In House: Litigation Archives
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Recently in Litigation Category

Volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and settle the federal investigation into its "clean diesel" emissions fraud -- for $4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties. That comes on top of the nearly $15 billion the company has agreed to pay to consumers, making VW's emissions scandal perhaps the most costly corporate scandal ever.

But that's hardly the end of things for VW. Last week, six executives were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, and violations of the Clean Air Act -- and more prosecutions could be coming, implicating even the company's in-house attorneys.

A Google employee claims the company has internal spies and encourages workers to report each other for violating company rules and demanding that they keep everything secret.

It's almost as good a story line as The Internship, the comedy set at Google's headquarters, except this story is not so funny. It's a lawsuit, and Google is not laughing.

"We will defend this suit vigorously because it's baseless," Google said in a statement. "We're very committed to an open internal culture, which means we frequently share with employees details of product launches and confidential business information. Transparency is a huge part of our culture."

Facebook Shareholder Suit Alleges Zuckerberg Conflict of Interest

It reads like a scene from an old movie, a la Sweet Smell of Success in 1957:

"I love this dirty town," says J.J. Hunsacker, a syndicated columinist played by Burt Lancaster. He wants to break up a romance between his younger sister and a jazz musician. Sid Falco, an unprincipled press agent portrayed by Tony Curtis, is the man to do it.

"The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river," Falco promises.

Funny, that's the same line Marc Andreessen texted to Mark Zuckerberg during one of the biggest deals for the future of Facebook. Zuckerberg, who was trying to retain his majority voting rights while unloading billions worth of his stock, replied dubiously. He probably didn't know what Andreessen was saying.

"Does that mean the cat's dead?" he asked.

We're almost starting to feel bad for Theranos. Once a Silicon Valley wunderkind, Theranos rose to fame on the back of its founder Elizabeth Holmes' Steve Jobs-turtle necks and claims that the company could reshape the blood testing industry. Theranos rode that hype to a $9 billion valuation, only to be brought down by skepticism from the medical community, federal investigations, and an eventual ban on Holmes operating a medical laboratory. Once considered the richest self-made woman in the world by Forbes, the magazine recalculated her wealth this summer, declaring her net worth to be, essentially, zero.

A company doesn't crash and burn so spectacularly without attracting lawsuits, of course, and Theranos has had its share. It's been hit with consumer class actions and its former partner, Walgreens, recently filed a $140 million breach of contract suit against the company. Those things are expected. But the company is now facing a much more unusual suit: a rare lawsuit alleging pre-IPO securities fraud.

KFC's advertisements aren't just famous for the goateed Colonel Sanders. They're also known for their overflowing buckets of chicken, the iconic red and white stripped takeout containers transformed into a veritable cornucopia of finger-licking, deep-fried chicken parts rising above the brim.

But if you've stopped in for an eight-piece meal recently, you've faced a different reality: just a regular tub of greasy fast food, sans Madison Ave. magic, the chicken pieces sitting sadly below the rim. That caused one New York woman to sue the chicken chain for misleading images of buckets "overflowing with chicken" -- for $20 million in damages.

Things keep going from bad to worse for Theranos, the disgraced medical technology startup. The company raised millions of dollars and earned a $9 billion valuation based on promises that its technology could detect a host of ailments through a simple, low-cost blood test that required no more than a prick of the finger. Three years ago, Walgreens entered in to an agreement with Theranos, to bring Theranos' blood tests to the chain's pharmacies throughout the country.

Now, Theranos' technology has been questioned, two years of test results have been voided, its founder has been barred from operating a medical lab, and the company has been reduced to only a fraction of its previous value. Things haven't gone too well with the Walgreens partnership, either. The drugstore chain ended its relationship with Theranos this summer and filed a $140 million breach of contract claim against the startup last week.

A former in-house attorney at Apple sued the tech company this spring, alleging age discrimination, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination. The attorney, who worked at Apple for two years, says her male coworkers were regularly given preferential treatment and that she was fired after complaining about an environment of "fear and intimidation."

But she sued under the name of "Jane Doe." If she wants to pursue her claims against Apple, she'll have refile her suit under her real name, a Los Angeles judge ruled this week, the Recorder reports.

Employers accused of discriminating on the basis of age in hiring just got some good news from the Eleventh Circuit. Earlier this month, the circuit ruled that only employees, and not job applicants, may bring disparate impact age discrimination claims.

The split en banc decision is a significant blow to applicants (and the plaintiff's bar), limiting the reach of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act protections to current employees only.

The Federal Trade Commission released a study of "Patent Assertion Entities" last week, which provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of PAEs, or, as they're popularly known, patent trolls, based on five years of non-public PAE data.

The FTC's study confirms what most of us have long known: patent trolls be trollin'. But the study doesn't just name the problem; the Commission also has recommendations on how to bring patent trolls to heel.

The company is being accused of wrongdoing. Charges of sexual harassment, regulatory noncompliance, or unfair trade practices have been levied. Litigation has started, or is on the horizon.

Should you turn to a private investigator to help prepare? A private dick can help you find out key facts, Sam Spade style. But they can also land companies in hot water, as a recent lawsuit against Uber illustrates.