Who Really Owns a CPA’s Working Papers?

Accountants are well aware that clients, former clients, and others periodically request (or sometimes demand) copies of the accountant’s work-papers. The question invariably is: who owns those materials? Moreover, what is the accountant obligated to turn over and what categories of materials may be withheld? An accountant, and those that represent them, must be aware of the critical legal and regulatory issues facing the accounting profession when handling such a request.
Continue reading...

Case Study: When an “Expert” Lies on the Stand

A Florida defense expert is facing criminal perjury charges for allegedly lying on the stand about his credentials. The defense attorney may be next. Claimed biomechanics expert, John Lloyd, allegedly misrepresented his educational background before testifying that “shaken baby syndrome” is a myth in a troublesome child abuse trial. It was allegedly discovered that Lloyd had perjured himself on the stand but the underlying defendant had already received a reduced sentence. The fallout and public outcry has been significant. This situation calls into question the ramifications for the defense attorney who proffered the so-called “expert.”
Continue reading...

March Madness and You: Implications

Brace yourselves, employers: March Madness is upon us. The 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will start with play-in games March 19 and conclude with the Championship Game on April 8 in Atlanta. During the tournament’s three weeks, the US economy will lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity as employees watch early round games, participate in office pools, and discuss the outcomes with co-workers. Make no mistake, March Madness and participation in other work-place “gambling” such as fantasy sports has real world implications on the workplace.
Continue reading...

A Lesson in Ethical Attorney Billing

A lawyer stands at the gates of heaven and pleads his case to St. Peter. “I’m much too young to die. I’m only 48.” St. Peter responds, raising an eyebrow: “Forty-eight? Not according to your time sheets." Unfortunately, some attorneys give the rest of the profession a bad name for abusing the billable hour system. Perhaps a lesson in ethical billing is in order.
Continue reading...

What Does Daylight Saving Time Mean to Employers?

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, people all across the United States set their clocks forward one hour to start Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is intended to place more sunlight into “daytime” hours in order to seemingly stretch the day longer and conserve energy. 2013 marks the seventh year DST was expanded by four weeks pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For many, the change simply means one less hour of sleep, but for employers, the time change has unique and important implications.
Continue reading...

Attorneys in the Crosshairs: Limits of the Litigation Privilege

A recent decision helps to define the limitations of the absolute litigation/judicial privilege and serves as a reminder that attorneys are not immune from defamation suits. Notably, attorneys may be on the wrong end of a defamation claim for out-of-court statements concerning ongoing litigation. The litigation privilege and the judicial privilege provide an absolute defense from defamation suits relating to certain in-court statements. However, the protections may not apply outside of formal court proceedings according to a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court.
Continue reading...

When Negligence is a Crime: Part II

In a prior post, we discussed When Negligence = Murder and profiled a building defect dispute which resulted in the death of a firefighter. In a similar vein, a nurse’s refusal to perform CPR on a collapsed woman dying in a California independent living complex has launched a criminal investigation and sparks new concerns about protocols at independent living facilities. State officials in California are taking a close look at the nurse’s conduct and at retirement facility policies after a lengthy 911 call was released in which an emergency dispatcher is heard pleading with a facility nurse to provide CPR on the dying resident. The nurse’s refusal to attempt resuscitation has opened the door to inquiries about the facility’s protocol and about potential civil and/or criminal liability for failing to render adequate care.
Continue reading...

The Yahoo! Decision: Telecommuting Issues Facing All Employers

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recently made headlines for doing away with the company’s telecommuting policy and requiring all employees to report for work at their respective offices. Reportedly, Yahoo! was suffering from “productivity” issues with many of its employees who were working from home. While employee productivity is always of paramount importance to employers, telecommuting also poses a variety of legal risks that can similarly affect an employer’s bottom line. Some of the most common legal issues facing employers will be addressed here.
Continue reading...

Lindsay Lohan’s Legal Lesson

Last week Lindsay Lohan provided a valuable lesson for the professional liability community. It’s true. The lesson arises from Lohan’s recently dismissed lawsuit against rapper Pitbull. Adding insult to injury, the court tossed the suit and sanctioned Lohan’s lawyer for improperly submitting a brief that contained plagiarized, “cut-and-paste” content. You can’t make this stuff up.
Continue reading...