Oral Complaints and Their Effect on Summary Judgment for FLSA Retaliation Law Suits: Kasten v. Saint Gobain

by Charles Ott April 4 2011, 15:58
On March 22, 2011, the Supreme Court came to a decision in Kasten v. Saint Gobain. The Seventh Circuit had ruled that an oral complaint made to an employer who the employee believed was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) did not fall under the anti-retaliation provision of the act. The Court reversed the Seventh Circuit and found that an oral complaint was sufficient. This decision raises questions about the standards under which summary judgment could be granted in an FLSA retaliation case. [More]

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Labor

Dodd-Frank Credit Rating Agency Reform in the Crosshairs

by Daniel Scheeringa March 29 2011, 21:21
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, which sought to prevent its repeat. Yet the new House Republican majority is taking aim at a key provision of the law, which sought to give investors more accurate information by holding credit rating agencies legally liable for giving high ratings to low quality mortgage-backed bonds. While there are other ways to ensure accurate credit ratings than enhanced liability, congressional Republicans are removing an imperfect protection without replacing it with anything better. [More]

NCAA Expansion of Divisions

by Shannon Burkhead February 14 2011, 19:28
With sports, there’s always something to complain about. My current complaints include the Bears’ (just about everything about them), the Illini’s expertise at self-destructing halfway through a game and the Chargers inability to play in the beginning of the season. In recent years, complaints have increased against the current NCAA system for college football. While people cry out for a playoff system (similar to that of professional football), the BCS remains in place. However, despite the BCS remaining as it is, the college divisions have begun to shift. Whether it’s for prestige, money or some combination of both, teams are switching, joining and leaving conferences. As an alum of the University of Southern California, I am most interested to see what Utah and Colorado have to offer the new Pac-12. Regardless of their reasons for joining, I remain hopeful that the additions will make the new Pac-12 a stronger, more resilient conference. As with most things in life, only time will tell. [More]

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Sports

Quantitative Easing May Create Foreign Unease

by Samatha Breslow February 14 2011, 00:36
While I cringe to find myself on the same side of the fence as Sarah Palin, she and Republican politicians in Washington D.C. may be right to fear Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve’s new effort of quantitative easing. The Federal Reserve’s proposed plan is to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds by June 2011. Their aim is to lower long-term interest rates and to keep the dollar cheap, thereby stimulating the U.S. economy by encouraging the sale of goods overseas. While Palin may not understand why she objects the plan, I do: it has the potential to antagonize U.S. trade partners and stiffen foreign trade. [More]

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Microsoft's Message to Its Partners

by Chris Collier January 27 2011, 16:40
From September 2009 to September 2010, Google’s share of the U.S. mobile phone OS market has risen a staggering 18.9 percent, going from 2.5 percent to 21.4 percent, while Microsoft has seen its share of the mobile OS market decline from 19 to 10 percent. Although such a loss in market share suggests that Microsoft’s lawsuit against Motorola, alleging that several of Motorola’s Android based phones violate Microsoft patents, is in direct response to the pummeling Microsoft has taken at the hands of Google. It is more likely that Microsoft is signaling to its current partners the consequence of abandoning the Window Phone 7 platform. [More]

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Technology

Regulatory Takings in Real Property: Fact or Fiction?

by Robert Heath January 7 2011, 14:27
We are constantly changing the fundamental character of property ownership in this country. Nowhere is this more evident than in the real property arena. As the past few years have shown us, real estate has morphed from a long-term, stable investment to become a hugely derivative enterprise, which has diversified and become interconnected with other sectors of the economy as never before. The argument has been made that real estate has lost its original character and that it has become commoditized. Regardless of one’s position on this question it is clear that because of this continual transformation, takings law is constantly pressured to look at situations where the new concept of economic devaluation of property must be reconciled with the traditional notion of the bundle of sticks, and the state’s inability to render that bundle obsolete by legislative action, without compensation. Herein lies the basic regulatory takings conundrum that perplexes not only first year property students, but students, professors and practitioners in the fields of land use, urban planning, real estate development, and constitutional law. [More]

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Induced Infringement: What standard should the Supreme Court adopt in Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB S.A.?

by Katerina Polychronopoulos December 26 2010, 23:00
On October 12, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. and Pentalpha Enterprises, Ltd. (Docket No. 10-6; July 29, 2010) to consider what state of mind must be shown by a patentee, under 35 U.S.C. §271(b), to establish that a defendant induced infringement of a patent. That section simply states: “Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.” 35 U.S.C. §271(b).

The Supreme Court’s answer may have significant economic consequences, especially for foreign companies importing goods into the United States, because the statutory provision addresses indirect, rather than direct liability. Actions taken exclusively abroad could create liability for such companies, who must now contemplate the costs of complying with the to-be-announced Supreme Court standard. The standard will also affect whether officers and directors of a corporation would be held personally liable for indirect infringement. Such additional costs will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers and, given the scale of foreign trade in the U.S., these costs may have a large impact on the economy as a whole. [More]

Transfer Fee Covenants and Homeowner's Associations

by Jason Story December 8 2010, 18:00
In August 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) proposed “Guidance on Private Transfer Fee Covenants” (No. 2010-N-11) that would prohibit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks from purchasing mortgages with private transfer fee covenants. A private transfer fee is charged each time a property subject to such a covenant is sold. The fee is typically calculated as a percentage of the property’s sales price. These covenants are commonly used by homeowner associations.

FHFA’s stated reason for this decision was that these covenants “appear adverse to liquidity, affordability and stability in the housing finance market and to financially safe and sound investments.” FHFA was further concerned with the private income streams created by these covenants and whether all of the money collected was used for the stated purpose of the fees. Another concern was with disclosure of the fees since they can be hidden with other closing costs at the time of sale of a property. FHFA was also concerned with harm to the valuation of properties encumbered by these private transfer fee covenants. [More]

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Real Estate

ASX-SGX Merger: What Should Matter?

by Claire Sheppard December 8 2010, 17:47
Currently, the Australian government is considering the merits of a proposed takeover by the Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). The over-$8 billion deal has the goal of creating a dominant force in the Asian-Pacific region and a globally-salient exchange. In fact, the merged exchange would “create the world’s fifth-largest market operator by share value.” The discussion should be focused on the viability of the merger, especially the potential impact on investors, the region, and the world. Debates about the pros and cons would seemingly be productive to decide whether or not the deal would be the right path to take in regards to the ASX, an exchange that some say would become “irrelevant” without merging with SGX. The talks since the merger was proposed have devolved however to the levels of political infighting. In the current scrum of the Australian Parliament, a few themes have emerged as the hot issues, specifically: Singapore’s human rights record, the breakdowns of representation and ownership of ASX-SGX exchange, and Australian national interest. In deciding whether to combine exchanges should these concerns play a dominant role in evaluation and discussion over the raw data on the viability and projections for the combined exchanges? [More]

Is the SEC blind?

by Stuart Wallace December 4 2010, 18:07
How does the SEC determine where to deploy its resources? What criteria does the SEC use to decide which companies to monitor and which to ignore?

Answers to these questions and more were recently presented to the Illinois Corporate Colloquium by Cindy Alexander, an economist at the SEC. In her working paper, “Regulating Monitoring Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act”(available here), Ms. Alexander and her coauthor Kathleen Hanley examine the usefulness of two factors used by the SEC in determining which companies to monitor: firm size and stock price volatility. Their findings suggest the answer to my title question is, decidedly, no. [More]

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