“Perhaps it is time for defendants to start settling less often”

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2014

I’ve got a new post at Cato about the latest federal court smackdown of overreaching enforcement by the Obama administration, this time in a Department of Labor prosecution regarding a Texas company’s wage-and-hour classification. I mention some greatest hits of the past couple of years reversing DoL, the EEOC, the EPA and other agencies, and suggest that a useful step might be for regulated businesses to contest unreasonable cases more often rather than, as is so often the norm now, paying to get them over with.

{ 2 comments }

1 Boblipton 04.19.14 at 7:11 am

There’s something that a lawyer would say: perhaps you should fight City Hall. Maybe you should go after the United States Government. Ignore your family and business. take the risk that instead of getting away for, oh, a billion of the company’s money, the jury fines wind up being five or six times that and extensive jail time is involved. Plus you get to pay lawyers a lot of money to defend yourself! It’s a win-win situation!

Bob

2 Jazzizhep 04.19.14 at 4:34 pm

@Boblipton

You do realize Mr. Olson is not referring to tort cases, right? Meaning the federal government doesn’t typically (ever) get five or six times the amount of the fine they are imposing–even if the government wins its case.

Mr.Olson is talking about a federal agency claiming a business broke the law/regulations. The company will still need to hire a team of lawyers, or possibly ask the lawyers that are already directly under their employ, to devise the best strategy moving forward.

In the past, the federal government may not have used regulatory agencies in a manner that could be termed “unreasonable”. And as such, the best strategy to avoid negative press or to significantly lower the fine, was to settle “reasonable” enforcement of the statutes.

If the federal government is going to change how regulations are interpreted and enforced, then businesses should institute an appropriate change as well.

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