Litigation

Fourth Circuit Makes It Harder for Whistleblowers in FCA Cases

March 26, 2019
By Paul W. Mengel III
In a relatively recent decision, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit raised the bar a notch for whistleblowers in False Claim Act ("FCA") cases whose allegations lack specificity as to direct evidence of presentment for payment to the government for fraudulent services. Indeed, in her dissenting opinion in U.S. ex rel. David Grant v. United Airlines, Inc., No. 17-2151 (4th Cir. 2018), Judge Keenan opined that this ruling, affirming the dismissal of the claim at the pre-discovery pleading phase of the case, "effectively limits qui tam actions to whistleblowers in ‘white collar' positions with access to financial and other business records."
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PilieroMazza Litigation Team Wins Long-Odds Appeal of New York Stock Exchange Delisting Decision

February 22, 2019
By Pamela J. Mazza
Recently, PilieroMazza had the privilege of representing India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE: IGC) on its appeal of a decision by the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE American" or "the Exchange") to delist IGC's common stock from trading on the Exchange. Victories in NYSE appeals are rare and extremely difficult to come by, particularly when the Exchange's delisting decision is based on subjective and discretionary criteria. In these types of proceedings, the odds are always stacked against the company. But ultimately, even against those odds, truth wins out; the Exchange's delisting procedures allow for a meaningful presentation of evidence to rebut the decision, and under the right circumstances, a company can be vindicated.
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Facing Costly Litigation? An Offer of Judgment May Save You Money in the Long Run

January 25, 2019
By Matthew E. Feinberg
"[I]n this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." This oft-cited quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin may be timeless, but it fails to tell the whole story in the modern world—at least for businesses facing unwelcome litigation. As companies conduct more and more of their business digitally, the cost of defending a lawsuit is increasing, due in large part to the impact of electronic discovery obligations. Electronic discovery, or e-discovery, generally involves the identification, collection, and production of all electronically stored information (such as e-mails, document drafts, spreadsheets, electronic archives, instant messages, and the like) that may be even remotely relevant to a dispute. For many companies, this means they are paying lawyers to review and produce hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of documents, substantially increasing the costs and attorneys' fees incurred for even minor suits.
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Title VII's Protections Don't Extend That Far—4th Circuit Says Review and Copying of Confidential Files Not Protected Activity

December 4, 2018
By Paul W. Mengel III
Catherine Netter, a 19-year employee of the Guilford County, N.C., Sheriff's Office, believed a disciplinary sanction she received in 2014, which impeded her ability to be promoted, was motivated by discrimination. Netter, who is African-American and Muslim, felt that other similarly situated officers who were neither African-American nor Muslim had not been disciplined in a similar manner, so she filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ("EEOC") and the Guilford County Human Resources Department.
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Recent Maryland Case Is a Reminder to Employers to Review the Language of Their Offer Letters, Employment Contracts, and Employee Manuals

November 14, 2018
By Matthew E. Feinberg
The vast majority of states are at-will employment states, which means that an employer may terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or any reason at all, so long as the basis for termination does not violate a statute or public policy of the state. In Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and a number of other states, an employment relationship is strongly presumed to be at-will. Thus, even when the employee signed an employment contract, so long as that agreement did not establish a specific period of employment or limit the employer's ability to terminate the employee, the at-will employment doctrine provides substantial protection to employers when employees attempt to challenge their termination in subsequent litigation.
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