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to Conan the Barbarian, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Oct. 21 in an opinion designated as non-precedential and not for publication (Stan Lee Media, Inc. v. Conan Sales Co., 9th Cir., No. 12-55405, unpublished opinion 10/21/13).
EEOC Settles Discrimination Claims With San Diego Temporary Staffing Firm
Oct. 22 –A San Diego-based staffing company has agreed to pay $920,000 to settle charges filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the firm engaged in a pattern and practice of classifying and failing to refer job applicants in San Diego based on their race, color, sex, national origin, age or disability, the EEOC said in a statement.
Detroit Cuts Health Insurance Benefits For Employees, Retirees, Cites ‘Dire’ Situation
Oct. 16–City of Detroit employees and retirees will see reduced health insurance benefits effective Jan. 1, 2014–the result of the “dire financial situation” the city is facing, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said in materials distributed to benefit plan participants.
The city, which filed for Chapter 9 protection in July (25 BBLR 1005, 7/25/13), is seeking to cut costs “while ensuring employees and retirees have adequate access to health care,” Orr said in an Oct. 14 statement announcing the changes.
Tax Preparer ID Number Renewal Process Delayed as IRS Resumes Operations
Oct. 18 –Tax preparers who need to renew their identification numbers with the Internal Revenue Service to prepare returns in 2014 can’t do so just yet.
The preparer tax identification number renewal season, which normally runs from Oct. 16 to Dec. 31, didn’t open on time this year because the government was shut down.
Whistle-Blower Action Proceeds; Post-Firing Complaints to SEC No Bar
A financial planner who alleged that his employment was terminated after he raised concerns as to possible securities law violations at his employer may proceed with a claim under whistle-blower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Ellington v. Giacoumakis , 2013 BL 288136, D. Mass., No. 1:13-cv-11791-RGS, 10/16/13).
Chapter 13 Debtor Has Continuing Duty To Disclose Post-Petition Causes of Action
Oct. 18 –A bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion by finding a debtor estopped because there is a continuing duty to disclose post-petition causes of action in a Chapter 13 proceeding, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held Oct. 4 ( Flugence v. Axis Surplus Ins. Co. (In re Flugence), 2013 BL 275313 5th Cir., No. 13-30073, 10/4/13).
Obama Signs Bill for DOT to Use Rulemaking Process to Require Driver Sleep Apnea Tests
Oct. 18 — President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill requiring the Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to use a formal rulemaking process if it wishes to require sleep apnea testing for commercial truck drivers.
Obama signed the measure (H.R. 3095) Oct. 15. It was passed by the House under suspension of the rules Sept. 26 by a vote of 405-0, and the Senate passed the measure on a unanimous consent request Oct. 4. The bill was supported by the American Trucking Associations and other industry groups, as well as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Life Sciences Startups Need A Patent, Licensing Plan Early On
Oct. 16 –Life science startups need to plan and prepare their arguments about why their work deserves intellectual property protections amid greater uncertainty in litigation over beliefs rather than business reasons, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation general counsel advised at an Oct. 10 life sciences conference in San Francisco.
Expungement Granted in High Percentage Of Broker-Dealer Arbitration Settlements
Oct. 16 –Expungement relief was granted in a very high percentage of arbitration cases filed by investors against broker-dealers, particularly those that were resolved by settlement or stipulated awards, a new study by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association found.
Employee Morale, Productivity Are Casualties Of Federal Shutdown, APMA Director Says
Oct. 15 –The worst impact of the federal government’s shutdown will be the bite it takes out of employee morale once the standoff ends, the director of the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 15.
“It is going to take a while to get people up and running again,” Richard McAlonan said. “It’s just human nature.”
Dispute Over ‘Rebels Honky Tonk’ Lives Because of Pending Equitable Defenses
Oct. 15 –A dispute between two bar owners using the name “Rebels Honky Tonk” and an associated logo could not be resolved at the summary judgment stage, given pending equitable defenses asserted by the defendant, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled Oct. 9 ( Reservoir, Inc. v. Truesdell, S.D. Tex., No. 4:12-cv-02756, 10/9/13).
‘End the Shutdown,’ AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber Urge in Rare Joint Letter to Obama, Congress
Oct. 15 –Making an exception in a long history of disagreements, the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce partnered in an Oct. 11 letter to ask President Barack Obama and members of Congress to reach a resolution to reopen the government and avoid a default.
Debtor Files Chapter 11 to Avoid Posting Bond; Dismissal of Case Affirmed
Oct. 9 –An individual Chapter 11 debtor’s case was properly dismissed when a bankruptcy court found the debtor had filed for bankruptcy in order to pursue a state court appeal without having to post a supersedeas bond, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held Sept. 23 (BOT Real Estate LLC v. Anderton (In re Anderton), 2013 BL 254750, E.D. Tex., No. 6:12-cv-00332-MHS, 9/23/13).
Wisconsin Governor Calls for Special Session to Address Tax Relief Legislation
Oct. 10 –Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has called for a special legislative session to address three tax bills aimed at providing relief to property owners and stimulating business development.
Walker said Oct. 10 he would call on the Wisconsin Assembly to support a property tax bill (number not available) that would provide property owners with $100 million in relief over four years. Walker also called for passage of a bill (S.B. 132) boosting Wisconsin’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program and a bill amending tax increment financing rules for municipalities (number not available). The three objectives for the special legislative session were described in Executive Order 117.
Ex-Commissioner Calls on SEC to Focus Enforcement Attention on Culpability, Harm
Oct. 10 –Former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Troy Paredes Oct. 9 urged the agency to focus its enforcement attention on activities involving the most culpable individuals and firms, and the most harm to investors.
“In my view, it is particularly important that” the SEC base its enforcement decisions on the facts, the law and due process considerations, rather than whether there is public outcry over the incident, said the former commissioner.
Canadian Court Finds Novartis Osteoporosis Drug Not Patentable
Oct. 9 –The Federal Court of Canada has rejected Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.’s bid to block a generic version of the osteoporosis drug Aclasta, finding that the drug is a form of treatment that is not patentable in Canada (Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada, Inc. v. Cobalt Pharmaceuticals Co., Fed. Ct., No. T-724-12, 9/25/13).
Capital One Financial Corp. Directors Again See Dismissal of Del. Derivative Suit
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Oct. 8 dismissed for a second time a double derivative action against Capital One Financial Corp.(COF) directors relating to “add-on” products such as payment protection insurance and credit monitoring that regulators determined were sold using deceptive practices (In re Capital One Derivative S’holder Litig. , 2013 BL 278168, E.D. Va., Lead Case No. 1:12cv1100, 10/8/13).
Poll Shows Greater Awareness Of Sales Tax Requirement on Web Sales
Oct. 8 –A poll commissioned by shopping center owners shows that consumers are much more aware than a year ago that they must pay sales taxes on goods they buy through the Internet.
The poll, organized by the International Council of Shopping Centers, showed that 64 percent of consumers are aware they owe sales tax on goods they buy online, an increase of 23 percentage points since October 2012.