Death of Florida Worker in Elevator Shaft Results in $84,000 in Fines, 10 Violations
Nov. 4 –Two companies face $84,000 in proposed fines over the death of a worker in Florida who was crushed by an elevator car while cleaning the bottom of an elevator shaft, according to citations released Nov. 4 by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Debtors’ Inheritance Received Before Ch. 13 Case Closed Is Property of Bankruptcy Estate
Nov. 5 –A bankruptcy court correctly held that a Chapter 13 debtor’s inheritance was property of the bankruptcy estate under Bankruptcy Code Section 1306(a), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held Oct. 28 (Carroll v. Logan, 4th Cir., No. 13-1024, 10/28/13).
Mexico’s Congress Passes Tax Bill That Would Hike VAT in Border Regions
Nov. 1 –Mexico’s congress passed a tax reform measure that would make changes to customs practices and raise the value-added tax on export assembly plants in the border regions.
The measure, which would also raise income taxes and create new duties on capital gains and sugary drinks, now awaits President Enrique Pena Nieto’s signature.
Treasury Report on Asset Management Criticized in Early Feedback Sent to SEC
Nov. 1 –A Sept. 30 report by the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research (OFR) on possible systemic risk posed by asset managers is being criticized in an early crop of comments sought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The OFR, the data analysis arm of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, said more information is needed on whether mutual funds and other investment vehicles should be designated as systemic risks by the FSOC.
Madoff Trustee Wins Ruling Easing Suits Against Financial Institutions
Oct. 30 –The trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff’s investment company to repay victims won a court ruling easing his ability to sue customers of feeder funds that profited from the con man’s $17 billion Ponzi scheme (Sec. Investor Prot. Corp. v. Bernard L. Madoff Inv. Sec. LLC (In re Madoff Sec.), 2013 BL 300425, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:12-mc-00115-JSR, 10/29/13).
Lab Assistant Fired for Bullying After Leave Lacks FMLA Retaliation Claim, Judge Decides
Nov. 1 –A lab assistant for a Massachusetts health care system who was fired for alleged co-worker bullying and other performance problems lacks a triable Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation claim based on the two-month gap between her termination and her use of medical leave, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled Oct. 29 ( Wagner v. Baystate Health, Inc., 2013 BL 298741, D. Mass., No. 12-30146, 10/29/13).
Triable Issues of Fact Remain in Case Over Ownership of Manipulable Virtual Rooms
Oct. 30 –Triable questions of fact existed as to whether a defendant in a copyright infringement proceeding had exceeded the terms of a one-year license to use digitally manipulable images of virtual rooms used to display the appearance of different kinds of carpeting and flooring, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee ruled Oct. 23 ( Virtual Studios, Inc. v. Hagaman Indus., Inc., E.D. Tenn., No. 1:12-cv-00054-CLC-WBC, 10/23/13).
Compromise on Customer Protection Rule Will Have 5-Year Residual Interest Phase-In
Oct. 30 –The Commodity Futures Trading Commission adopted a customer protection rule Oct. 30 that includes a compromise on the controversial topic of how futures commission merchants will collect and maintain “residual interest” from their customers.
The rule was proposed in October 2012 in the wake of two large-scale FCM failures that left the firms’ customers–many of them small agribusiness depositors–scrambling to recoup more than $1 billion they had on deposit with the financial entities.
IRS Needs to Improve Tracking Of Laptops, Smartphones, TIGTA Says
Oct. 29 –The Internal Revenue Service should keep better track of its information technology assets to prevent loss and theft, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report.
“Our review determined that weaknesses in controls over asset management create an environment in which information technology assets are vulnerable to loss,” said the report, released Oct. 29.
Similarities Between Christmas-Themed Books Constituted Unprotectable Elements
Oct. 29 –An Oregon author had failed to set forth an actionable claim against an evangelical organization that she alleged had infringed her copyright interest in an instructional book focusing on the Nativity story, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon ruled Oct. 23 (Christenson v. FLTI, D. Or., No. 6:13-cv-00254-AA, 10/23/13).
Shutdown Sapped Optimism in October As Outlook for Job Growth Weakened
The U.S. government shutdown and the threat of a debt default eroded Americans’ confidence in the first half of October, especially about economic conditions and jobs six months from now, according to figures released Oct. 29 by the Conference Board.
The overall consumer confidence index fell by 9.0 points to 71.2 seasonally adjusted (1985 = 100), down from 80.2 in September and the lowest reading since 69.0 in April, the New York-based nonprofit organization said.
IHOP Franchisee Subleases Deemed Rejected; Motion for Stay Pending Appeal Denied
Oct. 25 — A group of Chapter 11 debtors operating franchised International House of Pancakes (“IHOP”) restaurants were denied the stay of an order deeming the debtors’ subleases rejected Oct. 8 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (In re A&F Enters., Inc. II, 2013 BL 279511, N.D. Ill., No. 1:13-cv-07020, 10/8/13).
DOL Guidance on Same-Sex Spouses Mirrors IRS’s, but Practitioners See Some Divergence
Oct. 25 –Department of Labor guidance providing that the terms “spouse” and “marriage” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act now include same-sex legally married couples was a confirmation of earlier Internal Revenue Service guidance, but some issues remain on the health and welfare plan side that could lead to legal action down the line, practitioners told Bloomberg BNA in a series of interviews.
California Court Affirms Win For Yahoo Officials in Del. Derivative Suit
The California Court of Appeal Oct. 23 affirmed dismissal of a shareholder derivative action under Delaware law against officials of Yahoo! Inc.(YHOO) (Leyte-Vidal v. Semel , 2013 BL 294386, Cal. Ct. App., No. H037762, 10/23/13).
Justice Franklin Elia said that the plaintiff failed to show that presuit demand on the board would have been futile in light of defendant director Jerry Yang’s alleged domination of the board. Yang is a co-founder of Yahoo.
AOUSC Statistics Reveal 12 Percent Drop In Bankruptcy Filings in Fiscal Year 2013
Oct. 24 –Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts for fiscal year 2013, which is the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, 2013, were down 12 percent from the number of cases filed in fiscal year 2012, according to statistics released Oct. 24 by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Employer’s Defamation Allegations Against Law Firm Over Online Comments Fail
Oct. 25 –An employment law firm–representing a human resources director who was fired by an Ashley, N.J., furniture dealer allegedly because she is a lesbian–can’t be held liable by the company for statements made by firm lawyers and their client on various blogs, a federal district court ruled Oct. 23 ( Perez v. Factory Direct of Secaucus, LLC, 2013 BL 293575, D.N.J., No. 2:13-cv-00327, unpublished opinion 10/23/13).
Infringement Found, Injunction Denied In Copyright Suit Over Wrist Watch Designs
Oct. 23 –A watch maker that prevailed on a copyright infringement suit against a competitor was not entitled to a permanent injunction barring the defendant from using numerous watch designs because none of the equitable injunctive factors weighed in favor of granting such relief, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled Oct. 21 (Brighton Collectibles, Inc. v. Pedre Watch Co., S.D. Cal., No. 3:11-cv-006370-AJB-WVG, 10/21/13).
Warren Presses Agencies on Enforcement Against Illegal Actions in Financial Crisis
Oct. 23 –A U.S. senator is prodding federal regulators on their treatment of those who broke the law during the financial crisis and asking for information on enforcement actions.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Securities & Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White, and Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry highlighting “the stellar enforcement record” of the special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
IRS Must Try Innovative Compliance Methods To Reduce Improper Payments, TIGTA Says
Oct. 22 — The Internal Revenue Service must develop more innovative compliance methods to significantly reduce improper Earned Income Tax Credit payments, the agency’s watchdog said in a report.
Traditional methods for reducing EITC overpayments or underpayments have been stymied by limited resources and the need to balance compliance efforts among taxpayers in all income levels, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in its report, released Oct. 22.
9th Cir. Finds No Error in Dismissal of Action In Conan the Barbarian Ownership Dispute
Oct. 22 –There was no error in a federal district court’s dismissal of an action seeking to overturn a 10-year-old bankruptcy settlement involving the ownership of intellectual property rights to Conan the Barbarian, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Oct. 21 in an opinion designated as non-precedential and not for publication (Stan Lee Media, Inc. v. Conan Sales Co., 9th Cir., No. 12-55405, unpublished opinion 10/21/13).