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Jason M. Knott

Email | 202.778.1813

Jason Knott, a partner in Zuckerman Spaeder’s Washington office, represents individuals and companies in civil litigation, white-collar criminal matters, and government investigations. Some of his favorite cases have been “Suits by Suits.”

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  • Chemistry Dispute Blows Up In Scientific Society’s Face

    | Jason M. Knott

    We’ve previously written about the disputes that can arise when an employee leaves a job to start a competing company, such as claims that the employee has misappropriated trade secrets or breached confidentiality provisions.  Sometimes the employers win these cases.  And sometimes, they lose in a big way – as the American Chemical Society (ACS) found out in a case that went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.  Am. Chem. Soc’y v. Leadscope, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-4193. That court's recent decision serves as a caution to employers: if you don’t have reliable evidence that anything’s been stolen, but you sue your employees’ new business anyway, you can end up on the wrong end of a large verdict. 

  • SEC Makes First Payout in Whistleblower Awards Program

    | Jason M. Knott

    Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 has received a lot of attention in legal circles.  That provision established a whistleblower program under which a person who voluntarily provides the Securities & Exchange Commission with information about an employer’s wrongdoing can receive an award.    To help strengthen the program, Section 922 also protects whistleblowers from retaliation for disclosing information that they report directly to the SEC. 

    On August 21, the SEC announced its first payment of a whistleblower award under the new program.  

  • The Inbox

    | Jason M. Knott

    The pre-Labor Day highlights of Suits by Suits:

    • A producer of Martin Scorcese’s next film, The Wolf of Wall Street, filed a lawsuit against the production company for reducing her role.  The New York Post reports that Alexandra Milchan alleges that she was owed $700,000 in fixed payments and the right to produce the film.  The article includes a photo of Leo DiCaprio wearing … you guessed it … a suit.
  • A Big Bill for Biller: Whistleblowers and Confidentiality Agreements

    | Jason M. Knott

    Many of the cases we talk about here on Suits by Suits are breach of contract cases brought by executives against their former employers.  Sometimes, however, the employer turns the tables, bringing an action against a former executive for breaching its confidences.  When that happens, the executive can find himself owing the company a lot of money, rather than the other way around.

    Such was the fate of a former lawyer for Toyota named Dimitrios Biller, the subject of the Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Biller v. Toyota Motor Corp., 668 F.3d 655 (9th Cir. 2012).  

  • You Lied on Your Resume – So What?

    | Jason M. Knott

    We previously covered former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, who may have cost himself $10 million by inflating his credentials in a resume.   Resume problems are not a one-off in the world of Suits by Suits.

    One way in which untruths on resumes can come to light is through a defense called the after-acquired evidence doctrine, which employers can assert in response to wrongful termination or discrimination claims.  

  • The Inbox

    | Jason M. Knott

    The latest gold medalists in the race for our attention: 

    • Not that Chick-fil-A needed more publicity, but Laura Hautala of the Los Angeles Times brought us the fascinating story of Adam Smith, chief financial officer of a Tuscon medical equipment manufacturer named Vante.  Smith went to the drive-thru of his local Chick-fil-A, told the employees that they worked for a hateful company, and then posted the confrontation on YouTube.  Shortly thereafter, Vante fired him.  In a press statement, Vante did not identify Smith’s ordering of free water as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  • A Pregnancy Discrimination Pause - Part 2

    | Jason M. Knott

    On Monday, we talked about how plaintiffs can prove pregnancy discrimination by direct evidence – the proverbial “smoking gun.”  Now, it’s time to tackle how a plaintiff can prove pregnancy discrimination under the McDonnell-Douglas test, through making a prima facie case of discrimination and then rebutting the employer’s assertion that it acted for legitimate, nonpretextual reasons.  Once again, the star of our hypothetical scenario is Marissa Mayer, the newsworthy new Yahoo! CEO.

  • A Pregnancy Discrimination Pause

    | Jason M. Knott

    Marissa Mayer is big news these days.  She’s the new Yahoo! CEO, at only 37 years old.  She’s also expecting her first child, and made waves when she told Fortune Magazine that her maternity leave would be a “few weeks long” and she’d “work through it.” 

    All of the hullaballoo over Mayer’s career and personal life made the Suits by Suits team curious.  What if Mayer suffered repercussions at Yahoo! due to her pregnancy or upcoming childbirth?  How would she be able to prove that Yahoo! discriminated against her?

  • I Was Fired and Badmouthed For Reporting Kickbacks, Says Ex-JP Morgan Officer

    | Jason M. Knott

    Tariq Hassan, the former Chief Procurement Officer for JP Morgan Chase (JPMC), is taking the bank to court.  In a suit filed June 15, he claims that JPMC fired him for investigating a “kickback scheme” involving the bank’s vendor management office and IT department.  Then, Hassan says, JPMC’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Dimon, and others at JPMC badmouthed him to Citigroup Global Markets when that company was considering hiring him, and Citigroup retaliated further against him for his whistleblowing by not hiring him.

  • The Inbox: Healthcare-News-Free Edition

    | Jason M. Knott and William A. Schreiner, Jr.

    A rare news recap that has nothing to do with health care reform:

    • Live Nation Entertainment has finally found harmony with its former chairman Michael Cohl, settling a dispute over a claim that Cohl owed it money under his severance agreement.  When Cohl left Live Nation in 2008, he agreed to pay $9.85 million over two years to buy parts of the business and get out from under parts of a broad noncompete provision.  Live Nation sued him in 2010, saying he still owed $5.4 million.  Marketwatch.
    • An employee who insisted on getting paid under a severance agreement because he was competing with his former employer (apparently the severance agreement did provide for such payments) was socked with $40,000 in fees for his efforts after the trial court granted summary judgment for the employer, which argued that he was not competing with it.  Odd.  JD Supra.
    • Daniel Foreman, an investment fund executive, filed suit against Cardinal Growth Corp., claiming that it misrepresented the value of funds when it asked him to help it find companies to invest in.  He seeks $82,000 in unpaid fees, as well as other payments.  AltAssets.
    • The former chief executive of Extended Stay hotels was socked with a $100 million judgment in that company’s bankruptcy, based on a series of personal guarantees.  But he’s not taking the judgment lying down.  He’s sued Extended Stay’s bankruptcy lawyers, alleging that their malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty caused the judgment against him.  Thomson Reuters.
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Contributing Editors
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Jason M. Knott
Partner
Email | 202.778.1813


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Andrew N. Goldfarb
Partner
Email | 202.778.1822