Will China follow the U.S. lead in consumer litigation? The lawsuit’s target, or one of its targets, is former NBA star Yao Ming, who is said to have endorsed fish oil capsules whose benefits were exaggerated. [China Daily via Tyler Cowen]
Martha Neil at the ABA Journal reports on a setback for one fast-out-of-the-gate filing over the fate of Flight 370:
“These are the kind of lawsuits that make lawyers look bad—and we already look bad enough,” Robert A. Clifford, one of Chicago’s best-known personal injury lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune earlier, calling Ribbeck’s filing “premature.”
Much more from Eric Turkewitz.
P.S. Representatives of American law firms swarm bereaved families in Peking and Kuala Lumpur, talk of million-dollar awards: “a question of how much and when.” [Edward Wong and Kirk Semple, NY Times]
“News crossed this weekend that U.S. bank JP Morgan is being investigated by U.S. regulators for hiring well-connected people in China. Specifically, the bank is said to be under investigation for hiring two bankers whose fathers ran big Chinese companies that later hired JP Morgan for several assignments.” [Henry Blodget, Business Insider]
- Notwithstanding the tone of much coverage, companies are not legally required to disclose past FCPA violations to the government when they emerge: “It’s my understanding from in-house counsel that those who [voluntarily] disclose are in the distinct minority,” says one observer. Also, Prof. Koehler notes that even if Wal-Mart successfully defends the Mexican outlays as lawful “facilitating payments,” the company could still be accused of violating FCPA’s “books and records” and internal control provisions as well as Sarbanes-Oxley. [Sue Reisinger, Corporate Counsel]
- Coyote recalls the eyes-averted maneuvers with which his former employer put itself in a posture of formal FCPA compliance when operating in corrupt countries;
- Must-read Scott Greenfield post: “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is the corporate version of blue laws, a reflection of American idealism born of our Puritanical origins, our Pollyanna-ish denial of how the sausage of business is made, our jingoistic belief that we are so integral to the economic functioning of the world that we can dictate a cultural and moral code for everyone, and they can either comply with our great American will or suck eggs. It’s a fantasy of self-righteousness, and even Wal-Mart got caught in the reality that the business of business is business, and not puffy-chested Americans can bully Mexicans into succumbing to our moralistic ways.” Also suggests what Wal-Mart might say in response (at least if Wal-Mart were a character in an Ayn Rand novel) and notes “efforts to take this mutt of a law and attempt to reform it, at least to the extent that it not make American multinational corporations chose between being criminals or uncompetitive.”
- Speaking of which, some reforms sought by business: “Bringing Transparency to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” [Michael Mukasey and James Dunlop, Federalist Society "Engage"]
- Jeffrey Miron: prosecute Wal-Mart but repeal FCPA [CNN/Cato]
- While agreeing that the FCPA we have at present is pretty bad, Prof. Bainbridge thinks a case can be made for such a law in principle;
- Something to get Capitol Hill Democrats on board for reform? FCPA might menace Hollywood on China dealings [WSJ "Corruption Currents"]
Earlier here, here, here, and (at Cato) here.
“This American Life” has retracted a much-discussed news segment about the horrors of Apple’s Shenzhen, China workplace after discovering it was faked; Mike Daisey’s report contained “numerous fabrications,” it says. For more on how readiness to believe the worst about big business can leave media open to being fooled by manipulative packagers of news, see the GM trucks episode, Food Lion, and a great many others. [Ira Glass, Jack Shafer, Edward Champion]
More from David Henderson. And Coyote: “The problem with the media is not outright bias, but an intellectual mono-culture that fails to exercise the most basic skepticism when stories fit their narrative.”
Although not conducted through the legal system, some battles in China over alleged injury from medical malpractice make for an interesting compare-and-contrast exercise, right down to the role of contingent fees:
Medical personnel advocates complain that the more violent incidents are staged by hired thugs, paid by families of the deceased in hopes of winning compensation from the hospitals. … The Chinese have even coined a word for the paid protesters: yinao, meaning “medical disturbance.”
“It has become a very sophisticated system for chasing profits. Whenever somebody dies in a hospital, the yinao will get in touch with the family and offer their services in exchange for 30% to 40%,” said Liu Di, who is setting up a social network for medical professionals.
“Under a proposal submitted last Monday by the Civil Affairs Ministry to China’s State Council, adult children would be required by law to regularly visit their elderly parents. If they do not, parents can sue them.” ["China Might Force Visits to Mom and Dad," New York Times]
When the federal International Trade Commission takes up an anti-dumping complaint, the law curiously allows, indeed requires, it to disregard the interests of businesses that purchase the commodity involved. A dispute over magnesium imports also illustrates how different parts of the government can act at jarring cross purposes with each other: even as one branch of the federal government was penalizing Chinese magnesium exports, another was launching a complaint against China for undue reluctance to export (among other materials) magnesium. [Daniel Ikenson, Cato at Liberty]