The Government’s Duty to Preserve Evidence in a Non-Intervened “Qui Tam” Case

Stephen_Wood_03032014Featured Expert Contributor, False Claims Act

Stephen A. Wood, Chuhak & Tecson, P.C.

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Every civil litigator and trial lawyer knows (or should know) that a party to litigation has a duty to preserve evidence and documents for use in discovery and trial.  The rule applies to all litigants, whether public or private entities or persons.  It may even be applied to non-parties in certain circumstances, although typically non-parties face more limited obligations.

The False Claims Act qui tam provisions present a unique set of challenges bearing on the government’s duty to preserve.  Qui tam complaints are filed under seal to facilitate the government’s investigation after which it may elect to take the case over.  When it declines to intervene in the qui tam case, the government typically considers itself to be a non-party, eschewing any duty to preserve evidence.  Yet, for many reasons, the government should be treated as a party for purposes of the duty to preserve evidence in those cases in which it has declined to intervene.  And in the face of a breach of that duty, both the government and the qui tam relator should face the prospect of sanctions as the circumstances warrant. Continue reading “The Government’s Duty to Preserve Evidence in a Non-Intervened “Qui Tam” Case”

Addressing the Custody Conundrum: A Cooperative Federal/State Effort to Build Market Infrastructure and Regulatory Clarity Around Digital Assets

Alter_Daniel_web2_8784879218361Featured Expert Contributor, Legal & Regulatory Challenges for Digital Assets

By Daniel S. Alter, a Shareholder in the New York, NY office of Murphy & McGonigle P.C.

Would-be custodians for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets seem very bullish these days.  Mike Belshe, CEO of BitGo, Inc.—a leading developer of cryptocurrency security products that was recently approved by South Dakota to operate a state-chartered trust company—opined that “[c]ustody has been the missing piece of cryptocurrency market infrastructure and this gap has kept institutional investors out of the market.”

Market observers have echoed this view.  A contributor to Forbes.com wrote, “The introduction of custodianship is expected to herald the entry of institutional capital into the industry, acting as the missing link investors and fund managers have been seeking for entrance into the crypto market.”

Not so fast. Continue reading “Addressing the Custody Conundrum: A Cooperative Federal/State Effort to Build Market Infrastructure and Regulatory Clarity Around Digital Assets”

Still Marching to its Own Drummer: The Eastern District of Texas on Patent Venue

Kaminski_Jeffri_LRFeatured Expert Contributor, Intellectual Property—Patents

Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of the patent venue statute, 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b), as articulated in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, has created a degree of uncertainty about the proper place to bring patent infringement suits. For example, see our previous posts on this issue: Supreme Court Alters Patent Venue Landscape: Eastern District Texas No Longer the Heartland of Patent Litigation; and Change in Law of Patent Venue May Not Be Get Out of Texas Card.

In Seven Networks v. Google, Eastern District of Texas Judge Rodney Gilstrap provided direction for litigants bringing or defending suits in venues in which they are not incorporated. Prior to TC Heartland, courts interpreted the patent venue statute broadly and generally allowed suits to be brought in any venue where an allegedly infringing device was sold. After TC Heartland, the venue paradigm has been less clear. Continue reading “Still Marching to its Own Drummer: The Eastern District of Texas on Patent Venue”

Finally Fed Up with Private Plaintiffs Litigating over Empty Space, California Amends Slack Fill Law

Guest Commentary

By Robert S. Niemann, a Partner with Keller and Heckman LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office, and Jill M. Mahoney, an Associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office.

Editor’s note: This blog is an update to the February 2, 2018 WLF Legal Backgrounder, “Litigating over Empty Space: Public and Private Plaintiffs Target Consumer Class Actions at “Slack Fill.”

Defendants of would-be “slack fill”1 lawsuits may have found some reprieve from litigation in California. On September 19, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2632, which amends the state’s slack fill law2 to provide manufacturers facing nonfunctional slack fill allegations with additional safe harbors. While specious slack fill lawsuits have been on the rise in recent years, the amendment is a step forward for the food manufacturing industry and demonstrates that California, the home to many slack fill suits,3 may also be growing tired of such claims. Continue reading “Finally Fed Up with Private Plaintiffs Litigating over Empty Space, California Amends Slack Fill Law”

New Jersey Supreme Court Adopts Daubert (More or Less) for Civil Cases

Featured Expert Contributor, Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence

Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Surya Kundu, an Associate with the firm.

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Although regarded by many as a relatively plaintiff-friendly court, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently bucked the stereotype by largely adopting Daubert for civil cases.  The court’s decision in In re: Accutane Litigation is a behemoth, weighing in at 85 pages (not including the syllabus), but the background and outcome are pretty straightforward. Continue reading “New Jersey Supreme Court Adopts Daubert (More or Less) for Civil Cases”

Regulatory and Legal Barriers to Tech-Company Market Entry, Success, Stubbornly Persist

FTC_Man_Controlling_TradeLast month at The Atlantic Festival, FTC Commissioner Slaughter and former FTC Chair Ohlhausen participated in an enlightening interview on technology regulation. When discussing how the United States approaches regulation compared to other nations, Ohlhausen said the U.S. has such an “enormous presence in the tech space” due in part to America’s “lighter touch” on regulation.

Slaughter questioned whether regulation stifled innovation to the extent Ohlhausen inferred, noting that Silicon Valley is located in a state with a particularly challenging regulatory and legal environments.

Commissioner Slaughter’s comments, and the perspective they represent, merit serious reflection and analysis, especially with the FTC holding an ongoing series of Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. Stakeholders participating in and commenting on those hearings should remind the Commission of regulation’s impact on innovation. Evidence abounds of that connection. Continue reading “Regulatory and Legal Barriers to Tech-Company Market Entry, Success, Stubbornly Persist”

California Appeals Court Upholds Legislative Workaround that Mooted CEQA Suit Targeting Development Project in Los Angeles

stratteGuest Commentary

By Martin P. Stratte, an Associate with Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office.

Ed. Note: This article was first published on JMBM’s California Land Use Blog. Reprinted with permission.

In August 2018, the California Court of Appeal decided Citizens Coalition Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, 26 Cal.App.5th 561 (2018), commonly referred to as “Target II,” which arose from a years-long challenge by citizen activist organizations to the development of a Super Target in Hollywood, California.

As discussed below, the court was asked to resolve the following issue of first impression: what level of environmental review is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for a legislative action that re-designates a project site for the purpose of mooting pending litigation that was filed in opposition to an already approved project?

In essence, what the City of Los Angeles did was re-zone the site of a previously approved Super Target to remove the need for the variances that were adopted in support of the project, which the trial court had struck down in the litigation commonly referred to as “Target I.” Continue reading “California Appeals Court Upholds Legislative Workaround that Mooted CEQA Suit Targeting Development Project in Los Angeles”