“None of us likes to hear our company talked about in this way. But I do not have to tell you that the alleged activity is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for—not now and not then.”
—Jeff Gearhart, general counsel of Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart executives have pledged to conduct an “aggressive investigation” into allegations that employees of its Mexican subsidiary paid officials more than $24 million in bribes, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
“We would not condone that behavior because it is patently illegal. We don’t believe that is taking place. In the unlikely event that it is, that is a state and local issue.”
—Mark Dopp, general counsel of the American Meat Institute
Just as the “pink slime” furor began to die down, the meat industry has been hit with media reports of “meat glue,” enzymes that processors use to bind together smaller pieces of meat. Industry officials deny that restaurants are repacking lesser cuts of meat into higher-priced steaks, adding that—despite their unsavory nickname—transglutaminase and beef fibrin are safe, naturally occurring enzymes.
“Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction.”
—Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft
On April 23, Microsoft Corp. announced that Facebook will pay $550 million for a portion of Microsoft’s recently acquired AOL patents. Facebook, which is preparing for its initial public offering later this month, also is embroiled in a patent infringement lawsuit with Yahoo!.
“The company takes its responsibility to patients and health care providers seriously and has established robust compliance programs to ensure its marketing programs meet the needs of health care providers and legal requirements.”
—Laura Schumacher, general counsel of Abbott Laboratories
Abbott Laboratories will pay state and federal governments $1.6 billion to settle a lawsuit over the misuse of its Depakote drug. The medication is intended to treat epilepsy, migraines and bipolar disorder, but the pharmaceutical giant illegally marketed it as a treatment for schizophrenia, autism and dementia, and as a sedative for elderly nursing home patients.
“We think the judge’s ruling is flat-out wrong. The rules are much needed to update and streamline the election process.”
—Lynn Rhinehart, GC of the AFL-CIO labor federation
A federal judge overturned the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) “quickie election” rule, which shortened the timeframe for union representation elections, just two weeks after its passage. Businesses opposed the rule, arguing that it gave unions an unfair advantage. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg invalidated the rule because the NLRB did not have a quorum during the initial vote, but he did not question the measure’s underlying validity.
“The world doesn’t need another closed proprietary environment and Microsoft has the chance to be so much more.”
—Harvey Anderson, general counsel of Mozilla, in a blog post
Anderson blasted Microsoft Corp. over the browser settings on its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft’s new operating system—designed primarily for use on tablets—includes both a Metro interface for apps and the Windows Classic interface, which reportedly blocks all browsers except Internet Explorer. Mozilla has compared this browser-blocking to Microsoft’s past antitrust actions.
“We believe the numbers for the big banks are too high and had the Fed followed the law there would be significantly greater savings for merchants and their customers.”
—Mallory Duncan, general counsel of the National Retail Federation
The average debit card swipe fee has fallen from 43 cents in 2009 to 24 cents in the fourth quarter of 2011 after the Federal Reserve introduced a cap on the charges last fall. But some merchant groups are still unhappy, noting that the Fed set the cap at nearly twice the level allowed under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
“Any attempt to limit disclosure of death information under current law would undoubtedly spawn additional litigation.”
—David Black, GC of the Social Security Administration
To combat identity theft-related tax fraud, some IRS officials have suggested that the Social Security Administration (SSA) restrict public access to its Death Master File. But Black warned that public agencies ranging from banks to universities and insurance companies may fight legislation that would limit access to the file, which contains the names and personal information of individuals whose deaths have been reported to the SSA.