Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Litigation Madness, Part One

"March Madness" usually refers to the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, both of which will be settled on the court over the next few days. However, the month of March also saw a spate of high profile trials and lawsuits, in which both sides jostled for position in the court of public opinion.

First was the insider trading trial of Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, which began with jury selection on March 8, 2011. Mr. Rajaratnam, a one-time billionaire and a native of Sri Lanka, has been charged with five different conspiracies to commit securities fraud and nine substantive counts of securities fraud for alleged insider trading on the stock of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and other entities. The New York Law Journal had an excellent summary of the charges and the defense strategy in an article published on the eve of trial. Reuters has a website, Galleon Insider Trading Trial, which contains an accounting of each court session.

Then, on March 10, came the $100 million lawsuit filed by Charlie Sheen against WB Studio Enterprises Inc. and Chuck Lorre Productions Inc. over his firing from the Warner Bros. sitcom "Two and a Half Men." Mr. Sheen's eccentric behavior over the past few months has been well-chronicled, and his lawsuit contains an interesting twist as well. In his complaint, Mr. Sheen purports to sue on behalf of the cast and crew of "Two and a Half Men" under a provision of California Labor Code 2699 that allows him to assert claims on behalf of others as a "private attorney general." A lawyer quoted in the National Law Journal speculated that by invoking the Labor Code, it makes the dispute more than about Charlie Sheen and perhaps makes him more sympathetic: "What he's purporting to do is say there's been a Labor Code violation here as to everybody who works on this show because they improperly terminated the show. Everybody who is supposed to be working on the show has a claim for their lost wages and benefits." You can read the entire article here.

More "March Litigation Madness" tomorrow . . .

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