Lance Armstrong is riding a new tour these days, but instead of fresh air and the beautiful landscapes of France, this tour will be inside offices (lawyers’ offices) and courtrooms. Yes, it is the Tour de Courts.  Since his confession to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, his legal problems have compiled dramatically. 

One of the more public legal disputes is with SCA Promotions (SCA). SCA helps companies run promotions that involve large payouts – payouts that these companies would otherwise not be able to offer. For example, suppose a company sponsors a “half-court shot” during a local college game. A contestant is selected to make the shot. If that contestant makes the basket, he or she wins $250,000. The sponsoring company will pay a percentage of the total prize offering to SCA. If the basket is made, SCA pays the $250,000.  It’s an insurance of sorts with the fees acting as a kind of premium.

SCA entered into one of these contracts Lance Armstrong.  SCA would pay millions including bonuses if Armstrong won multiple Tours de France. SCA is no stranger to the issue of doping and Lance Armstrong – which is what this current litigation is all about. SCA paid the winnings but withheld his bonuses originally amidst early allegations of doping. However, in the end, a $7.5 million settlement ultimately resolved that dispute.  Now that Armstrong has confessed to doping, SCA wants their money back and took Armstrong to court to get it.

Armstrong counters that the original settlement agreement contained a “Will Not Challenge Under Any Circumstances” clause and has filed papers with the court seeking dismissal of SCA’s lawsuit.  SCA counters that Armstrong lied during the original dispute and that Armstrong perpetuated fraud in negotiating the original settlement.

This is but one stop on the Tour de Courts for Armstrong and, though one of the most public, not the most serious. Amongst the agencies suing Armstrong is the Department of Justice who accuses him of defrauding the U.S. government (the U.S. Postal Service was a big sponsor).

This upcoming tour will make the mountains classification of the Tour de France seem easy. However, in this tour, there are no additional points for getting to the top first.

*This blog was originally published on April 11 on the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider. Read the original post here. 

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Categories: Drug and Device Law | Marketing | Media

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Let It Rain - Women in the Law 2013

Posted on February 13, 2013 07:20 by Sarah E. Lovequist

As revealed by the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2012 Survey, women are not credited as rainmakers at the same rates as men: “Almost half (46%) of all large firms report no women rainmakers among their top 10 business generators . . . women partners are less likely than men to receive credit for even a relatively modest book of business . . .” While business development can be a relatively straight-forward process, it is also arguably one of the trickiest areas for women to navigate. 

So how does one join this traditionally male-dominated conversation and hold one’s own? Fortunately, the first step is as easy as attending DRI’s Women in the Law Seminar, March 13-15, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. Marianne Trost is kicking off the seminar by leading a hands-on workshop that promises to help any female attorney hone her rainmaking skills so that she may stand toe-to-toe with male rainmakers. Additionally, DRI’s seminar offers sessions on practical skills from time management to selecting a favorable jury to delivering a killer cross-exam. And, of course, there will be plenty of time to network with and learn from fellow seminar attendees’ real life experiences. March is right around the corner, register today!

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Super Dome Party at DRI Annual Meeting

Posted on October 19, 2012 02:50 by Kurt B. Gerstner

The DRI Annual Meeting in New Orleans this month will have the usual great CLE programs and speakers we all have come to expect.  But it will also have a special once in a lifetime event that should not be missed – a party in the Super Dome!  This is not just in the Super Dome seating areas; we’ll be right down on the field itself.  We’ll have the opportunity to socialize and network on the very field where some of the greatest football players of all time have locked horns in epic competitions.  And rumor has it that there will be footballs available on the field, allowing some of our more skillful members to attempt to kick field goals or play the roles of quarterback and receiver.  How often do you get to do that on the Super Dome field?   It is worth attending the Annual Meeting just for the Super Dome party alone. But if that is not enough, think about the great weather, singular gourmet restaurants and world class musicians that populate New Orleans.  It is the perfect setting to sharpen your skills, engage in business networking and have a great time to relax and refresh.  If you haven’t yet registered I understand that pre-registration is not required - you can show up and do it right at the door.  Hope to see you there.

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Categories: Marketing | Seminar

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Insurance Coverage and Cyber Crimes

Posted on September 13, 2012 07:56 by Brenda K. Wallrichs

A recent report indicated there have been almost 200 high profile data breaches this year, resulting in the exposure of over 13 million records.  Among the information released was social security numbers, bank account numbers, patient and medical information, and other personal data.  In addition to these large scale breaches, breaches on a smaller scale occur daily, from employees accessing and misusing electronic information stored by their employers to students utilizing Facebook posts to bully.  These breaches clearly raise privacy concerns and cause headaches and in some cases heartache for the individuals whose information was disseminated.  But the breaches also create serious liabilities for the entities that were entrusted to secure the information and for the persons who accessed it.

An emerging and evolving issue concerning data breaches and other cyber crimes is the availability of insurance coverage for the persons bearing responsibility for the release and improper use of the information.  Courts struggle with applying traditional CGL policies to cyber losses, and insurers are responding with a variety of new products. The availability of coverage, both under traditional policies and under more recently developed policies, is a topic that will be discussed at the DRI Insurance Law Committee’s Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium.  Please join us in New York City, December 6-7, for more discussion about this topic.

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The smooth transition of NFL jersey production responsibilities from Reebok to Nike hit a snag this week with the filing of a lawsuit by Nike against its rival. Nike filed suit in federal court against Reebok over Reebok’s swift production of Tim Tebow-New York Jets jerseys after Tebow’s trade to the Jets. The trade announcement on March 21st left an extremely tight window of time for Reebok to capitalize on the deal before its contract with the NFL expires on April 1, 2012.  

While Reebok’s deal with the NFL is technically still in place until April 1, Nike alleges that the jerseys are not valid licensed merchandise as authentic jerseys require two license agreements – one with the NFL to use its marks and one with the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) or the individual player to use a specific players name.  Nike has had an endorsement deal with Tebow in place since his graduation from the University of Florida in 2010.  In appears that in this case, Reebok does not have a deal with either the NFLPA or Tebow that would allow it to use his name on its jerseys.

With the April 3rd premier of Nike’s NFL jersey collection quickly approaching, Nike asserts that Reebok’s hastily produced Tebow-Jets jerseys will negatively impact the demand for new Tebow-Jets apparel that has been steadily growing since the trade was announced. Nike is seeking injunctive relief to stop the sales of the jerseys along with the compensatory and punitive damages.  While being first to market may earn Reebok a quick profit in this situation, if the Court decides in Nike’s favor, the quick move could end up being a costly one. 

On Friday, March 30, Reebok was ordered to stop producing the jerseys.

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Many people will not be shocked by the title of this post.  However, a new report issued by an advocacy group for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was recently released that was entitled, “The Plaintiffs’ Bar Goes Digital, an Analysis of the Digital Marketing Efforts of Plaintiffs’ Attorneys and Litigation Firms.”  The report found that marketing efforts were being camouflaged as forums or support group sites.   The report estimated that law firms had spent more than $50,000,000 on Google advertising in 2011.  The overwhelming majority of that was spent by Plaintiff’s firms.  However, despite the fact that the amount of spending does not rank with large corporations, it is disproportionate for the size of the industry.  The report is critical of the Plaintiffs’ Bar because of a lack of transparency that many of their sites were actually marketing for law firms.  

As social networking, blogs, and other methods of disseminating information grow, they will become an increasingly prominent part of Plaintiff’s attorneys networking and marketing strategies.  To a lesser extent, we can expect the same on the defense side.  As we expand our internet marketing footprint, we need to be ever vigilant to ensure that our marketing is done truthfully and ethically.  Advertisement by legal professionals should be transparent and truthful.  Various bar associations will most likely weigh in on specific examples in the near future.  We should all make diligent efforts to make sure we are on the right side of whatever precedent is set.  

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Media strategy and the tips and tactics of developing female organizational power were the big topics of the morning at this year's DRI Sharing Success seminar in sunny Scottsdale at the Westin Kierland Resort.  The morning started off with TV and radio personality, Mary Katherine Ham.  She regularly defends her political opinions on her morning radio program, The Morning Majority, and against Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor.  Her presentation focused on finding our voice and crafting our message and defense in the media - be it in the press, on tv, or on the Internet at large through social media.  Enlightening and refreshing and a great start to the morning. 

Linda Bray Chanow from the Center for Women in the Law spoke next and offered a very interactive discussion on the perceptions of female power in business and law. Simply by starting with a classic scenario we've all seen in our professional careers,  attendees peppered Ms. Chanow with questions and comments. Overall an incredibly collaborative and insightful presentation that will surely lead to continued discussions amongst all the attendees during the rest of the seminar.  Definitely excited to see what the rest of day has to offer.  

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Last week, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog wrote about a recent New York ethics opinion approving legal advertising on Groupon and other group coupon sites.  These services allow consumers to pay one price up front for a service that is more valuable. A restaurant, for example, may offer a $50 meal for $25 that is paid immediately. An attorney, like this one, for example, may offer to provide a will for $99.  New York wasn’t the first state to weigh in on the issue--South Carolina has, too--and it probably won’t be the last. 

Both New York and South Carolina have approved groupon lawyer advertising per se despite claims that it constitutes the improper sharing of legal fees with a non-lawyer. However, and probably of more practical use to one considering running a groupon lawyer deal, the opinion of each state shows that it is essentially a path fraught with dangerous ethical pitfalls.  For example, New York identified a laundry list of issues aside from fee-sharing that may be implicated in the typical scenario depending on the facts, including improper payment for referral, excessive fees, advertising violations, improper creation of the lawyer-client relationship, conflicts of interest, and improper scope of representation.

With these potential ethical pitfalls in mind, not to mention the questionable effectiveness and taste of such advertising, it is doubtful that legal service groupons will ever become too common. 

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