Less than a week after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, a public interest group brought suit against him in federal court. In Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump, No. 17-458 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 23, 2017), Plaintiff “CREW,” a nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation committed to “reducing the influence of money in politics,” alleged that President Trump’s business ties create conflicts of interest that violate the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
President Trump’s business dealings have been the subject of intense debate since he announced his candidacy for President in June 2015. Some have questioned how President Trump can oversee and implement policy when many decisions central to that policy could directly impact—or be impacted by—his financial interests. CREW is one organization concerned with conflicts of interest that could arise as a result of the President’s role in foreign relations. In its lawsuit, CREW seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against any current and future violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause. Continue reading “A Standing Hurdle in the Emoluments Clause Suit against President Trump”
Anna D. Stockman
The Third Circuit’s January 10, 2017 decision regarding an employer’s age-based liability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) should serve as a call to action to employers to evaluate and review their policies to ensure that they do not inadvertently violate the ADEA by discriminating against individuals who are in “subgroups” over 40 years old.
Most employers know that the plain language of the ADEA protects “individuals who are at least 40 years of age,” and its disparate impact provision prohibits an employer from “adversely affect[ing an employee’s] status . . . because of such individual’s age.” But in Karlo v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, the Third Circuit made employers’ lives a little more complicated by holding that “‘subgroup’ disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the ADEA.” In other words, the Third Circuit held that under the ADEA, employees in a subgroup older than 40 years old—in Karlo, the subgroup of employees was 50-and-older—can bring disparate impact claims against their employer alleging that they were “disfavored relative to younger employees,” even if the younger employees were 40 years old or older. Continue reading “Third Circuit Recognizes “Subgroup” ADEA Disparate-Impact Claims”
New Jersey is home to numerous subsidiaries of foreign corporations, especially in the pharmaceutical and technology industries. In a decision, which will be welcomed by those corporations, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently reaffirmed that the foreign parent company of a wholly-owned New Jersey subsidiary is not subject to the general jurisdiction of New Jersey courts unless the plaintiff can meet the elements of piercing the corporate veil. FDASmart, Inc. v. Dishman Pharm. & Chems. Ltd., No. A-2800-15T3 (Dec. 29, 2016).
In FDASmart, the defendant Dishman Pharm. & Chems. Ltd (“DCPL”) was an Indian corporation with a principal place of business in India. In 2013, PKM, an Indian company, set up a meeting between FDASmart and DCPL to discuss the sale of a facility owned by a Chinese subsidiary of DCPL. A memorandum of understanding was entered into between PKM, FDASmart, and “Dishman Group” regarding the development of a sales strategy and ultimate sale of the facility. The name “Dishman Group” is a marketing term for DCPL and its subsidiaries. Eventually, the sale fell apart and FDASmart sued DCPL and DCPL’s wholly-owned New Jersey subsidiary, Dishman USA, in New Jersey state court. DCPL challenged that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it but FDASmart asserted that DCPL had sufficient contacts with New Jersey because Dishman USA was a New Jersey corporation. Continue reading “Appellate Division Denies Jurisdiction over Indian Corporation with New Jersey Subsidiary”
Jaret N. Gronczewski
The New Jersey Appellate Division in Garmeaux v. DNV Concepts, Inc. t/a The Bright Acre, No. A-1400-14T1, held that a prevailing plaintiff in a Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) case is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees expended to defend an intertwined counterclaim. The opinion, which addressed an issue of first impression for the court, has been approved for publication. The court also reaffirmed that New Jersey law does not impose a proportionality requirement on fee awards.
The plaintiffs in Garmeaux sued Bright Acre in connection with services rendered to replace their gas fireplace in 2010. According to the plaintiffs’ testimony, Bright Acre introduced them to co-defendant James Risa, who was slated to perform the installation services for the new fireplace. At the time, Risa had worked at Bright Acre for approximately 20 years. Risa, however, also owned and operated his own independent company called Professional Fireplace Services. In March 2010, Risa provided a $3,700 estimate to the plaintiffs for installation services. And Bright Acre provided a sales order for $2,450 in August 2010. In September 2010, the plaintiffs made a payment to Professional Fireplace Services toward the $3,700 installation fee. Work began in late October 2010. Continue reading “Appellate Division Holds That Consumer Fraud Act Plaintiffs Can Recover Attorneys’ Fees Expended in Defense of Counterclaim”
Blank Rome LLP
Blank Rome LLP Partner Adrienne C. Rogove has been appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court as chair of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law for the 2017 calendar term. Ms. Rogove previously served as vice-chair of the Committee for the 2015 and 2016 terms.
The Committee has jurisdiction over and investigates complaints involving the unauthorized practice of law, attempts to resolve such matters by way of consent agreement, and refers appropriate matters for prosecution. The Committee also renders advisory opinions on issues arising under its jurisdiction. For more information, please visit www.judiciary.state.nj.us. Continue reading “Blank Rome’s Adrienne Rogove Appointed Chair of the NJ Supreme Court Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law”
Shawn M. Wright, Carlos F. Ortiz, and Mayling C. Blanco
Global financial services firms should be aware that the DOJ and SEC are committed to identifying and investigating bribery and corruption regardless of the form it takes. With increased resources to help identify the most sophisticated bribery schemes, financial service firms must ensure that their robust anti-corruption programs take into consideration local customs and risks as well as the broad nature of “anything of value” and its interpretation by regulators.
In the past few months, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced enforcement actions against two financial institutions stemming from violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (“FCPA”), each resulting in settlements in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In September, the DOJ and SEC announced a total payment of approximately $412 million for a hedge fund’s use of intermediates, agents, and business partners to pay bribes to high-level government officials across Africa. In November, a $264 million settlement was announced involving a major bank for hiring interns and full-time employees who were friends and family of Chinese officials in exchange for winning lucrative banking deals in China. These resolutions should remind us that no industry is immune from the reach of the FCPA and that companies should be well-aware of the customs and risks of the regions where they operate so that their compliance measures adequately address these risks. Continue reading “Financial Services Firms Must Evolve Anti-Corruption Programs in Light of Recent FCPA Settlements in Excess of $100 Million”
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s recently held in Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 822 F.3d 680 (3d Cir. 2016) that aircraft manufacturers may be held liable for state products liability claims. In this case, the defendant averred that products liability claims fell within the “field of air safety” and were thus preempted by federal aviation law. Sikkelee, 822 F.3d at 685. The Third Circuit held that products liability claims under state law involving aircraft are not automatically preempted by federal law, although they may be preempted on an individual basis if they conflict with a specific federal statute or regulation. Id. at 709.
In Sikkelee, the widow of a pilot sued the manufacturer of an aircraft engine which she alleged was improperly designed, resulting in the plane’s crash and her husband’s death. Id. at 685-86. The United States Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of the engine manufacturer on the question of defective design. Id. at 686. It held that the standard of care was a “type certificate,” a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration that the design of an aircraft or aircraft part meets the safety standards imposed by Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations. Id. at 684, 686. Since the subject engine was granted a type certificate, the standard of care had been satisfied as a matter of law. Id. at 686. Critical to the District Court’s decision was its finding that it must apply some federal standard of care pursuant to Abdullah v. American Airlines, Inc., 181 F.3d 363 (3d Cir. 1999). Id. at 686. Continue reading “Third Circuit Affirms That State Products Liability Law Can Apply to Plane Crashes”
Seth J. Lapidow and Ethan M. Simon
New Jersey courts appear to be trending toward requiring Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) claimants to plead “but for” causation to survive dismissal. On Aug. 23, Judge Anne E. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a class action CFA claim Rudel Corporation filed against Heartland Payment Systems, a credit and debit processor. See Rudel Corp. v. Heartland Payment Systems, No. 16-2229, 2016 WL 4472944 (D.N.J. Aug. 23, 2016). According to the complaint in Rudel, the plaintiff operated a restaurant and used Heartland to process credit card transactions. In spring 2014, Heartland sent a letter to Rudel and other clients announcing a new program through which Heartland would charge a lower rate on American Express transactions. Several months later, Heartland indicated on Rudel’s monthly account statement that it had incorrectly calculated the rates for the new American Express program and had to adjust the rates. Allegedly, Heartland also retroactively charged the increased rate. Continue reading “Does a CFA Claimant Need to Plead “But for” Causation?”
Mark Blondman, Jason E. Reisman, and Joel Michel
Yesterday, Judge Mazzant of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new regulation governing the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) white collar exemptions. The rule, which would have more than doubled the minimum salary threshold for the white collar exemption from $455 per week (or $23,660 per year) to $913 per week (or $47,476 per year), was scheduled to become effective December 1, 2016.
Background and Analysis
In October, 21 states filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of the new regulation. The states argued that the DOL exceeded its authority by making the salary threshold too high and by providing for automatic adjustments to the threshold every three years. Last month, the states’ case was consolidated with another lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations, which raised similar objections to the rule. Continue reading “District Court Grants Injunctive Relief Blocking December 1 Implementation of New DOL Overtime Rule”
Eric G. Fikry and Lauren E. O’Donnell
On Oct. 3, 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network assessed a civil monetary penalty of $12 million against CG Technology d/b/a Cantor Gaming, pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act and its regulations, with which casinos are required to comply. In addition to the fine, Cantor is required to undertake remedial compliance measures and pay $16.5 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle a parallel investigation (a portion of the FinCEN fine was offset by this payment).
Cantor operates race and sports books in Nevada, offers mobile gaming within Nevada, and provides gaming technology to casino customers globally. It is licensed to operate at prominent Nevada establishments, such as the Hard Rock, Tropicana, Venetian and Palms. Its books are associated with high dollar value wagering and are popular with professional gamblers. Continue reading “Lessons from FinCEN’s Latest Gaming Enforcement Action”