While monitoring your work email, you receive a message that puts a pit in your stomach. Your company’s General Counsel has sent you a “Litigation Hold Notice,” advising you that your emails, documents, and communications must be preserved. What does this mean? What do you need to do? Here are the basics on litigation hold notices, and a few simple tips on how to proceed once you receive one.

Continue Reading What to Do When Your Employer Sends You a Litigation Hold Notice

Public figures are fighting back against fake news.

In the most recent headline from the world of celebrity defamation cases, E. Jean Carroll is suing former President Trump for statements he made after she accused him of sexual assault. In a 2019 book and excerpt in New York magazine, Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, accused Trump of sexual assault in the mid-1990s. Trump responded that Carroll was “totally lying” and not his “type.” Carroll sued Trump for defamation, claiming his statements had harmed her reputation. But Carroll—like all public figure defamation plaintiffs—has an uphill battle before her. To succeed, Carroll will have to prove that Trump’s statements were false, and—because Carroll is a public figure—she will also have to show that Trump acted with “actual malice.” The actual malice standard often proves to be too high a threshold for most public figures to cross, and most cases are lost on that prong—regardless of whether the statement was false. In fact, Johnny Depp was one of the few public figures in recent years to win a defamation suit.

Continue Reading Actual Malice in the Age of #fakenews

Recent legislation signed into law by President Biden on September 16, 2022 abolishes the statute of limitations for over a dozen federal civil causes of action relating to child sex abuse, continuing the trend throughout the country to reform statutes of limitations relating to child sex abuse. Known as the “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” (Public Law No. 117-176), the Act abolishes the previous ten-year statute of limitations to commence a civil action for any person who, as a minor, was the victim of any of the offenses enumerated in the Act, including forced labor, sex trafficking of children, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual exploitation of children, and transportation of minors to engage in sexual conduct. The Act became effective on September 16, 2022.

Continue Reading “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” Abolishes Statute of Limitations for Federal Civil Causes of Action Relating to Child Sex Abuse

In a brush-back pitch to DOJ opioid initiatives, the U.S. Supreme Court this past June issued an important decision clarifying the mental state the government must establish to convict a licensed medical professional of illegal drug distribution under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). No longer can a doctor be convicted of such a crime based on objectively unreasonable prescribing practices alone. The government now must show that the medical professional subjectively, knowingly, and intentionally prescribed a controlled substance with no legitimate medical purpose. While unlikely to materially impact the number of DOJ opioid prosecutions, the case will no doubt inform charging decisions in marginal cases and will support important defense arguments at trial.

Continue Reading Will the Supreme Court’s Latest Decision on Mens Rea Leave Medical Professional Prosecutions Ruan-ing on Empty?

The last two years have provided legal professionals with a crash course in the remote practice of law. Attorneys and judges have been forced to navigate COVID-19 protocols and adapt to the rapidly changing legal landscape in the digital age. While the pandemic created an abundance of new technological challenges, it also impacted one of the oldest standards in our judicial system—service of process.

Continue Reading Service of Process: An Overlooked Challenge of Litigation During COVID-19

Due to the large-scale shutdowns triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic (“COVID-19”), many businesses were unable to operate fully, or not at all. Litigants across the country have sought to be relieved of their obligations under contracts as a result of the pandemic-related disruptions, under legal theories including impossibility, frustration of purpose, and force majeure. As recently decided cases demonstrate, proponents of these theories have faced uphill battles.

Continue Reading Mission (Im)possible: Recent Cases Hold That Pandemic-Related Disruptions Do Not Relieve Contractual Performance

Last month, former attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing about $300,000 from his client, Stormy Daniels. But Mr. Avenatti was already serving a thirty-month prison sentence for attempting to extort a “settlement” from Nike.

Continue Reading Don’t Go to Prison for Extortion: Lessons from Michael Avenatti

Recent New York legislation will afford a class of sexual abuse victims the opportunity to sue their abusers, where they previously would have been time-barred. On May 24, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”) (S.66A/A.648A), which creates a one-year lookback window for alleged survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their alleged abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. The one-year window will begin six months from signing – on November 24, 2022 and will close on November 23, 2023. In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for  certain enumerated sex offenses. However, that legislation only affected new cases and was not retroactive. In contrast, the ASA permits individuals who were over the age of 18 when any alleged abuse occurred to sue for civil damages regardless of the statute of limitations.

Continue Reading The Time to Prepare for the Litigation Following New York’s Enactment of the Adult Survivors Act

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced its long awaited proposed changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Endorsement Guides”). The Endorsement Guides were first enacted in 1980 and are intended to help businesses ensure that their endorsement and testimonial advertising conforms with Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” including false advertising. Among the proposed changes to the Endorsement Guides, are those related to social media platforms and their users, deceptive endorsements by online “influencers,” businesses’ use of consumer reviews, and the impact of advertising on children.

Continue Reading FTC’s Proposed Changes to Endorsement Guides: Social Media, “Influencers,” Consumer Reviews, and the Impact of Advertising on Children

Recently I was going back and forth with a colleague about training programs for our developing lawyers. This colleague, a respected friend, looked at the list I proudly provided of the various advocacy, writing, presentation and positioning lessons filling the educational schedule, and responded with the pith of perception “Not a word about listening.” I immediately saw the gap absent in my perception only moments before. And, I knew the truth of which Oliver Wendell Holmes (not the judge, but the judge’s father) wrote in Chapter X of The Poet At The Breakfast Table (1872), when he said “It is the province of knowledge to speak. And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” What a great lesson for lawyers, especially trial lawyers, to remember.

Continue Reading It Is the Privilege of Wisdom to Listen: Remembering an Underappreciated Legal Skill