Business

Can You Sue Your Boss? U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Validity of Class-Action Waivers and Arbitration Clauses

By: Gabriela Mejias *| Staff Writer

By AgnosticPreachersKid, CC-BY-SA-4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Supreme_Court_Building.JPG

By AgnosticPreachersKid, CC-BY-SA-4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Supreme_Court_Building.JPG

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its new term by hearing arguments in a major employment dispute case that has the potential to affect millions of employment contracts. Justices heard oral arguments from three consolidated cases, involving Ernst & Young LLP, a professional services firm, Murphy Oil USA, Inc., a gas station operator, and Epic Systems Corp., a healthcare software company. The issue at the center of the cases is this: Can employment agreements prohibit workers from joining together to bring class action suits in overtime pay and other labor disputes, and instead force employees into private arbitration? Employers, as well as the Trump administration, claim they can, while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and employees argue that such contracts threaten workers’ right to organize.

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Equifax or Equihacks?

By: Emily Marcum *| Staff Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/credit-card-master-card-visa-card-1520400/

Cybersecurity is not the next frontier for most businesses; in fact, it’s more or less the only game in town. Over the last decade, the phrase “cybersecurity” has echoed in boardrooms, courtrooms, and living rooms like never before. What was once intellectual chatter, has become a “fact of life for corporations and governments.” According to U.S. President, Donald Trump, “Cyber theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States by far.”  So, it is no surprise that consumers were recently greeted with yet another disappointing headline concerning Equifax’s massive data breach.

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Fair Trade? Brands Play by Their Own Rules

By: Greg Volk *| Staff Writer

By Photo by Medicaster. (en:Image:Cocoa Pods.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Medicaster. (en:Image:Cocoa Pods.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Fair trade” may once have seemed like only a wonkish policy buzzword, but today it is a possible predictor of political affiliation, a “Portlandia” punchline, and, perhaps most significantly, big business. Amazon recently paid $13.7 billion for Whole Foods, whose entire store has been called “effectively fair trade.” Consumers have been increasingly willing to pay higher prices for sustainably-sourced products, but there are signs that growth among cost-conscious consumers may be slowing and companies are reacting. After years of explosive growth, sales of Fairtrade-certified products fell for the first time in 2014. Fair trade certifications cost money. That is exactly the point.

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German Automakers Put the “Car” in “Cartel”

By: Emily Marcum *| Staff Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/audi-audi-car-automobile-automotive-1854056/

Since 2015, when Volkswagen admitted to installing defeat devices to cheat emissions testing, German automakers have faced increased scrutiny and investigation. Now, BMW AG, Daimler AG/Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche are facing class action suits alleging that these five companies have been engaged in a twenty-year cartel in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. A cartel is a group of similar independent companies who conspire together with the goal of restricting competition.  This group of automakers has been named “Fünfer Kreise,” or the “Circle of Five.”

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MetLife: Too Big to Fail?

By: Tyler Cunningham *| Guest Writer

By Postdlf from w, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=667586

By Postdlf from w, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=667586

On December 18, 2014, the FSOC labeled MetLife as a systematically important financial institution. MetLife, not satisfied with its new “SIFI” label, decided to file a complaint and appeal the FSOC’s decision. On March 30, 2016, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, overturned MetLife’s designation as a systematically important financial institution, referencing an inadequate assessment and unsubstantiated assumptions by the FSOC. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. government brought an appeal of its own, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary and chairperson of the FSOC, Jack Lew, said he strongly disagreed with Judge Collyer’s decision.

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American, Delta and Frontier Fined for Violating Consumer Protection Rules

By: Lasley Cash *| Guest Writer

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On Friday, July 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reported fines against three U.S. airlines – American, Delta and Frontier – for violating the Department’s airline rules aimed at protecting consumers. The violations, which were related to refunds, disability assistance, and other issues, totaled $850,000 in fines. Frontier Airlines, a low-cost Denver-based carrier, bore the largest fine of $400,000; the result of oversales and disability rule violations. American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was hit with the next largest fine of $250,000 for failure to make timely refunds to passengers. Delta Air Lines, headquartered in Atlanta, faced the smallest fine of $200,000; the result of filing inaccurate baggage reports to the Department.

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Copyright Conflicts Between World of Warcraft and Its Players

By: Jamie Burchette *| Guest Writer

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

World of Warcraft (WoW) is an extremely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) which boasts over 100 million accounts created and over 12.5 million subscribers at its peak. With so many players, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (Blizzard) faces countless copyright issues from profit-seekers and players who take their appreciation too far. Protecting their copyright requires constant vigilance, but there is a fuzzy line when it comes to the player community.

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The New Battlefield: Regular and Established Place of Business

By: Gilbert Smolenski *| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/sacramento-california-old-1591355/

Under the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), venue is proper: (1) where a defendant resides or (2) where a defendant has committed an act of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. From 1990 until May 22, 2017, “resides” was interpreted by the Federal Circuit to take on the same meaning as “resides” in § 1391(c). Therefore, so long as the court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant, venue was proper. On May 22, 2017, however, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit in TC Heartland v. Kraft Food Group Brands, holding that “resides” refers only to the state of incorporation for domestic corporations. This reasserted the Supreme Court’s earlier interpretation of “resides” from Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirre Products Corp., and consequently opened the door to a new battlefield for patent litigation, specifically the meaning of “regular and established place of business.”

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DOJ Joins High-Profile Lawsuit Against UnitedHealth Alleging Medicare Fraud

By: Hailey Cleek *| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/skin-dermatology-hospital-2404163/

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is a party to a high-profile case, brought under the False Claims Act, involving one of the largest health insurers in the United States, UnitedHealth Group (UHG). False Claims Act cases allow private individuals or the federal government to file a lawsuit against those individuals or businesses that have defrauded the federal government. Congress strengthened the Act in 1986 by increasing incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits. Federal prosecutors said that they want to consolidate their case with another whistleblower lawsuit that alleges UHG, and customers of its subsidiary for data and analytics received billions of dollars in government overpayments.

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Dieselgate Spreads to GM

By: Silke Hynes *| Guest Writer

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In May 2017, General Motors (GM) joined the multitude of automotive manufacturers facing allegations of installed devices, designed to defeat emissions tests. A civil suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan claiming that “defeat devices” were installed in Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. The lawsuit claims there are more than 700,000 such trucks on U.S. roads. According to the lawsuit, the Duramax engines used in these trucks produce higher levels of nitrous oxide when driven than tested, prompting suspicions that a “cheat device” has been installed.

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