Any law criminalizing conduct without intent should be repealed — period. Strict liability laws can criminalize even a simple mistake, and that's wrong, says Sarah Riley Howard, chairwoman of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP's white collar criminal defense practice group.
Sentencing practices in the United States need reform. It is a start that the Sentencing Guidelines, which are absurd in many respects, are no longer mandatory, says John C. Aisenbrey, a leader in Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP's commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense practice groups.
The white collar area could use some reform regarding Fifth Amendment issues. The inference of guilt attendant to exercising one’s right to remain silent — despite instructions to the contrary — is a crushing burden, says Patricia Brown Holmes, a leader in Schiff Hardin LLP's white collar crime, internal investigations and corporate compliance practice group.
The end result of the Dodd-Frank Act's whistleblower provision is likely to be mixed. Additional illegal conduct might be caught, but regulators could also be overwhelmed by cases better dealt with by good corporate governance, says Daniel J. Kramer, co-chairman of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP's securities litigation and enforcement group.
The federal government's “soup du jour” prosecutorial initiative seems to be foreign corrupt practices cases, says Christopher W. Madel, a leader in Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP's governmental relations and white collar criminal defense practice groups.
Federal prosecutors have unlimited resources and incredible power. Sometimes, they need to be educated about their obligation to provide exculpatory information and understand that justice is done when all relevant facts are disclosed, says Daniel M. Purdom, chairman of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP's national white collar crime practice group.
In addition to class actions related to the financial downturn and global warming, insurers will likely continue to be targets for class action attacks in connection with their use of third-party vendors and software systems to assist in the adjustment of claims or development of pricing, says Marci A. Eisenstein, co-leader of Schiff Hardin LLP's class action litigation and reinsurance and insurance practice groups.
We need to maintain the independence of our judiciary. Watching a judge struggle because he knows his decision might have an adverse consequence for his re-election to the bench is not a pretty sight. The really odd part is that the so-called little guy — the voter who is often the target of referenda seeking to convert to an elected system of judges — is the very litigant mostly likely to get hurt by such a system, says Daniel D. Crabtree, chairman of Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP's commercial litigation division.
The federal grand jury system has strayed so far from its constitutional roots that it serves no purpose other than to rubber-stamp prosecutions, says Michael Z. Gurland, co-chairman of Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP's white collar criminal, regulatory and internal investigative services practice group.
The challenge of being a lawyer has been made even more difficult for Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers because every inch of ground gained has required a new decision by the Supreme Court. The current administration's fresh look at the evidence against each of the detainees was welcome, says Robert C. Weaver Jr., chairman of the litigation and white collar criminal defense practice and firm owner at Garvey Schubert Barer.
State and federal courts in California have developed that state’s unconscionability law to a point that effectively invalidates any standardized consumer agreement that does not permit classwide dispute resolution. This has introduced unpredictability into the dispute resolution programs of companies nationwide, says Joseph M. McLaughlin, a leader in Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP's litigation department.
There is no affirmative defense that a corporation can invoke, such as those available in civil cases, to mitigate liability for violations of federal employment laws and exposure for punitive damages. This does not provide incentive to businesses to self-police, says J.P. Hanlon, a leader in Baker & Daniels LLP's white collar criminal defense, corporate compliance and internal investigations practice gorup.
The debarment and suspension provisions of the False Claims Act need to be reviewed and modified. If convicted of even a small violation and prevented from doing business with Medicare and Medicaid, multibillion-dollar health care companies will quickly be faced with bankruptcy, says Julian Solotorovsky, chairman of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP’s white collar crime and investigations practice group.
The collapse of the housing market — and the creativity of plaintiff’s lawyers — has led to many consumer credit-related class actions. This area, as well as consumer fraud, “greenwashing” and RICO class actions should keep defense lawyers busy for the forseeable future, says J. Kevin Snyder, head of Dykema Gossett LLP's class action defense team.
Consumer class actions, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, have been a constant in this practice area over the years and we can expect that to continue — particularly in the insurance and health care areas, says Brant M. Laue, leader of Armstrong Teasdale LLP's class action practice group.
Wage and hour litigation, as well as a resurgence of Americans with Disabilities Act cases, should keep class action lawyers specializing in employment law busy in the near future, says Craig M. Borowski, a leader in Baker & Daniels LLP's class action practice group.
The Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision in Cappuccitti v. DirecTV could effectively eviscerate the ability of defendants to remove consumer class actions and most other class actions to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, says Christopher M. Murphy, head of McDermott Will & Emery LLP's class action practice group.
Class actions against insurance and other companies are becoming more and more inventive. Really, any allegedly uniform practice by an insurance company, medical provider or other company which serves a large number of customers is at risk of triggering the next wave of cases, says Brooke S. Murphy, director of Crowe & Dunlevy's insurance transaction and litigation practice group.
Congress needs to slow down and measure its increasing propensity to over-criminalize corporate law, says D. Michael Crites, leading partner in Dinsmore & Shohl LLP's white collar and government investigations group.
Though the overwhelming majority of prosecutors honor their discovery and ethical obligations, there appear to be a growing number that do not, says Robert J. Cleary, head of Proskauer Rose LLP's corporate defense and investigations group.
In light of the Illinois Appellate Court's decision in Area Erectors Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Co., insureds should know that just because they have a “replacement cost” policy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re entitled to recover the cost from the insurer to replace damaged property, says Neil Posner of Much Shelist PC.
Manufacturers of consumer products scored a double-win in the recent decision of Phillips v. Philip Morris Companies Inc., which has become a useful precedent for companies that find themselves the targets of consumer class actions based upon state consumer statutes, say attorneys with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP.
In a recent report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documented that Asian carp DNA found in the Chicago Area Waterway System could stem from at least six different sources besides live Asian carp. The report's findings should reduce the concern that Asian carp are about to enter the Great Lakes through the CAWS and allow consideration of more sensible alternatives to address the potential migration, says David Rieser of Much Shelist PC.
It seemed to happen before you could say the words "right to work" — on Dec. 11, 2012, Michigan swiftly became the 24th state to enact right-to-work legislation. While the effects of Michigan’s new status will not occur as quickly, this controversial law is politically significant and likely to bring litigation over its scope, say attorneys with Nemeth Burwell PC.
In the 26 months since Thomas Kilbride became chief justice, the Illinois Supreme Court has decided 80 civil cases. In reviewing those cases, one statistic leaps out, confirming the impression of a highly unified court: 67.5 percent of the court's civil decisions have been unanimous. Significant dissent is rare. Our analysis of the dynamics of the Kilbride court just past its second anniversary suggests several tentative lessons for counsel, says Kirk Jenkins of Sedgwick LLP.
During 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court filed 71 written opinions, 39 in civil cases. Although the total opinion output was down somewhat from recent years, this represents the court's highest number of civil decisions since 2009. And all in all, it was a reasonably good year at the court for the business defense bar, says Kirk Jenkins of Sedgwick LLP.
Presented before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Bell v. Cheswick Generating Station, GenOn Power Midwest, was the question of whether state law nuisance claims for the emission of carbon dioxide were viable in the face of the Clean Air Act. If the Western District’s analysis is correct and applicable to carbon dioxide, such claims will not survive for very long, says J. Wylie Donald of McCarter & English LLP.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to docket Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk has suddenly made mooting one of the hottest topics in wage and hour litigation. In Genesis, the court will determine the application of the mooting strategy in a putative wage and hour collective action — a decision upholding mooting may result in a sea change in wage and hour litigation, say attorneys with Baker & McKenzie.
In Quade v. Secura Insurance, the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision placed issues of causation and extent of damages of property within the authority of insurance appraisers, but questions remain regarding when a liability determination is "incidental" to the analysis of amount of loss, says Emily Cowing of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP.
A Missouri federal judge's decision in Tussey v. ABB Inc. serves as an important reminder to practitioners and to employers of the type of supervision that courts will demand from retirement plan fiduciaries, and the peril of facts that can be used to convince a court that plan fiduciaries are protecting their employer or themselves at the expense of the plan’s participants, say attorneys with Alston & Bird LLP.