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whistleblowers

According to the retailers group [Illinois Retail Merchants Association], Mr. [Stephen] Diamond’s Chicago law firm, Schad Diamond & Shedden P.C., has filed no fewer than 238 lawsuits in recent years against retailers small and large, which in its view failed to collect said shipping-and-handling sales taxes. Since the suits have been filed under a “whistle-blower” section of law, the firm is entitled to as much as 30 percent of any recovered taxes as well as attorneys’ fees for its trouble. And because it’s often easier and cheaper for defendants to settle rather than continue to fight, Schad Diamond reportedly has pocketed millions of dollars.

The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the whistleblower provisions were intended for use by insiders disclosing misconduct rather than by outsiders, while “Illinois Revenue Director Brian Hamer says [the wave of suits] ‘has given Illinois a black eye’ and victimizes those who have made only an ‘inadvertent’ mistake.” [Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business]

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  • Maryland: “Montgomery County Police ‘Effects’ Bargaining Bludgeons Public Safety” [Trey Kovacs, CEI, earlier] Time to revisit “effects” bargaining for other employee groups too [Gazette]
  • “A New Whistleblower Retaliation Statute Grows Up: Dodd-Frank is the new Sarbanes-Oxley” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • Proposal for disclosure of “persuaders” would threaten many employers [Michael Lotito/The Hill, earlier]
  • Judge greenlights union suit challenging new Indiana right to work law [RedState]
  • “Discovery of Immigration-Status Denied in FLSA Case” [Workplace Prof]
  • “Same Song, Umpteenth Verse – No Discrimination, Retaliation Worth $2 Million” [Fox/Employer's Lawyer; Ithaca, N.Y.]
  • NLRB on collision course with Indian tribal sovereignty [Fred Wszolek, Indian Country Today]

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  • Forfeiture: “Defend the Right to Carry Cash and Travel Unmolested” [Eapen Thampy, Agitator]
  • Recent Japanese racketeering law, unlike our RICO, actually focuses on organized crime [Adelstein]
  • Sheriff’s flack to Fiona Apple: shut up and sing [Ken at Popehat]
  • Jimenez case: 99-year sentence, “substantial likelihood defendant was not guilty of this offense” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Conrad Black continues to speak out on barbarities of “prosecutocracy” [NY Sun]
  • “Are whistle-blowers the new IRS business model?” [Victor Fleischer, NYT DealBook]
  • “Minnesota Farmer Found ‘Not Guilty’ in Raw Milk Case” [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason]
  • Utah man shoots neighbor he thinks “telepathically raped” his wife, is ruled mentally fit for trial [CBS]

Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on October 6, 2012

  • Visual representation of debate result (courtesy Chris Fountain) “Obama should have spent more time in court” [David Frum] “Can you imagine the rewards points we earned by paying for wars with the national credit card?” [@BCAppelbaum via @TPCarney]
  • Correcting the tax side of the debate: factory relocation, oil deductions, corporate jets [Daniel Mitchell, Cato-at-Liberty]
  • Race heats up for three Florida justices [Insurance Journal, earlier] Unions campaign for incumbent justices even as court deliberates on pension lawsuit [Sunshine State News]
  • Maybe Rep. Todd Akin isn’t the most unscientific member of the House Science Committee after all [TPM]
  • Yes, the HHS welfare work waiver is a real issue [WSJ editorial]
  • “Whistle-Blower Lawyers Throw Support Behind Obama” [NYT via FedSoc]
  • Michael Greve doesn’t hold back, tells us what he really thinks of Mme. Warren [Law and Liberty]

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By ratting on his employer and clients, the UBS informant greatly advanced Washington’s project of preventing Americans from squirreling assets out of reach of the U.S. tax and legal systems. So it’s no surprise that few in the federal establishment — even among longtime critics of what they deem excessive executive compensation — begrudge him the whopping payout. Among his defenders, of course, is Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, patron of the whistleblower program: “Need we add that Mr. Grassley’s longtime aide, who actually drafted the whistleblower law, now represents Mr. Birkenfeld and stands to collect an interesting percentage of the award Mr. Grassley so obligingly applauds? If one were rich, if one had a sense of history, one might well wish to move a part of one’s nest egg out of the way of Mr. Grassley and his ilk.” [Holman Jenkins, WSJ]

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Or are you just glad to sue me? “A New Jersey appeals court … overturned a $3.6 million whistleblower award to a Wachovia worker who claimed he was fired for revealing corporate fraud rather than for passing around revealing photographs.” [Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal]

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“A federal judge in Indiana ordered lawyers including the prominent firm of Motley Rice to pay ITT Educational Services almost $400,000 in legal fees for pursuing a ‘frivolous’ lawsuit the judge said was ‘based on a completely false story.'” In line with the reluctance of American judges to award Rule 11 sanctions, the judge awarded only a small fraction of the defendant’s actual outlay in attorney’s fees, which ran into many millions. Motley Rice is a chief beneficiary of the ongoing income stream of the tobacco litigation fees, which return $500 million a year to an assortment of plaintiff’s firms. [Dan Fisher, Forbes]

A fired Florida TV anchorman claims whistleblowing retaliation [Fort Myers News-Press]

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November 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 16, 2011

  • Sure, let’s subvert sound mortgage accounting in the name of energy efficiency. What could go wrong? [Mark Calabria, Kevin Funnell]
  • California: fireworks shows are “development” and coastal commission can ban ‘em [Laer Pearce, Daily Caller]
  • Trial lawyers’ lobbyist: I got Cuomo to bash Chevron in Ecuador case [John Schwartz, NYT]
  • Politics of intimidation: “jobs bill” advocates occupy office of Sen. Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) [ABC News] Union protesters invade Sotheby’s during big auction [NYObserver] “Occupy Denver protesters try to storm conference of conservative bloggers” [Denver Post] “What’s the matter with Oakland?” [Megan McArdle] Post-’08 downturn, not wealth of the few, at root of economic woes [Steve Chapman] “Bohm-Bawerk forget to include [Ms. Katchpole] in his commentaries on sundry theories of interest.” [Tyler Cowen]
  • New breakthroughs in abundant energy aren’t welcome to some [NYT "Room for Debate"] Is GOP wrong to make EPA an issue? [Michael Barone]
  • After extracting $450,000 settlement, employee admits falsifying whistleblower evidence in oil filter antitrust case; class action suits continue [Bloomberg, Abby Schachter/NYPost via PoL]
  • Least surprising Washington-DC-datelined story of year: “Medical malpractice reform efforts stalled” [Politico]

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November 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 11, 2011

June 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 2, 2011

  • “Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake” [Fox, earlier]
  • “With context in place, it appears the WHO isn’t saying cell phones are dangerous” [BoingBoing, Atlantic Wire, Orac]
  • Wrongful convictions and how they happen — new book “Convicting the Innocent” by Brandon Garrett [Jeff Rosen, NY Times]
  • SEC to Dodd-Frank whistleblowers: no need to go through company’s internal complaint route [D&O Diary, WSJ Law Blog]
  • “British Press Laws Facing Twitter Challenge” [AW]
  • Despite legislated damages cap, jackpot awards continue in Mississippi [Jackson Clarion-Ledger] More problems with that $322 million Mississippi asbestosis verdict [PoL, earlier]
  • Golf club erects large net to comply with legal demands to prevent escape of errant balls, is promptly sued by neighbors who consider net too ugly [five years ago on Overlawyered]

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Imagine how puzzling it must be to be an employee of the city of Montreal: the city “has set up a whistleblower hotline to encourage you to expose wrongdoings by colleagues but has also created an explicit policy forbidding you to blow the whistle and is threatening severe penalties if you do.” [Montreal Gazette]

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January 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 12, 2011

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Children inform on their parents. [Radley Balko]

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A securities lawyer has been advertising for snitches at screenings of Oliver Stone’s new Wall-Street-bashing movie. [NYPost]

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September 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 20, 2010

  • “Family sues for $25 million over death of Virginia Beach homeless man” [Pilot Online]
  • New paper proposes voucherizing indigent criminal defense [Stephen Schulhofer and David Friedman, Cato Institute, more]
  • “Why the Employee Free Choice Act Has, and Should, Fail” [Richard Epstein, SSRN]
  • Free-market lawprofs file brief in class action arbitration case, Concepcion v. AT&T [PoL]
  • Enactment of Dodd-Frank law results in flood of whistleblower-suit leads for plaintiff’s bar [Corporate Counsel, ABA Journal] “Will Whistle-Blowing Be Millions Well Spent?” [Perlis/Chais, Forbes]
  • Sept. 28 in House: “Congressional Hearing on the Problems of Overcriminalization” [NACDL]
  • Abusive-litigation angle seen in NYC mosque controversy [Painter, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Snark alert: Mr. Soros does something nice for Human Rights, and Human Rights does something nice for him [Stoll]

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Because even if the government can’t maintain a paid informer on every street corner, it can at least try to maintain one in every family. [Connecticut Law Tribune]

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August 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 2, 2010

  • “Why Do Employers Use FICO Scores?” Maybe one reason is that government places off limits so many of the other ways they might evaluate job applicants [McArdle, Coyote]
  • Michael Fumento on $671 million verdict against nursing home in California [Forbes]
  • Ted Frank is looking for a pro bono economics expert [CCAF]
  • Lester Brickman, “Anatomy of an Aggregate Settlement: The Triumph of Temptation Over Ethics” [Phillips Petroleum explosion; SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Ice cream trucks return to Niskayuna, N.Y. 34 years after a panic-occasioned ban [Free-Range Kids, Mangu-Ward]
  • Galloping trend toward “whistleblower” enactments: this time lawmakers are rushing one on oil workers [Smith/ShopFloor, more, earlier]
  • Class action lawsuit filed against Trident Xtra Care gum, marketed as good for one’s teeth [Hoffman/ConcurOp; compare Russell Jackson on Wrigley's settlement of a class action over Eclipse chewing gum]
  • EEOC officials urge employers to ban foul language and swearing in workplace [seven years ago at Overlawyered]

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