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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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When Is a Police Officer Liable for Shooting Another Officer?

At times, in the line of duty, a police officer may be shot or injured by another police officer who is also attempting to carry out his or her duties. When this happens, the officer who fired the shot may face civil liability, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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Understanding Police Officer Liability for the Use of Deadly Force

Police officers must sometimes use force while in the line of duty in order to protect the lives and property of others from serious harm. At times, the use of deadly force is required.

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COLORADO’S NEW LAW ON PROVING COLLECTIBILITY IN LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTIONS

When clients are harmed by the malpractice of a lawyer, they oftentimes face a second, potentially more complicated lawsuit. The plaintiff-clients must prove the underlying case against the original defendant(s) in which the lawyer committed malpractice, and they must prove the negligence of the defendant-lawyer in order to win the malpractice action. While Colorado courts have long recognized that the solvency or insolvency of the underlying defendant must be proven in a legal malpractice case, the courts had not, until recently, answered the question of whether that responsibility lies with the plaintiff or defendant lawyer.

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National Distracted Driving Awareness: What Do You Need to Know?

Did you know approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, according to an ongoing survey by NOPUS (National Occupant Protection Use Survey)?

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OGBORN MIHM LAWYERS’ ARTICLE CITED TO BY COLORADO COURT OF APPEALS

The Colorado Appellate Court, in a written opnion, recently cited to a law review article written by Mike Cross and Nicole Quintana analyzing the issue of proving collectibility in legal malpractice actions. The appellate case is Gallegos v. LeHouillier, 2017COA35, found at https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2017/15CA0724-PD.pdf. The law review article, “Your Place or Mine?: The Burden of Proving Collectibility of an Underlying Judgment in a Legal Malpractice Action,” 91 Denv. U. L. Rev. Online 53 (2014), can be found at http://www.denverlawreview.org/storage/online-article-pdfs/2014/Your%20Place%20or%20Mine_FinalFormat.pdf.

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Clay Wire Publishes Article on In-House Attorney Whistleblower Claims

With the recent $10 million jury award to a general counsel turned internal whistleblower in Wadler v. Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., Case No. 15-cv-02356 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 20, 2016), the topic of protections and incentives available to in-house counsel who expose fraudulent or illegal conduct is in the forefront. Clay Wire, a partner at Ogborn Mihm, LLP, is one of the few trial attorneys with experience representing in-house counsel in wrongful termination and whistleblower claims. He has recently published an article regarding common claims by in-house counsel turned whistleblowers, and the common issues that arise in such claims, which is available here.
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Colorado’s New Law On Proving Collectibility In Legal Malpractice Actions

When clients are harmed by the malpractice of a lawyer, they oftentimes face a second, potentially more complicated lawsuit. The plaintiff-clients must prove the underlying case against the original defendant(s) in which the lawyer committed malpractice, and they must prove the negligence of the defendant-lawyer in order to win the malpractice action. While Colorado courts have long recognized that the solvency or insolvency of the underlying defendant must be proven in a legal malpractice case, the courts had not, until recently, answered the question of whether that responsibility lies with the plaintiff or defendant lawyer.

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Five Ogborn Mihm attorneys have been selected by their peers to be listed as 2017 Colorado Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Five Ogborn Mihm attorneys have been selected by their peers to be listed as 2017 Colorado Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.

The firm’s Colorado Super Lawyers are Murray Ogborn for personal injury plaintiffs; Michael Mihm for professional liability plaintiffs; Mike Ogborn for business litigation; and Thomas Neville for personal injury plaintiffs.

The Colorado Rising Stars is Clayton Wire for employment litigation.

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6 Ogborn Mihm Attorneys Named as Superlawyers

We are pleased to announce six Ogborn Mihm attorneys have been selected by their peers to be listed as 2016 Colorado Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.

The firm’s Colorado Super Lawyers are Murray Ogborn for personal injury plaintiffs; Michael Mihm for professional liability plaintiffs; Mike Ogborn for business litigation; and Thomas Neville for personal injury plaintiffs.

The Colorado Rising Stars are Mike Cross for construction litigation; and Clayton Wire for employment litigation.

Super Lawyers® is a service of the Thomson Reuters, Legal Division. Each year, the research team at Super Lawyers® undertakes a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by the attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area and a good-standing and disciplinary check. Super Lawyers® can be found online at www.superlawyers.com.

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How Lawyers Should Approach Situations Posing Possible Conflicts of Interest-- Generally

This is the 10th and final of a series of articles, based on a chapter from the 2015 edition of Lawyers’ Professional Responsibility in Colorado by attorney Michael T. Mihm, discussing the current law of conflicts of interest as it applies to Colorado lawyers. It draws upon the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct; the former Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, effective through December 31, 2007 (former Colorado Rules or former Colo. RPC); Colorado appellate decisions; ethics opinions; the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct; the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers (Restatement); and other resources.

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Blog Authors

Ogborn Mihm LLP
15 post(s)
Thomas Neville
3 post(s)
Ogborn Mihm
6 post(s)
Michael T. Mihm
24 post(s)
Nicole Quintana
4 post(s)
Clayton Wire
12 post(s)

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