Bum rap? Wrap fee programs under scrutiny

By Samuel E. Cohen, Esq., Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin

From Westlaw Journal Securities Litigation & Regulation: Samuel E. Cohen of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin discusses the recent focus of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory authorities on wrap accounts and what it means for broker-dealers and investment advisers who promote wrap fee programs.

Assets and fee-based advisory accounts at broker-dealers are growing exponentially, drawing increased scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is concerned that “wrap accounts” could be misused by some financial advisers.  In a wrap account, clients pay an annual or quarterly fee for wrap products that manage a portfolio of investments, rather than paying individual commissions for trades.

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Supreme Court hears argument on appellate review standard in patent cases

From Westlaw Journal Intellectual Property: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument Oct. 15 regarding the level of deference that should be given to a trial court’s findings of fact in support of its claim construction of patent terms.

The question before the justices is whether an appeals court should review the findings de novo, without deference to the lower court’s findings — the standard followed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — or only for clear error, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a).

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Claim construction is the process by which a court defines the claims of patents.  It is a foundational question of patent litigation because a finding of infringement or invalidity of a patent ultimately depends on how the claims are construed, Teva Pharmaceuticals said in its petition to the high court.


No coverage owed to gym for lawsuit over nude tapes, insurer says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: Scottsdale Insurance Co. is seeking a court judgment that it owes no coverage for an underlying lawsuit accusing a North Carolina fitness center and one of its employees of putting hidden cameras in the tanning-bed rooms.

In a declaratory judgment action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the insurer says it has no duty to defend or indemnify B&G Fitness Center and employee Thomas G. Owens based on policy exclusions barring coverage for sexual and/or physical abuse.

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DSW settles age-discrimination claim for $900K

The EEOC and major shoe retailer DSW settled a class-action age-discrimination lawsuit within four days after the suit was filed Sept. 15, 2014.

The EEOC alleged the retailer discriminated against seven employees and a class of former similarly situated employees on the basis of age. (more…)

Debtor wants Supreme Court to resolve where post-petition funds go after conversion

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A bankruptcy debtor has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve a direct split between two circuit courts over whether funds held by a Chapter 13 trustee when a debtor converts his case to Chapter 7 go back to the debtor or to creditors.

Debtor Charles E. Harris III had won the return of the funds from both the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas and from the District Court on the initial appeal by the trustee.

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Valve maker says it’s not liable for vendors’ replacement part warnings

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A valve manufacturer has argued in an appeal of an $8 million asbestos award that under New York state law it had no duty to warn about asbestos in other companies’ replacement parts for its valves.

In a brief filed Sept. 29 in the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, Crane Co. is seeking to reverse an Appellate Division ruling and requesting the high court grant it a favorable judgment or a new trial.

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Florida’s pre-suit requirements comply with HIPAA, 11th Circuit finds

From Westlaw Journal Medical Malpractice:  A Florida law that requires medical negligence plaintiffs to give prospective defendants access to their private health information before filing suit does not conflict with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Circuit Judge Frank M. Hull, writing for a three-judge panel, said the written authorization form that prospective plaintiffs must sign pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 766.1065 is a voluntarily executed document that complies with HIPAA, Pub. L. No. 104-191.

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Texas high court orders another appeals court look at $3 million Ford settlement

From Westlaw Journal Automotive: In its third ruling on the case, the Texas Supreme Court has ordered a state appellate court to again consider whether Ford Motor Co. was fraudulently induced into settling a rollover case for $3 million.

The state high court granted the motion for rehearing filed by plaintiffs Ezequiel Castillo and Maria De Los Angeles Castillo and withdrew its June 20 ruling, which simply reinstated the jury verdict.

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Running dry in a changing world

By Lynn A. Wilson, Ph.D., Kaplan University and SeaTrust Institute

From Westlaw Journal Environmental: Lynn A. Wilson, the academic chair at Kaplan University and CEO of SeaTrust Institute, discusses the scarcity of drinking water around the world due to   extreme weather and depleting aquifers.

Water scarcity was, until recently, considered by most of the developed world to be like James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon”: “far away, at the very limit of distance.”  The convergence of aquifer depletion from increasing agricultural, industrial and municipal water use with more frequent extreme weather events, however, creates an urgency to find or develop new, reliable sources of fresh water.

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Inequitable conduct invalidates patent, Ohio federal judge finds

From Westlaw Journal Intellectual Property: A federal judge has ruled that a company that sued an Ohio manufacturer for patent infringement engaged in inequitable conduct, rendering its patent unenforceable.

U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost of the Southern District of Ohio said defendant ALPS South LLC was entitled to judgment and ordered plaintiff Ohio Willow Wood Co. to pay a significant portion of ALPS’ attorney fees.

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