The Corporate Designee in Commercial Litigation – the Voice That Binds the Company

A corporate entity is regarded by the law as a “person” for purposes of standing to sue and be sued, but an organization, whether corporation, partnership, governmental organization, or other entity, can act only through its officers, directors or other agents. Accordingly, when a corporate entity becomes a party to a lawsuit, whether as a plaintiff or as a defendant, it will undoubtedly be required, at some point, to provide testimony at deposition in the course of the discovery phase . . . Read More

VA Required to put Veterans First in Kingdomware Supreme Court Decision

In a big win for veteran-owned small businesses, the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously in favor of Kingdomware Technologies, Inc., in its case against the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). Kingdomware had brought suit challenging the VA’s failure to set aside an order under the Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) for veteran-owned small businesses. In the ensuing litigation, the VA took the position that it was not required to reserve FSS orders for SDVOSBs or VOSBs because the mandates of the . . . Read More

Drafting Indemnification Provisions to Address Common Issues

By Ambi Biggs Corporate bylaws and operating agreements often contain provisions that provide for indemnification to directors, officers and in some cases employees and agents who become parties to litigation, arbitration or investigations by reason of their service with the corporation. By shifting responsibility for liability that may arise from actions taken in their roles as officers and directors from the individuals to the company, indemnification provisions can ease potential corporate officers’ minds and induce them to fill necessary roles . . . Read More

U.S. Supreme Court’s Upcoming Ruling on False Claims Act Case May Have Major Impact on Government Contractors

By Ambi Biggs The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments next month in a False Claims Act (“FCA”) case that could significantly broaden the scope of the statute and resolve a split among the U.S. Circuit Courts. If the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of an implied theory of certification, government contractors across the country could be held liable for violating the FCA by breaching regulations and contractual provisions to which they never certified that . . . Read More

Preserving the Attorney-Client Privilege when Conducting an Internal Investigation

You may recall that, back in July 2014,  we advised that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned a D.C. District Court decision in a False Claims Act case  that required the results of an internal investigation, which the investigating company had asserted were protected by the attorney-client privilege, to be turned over to the whistleblower’s counsel. The trial court had supported its decision against the application of the privilege by, among other things, pointing out that the employees that had been interviewed—by non-attorneys—had not been told that the interview was being conducted for the purpose of obtaining or providing legal . . . Read More

Proposed Changes to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for ESI

By Ambi Biggs With the widespread use of electronic communication methods, discovery is often the most onerous, time-consuming and costly aspects of litigation. Case law has established that a party has a duty to preserve information when litigation is reasonably anticipated, so litigants’ discovery duties begin before the complaint has even been filed in court. Failure to preserve information, including electronically stored information (“ESI”), can lead to sanctions ranging from instructing a jury that it may draw an adverse inference . . . Read More

Ninth Circuit Eases Ability for Whistleblowers to Bring Qui Tam Actions

In an important development under False Claims Act (“FCA”) case law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has expressly abrogated former precedent limiting the ability of whistleblowers to recover funds reimbursed to the Federal Government under the FCA to a greater degree than in many other circuits. The case is United States ex rel. Hartpence v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., No. 12-55386 (9th Cir. July 7, 2015). Generally, the FCA prohibits the knowing submission to the Federal Government . . . Read More

The Importance of Preservation of Electronically Stored Information in Contract Disputes

Contract disputes, whether over performance, payment or interpretation of terms, are an inevitability of doing business and, in an ideal world, when they arise they would all be resolved through compromise and agreement. But we do not live in an ideal world, and contract litigation appears to be on the uptick as the economy improves. Whereas in the “old days” the largest part of your contract file might have been taken up by the contract itself, the Information Age has . . . Read More

How Long Is Your Non-Disclosure Agreement Enforceable? It Depends.

By Julia Di Vito Non-disclosure agreements (“NDA”), or confidentiality agreements, are useful in a variety of contexts, including between teaming partners, contractors and subcontractors, as well as employers and employees. No matter the context, the duration of an NDA is a crucial part of the agreement, yet often it is determined by a boilerplate provision that is not tailored to the circumstances of the agreement. If you take a look at your current NDAs, it is likely that they either . . . Read More

Drafting Valid Damages Provisions in Settlement Agreements

By Ambi Biggs The parties have finally settled their dispute and agreed-upon terms for a settlement. All that’s left to do is draft the settlement agreement. Often thought of as a formality that should take minimal effort and expense to prepare, the drafting of the settlement agreement can quickly turn into a “devil in the details” scenario. One or more of the parties to the settlement agreement will often want a provision that prevents the other party from disparaging it . . . Read More