2010 brought Superior Well Services under Nabors’ corporate umbrella. This attitude towards expansion and collaborative partnerships helped establish Petrello as a savvy businessman who knew how to bring in greater levels of success.

Since October 28, 2011, Tony Petrello has been Nabors’ CEO. On top of that, in June 2012, he was named the chairman of the board as well as chairman of the board’s executive committee. During that time, he’s led the way in several major events within the company and the industry as a whole.

In 2014 the company reached a deal with C&J Energy, wherein they would combine their Completion and Production company operations to create a more streamlined flow of production.

In 2015, Petrello led the company in signing a deal with KazMunayGas, an oil company based in Kazakhstan. This created the joint venture known as KMG Nabors Drilling Company. This opened up availability of a vast drilling field in Kazakhstan known as Tengiz field, increasing revenue for the company both in the short-term and for years to come.

Petrello led another collaborative contract in 2016, when Nabors signed with Saudi Aramco to create a joint venture called SANAD. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil company, with an estimated market value of as much as $10 trillion. It is the most valuable company on earth, as well as arguably the most profitable. It’s headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and operates the Master Gas System. This is the largest hydrocarbon network anywhere in the world. Petrello and Nabors knew that this was a company worth partnering with

By common acclaim, Tony Petrello’s leadership at Nabors has been top-notch. During the past six years, he’s allowed the company to keep growing and thriving in an industry where the competition is intense, to say the least, at all times. Even as the oil industry as a whole has experienced struggles as alternative fuels begin to increase in popularity, Petrello has kept Nabors at the leading edge of success.

Indeed, Tony Petrello is extremely adept at day-to-day management tasks as well as the creation of long-term strategic visions. It’s this dual focus that speaks to his original prowess as a mathematician. He can see the whole equation, from the details to the big picture, in order to make strategic choices that will eventually lead to a solution.

His legal experience and education have also proven invaluable, as he’s been able to perceive the workings of a potential deal in order to make it the most effective for all involved parties.

In addition to his many duties at Nabors, Tony Petrello has been a director at MediaOnDemand.com. This company represents the newest generation of video-on-demand services that brings enhanced functionality to the on-demand experience. This includes real-time data and updating information including interactive activities and even navigation information. Today, Petrello is now a director at Hilcorp Energy Company. Hilcorp is one of the world’s biggest oil and natural gas companies that’s remained privately-owned, with exploration and production facilities across the United States. In fact, Hilcorp is the largest producer of oil in the entire state of Louisiana. Like Nabors, Hilcorp is also headquartered in Texas.

In addition to all these duties, Petrello also serves as a director at Stewart & Stevenson. Also based in Houston, TX, Stewart & Stevenson is a privately held manufacturing company that produces oil and gas industry-related equipment. They produce everything from swamp buggies for transportation to precise, minor parts for major mining operations.

This level of activity in a wide range of companies shows Petrello’s far-reaching instincts for business. But Petrello’s life is a story of moving beyond business and profits to have a more lasting, meaningful impact on the world. To fully understand his place in the world, it’s important to take a look at Petrello’s philanthropic efforts outside of business and how they came to be.

An Extraordinary Philanthropist

tony petrello jan and dan center
Tony Petrello and his wife Cynthia have donated over $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital

In the late 1990s, Tony and Cynthia Petrello had a daughter named Carena. While this was an incredibly joyful time for both Tony and Cynthia, it came with a struggle that would shape the next decades of all of their lives. At birth, Carena weighed 20 ounces, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. In addition to wide range of other issues and complications, Carena wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods until she was about 7 years old.

Cerebral palsy is a condition that incorporates a range of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move naturally. The symptoms and severity can vary widely, but generally involve inability to walk normally, muscles that are too weak or stiff to function, or overall struggles with coordination. They can also include problems in other areas of development, including vision, hearing, and speaking. In cases like Carena’s, the ability to swallow and experience other sensations is also affected.

After going through the difficult childhood that Carena experienced, Tony Petrello wanted to help other children with neurological conditions. And as we’ve already seen with Tony Petrello this far, he rarely does anything halfway. When he decides to take action, he truly takes action. Therefore, he donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he also took a seat on its board of trustees. The hospital was able to put that money toward the construction of a complex dedicated to pediatric neurological care. It’s called the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and it’s a cutting-edge institution.

The Institute treats children from across the country and the globe, and it’s provided hope to countless families. In addition to treatment, it’s also focused heavily on striving to access the root causes of neurological conditions like cerebral palsy. With over one billion people worldwide suffering from some degree of neurological disease or disorder, the institute believes its mission is absolutely vital in improving the lives of people all over the world. That mission will not only have an impact on the lives of those currently living with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, but also countless people in the future who will benefit from this priceless research.

The institute focuses on collaboration between thinkers and researchers in a wide range of disciplines, with the goal of helping prevent, identify, and treat neurological disorders and improve the lives of those who have them.

Over time, Tony Petrello has used his business acumen to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to this cause, and those efforts are ongoing.

Finally, Tony Petrello is quick to credit luck for many of his accomplishments. However, his friends, his family members, his colleagues, and everyone who’s gotten to know Tony’s powerful work ethic and big heart realize that good fortune is only one small aspect of his amazing life story.

Conclusion 

From his beginnings as a youth in New Jersey to his philanthropic work for the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and beyond, Tony Petrello has spent his entire life leaving a mark on the world. First as a mathematician, then as a lawyer, and finally as a hugely successful corporate executive with a long list of accolades, acquisitions, and philanthropic efforts, Petrello will not soon be forgotten in the world of business or beyond.

The only question that now remains is—where will Petrello leave his mark next? His wide variety of skills, career paths and ventures leave the door wide open.

Read Next: New Institute Helps Lawyers With Business Skills

Judge Blocks Xerox-Fujifilm Merger

On Friday, a New York judge temporarily blocked a proposed merger between Xerox and Fujifilm. The ruling is seen as a victory for the activist investors who are trying to scuttle the merger deal.

Last month, a Xerox investor named Darwin Deason filed a lawsuit in opposition to the merger. He also requested to make his own nominations to the company’s board. Friday’s ruling reopened nominations to the board.

The judge’s decision comes only one day after the two companies had agreed to renegotiate the terms of their proposed $6.1 billion deal. They were forced to do this after Xerox investors balked at the terms of the deal, insisting on a higher share price.

The judge presiding over the case — Barry Ostrager, who sits on the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York — granted the injunction because he believes that Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson agreed to the deal even after he was advised not to do it. Ostrager said in a statement that it was clear from the evidence presented in the case that on November 10 of last year Xerox’s board had informed Jacobson that they were intending to replace him as CEO, and that this brought him into a conflict of interest while negotiating a deal that would have made him CEO of the merged organization.

Opposing the merger is not only Deason but also legendary investor Carl Icahn. The two men are among the largest shareholders of Xerox and they believe that the proposed merger deal considerably undervalues the company.

In response to the court’s decision, Fujifilm says that it is considering all its options, which they say includes filing an appeal. The Japanese company issued a statement in which they said that they are not only disappointed by the court’s ruling but that they also disagree with it. They went on to say that Xerox shareholders should be able to decide the merits of the agreement for themselves.

Xerox said that it also disagrees with the court’s decision and that it would appeal it. It further echoed the sentiments of Fujifilm in that it believes that its shareholders should be able to decide for themselves whether the deal is good or not, and it added that joining forces with Fujifilm was the best way the company could build value for its shareholders.

Read More: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/2018/04/28/xerox-fuji-merger-temporarily-blocked-court/561015002/

Clark Hill and Strasburger & Price In A Shocking Merger

Clark Hill and Strasburger & Price are two large law firms that span across multiple states. Once the merger is complete, their staff will consist of 650 attorneys in 25 different offices. Both stages of the merger should be complete by the second quarter of this year.

Texas seems to be a main focal point of the merger, in which they will reform and target specified industries. Local energy laws, taxes, and healthcare are primary targets of the merged law firm force. Strasburger already has 6 offices in the state and Clark Hill will likely expand their force and expertise to the area.

The leadership of Clark Hill felt that the core values, corporate culture, and business goals were similar to theirs. With this merger, the company will perfectly expand into higher markets and will reach an entirely new customer base. The merger wasn’t the first idea in their minds since their original goal was a strategic partnership. After working out their market goals and legal complications, a merger seemed like the most logical step.

Thorp Reed & Armstrong and Morris Polich & Purdy are other firms that had been absorbed into Clark Hill. Future mergers are entirely likely since both firms have expansion set into their sights.

John Hern Jr. is the CEO of Clark Hill and he will continue as a managing partner for the new combined company. The previous leadership of Strasburger will also lead to executive positions.

More About Clark Hill

Clark Hill is an international law firm that has lawyers with specialties in multiple disciplines. They have industry knowledge that allows them to work with clients that need to accomplish goals for their businesses. You will find them in big cities across the United States and in Dublin, Ireland. Their main office is based out of Detroit and they have an impressive staff of over 450 attorneys.

More About Strasburger

Strasburger has been operating for over 75 years in Texas, specializing in many local industries. They work with a lot of middle market clients and clients that are expanding into international business deals. They have specialized lawyers in 30 different disciplines, making them one of the best-equipped law firm in the area. They work with large corporations, small businesses and even publicly traded companies. Aside from their large offices, they also have satellite locations in Washington D.C., Mexico City, and New York City.

 

Explosion of ADA Cases Triggers Fight against Profiteering

One blind New York resident has had over 40 Americans with Disabilities Act cases filed between January and February 2018. Attorneys filed these cases against financial giants such as First Central Savings Bank and East West Bancorp, complaining that a visually impaired person’s civil rights are compromised by the lack of access to business websites. However, some are concerned that attorneys are clogging the legal system with frivolous lawsuits for profit, not for the sake of helping the visually impaired secure their civil rights.

In one of the complaints which was filed in January, the plaintiff’s attorneys Joseph Mizrahi and Jeffrey and Dana Gottlieb describe how visually impaired or blind individuals can usually access websites by utilizing screen-access software. However, the website’s content must be rendered in text format. The lawyers contend that the World Wide Web Consortium, a leading internet standards community, has instituted website access protocols for the visually impaired and blind.
Mizrahi asserts that his firm is committed to helping clients fight for their civil rights. He hopes that the defendants will work to make websites accessible to all. However, Jeffrey Gottlieb hypothesizes that many businesses do not comply because they lack expertise with web access software. Furthermore, Gottlieb notes that the legal dilemmas of web access are new and not often considered by companies.

As with many other noble causes, the issue of web access for the visually impaired is vulnerable to abuse by money-hungry lawyers. To curtail unnecessary lawsuits, the federal House of Representatives passed the ADA Education and Reform Act in February. Advocates for the visually impaired worry that the bill would impede lawsuits aimed to protect the rights of the disabled. On the other hand, some experts feel that the legal system needs stronger safeguards to deal with increasing ADA-related disputes.

Tom Stebbins, the executive director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, believes that “ADA lawsuit mills” are abusing the ADA to increase revenue instead of website access. Stebbins laments that businesses and organizations of all sizes are being targeted with no prior notice of possible website access barriers. He is concerned that the House bill does not deal with the proliferation of website-related suits.

Stebbins is calling on the U. S. Department of Justice and courts to impose tougher restrictions. He asserts that the Justice Department should be analyzing and interpreting laws while judges and bar associations should be scrutinizing and punishing exploitative attorneys that attempt to profit from the website access issue.
Unfortunately, this is yet to take place.

Justice Department Asks Judge To Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department faced off against AT&T in a trial relating to the latter’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. AT&T, which has 25 million cable subscribers, insists that the proposed merger would be good for consumers, while the government believes that it would hurt innovation and raise prices. It has therefore asked the judge presiding over the case to block the merger.

Craig Conrath, who is a lawyer for the Justice Department, said in an opening statement that the deal should be blocked because it will raise consumer prices in excess of $400 million, or $0.45 per household. It would do this, Conrath insists, because competitors of AT&T would have to pay more money for content provided by Time Warner. Conrath further told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon that AT&T would use Time Warner as a weapon against its rivals, as these rivals need the content that Time Warner provides. He went on to say that AT&T would also use content from Time Warner to drag innovation in the area of online video.

Daniel Petrocelli, who is an attorney representing both AT&T and Time Warner, mocked the government’s case. He said that their arguments were both outdated and not consistent with the reality of the situation. He further said that the deal would actually result in consumers paying 50 cents less per month for television service, and he said that the government was using a flawed model that miscalculated the effect of the merger on future prices. Petrocelli concluded his opening statement by saying that the government cannot prove that the proposed merger would adversely affect competition, and he said that the merger would in reality help the two companies better compete with the likes of Amazon and Alphabet.

AT&T believes the deal would result in cost savings of around $2.5 billion annually for the company by 2020.

In November of last year, the Justice Department filed suit to stop the deal, which has been heavily criticized by President Trump. If the government loses the case, it could open the possibility of future mergers between content providers and distributors.

Judge Leon will decide the case after a trial that is expected to last anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

New Institute Helps Lawyers With Business Skills

Law students spend their days learning how to practice law. They learn about how to draft a motion and how to make objections to evidence. They participate in trial advocacy and they draft briefs for moot court competition. Many students graduate from law school only to realize that they don’t know much about the business of practicing law. They don’t know how to set up a law firm, bill clients, keep records or grow their practice.

One group of legal professionals wants to change all that. The Institute for the Future of Law Practice says that students need paid internships to show them the ropes of the business side of practicing law. They aim to partner with law firms and other businesses in order to show law students that the law is a business. They say their work is all the more important as the practice of law changes quickly with new technologies.

Law students complete a paid internship with a law firm that uses cutting-edge technology or with a legal department of a large corporation. They say the program improves legal services for the community because the attorneys are better equipped to serve their clients.

Legal placement advisors say that corporate departments are growing and law firms are shrinking. More and more, large companies rely on their own legal teams rather than contracting through a law firm. They say it’s critical to train law students to join the ranks.

Organizers at the institute say that students can choose from a summer internship that lasts 10 weeks or a year-round internship that lasts seven months. They say that summer internships might be better for first year students while second or third year students might want the practical benefits of a longer relationship with a company. They say the longer internship really lets a student learn what the job involves and expand their knowledge in the field.

Another benefit of the program is the pay. Organizers of the Institute say that the seven-month program takes the place of a semester of law school. The student doesn’t pay tuition, and they get paid. They say they offer pay of at least $5,000 per month for work. They say students must have the credits to take a semester off, because the students don’t get academic credit for their work. They say it’s not fair to charge tuition for the program because the work doesn’t take place on campus. Institute leaders say they hope to expand the program to law schools nationwide in the future.

 

 

Fox News Agrees to Resolve Discrimination Case

The #MeToo movement has created a stir in national media outlets including cable news network Fox News. Allegations of misconduct toppled Fox News heavyweight and political commentator Bill O’Reilly. Many Fox News employees have spoken out against what they say are allegations of discrimination, a sexually-charged workforce and gender discrimination.

Diana Falzone was one Fox News journalist who said that the organization took it too far. She filed a lawsuit against her former employer. Fox News recently agreed to settle the claim. Falzone was a host of the Fox411.

Falzone accused the news network of removing her from on-air assignments because of gender and disability discrimination. She said that they took her off the air because she wrote an article about having endometriosis. Falzone talked about how she believed her medical condition would make her infertile.

She said that Fox News required all of their on-air women to be physically perfect. She said a woman with a medical condition didn’t fit Fox’s image and didn’t fit with the sexual objectification of their female, on-air talent. Falzone said that Fox News leadership took her off the air for three days after she published the article. She said management told her that she should look for another job and that she was banned from being on air.

Falzone said that she tried to handle the matter internally. She said that she filed a complaint of discrimination with the company. Falzone said that nothing was done. Falzone said that leadership at the news network is dominated by men. She said that discussing her endometriosis made her less sexually desirable in the eyes of the male leadership at the network.

Fox News denied the allegations against them. They said their business complies with all laws including anti-discrimination laws. They say that they make work assignments based on who deserves them. Retaliation and discrimination are prohibited behaviors they say.

However, this most recent claim isn’t the only one that Fox News has had to defend against in recent years. Even Fox News network executive Roger Ailes was sent packing after claims of sexual harassment. Gretchen Carlson was the first to accuse Ailes of wrongdoing. Her complaint led to Ailes’ firing after approximately 20 years of employment at Fox News. Bill O’Reilly also didn’t withstand allegations of harassment even though he hosted a very popular show during the 8 p.m. hour. Co-President Bill Shine also handed in his resignation in 2017.

 

 

New Law May Increase Your Car Insurance

If you live in Nevada, then you may be paying more for your car insurance in July. All drivers will be required by law to have $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $20,000 in property damage coverage. The new law will not go into effect until July. However, insurance companies are already making changes in order to ensure that consumers meet the limits.

Las Vegas has one of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Car insurance rates have increased by 31 percent since 2011. This is 20 percent higher than the national average. The average annual premium in Las Vegas is $2,322. The average premium in the United States is $1,422. The average insurance rate in Nevada is $1,802.

According to lasvegas.cbslocal.com, there are several reasons that car insurance rates are increasing. The insurance industry is just like any other business. The cost of owning a business increases as time goes own. That is why insurance companies have to raise the cost of their services.

More people are also getting into car accidents than they did in the past. Fatal car accidents increased by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016. This increase in car accidents has led to an increase in claims.

Twenty-two percent of households in America filed a claim in 2017. Only 20 percent of households filed a claim in 2014. Experts are predicting that 22.5 percent of people will file a claim by the year 2022.

Distracted driving is one of the things that has lead to the increase in accidents. Severe, unpredictable weather is another thing that has lead to an increase in accidents. The number of severe storms in the United States has increased over the past few years. The increase in car accidents has put a strain on car insurance companies.

Minimum $84,000 a Year Coffee Boys

A lawsuit filed in New York’s Manhattan Supreme Court has alleged that union coffee boys at the gigantic Hudson Yards development project earned between $42 and $70 per hour to deliver coffee to construction workers at the job site. The project might be as much as $100 million over budget, and the developer blames much of that overrun on the union umbrella group, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC).

One of the coffee boys is the brother of a union official. He is alleged to have been paid for 155 hours of work in the month of February of 2015, while 45 of those hours were categorized as overtime at a time and a half rate of $69.87 per hour including benefits. The lawsuit claims that the coffee boys charge construction workers for coffee and food which makes them vendors rather than construction workers.

Other allegedly improper practices included timesheet fraud. It was reported by the New York Post that one worker claimed to have earned more than $600,000 in wages and benefits by claiming to have worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a year. The lawsuit claims that other workers ordinarily inflate their hours by 10 to 20 percent.

Gary LaBarbera is the president of the BCTC, and documents filed with the court accuse him of “condoning if not actively participating in, numerous corrupt practices at the construction project.” Those practices allegedly violate a labor agreement that involves 35 different unions that work on the project. The BCTC and LaBarbera are claimed to have tortuously interfered with the project developer’s economic advantage by encouraging certain unions to not even work at the site.

The BCTC has yet to comment on the developer’s lawsuit. It claims that it has not yet seen it. Its spokesperson speculated that the lawsuit is in retaliation against a movement in New York City that is against open shops and development without union involvement.

 

EPA Reaches Settlement With Amazon.com on Illegal Pesticide Distribution

Marking a victory in the efforts to safeguard online consumers from the hazards of toxic pesticide compounds illegally distributed by overseas merchants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement agreement with eCommerce giant Amazon.com earlier this week.

Initially released details of the Consent Agreement and Final Order allowed Amazon to avoid stipulating to any admission or denial of wrongdoing in connection with the nearly 4000 violations of Section 3 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act that the firm was accused of.

The allegations resulted from unregistered pest control products that were sold and distributed through Amazon.com’s online marketplace.

As part of their agreement with the EPA, Amazon was ordered to pay $1.2 million in penalty assessments and to implement a mandatory compliance program that includes an online education course that all sellers engaged in pesticide products will be required to pass before being allowed to sell those products on the eCommerce site.

The course’s downloadable education materials will be available in Chinese, English and Spanish.

Spokesperson for the EPA, enforcement officer Ed Kowalski stated that Amazon.com was directly engaging in commerce transactions, storing and warehousing and preparing shipments of the illegal substances.

Following the enforcement action by the EPA, Amazon removed all the products from its website and banned international sellers from distributing the pesticides through its marketplace. The company also stated that it had increased its monitoring efforts.

Customers who purchased the chemicals were asked to dispose of the products by Amazon, who also agreed to reimburse the buyers for the amounts of those purchases.

To date Amazon has agreed only that third party sellers sold the products through its marketplace.

However, the EPA’s complaint lists several unregistered pest control compounds that Amazon distributed and held for distribution, shipped and held for shipment between 2013 and 2016 including “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk,” “R.B.T.Z. Safe Highly Effective Roach Killer Bait Powder Indoor” and “Refill for ARS Electric Mosquito Killer Convenient, Clean & Smokeless.”

In their enforcement action documentation the EPA noted that Amazon.com had engaged in these practices on multiple occasions.

During July, 2017, in a related announcement, the EPA stated that it would be increasing its focus on hazardous chemical waste sites as part of the administration’s high priority monitoring and management of citizens’ exposure to toxic substances.

Legal-related news article for our website

NERA, a global consulting firm of economic experts who study, report, strategize, and provide recommendations on economic and financial issues, has been analyzing trends in securities class action lawsuits for almost three decades. The New York-based firm issued its 25th annual report on securities class action litigation, where they found a decrease in settlement money amongst higher levels of lawsuits.

NERA’s “Recent Trends in Securities Class Action Litigation: 2017 Full-Year Review” found that the settlement value of U.S. class action lawsuits making accusations of fraud and other securities law violations has tremendously declined. On the other hand, the number of the lawsuits being filed has skyrocketed to over one per day in the U.S.

Previous 2016 data showed 300 shareholder lawsuits involving accusations against a company for concealing negative news or making misleading or false statements. This number rose 44% in 2017, which is the highest it’s been since the 1995 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act took affect to curb frivolous lawsuits. Almost 200 of the lawsuits were in regard to objectionable mergers, which was double the number from last year.

The number of pending federal cases in 2017 was up 41% from 2011 and 12% from 2016. However, case resolution was also record-breaking, with a 40% dismissal rate and 30% settlement rate.

Settlements not related to merger cases rose from 113 the year before to 148 this year. However, the average settlement was under $25 million a piece. Last year the number of dismissals was 146. This year it’s a record 205.

Brian Lutz, of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, told Reuters that the increase may be due to what he calls “smaller cases” that are lacking in quality. Many of these lawsuits lack sufficient evidence and are either settled for pennies on the dollar or dismissed entirely.

There were 195 traditional securities class actions in 2016, 44 of which were companies outside the U.S. This year that number was 216, with 55 being non-U.S. companies. NERA points out that these lawsuits often followed regulatory probes or weak financial showings.

Attorney fees and expenses for plaintiffs in such lawsuits dropped almost 70% to $467 million, which was a number not seen so low since 2004.

The largest settlement ever remains the 2006 Enron Corp collapse settlement of $7.2 billion. The largest settlement last year was $210 million over Salix Pharmaceuticals misrepresenting inventory levels. NERA noted that 2017 was the first in almost twenty years that didn’t have a settlement of $250 million or more.

Starbucks Wins Suit About Latte Sizes

A judge has ordered up a dismissal of a lawsuit against coffee giant Starbucks. The lawsuit alleged that Starbucks didn’t fill its lattes full to the brim. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that the chronic cheating on latte sizes was an intentional way to save on costs because it required less milk.

The plaintiffs brought the case as a class action. That means they asked to represent everyone in the United States that had the same problem. If the court had heard the case, it would have resolved the issue for everyone who made a latte purchase unless buyers specifically chose to opt out. While that could have been a grande problem for Starbucks, the court said that there wasn’t enough merit to the case to even entertain it.

The named Plaintiffs are Benjamin Robles, Siera Strumlauf and Brittany Crittenden. They spearheaded the effort on behalf of latte lovers across the county. They said that Starbucks filled the drinks to about a quarter inch to the top of the cup.

Plaintiffs contend the company left the rest of the cup filled with nothing but milk foam and hot air. They say it wasn’t fair to say that the milk foam counts as being part of the latte. They say Starbucks should have measured their drinks by volume and not based on size. The plaintiffs decided the frothy failure deserved legal action, and they filed a claim for compensation.

The judge went to U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. She said that the case didn’t have merit. The crux of the dismissal rested on the question of whether milk foam is a necessary part of a latte. The plaintiffs admitted that some milk froth is needed to make a latte. In other words, it’s impossible to make the drinks without the froth, but the plaintiff still said that too much froth cheated them out of a fair latte for what Starbucks offers for sale.

The judge said that there’s just no way a consumer could have reasonably assumed that there wouldn’t be at least some froth in the drinks. She said that it was reasonable for Starbucks to include the milk foam in their latte sizes. The judge was also impressed by the evidence Starbucks presented that their cup sizes are larger than what they advertise. They say that’s to compensate for froth. Starbucks says that they’re happy with the court’s decision.