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Ogborn Mihm Clients Dave and Amanda Repsher Settle Helicopter Crash Case

Flight Nurse Dave Repsher Settles Helicopter Crash Case

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Fiduciary Duties Involved in Colorado Businesses; Part I - The Basics

Colorado offers a lifestyle that is attractive to many new businesses, and in recent years, we have seen an influx of residents and start-ups seeking to take advantage of all this state has to offer. But business people—and particularly friends entering into business on a handshake or “back-of-the-napkin” deal—should take care to draft business agreements up front in order to avoid the lawsuits that may ensue when disputes arise down the line. One particular area of concern that often times leads to the break-up of a business is a breach of fiduciary duty. But what is a fiduciary duty and how do you know if you are violating it? This series will first address the basics of fiduciary duties, the sources from which those duties come, and the enforcement of those duties. Then, each subsequent Part will address what those duties entail in relation to a partnership, limited liability company, and corporation.

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Competing with Non-Compete Provisions

You are married to your job. You are what you do. There is truth to the idea that we all identify ourselves with the profession we have chosen. So, what happens when someone tries to limit your ability to do that job? Most often, these limitations are presented in the form of a non-compete clause in a contract.
Colorado does not look favorably on restricting competition or a person’s ability to work, and our legislature enacted law that defines very narrow exceptions to the general rule that covenants not to compete are void. Colorado Revised Statute Section 8-2-113 states that a contractual restriction on a person’s ability to perform “skilled or unskilled labor for any employer” is automatically unenforceable unless it falls into one of four categories.

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Lawson v. FMR: Private Contractors of Public Companies Fall Within SOX Anti-Retaliation Provision


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Court Enforces Arbitration Agreement in Dodd-Frank Act Retaliation Case

The court in Wussow v. Bruker Corp., decided on June 28, 2017, ruled that whistleblower claims brought under the Dodd-Frank Act are subject to mandatory arbitration. 

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Free Webinar on July 28th to Celebrate Whistleblower Appreciation Day

Join whistleblower attorney Clayton Wire and the law firm Ogborn Mihm LLP on July 28th at 12:00 pm MST at ilovewhistleblowers.com for a free webinar: Whistleblower Protections & Incentives.

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Jury Awards Whistleblower Over $25 Million in Sarbanes-Oxley Retaliation Case

In April, a Los Angeles County jury awarded $22.4 million in punitive damages (that was later reduced to $2.27 million) along with $2.7 million in lost past and future wages to Steven Babyak in a whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination case against Cardiovascular Systems, Inc (CSI). Babyak, a former sales manager for the company, argued that he was retaliated against, culminating in termination, after making complaints about a hostile work environment and violations of the Anti-Kickback Act and securities laws under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The

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SpaceX cleared in $6 Million Whistleblower Lawsuit for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

On June 7, 2017, a jury decided in favor of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. after an 8 day trial to determine whether Jason Blasdell had been wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy. Blasdell claimed he was fired after raising concerns about SpaceX’s compliance with 18 U.S.C. Section 38, a federal statute prohibiting fraud against a customer involving aircraft or space vehicle parts. The former Avionics Test Technician working on the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft alleged that he had been wrongfully terminated after voicing concerns about the falsification of test results following safety testing and misrepresentations in connection with SpaceX’s multi-billion dollar contracts with customers including NASA. Specifically, Blasdell claimed that managers told him to sign off on parts quality regardless of whether he could verify their compliance with protocol. Blasdell claims he voiced his concerns to management, as far up as SpaceX President Gwen Shotwell and CEO Elon Musk. 

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New York Appellate Court Adopts Broad Causation Standard in Legal Malpractice Case

Generally, in a legal malpractice case the plaintiff must prove that it would have achieved a better result, but for the attorney’s malpractice. In the litigation context, this means that the plaintiff must prove that it would have succeeded on the underlying claim or defense, but for the attorney negligence, often referred to as proving the “case within the case.” In the transactional context, the plaintiff often uses the “better deal, no deal” dichotomy to prove causation. Under the “no deal” prong, the plaintiff can prove causation by establishing that, but for the attorney negligence, it would have achieved a better result had it not entered into the transaction at issue. Alternatively, under the “better deal” prong, the plaintiff can succeed by proving that, but for the legal malpractice, it would have achieved a better result through a better and different “deal” or agreement than the transaction at issue. A New York appellate court in Leggiadro, Ltd. V. Winston & Strawn applied a broad and plaintiff friendly interpretation of the “better deal” prong of this causation paradigm.

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Supreme Court to Determine Scope of Protected Activity Under Dodd-Frank Act

Attorney Clayton Wire has recently published a blog post on WhistleblowerBlawg.com regarding the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in Digital Realty v. Somers, to resolve a circuit split over whether a whistleblower must first report to the SEC before being entitled to protection under the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision. Click here to read the full post. 

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Protections for Whistleblowers in Colorado

Generally, in Colorado, an employee who is hired for an indefinite amount of time is considered an at-will employee, meaning employment may be terminated by either the employee or the employer with no notice for any reason or no reason at all. However, Colorado has some protections against whistleblower retaliation for employees in both the public and private sectors.

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Commodity Futures Trading Commission Strengthens Whistleblower Program

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) adopted amendments to its whistleblower rules, continuing its three-year effort to strengthen the commission’s whistleblower program and its ability to protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation. The amendments expand the commission’s ability to pursue retaliation claims on behalf of whistleblowers and prohibit confidentiality agreements that interfere with whistleblowers’ communications with the CFTC.

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False Claims Act Whistleblowers Protected Even Without a Successful Qui Tam Lawsuit

The False Claims Act contains a newly broadened anti-retaliation provision that protects whistleblowers who take actions in furtherance of a Qui Tam action, or in an attempt to stop one or more violations of the False Claims Act. This essentially means that employees and others are protected when they collect information in preparation for a Qui Tam lawsuit as a relator, and when they internally blow-the-whistle on what they reasonably believe to be violations of the FCA. Importantly, courts have clarified that generally whistleblowers need not be correct in their reasonable belief, in order to be protected from retaliation.

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Bio-Rad Whistleblower Protected for “Reasonable” Incorrect Claim

After only three hours of deliberation, a federal jury in San Francisco determined that Bio- Rad, a life science company, retaliated against its former General Counsel, Sanford Wadler, for reporting violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Wadler alleged he was fired for reporting possible FCPA violations after he found documents showing Bio-Rad’s distribution of free products in China. Wadler was fired from the company in June 2013.

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Former Wells Fargo Employee Awarded $5.4 million in Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate and compensate an unnamed, former bank manager who was retaliated against and terminated in 2010 after reporting suspected fraudulent behavior to his superiors as well as through a bank ethics hotline.
The whistleblower reported separate incidents of suspected bank, mail, and wire fraud by bankers under his supervision in relation to Wells Fargo’s illegal sales practices going back as far as 2005. As many as 2 million checking and credit card accounts were opened under customers’ names without their permission, a violation for which Wells Fargo paid $185 million as a settlement in September 2016.

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Whistleblower Statutes Administered by OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for investigating and making at least preliminary decisions on a number of whistleblower claims. Many whistleblower statutes have an administrative exhaustion requirement that forces whistleblowers to first file a complaint with OSHA, as a prerequisite to ever filing a lawsuit in federal court. Some whistleblower statutes also only permit a whistleblower to litigate his or her claims through the administrative process, without ever being able to bring a lawsuit in federal court. Consequently, it is imperative that whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation timely file their complaint with OSHA, since failure to file a complaint within the prescribed timelines will forfeit even a meritorious claim.

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Dodd-Frank Act Whistleblower Bounty and Retaliation Claim Basics

In 2010, Congress enacted the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act, in response to the banking and investment problems that led to the 2008 economic recession. The Dodd-Frank Act was an amendment of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and sought to more stringently regulate the U.S. financial industry, specifically large banks and insurance companies, to prevent failures that have major negative effects on the national and global economies.

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Ogborn Mihm Nominated for 2016 CTLA Case of the Year Award


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Sarbanes-Oxley Act Whistleblower Protection Basics

In an attempt to restore trust in financial markets following the collapse of Enron Corporation, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. Often considered one of the most important whistleblower protection laws due to its diverse administrative, criminal and civil provisions, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act contains significant protections for whistleblowers to ensure that employees can safely disclose information which may harm investors, especially fraud. Modeled on whistleblower laws administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Whistleblower Protection Act, these protections are not limited to wrongfully discharged employees, but include additional requirements to create a more encompassing protection network and give more responsibility to corporations for managing complaints internally.

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Federal False Claims Act Basics

Enacted during the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln and strengthened in 1986, 2009, and 2010, the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) bestows liability on anyone who makes, causes, or conspires to make a false or fraudulent claim to the United States government, including situations in which a person falsely certifies compliance with a condition of payment or recklessly ignores the falsity of claim. Fines under the FCA can range from $5000- $10,000 (adjusted for inflation) in addition to 3 times the amount of damages that the government sustains due to the false claim. The defendant will also be liable for any costs of litigation incurred to recover these damages. The general statute of limitations is 6 years from the date of violation.

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