What might most people reasonably think when they consider securities law and what it encompasses?
From 1999 to 2005, cycling and sports enthusiasts around the world marveled at the physical abilities of the seemingly unbeatable Lance Armstrong. During these seven years, Armstrong and his cycling team dominated the sport and earned millions of dollars in prize money and endorsement deals. However, during the early 2000s, serious accusations and questions were raised about whether Armstrong and members of his "U.S. Postal Team used performance enhancing drugs during the 2000 Tour de France."
According to USAspending.org, during 2015 the U.S. government will pay contractors more than $286 billion dollars. While many private U.S. companies that do business with the government are honest and law-abiding in their practices, others attempt to defraud the government, and taxpayers, out of millions of dollars by overcharging for goods and services or failing to reimburse for overages.
Serving as the home of Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange and several successful investment firms; New York City is widely considered the country's financial epicenter. Given this title, it's no surprise that the state's U.S. Court of Appeals has been referred to by Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun as the "'Mother Court' for securities law."
A former managing director for private equity firm TPG Capital has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his ex-employer. According to the suit, rather than using investor fees for their intended purpose -- to pay for the services of consultants and advisers -- TPG regularly used the fees to pay its own employees. This practice allows for double-billing by private equity employees, who bill once as a firm employee and again as a consultant to the companies in which the firm has invested.
Six years ago a group of investors brought a class-action lawsuit against Sprint, accusing the wireless carrier of fraudulently inflating bond and stock prices after the company merged with Nextel Communications in 2005. The lead plaintiffs claimed they were defrauded, with damages estimated at $1.079 billion.
Under the Securities and Exchange Commission's whistleblower program, employees who provide valuable information about securities fraud can receive sizable award payouts. Generally, though, if a compliance staff member or a high-level employee -- an executive, for instance -- reports a securities violation after hearing about it through another employee or through the company's compliance processes, then the staffer or executive is ineligible to receive an award from the SEC.
A number of veteran litigators at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah started out as labor attorneys. Since then, SFMS lawyers have represented a wide range of clients, including labor organizations, private employers, public employers, employee plaintiff groups and individual employees.
We recently discussed the nature of class action lawsuits and how they can provide a level playing field for plaintiffs who would otherwise not have the resources to take on a large corporation or other entity. "What is a class action and how is one started?" has more on that subject.
Class action lawsuits relate to a specific area of law, and many people are not aware of how class actions work. Here let's go over the basics.