Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Chris Ronnie v. U.S. Department of Labor
Petitioner was employed at Office Depot as a senior financial analyst. He was responsible for, among other things, ensuring data integrity. One of Ronnie’s principal duties was to calculate and report a metric called “Sales Lift.” Sales Lift is a metric designed to quantify the cost-reduction benefit of closing redundant retail stores. Petitioner identified two potential accounting errors that he believed signaled securities fraud related to the Sales Lift. Petitioner alleged that after he reported the issue, his relationship with his boss became strained. Eventually, Petitioner was terminated at that meeting for failing to perform the task of identifying the cause of the data discrepancy. Petitioner filed complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and OSHA dismissed his complaint. Petitioner petitioned for review of the ARB’s decision. The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition. The court explained that Petitioner failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that a reasonable person with his training and experience would believe this conduct constituted a SOX violation, the ARB’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. The court wrote that Petitioner’s assertions that Office Depot intentionally manipulated sales data and that his assigned task of investigating the discrepancy was a stalling tactic are mere speculation, which alone is not enough to create a genuine issue of fact as to the objective reasonableness of Petitioner’s belief. View "Chris Ronnie v. U.S. Department of Labor" on Justia Law
Estate of James P. Keeter, Deceased, et al. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
This appeal turns on the meaning of the phrase “partner level determinations” in Section 6230(a)(2)(A)(i) of the now-repealed Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (“TEFRA”). When the IRS adjusts the tax items of a partnership, these partnership-level changes often require corresponding adjustments to “affected items” on the individual partners’ income tax returns. The IRS makes these resulting partner-level changes using one of two procedures. If adjusting a partner-taxpayer’s affected item “require[s] partner level determinations,” the IRS must send the taxpayer a notice of deficiency describing the adjustment to the taxpayer’s tax liability, and the taxpayer has the right to challenge the adjustments in court before paying. If, on the other hand, adjusting the affected item does not “require partner level determinations,” the IRS generally must make a direct assessment against the taxpayer, and the taxpayer may challenge the adjustment only in a post-payment refund action. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Tax Court. The court explained that making the relevant adjustments requires an individualized assessment of each taxpayer’s unique circumstances, we hold that they “require partner level determinations,” mandating deficiency procedures. The court explained that none of the authorities on which taxpayers rely addressed the ultimate question in this case—whether adjusting losses claimed on sales of property from a sham partnership requires partner-level determinations. Instead, all the on-point caselaw bolsters our conclusion. The court explained that because it concluded that the IRS was required to make partner-level determinations to adjust the taxpayers’ reported losses and itemized deductions, the IRS properly employed deficiency procedures to make these adjustments. View "Estate of James P. Keeter, Deceased, et al. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law
Emilio Braun, et al. v. America-CV Station Group, Inc., et al.
Just before the Chapter 11 reorganization plans of Caribevision Holdings, Inc. and Caribevision TV Network, LLC was set to be confirmed, the debtors filed an emergency motion to modify the plans under 11 U.S.C. Section 1127(a). The initial plans called for equity in the reorganized companies to be split between four shareholders: R.D.B., Pegaso Television Corp., E.B., and Vasallo TV Group. The modification, after being approved by the bankruptcy court, stripped the first three of their equity and allocated full ownership to the fourth—a company controlled by the debtors’ Chief Executive Officer. the three ousted shareholders, who collectively call themselves the Pegaso Equity Holders, now challenge the bankruptcy court’s order granting the debtors’ emergency motion to modify the reorganization plans. They contend that they were entitled to a revised disclosure statement and a second opportunity to vote on the plans under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3019(a)—a procedural protection the bankruptcy court did not provide them. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the order granting the debtor’s emergency motion to modify the reorganization plans, reversed in part the bankruptcy court’s order confirming the reorganization plans to the extent that it adopts the modification, and remanded to the bankruptcy court to fashion an equitable remedy. The court held that the bankruptcy court erred in granting the debtor’s modification without first requiring that the debtor provide the Pegaso Equity Holders with a revised disclosure statement and a second opportunity to cast a ballot. View "Emilio Braun, et al. v. America-CV Station Group, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Jerrell Whitten v. Ronald F. Clarke, et al.
Plaintiff, a shareholder and citizen of Illinois, brought this shareholder derivative action alleging breach of fiduciary duties by FleetCor’s directors and executives without first making a demand on the board. Plaintiff argued that demand was excused because a majority of the board faced a substantial likelihood of liability for their breach of fiduciary duties. The district court held that Plaintiff had failed to adequately plead that demand was excused and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint under Rule 23.1. The court held that Plaintiff failed to plead particularized facts showing demand was excused. The court explained that because Plaintiff failed to adequately plead Board knowledge of the allegedly fraudulent scheme, all three of his claims that purportedly show that a majority of the Board faced a substantial likelihood of liability fail. View "Jerrell Whitten v. Ronald F. Clarke, et al." on Justia Law
BBX Capital v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
BBX filed suit challenging the FDIC's determination that the severance payments BBX sought to make to five former executives of the Bank were golden parachute payments and that it would approve payments of only twelve months of salary to each executive. The FDIC also concluded that BBT was required to seek and receive approval before making the reimbursement payments to BBX. The FRB subsequently approved the same payment amounts but took no action with respect to approving any payments over 12 months of salary because the FDIC had already prohibited any additional payments.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of BBX's action against FRB for lack of standing because BBX has not shown any injury it has sustained is fairly traceable to an FRB action or inaction. The court also held that the FDIC's decision to classify the proposed payments as golden parachute payments was not arbitrary or capricious, because the golden parachute statute, 12 U.S.C. 1828(k), covers the stock purchase agreement (SPA) and the proposed payments included therein. Furthermore, earlier agreements, such as severance contracts, are irrelevant because the proposed payments are being made under the SPA. The court held that the FDIC's denial of any payments in excess of 12 months' salary for each executive was not arbitrary and capricious where the explanations the FDIC offered for denying additional payments were reasonable and did not run counter to the evidence. Finally, the court rejected BBX's argument that the FDIC's requirement that BBT seek approval before reimbursing BBX was arbitrary and capricious. View "BBX Capital v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." on Justia Law