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- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Sixth Circuit Affirms Importance of Government Witnesses in Materiality AnalysisA recent Sixth Circuit opinion provides defendants a valuable roadmap for using government witness testimony to defeat False Claims Act (FCA) claims on materiality grounds at the summary judgment stage. In U.S. ex rel. American Systems Consulting, Inc. v. ManTech Advanced Systems Int’l Inc., Case No. 14-3269 (6th Cir.), the court rejected the relator’s argument that materiality decisions should be left to a jury. Instead, the court expressly held that “a judge may decide as a matter of law whether a misrepresentation was material under the FCA.”
- State and Local Tax Alert: Ohio Governor Kasich Proposes Numerous Tax Changes in 2016-2017 State BudgetOhio Governor John Kasich recently outlined the tax changes he will include in his 2016-2017 biennial state budget. The governor’s proposal is a mixture of cuts, increases and elimination of taxes which he says will result in a net $500 million tax cut for Ohioans. The taxes included in his package are: sales tax, commercial activity tax, oil and gas severance tax, individual income tax and tobacco tax.
- Labor and Employment Alert: A New Ohio General Assembly = Potential Challenges Ahead for Ohio EmployersGroucho Marx once said that “politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” So as we welcome the 131st Ohio General Assembly, we already have the introduction of pro-employee wage-and-hour legislation. On February 2, 2015, Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced Senate Bill 25 which would make significant changes to Ohio’s employment laws.
- This is a reminder to all employers with employees in California to implement the new workplace bullying training requirements that went into effect for California employers on January 1, 2015.
- As multistate employers are well aware, several states have enacted “wage theft prevention acts.” These laws are designed to ensure employees know how much they are being paid by requiring employers to provide detailed notices to employees on a set schedule, including at the time of hire. California and New York have had laws on wage theft for several years. Washington, D.C. enacted a new law late last year dealing with wage theft and making other, perhaps more disturbing, changes to wage and hour law in the District.
- Negative media coverage has always posed a challenge for businesses and professionals. Given the current internet landscape and the ability of articles to spread quickly through social media, businesses must be especially active in trying to deal with bad publicity.
- President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday, and labor and employment matters took center stage. While the president’s address does not have the force of law, it highlights for employers what issues the White House plans on pursuing in the coming year.
- Client Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Borrowers Need Only Give Notice of Intent to Rescind Under TILA within Three Years of ClosingOn January 13, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of homeowners seeking to rescind their loans and mortgages with written notice to lenders within three years of completion of a real estate transaction, where lenders allegedly failed to comply with the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Based on this decision in Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., it is not necessary that a homeowner actually file a court action within those three years.
- Before there was Yelp, there was Citysearch. Founded in 1995 as an online guide for finding local businesses, Citysearch helped pave the way into an era of consumers posting online reviews. While Yelp has blown Citysearch and other competition out of the water in recent years, Citysearch is nevertheless still active and businesses are still very much vulnerable to false reviews on the website.
- Health Care Alert: Federal Court Strikes Down DOL’s New Companionship Services Exemption RegulationsNew U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations concerning the companionship services exemption to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015.
- Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and House Minority Leader Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) announced House committee leadership positions this week for the new two-year session.
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Fourth Circuit’s Opinion Shows Influence of Government’s Decision to Intervene on Court’s Determination of MaterialityOn January 8, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reinstated the government’s False Claims Act (FCA) claims in United States v. Triple Canopy, Inc., No. 13-2190. In reversing the district court’s dismissal of the government’s case, the Fourth Circuit highlighted, both explicitly and implicitly, the importance of the government’s decision to intervene in the case.
- Earlier this week, President Obama gave a speech at the FTC laying out an agenda on privacy and data security issues, and indicating that the topic is important enough to the administration that it will be included in his upcoming State of the Union address. Generally, the initiative’s goals include tackling identity theft, protecting the privacy of student data and working toward a general privacy “bill of rights” to provide comprehensive data and privacy protections.
- It is once again time for public companies to march into proxy season. While the SEC has not adopted any significant new rules or amendments effective for the 2015 proxy season, you should keep the following items in mind as you prepare.
- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision regarding whether interruptions of an employee’s meal period automatically render that time compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: District Court Imposes $1.6 Million Sanction Against Relators for Violating the FCA SealEarlier this week, Judge Amy Totenberg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia imposed significant monetary sanctions against a pair of relators who blatantly and repeatedly violated the seal order in a pending qui tam action, United States ex rel. Bibby v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:06-CV-0547-AT.
- On December 19, 2014 Governor Kasich signed Am. Sub. H.B. 5 (the Bill) into law thus concluding three years of contentious lobbying between selected trade associations on one side of the debate (primarily The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio Society of CPAs and The National Federation of Independent Business) and Ohio’s roughly 600 municipalities on the other side of the debate.
- Oil and Gas Alert: Supreme Court Holds That Evidence of Amount in Controversy Not Required to Remove Class Action to Federal CourtOn December 15, 2014, the United States Supreme Court decided that a party seeking to remove a class action to federal court need not include evidence of the amount in controversy as part of its petition for removal. Instead, the party seeking removal need only plausibly state that the amount at stake exceeds $5 million. The case is Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. ---, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 8435 (2014).
- Ohio Statehouse Update: Ohio General Assembly Concludes Work – Passes Flurry of Legislation in Lame DuckMembers of the 130th Ohio General Assembly officially finished their business and headed home after the conclusion of a lengthy Ohio House floor session December 17. The hectic final days were notable both for the legislation that passed as well as for some high profile bills that did not pass.
- Labor and Employment Alert: OSHA Updates Recordkeeping Rule for Reporting Fatalities and Severe InjuriesEffective January 1, 2015, employers with facilities located in states subject to federal OSHA jurisdiction will have new reporting requirements. Previously, employers were required to report all work related fatalities and work related hospitalizations of three or more employees within eight hours of the event.
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