The Inbox - July 19, 2013

| Jason M. Knott

Here in the Baltimore-Washington area, we’re trapped under a dome - a heat dome.  Like the inside of my car on these 100-degree days, disputes involving executives are also heating up, as the latest in Suits by Suits news shows:

  • We’ve covered again and again the fact that district courts are broadly interpreting the Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation provision to include employees who don’t report misconduct to the SEC.  The Fifth Circuit has now bucked that trend, in Asadi v. GE Energy (USA) LLC.  We’ll cover this important development in depth next week.
  • In close-to-home news, St. John Barned-Smith of the Montgomery Gazette writes that a Montgomery County, Maryland judge denied the Landon School’s request for summary judgment on a wrongful termination claim brought by its former chief operating officer.  Timothy Harrison contends that Landon’s headmaster ignored his reports that supervisors were discriminating against Hispanic employees.  According to the article, Harrison also complained about the headmaster’s annual $800,000 salary.  (Thanks in advance for finishing this blog post instead of dropping everything and applying for headmaster jobs.)
  • Viacom convinced Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware to throw out a shareholder lawsuit alleging that company directors improperly awarded tax-deductible bonuses.  The July 16 opinion in Freedman v. Redstone, Civ. No. 12-1052-SLR, is here.  But what Delaware giveth, it also taketh away: Viacom suffered a $300 million loss in the Delaware Supreme Court this week in a different shareholder dispute.
  • NBC Chicago reported on testimony by Alex Clifford, the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service, before the Regional Transportation Authority board.  Clifford’s lawyer told the board that his client’s $718,000 severance payment was not “hush money” to keep him quiet about improprieties in hiring at the agency.
  • Mayors in Canada are having a tough go of it lately.  First, Rob Ford of Toronto was implicated in a crack cocaine scandal.  Then, Montreal interim mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges, and resigned.  But CBC News reports that Applebaum is still lighting the severance lamp to the tune of $267,000.  O Canada!
  • David Wolinsky at blog Well.Inc offers a Seinfeldian take on non-compete agreements: “What’s the Deal with Non-Compete Clauses?”  The answer, according to comedian Wolinsky, is that “you can’t expect people to move far away and work somewhere totally different just because they don’t work for you anymore.”