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Expert Witnesses - Latest Legal Articles

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Proposes Merger Rule for Multiemployer Pension Plans

The MPRA of 2014 may be changed under a proposal by the PBGC to allow for plan mergers and transfers between multiemployer plans. The proposed changes fall under title IV of the ERISA of 1974.

Retiree Health Care Benefits Continue to Decline

According to recent industry reports, employer-based retirement health care insurance benefits continue to decline. It is becoming less common for retirees on Medicare to be able to rely on private employer-based retirement health care benefits for supplemental health coverage.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Changes ERISA 4010 Reporting Requirements

Under a new final rule issued by the PBGC, a greater number of benefit plan sponsors may have to perform Section 4010 reporting, which requires certain underfunded plans to report identifying, financial and actuarial information, because they no longer qualify for reporting waivers.

A Review of Oil and Gas Pipelines Corrosion Risk Assessment

Pipelines are among the most common means used for transporting hazardous gases and liquids in the United States. However, underground pipelines are aging and are at risk of corrosion failure due to coating degradation/disbondment, pitting corrosion and stress corrosion cracking.

Banking and Financial Expert Witness’s Insights on Systemically Important Financial Institution Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned banking and finance expert witness consultant Don Coker calls on his experiences as a consultant and expert witness in high-stakes banking and financial institution litigation for over twenty years for clients including the U.S. Government, the IRS, financial services companies including over 105 banks, and others as he defines and explains some of the factors and important nuances that will be important in financial litigation that results from the recent MetLife SIFI court decision.

The Value Of A Security Consultant

Provided by: Special Service
A security consultant can make an objective evaluation of an organization's security environment, even - and perhaps especially - when the organization already has an established security program. An independent evaluation will assure that the forest is not being overshadowed by the trees.

Legal Translation and Communicating Occupational Hazards to Foreign Language Speakers

Legal document translation, deposition translators, and legal interpreting play an important role in the cases dealing with employees who speak a foreign language and the various situations that arise in a multi-linguistic workplace.

Multiemployer Pension Plans Get IRS Guidance on Suspension of Benefits

The IRS issued a proposed ruling titled, “Additional Limitation on Suspension of Benefits Applicable to Certain Pension Plans under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014,” on February 11, 2016. The MPRA relates to multiemployer defined benefit pension plans.

Why Legal Translations of Multilingual Contracts Are Important for Businesses

Without proper legal document translations and certified translation services businesses that don’t follow foreign language contract translation laws can run into legal woes. It is very important for businesses to use professional interpreting and translation services when dealing with foreign language speaking consumers, especially when contracts are involved.

What Attorneys Need to Know About Legal Translators and Legal Interpreters

Case law, court and public may use the words “translator” and “interpreter” interchangeably. But savvy attorneys who understand that these words refer to the members of two different professions, would be able to work with translators and interpreters more effectively.

Legal Translation Services for Language Accommodation in Workplace

Company Ordered to Pay $20,000 in Medical Bills in Worker’s Compensation Claim for Minor Muscle Strain Treated as a Heart Attack Due to Lack of an Interpreter. And while it is important to accommodate foreign language speakers in the workplace this case contains important lessons for the attorneys regarding the use of professional legal translators and interpreters to shield the employer from liability in similar cases.

Low Energy Door Systems - A Basic Primer for Your Next Door Injury Case

Provided by: Michael Panish
How low energy doors work. Low energy doors vs high energy doors. Intended Usage.

Commercial Overhead Doors - Worker Injury Claims

Provided by: Michael Panish
A worker is performing a duty near the ceiling within the path of travel of an automatic door. Without warning, the door begins to move and the top edge of the door collides with the worker or what he is standing on, causing the worker to fall to the ground. This article addresses many case scenarios and responsibility.

Popular Social Security Loopholes Closed in Recent Budget Act

Known as “unintended loopholes,” Social Security claims strategies, that gained popularity among married couples, are being eliminated under the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

Are E-books Ruining Your Sleep?

With the holiday season behind us, hopefully you are all using those fun and interesting electronic gifts you received. One of those gifts might be a tablet or e-reader, but beware it could have an adverse effect on your sleep cycle. Specifically, backlit e-readers and tablets should not be used before going to sleep, says a new study from the Cambridge, Massachusetts based Harvard Medical School.

Single Employer Pension Fees to Increase Following 2015 Budget Act

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was signed into law on November 1, 2015. The primary intent of the law was to increase federal spending limits and raise the debt ceiling, but the BBA also included two other important pension provisions.

Two Fortune 500 Companies to Freeze Pensions

Two Fortune 500 companies recently announced that they would halt their defined benefit pension programs in favor of moving toward defined contribution plans to reduce corporate liability and cut down on costs.

Strong Debate Surrounds Proposed Fiduciary Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) in April 2015 released a revision to its fiduciary rules intended to close a perceived loophole that allows for potential conflicts of interest between a retirement investment adviser and plan participants.

Multiemployer Pension Plan Benefit Reductions to be Reviewed

In part of the effort of the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 that was enacted last year, The U.S. Department of Treasury recently designated a Special Master to head an effort to review distressed multiemployer pension plans that are facing funding shortfalls.

Central States Multiemployer Pension Plan Seeks Benefit Reductions

The Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) was signed into law December 2014. A key component of this legislation allows multiemployer pension plans that are in “critical and declining status” to apply for a temporary or permanent reduction of benefits to prevent plan insolvency.

Will Fitbit and Crowdsourcing Change Personal Injury Cases?

One of the main items taken into account when considering how to price a settlement for a personal injury case is: what is the economic value of loss of ability to work or lead a normal life? In many cases it’s based on conjecture. In terms of working it can be a simple calculation of dollars per hour of work missed sometimes a little extra, but how can you quantify compensation for someone who seems relatively normal?

Filmmaker Malpractice Insurance

Errors and Omissions Insurance (also known as E&O Insurance) is malpractice insurance for filmmakers. These policies protect against claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, infringement of the right of publicity, idea and story theft, copyright infringement, plagiarism, piracy, and the unauthorized use of names and trademarks. Some policies cover unfair competition and failure to provide screen credit.

Chain of Title

Many filmmakers have a vague understanding of the term “Chain of Title.” Often they don’t focus on this phrase until production has been completed and a distributor expresses interest in their film. They quickly discover that they must secure E&O insurance in order to make delivery to the distributor, and they cannot obtain such insurance without having a clean chain of title. So, what exactly is chain of title?

Goodbye Google Glass, We Never Knew You

It looks like the new and highly publicized Google Glass wearable device is sliding down into the depths of failed technology. It joins these other failed products like the Segway, which failed due to low consumer demand and the Hewlett Packard TouchPad which failed due to incompatibility.

Retiree Medical Benefits Face Changes Due to De-Risking and Cost Control Efforts

A recent mortality study conducted by the non-profit Society of Actuaries indicates that life expectancies for both women and men have increased by roughly two years since 2000. To be precise, the study showed that the average 65-year-old woman in the U.S. is expected to live 88.8 years, up from 86.4 in 2000. Life expectancy for the average U.S. man age 65 is now 86.6 years, up from 84.6 in 2000.

Data Breaches & Education Are Increasing

The Ponemon Institute, headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan, recently released their data breach survey which surveyed over 500 executives in the United States about how they think their company would respond to a breach. Last year when they completed this survey, about 61 percent of companies said they had data breach response plans in place for such an event. This year that percentage has increased to 73 percent.

Social Media Forensics Expert Witness: Anonymous Facebook Usage

Facebook has become a veritable giant in the world of social media. Although they have not been quite as successful with their recent IPO as originally planned, they still raked in over $3 billion in revenue this past year, not bad for a website. Now they are taking their service one step further in an unprecedented move to an anonymous social media.

FINRA Code of Arbitration and Discovery Guidelines

FINRA encourages and emphasizes cooperation from both parties at all times regarding discovery requests.

Trees Damaging Los Angeles Infrastructure, Who Is Responsible for Liability and Repairs?

The City of Los Angeles estimates there are over ten thousand miles of damaged sidewalks within the city limits, 40% of the damage caused by street trees. Many of the tree were planted in city parkways. After generations of neglect, the mounting number of complaints and payouts for litigation has forced the City to address the problem. Who is responsible for repair and maintenance caused by the trees and how will the City proceed?

Helmets and Head Injury Protection

A forensic examination of a collision-involved helmet is an important part of many biomechanical head injury investigations. The most common helmets encountered in forensic investigations are motorcycle, bicycle and sport helmets. The following is a brief primer on some of the relevant issues for head injury and helmet investigations.

Ninth Circuit Invites More Qui Tam Cases

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has opened the door significantly wider for those who wish to pursue qui tam False Claims Act suits by reversing a dismissal of two such matters. Ruling en banc in United States ex rel. Hartpence v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., the Ninth Circuit has removed a prior restriction that any prior public disclosure must have originated from the whistleblower as well.

Cell Phone Triangulation – The Basics

Cell phones have an amazing amount of data on them:pictures, call logs, contacts, text messages, etc. One of the things that most modern cell phones have is GPS (Global Positioning System) data. GPS information allows one (or anyone else for that matter) to find out where you are in the world. But what if you don’t have GPS? Your phone still knows where you are, albeit only roughly.

Worry About IT Personnel First, Then Worry About Hackers

In late 2014, the Municipal Bond Insurance Association experienced a breach in security when a large amount of customer data was found through a Google search. The UCLA Health System had a similar issue which involved patient communication records. The Pentagon Defense Information Systems Agency had a database with contractor data which was exposed.

Banking and Mortgage Industry Standard and Practices Useful in Loan Index Change Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
A look at some of the important nuances of banking and mortgage banking litigation involving the mechanics of loan index changes.

Decoding SWIFT, Fedwire & CHIPS Wire Transfer Messages for Banking Funds Transfer Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Many banking and financial lawsuits hinge on what is stated in Fedwire, SWIFT, and CHIPS wire transfer messages moving funds into and out of bank accounts.

Department of Labor Issues Proposed Fiduciary Rule on Investment Advice

Americans’ retirement savings in both traditional defined benefit pension plans and individual account balance plans, such as 401(k) programs have been protected by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) since 1974.

Industry Standards for Loan Participation Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
As a lender that has sold and bought many loan participations, and as a banking regulator that has had the job of making sense of and straightening out many loan participations that have gone bad, I have experienced just about everything that exists involving loan participations.

Bank Trustee Fiduciary Duties in Securities and Mortgage Litigation Cases

Provided by: Don Coker
An example and discussion of a report for a recent Bank Trustee fiduciary duty case involving complex mortgage and securities issues.

Four Common Computer Security Myths

We’ve all heard them, those little snippets of information that you heard from a friend who got it from a friend of a friend of a friend.Let us separate a little fact from fiction once and for all.

Why Should I be Concerned About Cyber Security?

In an increasingly cyber-world, many experts believe that the United States is not prepared for a sophisticated cyber-attack. Every day we get closer to a potential cyber disaster.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Drone Practice Groups Popping up Across the Country

While Amazon is working to develop “Prime Air”, the FAA and other groups battle over the use of Drones. Prime Air’s goal is to deliver products to Amazon’s customers within 30 minutes of the product being ordered. Meanwhile,the Federal Aviation Administration is not expected to establish final rules for commercial drone use until late 2015.

Apple Has a Kill Command, Soon Google & Microsoft Will

California is putting pressure on cell phone manufacturers to integrate a “Kill” function into their cell phone operating systems (OS). It appears that the pressure from State and Federal law enforcement officials is working on Google and Microsoft.

Using Captive Insurance Companies for Savings

Small companies have been copying a method to control insurance costs and reduce taxes that used to be the domain of large businesses: setting up their own insurance companies to provide coverage when they think that outside insurers are charging too much.

The IRS has Turned your Accountant into their Policeman

Every business owner thinks he pays too much in taxes, and in reality, most actually do. These days your accountant has to "play it safe". This is not reducing your tax bill.

Large Pension Funds Increase Bond Investments

Defined-benefit pension plan sponsors struggled to fund their pension obligations in the wake of stock market declines after the Great Recession of 2008. Recently, a trend toward bond investments is emerging as major U.S. employers seek to reduce volatility and the associated vulnerability to market swings.

IRS Criminal Investigation Department Audits Section 79, Captive Insurance, 412i and 419 Scams

IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) has developed a nationally coordinated program to combat these abusive tax schemes. CI's primary focus is on the identification and investigation of the tax scheme promoters as well as those who play a substantial or integral role in facilitating, aiding, assisting, or furthering the abusive tax scheme, such as accountants or lawyers. Just as important is the investigation of investors who knowingly participate in abusive tax schemes.

Abusive Tax Shelters again on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015 Filing Season

"The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and we are warning everyone to watch out for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true.”

Delaware Adopts Law Allowing Social Media Accounts to be Inherited

Recently, Delaware became the first state to enact a law that ensures families’ rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death.

Ten Ways to Effectively Manage Outside Counsel Spending

Even though the post-recession darkness has been illuminated by the Dow-Jones surpassing 18,000, the pressure on in-house counsel to manage and control the efficiency, predictability and cost effectiveness in the delivery of legal services has not lessened. The good news for in-house counsel is that over the past seven years or so there has been a dramatic shift in the relationship from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market and there is now a fiercely competitive market for legal services.

Three Big Data Breaches Announced

These three significant breaches highlight just how vulnerable U.S. private networks are to black hat hacker threats. The massive data breach of Target in the last quarter of 2013 generated tremendous concern for PII. Despite all the attention and concern generated by the massive data breaches of the last year, many companies still appear unprepared to detect and mitigate network intrusions.

Five Questions You Should Always Ask Any Financial Advisor

The vast majority of the world's liquid investable wealth is in the hands of investment fiduciaries, and the success or failure of investment fiduciaries can have a material impact on the fiscal health of any country.

7 More Travel Scams to be Aware Of

As you travel keep the following scams in mind:

Due Diligence and Merger & Acquisition Litigation

An insider's understanding of the processes and objectives of the initial due diligence communications between the parties can help unravel later disputes in business transactions.

Preparation and Growth are Keys in New Corporate Finance Deals

Companies seeking to close new transactions with commercial banks, private equity firms, hedge funds, or investment banks will do well to consider advance preparation in a few key areas.

Beware of these 7 Travel Scams

As you travel keep the following scams in mind:

Structured Finance and Commercial Banks as Conduits

Over the past ten to fifteen years, the role of commercial banks has shifted dramatically where they have migrated into collateralized 'structured finance' loan portfolio products, including home mortgage loans, for sale into the securities markets. This article addresses this market phenomenon.

Codes and Standards Related to Safe Stairway Design

According to the National Safety Council statistics, falls are the second leading cause of accidents in the U.S., second only to motor vehicle accidents. While many falls occur as the result of a “slippery” floor, many falls also occur on stairways, both within the home and in commercial locations.

How to Beef Up Your Travel Security and Stay Safe This Summer

One of our experts was notified by a friend that her laptop had disappeared at an airport security screening checkpoint. Never to be seen again. Yikes! It is a good reminder we need to be extra vigilant while traveling.

Trends in Technology 2014

2014 was certainly a year to be remembered, from politics to the people who were born and died, it will be a difficult year to forget. From a technology standpoint, it is also nothing to shake a stick at. The ever anticipated 2014 Internet Trends report from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers (KPCB) a venture capital firm located in Menlo Park, California in Silicon Valley, was released in late May of 2014.

Pension Annuitization Continues in De-Risking Trend

Pension de-risking through annuitization continues to be a desirable option for plan sponsors looking to reduce or eliminate their risk for current and future liabilities. Kimberly-Clark Corp., the latest in a string of companies taking this approach, plans to reduce its projected pension benefit obligation by transferring payment responsibility for retirement pension benefits to two U.S. insurers.

What is the Duty and Standard of Care for Landscape and Tree Care Contractors

Landscape and tree contractors may not realize their potential liability for work performed for a client. A particular problem is ignoring field conditions. Perhaps the contractor is unaware of their duty of care to avoid acts or omissions that would be likely to harm others. This article examines the duty of care for landscape, maintenance and tree care contractors and how they can satisfy the industry standard of care for field issues and repairs.

Data Breach Laws Across the United States & its Territories

Shortly after Target’s massive data breach in December of 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement encouraging the United States Congress to pass a federal law which would become the standard for data breach notification. "This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft," Holder said in the statement.

Cheerleading Uniforms and Copyright Separability

The application of copyrights to clothing.

P.F. Changs: "Credit Cards Stolen"

On June 13, 2014, P.F. Changs, based in Phoenix Arizona, released a statement saying they had experienced a breach involving data from their customers credit and debit cards used at their 403 location in the U.S. (including P.F. Changs and Pei Wei). he statement said the time frame in which credit card information was stolen was between March and May of 2014.

U.S. Supreme Court Directs Lower Court to Revisit M&G Polymers Case Terminating Free Retiree Health Benefits

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court appears to have sided with a chemical company in a case where union retirees were fighting to keep their health benefits. By their ruling, the justices reversed an earlier appeals court decision which favored employees and said the benefits had vested for life.

IT Engineer Damages Employer's Computers, Gets 4 Years in Prison

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin, announced recently that a former network engineer at Charleston, South Carolina based EnerVest Operating, LLC (“EnerVest”), was sentenced to four years in federal prison for intentionally causing significant damage to his employer’s computer system. The culprit: Ricky Joe Mitchell, 35, of Charleston, West Virginia.

New Rules For Patent Royalty Arrangements May Be Coming

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Royalty arrangements within patent licenses have long been constrained by an almost 50 year old Supreme Court decision in Brulotte v. Thys Co that prevents collection of royalties after a patent has expired. The Justices have now agreed to revisit the precedent set by that often-criticized ruling in a current case, Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc.

Who is Watching You Online?

The world has watched in recent years as Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have made political uprisings possible where previously very difficult or perhaps impossible. In countries where dissidents had trouble making their voices heard due to the inability to quickly connect with one another, these tools are used to forward their agendas and change history.

Troubling Signs in California Real Estate

California lawmakers must act to shore up commercial properties by boosting Hollywood production.

Chinese Contract Manufacturing

Provided by: Rosemary Coates
Contract Manufacturers for electronics and industrial products provide engineering and manufacturing services to companies that do not want to own and operate their own factories. CMs are experts in manufacturing and can quickly adopt your products into their manufacturing lines. CMs are excellent at assembly and repeatable production and are the kinds of factories you often see in photographs where hundreds of young women are bent over assembly tables.

Multiemployer Pension Plans to Legally Reduce Member Benefits under New Pension Reform

The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 was enacted this past December as part of a larger omnibus budget and spending bill. Widespread changes are part of the new measure, which enables private sector multiemployer plans—concerned about financial solvency—to suspend benefit payments to retirees as well as accrued benefits for participants.

The Heartbreak of the Heartbleed Bug: What You Need to Know

The Heartbleed bug is bad, very bad indeed. By one estimate, it affected nearly 2/3 of Internet sites at its discovery. The problem still exists today with sites that were not fixed. Here's what you need to know.

Transmedia Infusion...Are Indie Film Distributors' Days Numbered?

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Hollywood’s move into the OTT/direct to consumer service, seen by HBO and potentially Showtime and Starz, is both inevitable and a game changer. As more and more consumers cut the cord and view their programing direct from the creator —as seen for the last several years on YouTube— and now on Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, it makes sense for the major content creators like HBO to follow suit.

To What Length Will Broadcasters Go to Exploit Human Drama?

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
He's either recognizable, or he's not, was the relevant question on a recent case where I served as an expert on behalf of a deceased man’s family. They were horrified and distraught after seeing their loved one in his coffin, on a highly successful cable network. Yes, the man was shown in his blue suit, in a coffin over 11 times during a 5-minute segment. Even though his faced was partially blurred, it was not blurred enough, and the family recognized him.

In the Age of No Security & Privacy: Five Steps to More Security and Privacy

Security and privacy is important, and probably more important than what many realize. Recently it has become more obvious that security and privacy have been lacking, so here are a few, sometimes wacky, tips to ensure your continued safety and privacy from a variety of threats that can arise.

Detroit Exits Bankruptcy with ‘Grand Bargain’ that Reduces Pensions of 23,000 City Retirees

As Detroit moves forward in its exit from bankruptcy, thousands of pension holders will see a reduction in their pension benefits.

Attack on GoDaddy Highlights Importance of Employee Security Training

An employee of the website hosting and Internet domain registrar, GoDaddy was tricked into giving a Black hat hacker information that could allow the hacker to take over customer’s domain names. This incident further illustrates that employees can be the weakest link in an organizations security.

Ramp It Up on Safety

Early one Saturday morning, an aircraft mechanic was taxiing an aircraft when an airport vehicle runs into the aircraft. The mechanic was not wearing his seatbelt. He was thrown across the pedestal, his body pushed the thrust levers up to near take off power, and the force pushed the truck over 300 yards down the taxiway ending in an almost fatal accident.

A Tax Avoidance Approach to Disgorgement Generates a Win for the SEC

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has been awarded a substantial win in its civil enforcement action against Samuel Wyly and Donald R. Miller, Jr. as the Independent Executor of the Will and Estate of Charles J. Wyly Jr. (the “Wylys”).

California Law Would Require "Destroy" Function in Cell Phones

A proposed California law would force Cellular Providers to have the ability to remotely destroy stolen cell phones. Once destroyed, the cell phone would be useless.

Sample Employee Termination Checklist

In today's technology world, almost every company uses computers. Here's a sample of an Employee Termination Checklist.

Sample Cell Phone Use While Driving Policy

Here is a sample Cell Phone Use While Driving policy.

Firm Clean Desk Policy

In today's technology world, almost every company uses computers, but there's still plenty of papers to sift through on your desk. Here's a sample of a Clean Desk policy which can be used in your organization.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Announces 2015 Premium Rate Increases on the Heels of Two Multiemployer Plan Bailouts

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has published updated premium rates for 2015 on its website, and per person rates in single-employer and multiemployer plans are scheduled to go up for next year. These rate hikes come amid action recently taken by the PBGC to financially assist two multiemployer plans facing insolvency.

Sample Computer and Email Usage Policy

In today's technology world, almost every company uses computers. Here is a sample Computer and Email Usage Policy.

Collection of Electronic Evidence in Truck Accidents can be Key to Developing Your Case

Black Boxes on trucks including EDR, ECM, ECU, allow help determine what was happening with the vehicle during the time prior to the crash. Some of these devices can store years worth of data, others just store the condition of the Tractor during a recent event such as “Hard Stop” or crash.

Motorola and Bristol-Myers Squibb the Latest to Turn Over Pension Obligations to Prudential

In an effort to reduce the volatility and risk associated with defined benefit pension plans, Motorola Solutions and Bristol-Myers Squibb have announced they will transfer significant pension assets and liabilities to The Prudential Insurance Company of America. Following an industry trend, the firms expect to better manage ongoing accounting cost variations associated with pension plan maintenance while ensuring long-term financial security to their retirees.

Why Deleted Data Might be Okay

The first spoliation case of its kind is almost a decade old…. But there are still lessons to be learned from it. The case is known as the "Arista Records, Inc. v. Sakfield Holding Co" case. While this case may not mean much to some, it is a well-known case in the digital forensics world because it brings up an interesting point: What happens when the data you are looking for is gone?

Appeals Court Says Missing Information Doesn’t Prevent Business Valuation

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A recent Appeals Court decision addressed what level of evidence is required to demonstrate business value in a divorce proceeding. In Hugh v. Hugh, 2014, the wife in a divorce proceeding filed a cross-appeal on a number of issues, including the trial court’s failure to value her husband’s business (“E-Tech”).

Personal Privacy and Google Glass

There’s been a lot of hype in the media of Google’s (based in Mountain View, CA) new toy, Google Glass. A wearable computer that is controlled primarily by voice and eye movement, this rather distracting piece of eyewear has been touted as the new hot item that everyone wants.

You Secured Your Computer and Your Phone, What About Your Car?

With new cars having extra features such as assisted parking and crash avoidance, they require more computers to control them. It is estimated that the average new car can have upwards of 50 microprocessors (computer brains) in it, that control everything from how much you brake to your air conditioning.

Bat Control Contracts

Regrettably, the wildlife control field undergoes minimal regulatory oversight from government. This means that customers must adopt a buyer-beware attitude as government has not provided even minimal standards to regulate the industry. This lack of industry oversight means that customers have to "trust" that the wildlife control operator is actually following industry practices. Unfortunately, too often wildlife control operators are not.

Theft of Intellectual Property is on the Rise

According to a recent survey, about 56% of employees admit to stealing Intellectual Property (IP) from their company when they are fired.

Death and Digital Assets

It is inevitable, one day you will die. Modern science may someday cure this flaw in the human body, but for now we know that at some point, we will cease to be alive. This brings about a flurry of various costs and fees (dying can be expensive) and your possessions will be given to your next of kin. But what happens to your digital possessions?

In Corporate Mergers, Retirement Plan Considerations Should be Front-and-Center

When an employer merges with another company, one of many repercussions in the transaction will be the impact on the design and management of qualified retirement plans.

Ransomware Attempts to Extort Money

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have recently received complaints regarding a ransomware campaign using the name of the DHS to extort money from unsuspecting victims.

Fire Department Mergers, Annexations and Consolidations

Fire department mergers, consolidation and annexations can be described in one word: complicated. But it's not impossible.

Independence and Preparation are the Keys to Success

Selecting the right Expert Witness and litigation consultant can be highly instrumental in the outcome of a case and I have summarized a few key points that should be addressed before any expert is retained. Improve the probability of a positive outcome by adding the right expert to your team.

Social Engineering: How You are the Hacker’s Greatest Tool, and What You Can do to Prevent It

Let’s define the term “Social Engineering”. Simply put, it is the art of manipulating people into doing something, like divulging confidential information or performing actions that would expose information, and making them feel good about doing it, i.e they “solved” a problem or helped someone, etc. This allows the hacker to obtain information in a non-threatening manner.

Researcher Demos Spy Phone

Since the dawn of the modern smart phone it has been apparent that they can be used to spy on someone. Reviewing cell phone GPS information can track the user’s movements. In addition, if you want to know who calls have been place to or received from a review of the phone’s call logs stores this information.

Pension Reporting: The Differences between a 10-K and Form 5500

Institutional investors, retirees, corporate stockholders, and regulators all have a need to closely monitor pension fund performance. There are two leading sources of publicly disclosed information for public company pensions, the Form 10-K and the Form 5500. This article reviews both data sources and compares the information found in each.

Facebook Exposes Personal Data

Facebook recently released a statement detailing how over 6 million of its 1.1 billion users had their personal information unduly exposed. The cause? A minor error in the software of one of its largest archives. This error inadvertently allowed unauthorized users to view confidential contact data (such as email addresses and phone numbers) without any need for a password.

Traveling? Treat Your Laptop like Cash!

In today’s society, traveling with a laptop seems like an everyday occurrence, whether for “mobile office” or just personal use. There are some things you should be aware of when traveling with your laptop. Since it is portable and portable items can be easily lost or stolen. Here are a few tips to help avoid heartache and an employer’s wrath.

Ninth Circuit Overturns Daubert Exclusion, Noting Trial Court Is a Gatekeeper, Not a Fact Finder

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In a recent case involving the City of Pomona (“Pomona”) v. SQM North America Corporation (“SQM”), Pomona alleged that SQM’s importation of sodium nitrate for fertilizer caused a perchlorate contamination in the city.

IRS Issues Final Regulations for Material Advisors, Accountants, Attorneys and Insurance Agents

If you sold, advised on or had anything to do with a listed transaction you will be fined by the IRS. For those that bought listed transactions like, 419 welfare benefit plans or 412i plans, you have been or will also be fined.

How to Keep Anyone From Snooping Around Your Cloud

In recent years government has increased its requests for access to Cloud data. Storage-As-A-Service providers such as Google Drive, Dropbox, iDrive, Microsoft Skydrive, Apple iCloud and others are receiving numerous requests to view what has been stored by various individuals and companies. In addition to the government, there are instances of the storage company’s employees exposing or taking data for their own or others use.

Captive Insurance Plans, Want to Get Audited?

The insurance industry have been conjuring ways to make life insurance premiums tax deductible. Over the years we have seen many schemes that have failed IRS scrutiny. Welfare benefit plans set up under I.R.C. section 419, 412(e) plans and Producer Owned Reinsurance Companies (PORCs) are all common examples.

How to have Safer Passwords: Rules 1-3

As part of our forensics practice, we sometimes have to break or “crack” passwords. Password cracking is much more difficult and can, perhaps, foil hackers when a few simple rules are followed. Here are some tips to help keep our client's data safe:

Law Firm's Trust Account Hacked! Six Figures Taken!!!

A Toronto area law firm is missing six figures from their trust account. After being hit over the holidays by a virus which gave hackers remote backdoor access to the firm’s bookkeeper’s computer. The virus, known as the Trojan Banker Virus, was designed to capture keystrokes, which can include bank passwords, as they are typed.

"Group Captives" Insurance Scam

Just a few years ago, captive insurance companies were a hot news item in the arcane world of abusive tax shelters. Sleazy promoters were signing up small businesses in droves. If you created a cell captive as a property and casualty loss management tool, it’s probably legitimate. If you “bought” an off the shelf captive from a promoter who promised tax savings, there is a good chance you own an abusive tax shelter.

Do You Have a Potential Abusive Tax Avoidance Transaction

People think that accountants and tax lawyers lead boring lives. Perhaps that may be true for some, but there is plenty of action these days with the IRS and their Employment Plans tax group. Recently, the IRS identified an “emerging issue” that it calls a potential Abusive Tax Avoidance Transaction. If you are a small business with an employment benefit plan, those words are never good to hear.

Ten Steps to Android Smartphone Security

Smartphones continue to grow in popularity and are now as powerful and functional as many computers. As mobile cybersecurity continues to grow, it is important to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer. Mobile security tips can help you reduce the risk of exposure to mobile security threats.

Ten Steps to Smartphone Security for iPhone

Smartphones continue to grow in popularity and are now as powerful and functional as many computers. As mobile cybersecurity continues to grow, it is important to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer. Mobile security tips can help you reduce the risk of exposure to mobile security threats.

PBGC Issues Dire Forecast on Growing Deficit of Multi-Employer Plans and Suspects Its Own Solvency is at Risk

The state of the country’s multi-employer pension plans (MEP) is at a crucial tipping point, with the pension benefits of more than 10 percent of MEP participants in peril. That was the grim warning recently issued by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) as a result of findings in its annual FY 2013 Projections Report (formerly known as the “Exposure Report”).

Seven Deadly Sins of Fire Service Leadership

There are many things fire leadership does right but there are times the department simply goes sideways due to some glaring leadership errors either incidental or intentional on the part of the Fire Chief and the remainder of the departments leadership team responsible for the direction, management and leadership of the fire service organization.

Does Your Brokerage Firm Have Cyber Insurance? 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Broker

You have a right to know if your brokerage firm is serious about focusing their time and money on security measures, because the problem is only becoming greater each day. Here is a list of tough questions that you should ask your brokerage firm about their cyber security. If they don't have a good answer, maybe it is time to look for a new broker, because who cares more about your money than you? Nobody!

PBGC Changes Multi-Employer Plan Regulations to Ease Burdens on Plans and Sponsors

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently announced amendments to existing regulations placed on multi-employer plans.

FBAR OVDI Cause Americans Problems Over IRS Reporting Requirements

Aggressive enforcement of tax rules for American expatriates and their families has prompted some middle-income earners to renounce their U.S. citizenship rather than risk sizable taxes and penalties. WSJ's Liam Pleven reports on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero.

The True Cost of Lowering Audit Fees Is Increased Restatement Risk

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In association with general cost cutting measures over recent years, many companies have pressured their vendors to reduce fees. This downward pressure has extended to the accounting firms hired to provide independent audit opinions, resulting in a significant drop in audit fees. According to Audit Analytics, audit fees in 2012 were $472 per $1 million of revenue, the lowest amount since 2004. The question is whether audit quality has been sacrificed in order to achieve these reductions.

State and Local Government Fiscal Sustainability and the “Trend Gap”

State and local governments could face several negative consequences—including tax increases, public service reductions and credit rating downgrades—unless a “trend gap” based on socioeconomic and other fundamental factors is closed, according to a recent paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston titled “Walking a Tightrope: Are U.S. State and Local Governments on a Fiscally Sustainable Path?”

How Hartford Life and Other Insurance Companies Tricked their Agents and Got People in Trouble with the IRS

Agents from Hartford and other insurance companies were shown ways to sell large life insurance policies. This “Welfare Benefit Trust 419 plan or 412i plan should be shown to their profitable small business owners as a cure for paying too much taxes.

Are Workers' Compensation Patients at a Higher Risk for Permanent Nerve Damage?

Unfortunately patients that have experienced work related spinal injuries follow a clinical pathway that is typically longer than the average private practice patient. Numerous scientific publications state the clinical outcomes of patients treated for work related spinal injuries are significantly poorer long term in regards to leg or arm pain, weakness, and or numbness when compared to patients involved in the spinal treatment clinical pathway provided by conventional third party payers.

Ten Steps to Smartphone Security for BlackBerry

Smartphones continue to grow in popularity and are now as powerful and functional as many computers. As mobile cybersecurity continues to grow, it is important to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer. Mobile security tips can help you reduce the risk of exposure to mobile security threats.

Poor Radiological Interpretation - The Most Overlooked Negligence in Medicine

Radiologists have developed a loophole that has shifted their accountability to the treating physician or surgeon. Patients assume their physician or surgeon interprets the MRI, CT scan, X-ray, angiography, and other testing reports. What they do not know is that the radiologist’s opinion is the information presented in the radiology report. This assumption is warranted because the patients rarely meet the radiologist nor does the treating physician or surgeon ever mention their existence.

Growth in Multiple Employer Plans Depends on Regulatory Conflict Resolution

Although multiple employer pension plans (MEPP) have been around for decades, many employers have left them largely untapped. Diverse viewpoints between the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL), both of which have regulatory control over these plans, have created a divide. Many—especially small and midsize businesses—are discouraged because of greater costs compared to larger companies, in addition to feeling a general lack of guidance and confusion in administering MEPPs.

Calculating Future Medical Costs - Maximize Your Client's Personal Injury Spine Claim

Future medical cost calculations are a piece of the pie that is repeatedly left out of settlement offers and awarded settlements. The reality is that no one has a crystal ball or the ability to predict for certain which clients will need minor or major medical and or surgical intervention after their current injuries are managed or “fixed”.

New Path for Accelerated Damages Discovery Requires Immediate Expert Assistance

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The Eastern District of Texas is well known for its intense patent activity and already provides early disclosure of infringement and invalidity contentions to facilitate faster resolution of these cases. The Court has now taken similar action by providing an option for accelerated damage discovery, including requiring a two week turnaround between defendant’s production of potentially infringing sales data and plaintiff’s good faith estimate of damages.

How to Find a GPS Tracker in Your Car… if You Can

There have been some interesting stories about how GPS tracking systems needed to “see the sky”. And there have been plenty of idiots who have simply placed the tracker on the roof of the car. In that case finding the tracker is simple. In more sophisticated and therefore challenging locating exercises, it can take several hours for mechanics to find the device, especially when they are mounted behind the dashboard.

U.S. Charges Eight in Hacking Scheme

Last week, the United States District Court of New Jersey filled charges against eight people, who allegedly hacked into many big name banks and stole upwards of $15,000,000.

Landscape Contracting Practices Resulting in Trip and Fall Litigation: Part 1-Irrigation

Landscape architects and contractors have distinct roles in the development of a successful landscape project. The design by the architect create a template that a landscape contractor adheres to in bidding and constructing the project. Landscape plans include specifications that dictate correct installation of products and materials. If a field construction worker deviates from a particular specification, their action may create a hazard that could result in an accident.

A Case Study: Guild Residual Calculations – Studio vs. Independent Film Finance Models

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
While serving as an Expert for a production/distribution company who was being sued by one of the major guilds to pay outstanding royalties on a slate of pictures, the fundamental difference between the way Studios and Independent production/distribution companies finance and distribute films became very apparent.

Firefighter Disability - It May Not be What You See

What do you think of when you hear the word disability? Most likely the word disability creates an image of any number of conditions that are visible but disabilities are also those not visible

Managing the Risky Business of Company E-mail - Part 2

In part one of this article we discussed how employees generally do not consider e-mail as it relates to the company’s legal standing. As an owner/supervisor, it is left to you to consider and take great care in educating your employees in what should or shouldn’t be put in writing. In addition, it is also up to you to make your employees aware how the written word is conveyed when read.

Managing the Risky Business of Company E-mail Part 1

As an employer, Human Resources Director, or Risk Management Supervisor, ask yourself this question: “Do our employees think about the legal risk of sending communications over the internet?” If you are like the majority of companies, your answer would be, “It is highly improbable”. It is a very common problem amid the work place, for an employee to believe their electronic communications are transient, temporary and, once deleted, untraceable and therefore, harmless.

The Future Solvency of Multiemployer Benefit Plans

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) used its partitioning authority recently for only the third time in its history to protect 350 former Hostess Brands employees from their distressed multiemployer pension plan—the Bakery and Sales Drivers Local 33. As a result of Hostess suspending its contributions to the pension, the funding level had plunged to 50 percent. The agency’s action was designed to preserve future pension payments to the pension’s members.

Who Supervises the Property Management Company on a Triple Net Lease?

Real Estate Litigation lawyers should be aware of their client’s Property Management Company and what their responsibilities are in a Triple Net Lease and hold them accountable.

Individual Account Balance Plans – The Class Action Environment

“Individual Account Balance Plans” are retirement plans where every participant has their own account consisting of their contributions, if any, and any contributions made by the employer. The participant’s account at retirement or separation consists of these contributions, plus/minus the investment performance and minus any expenses paid by the plan.

The Psychiatrist in the Security Clearance Process

Provided by: Brian Crowley, M.D.
Psychiatrists are asked to participate in the security clearance process in either of two ways.

Why You Should Stay Away from Section 79 Life Insurance Plans

I’ve had several calls lately from doctors who are being pitched Section 79 plans and are wondering if these plans are any good. The doctors are being told that Section 79 plans are the best wealth-building tool they can use to reduce their income taxes and create a tax-free retirement income.

Captive Insurance Arrangements Are on the IRS Radar

Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of captive insurance arrangements is increasing, and much of it is aimed at small captives utilizing the 831(b) tax election, say many in the captive industry.

Section 79 Scams and Captive Insurance History

When trying to understand how a product becomes a target of government scrutiny it helps to know its history. In the case of plans that fall under Internal Revenue Code Section 79, that history is complex.

Captive Insurance, Buyer Beware

Closely-Held Insurance Company structures, known as "CHICs", are sometimes used to purchase life insurance outside the estate of the business owner with what amounts to pre-tax dollars. This should not be the primary focus of the captive, but is something that can be done with a portion of the captive's accumulated assets.

Captive Insurance and Other Abusive Tax Shelters

Captive insurance arrangements that are funded with cash-value life insurance are the hot tax shelter for 2014. But serious questions exist whether they work as the promoter’s promise they will do.

Large IRS Fines for Participants in 419, 412i, Captive Insurance, Section 79 Plans

In a recent U.S. Tax Court case, some taxpayers suffered a double loss. The taxpayers, consisting of four couples, had purchased welfare benefit plans marketed by Benistar 419 Plan Services. Under the plan, Benistar provided pre-retirement life insurance to select employees of companies enrolled in the plan.

Unpublished Authors and The Battle Against Copyright Infringement

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Copyright infringement is a hot topic in the entertainment industry and I have worked on my fair share of cases on this issue. Having testified for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, successful and not so successful writers, the published and the unpublished, the questions remain the same - don’t all authors deserve copyright protection?

Landscape Contractor Standard of Care During The Construction Process

In landscape construction, there is a significant diversity in project aesthetics, quality and success. Unfortunately, a C-27 California landscape contractor license is no guarantee of contractor competency. As a landscape consultant and landscape expert witness for defendant and plaintiff attorneys, Mr. Rappoport has consulted on numerous landscape construction defect cases, and while the types of cases vary, there is a pattern of contractor deficiencies common in each case.

Addressing The Seventh Circuit’s Concerns Regarding Consumer Surveys in Litigation

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In the course of affirming the district court’s decision in Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., 2013 WL 6017396, Judge Posner went a step further. While upholding the injunction, he ended his assessment with some comments “for future reference” when it comes to consumer surveys offered to demonstrate consumer confusion in support of a trademark infringement claim

Life Insurance Industry Use of Captive Insurance/Reinsurance

In June 2013, the New York Department of Financial Services through its Superintendent, Benjamin M. Lawsky published the results of an examination they had conducted over the previous year, by the name “Shining a Light on Shadow Insurance: A Little-Known Loophole That Puts Insurance Policyholders and Taxpayers at Greater Risk”. The Lawsky Report does bring to light some potentially alarming results.

Merging Carbon Monoxide Life Safety with Energy Conservation Methods

Residential indoor air quality, historically, has not been a major concern because the envelope and window leakage provided inhabitants with sufficient outdoor air. Older residential buildings are sufficiently leaky such that infiltration alone can meet the minimum outdoor air requirements for residential ventilation.

Supreme Court to Hear ERISA Case on Moench Presumption of Prudence

Fifth Third Bank and its officers breached their fiduciary duties of prudence by offering the bank’s stock as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) investment option, allege plaintiffs in a lawsuit that has been working its way through the courts. Fifth Third acted imprudently by doing so, according to the plaintiffs.

Detroit Retirees Ponder Future Pension Cuts in Wake of Judge’s Bankruptcy Ruling

Now that the City of Detroit has been given the green light to proceed with restructuring under the protections of Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that govern municipalities, potential large-scale cutbacks, including the pensions of city retirees and steep losses for unsecured creditors, are likely the order of the day.

Get The Courts Daubert Rationale On The Record

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A recent ruling encourages any litigator sponsoring expert testimony to ensure that the Court memorializes its critique of the Court’s gatekeeping function of expert testimony. The ruling also reversed two inherently speculative damage claims claims that are not that uncommon.

This Can Happen to You

Several years ago at the advice of an accountant or investment advisor a client adopts a defined benefit plan for her business. She did so because she had been advised that under this type of plan she could contribute tax deductible contributions far greater than the limits permitted under a defined contribution plan. Each year she funds the maximum that the IRS permitted based on a report from her actuary. The plan investment returns have been very good.

Despite Trend Toward Pension Freezes, Fund Administrators Report Growing Confidence in Sustainability of Plans

Freezing traditional pension plans has been a popular strategy to reduce the unfunded liabilities and long-term debt associated with underfunded retirement benefit plans.

Landscape Contractor Standard of Care: The Pros and Cons of Using a Landscape Design-Build Contractor

Landscape architects are utilized to design, prepare plans, make submittals and obtain permits for commercial, sub-division and public works projects. Their plans and specifications are part of the contract documents provided from their client to landscape contractors for bidding purposes. The landscape contractor performs a plan "takeoff", documenting all of the quantities, specifications, notes, and details and then creates their pricing and proposal based on that information.

The Dilemma of Being a Woman Firefighter

Being a firefighter is dangerous and challenging. Being a woman firefighter is more challenging within the fire house environment that includes harassment, discrimination, assault and at times termination or constructive discharge.

Landscape Contractors, Does Your Work Satisfy the Industry Standard of Care?

Do landscape contractors understand how the legal term “standard of care” applies to their profession? The legal implications of Not performing to the industry standard of care may have serious consequences

State Pension Reform Stymied by Court Opposition

Public pension reform continues to be a daunting task for advocates taking up the cause. That’s because, unlike in the private sector, the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) does not apply to the pensions of government employees. Instead, state authorities, local laws, and the courts determine how public sector retirement programs are managed.

Fatca, Fbar, Offshore Amnesty Large Fines Coming

Overseas banks are warning current and former U.S. clients that their names and information soon will be disclosed and that such disclosure will disallow the taxpayer’s entry into the IRSs amnesty program for undeclared offshore accounts.

Expert Thrown Out after Claiming Major Report “Typos” on Cross

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A recently affirmed decision to grant judgment for the defendant as a matter of law highlights the importance of expert testimony that is consistent with previously-disclosed opinions presented in a Rule 26 report. In Rembrandt Vision Technologies, Inc. v. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., the expert’s testimony was struck because of critical discrepancies, leaving the plaintiff with no basis for claimed patent infringement.

Private Exchanges Emerge as Alternative to Corporate Employee Benefit Plans

Employers are reconsidering their role as primary provider of healthcare benefits to employees and their dependents as costs continue to climb and compliance related expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) add to the burden.

IRS Code Section 79 Plans and Captive Insurance History

Insurance companies, agents, financial planners, and others have pushed abusive 419 and 412i plans for years. They claimed business owners could obtain large tax deductions. Insurance companies, agents and others earned very large life insurance commissions in the process.

If You Are Thinking that Your Foreign Bank Is not Located in Switzerland...

and is a tiny hole in the wall in the middle of nowhere so I am safe, think again. Taxpayer Options: Taxpayers that have willfully chosen to pass on entering the 2009 or 2011 voluntary disclosure programs both have the following options.

Have You Committed Income Tax Evasion Involving a Foreign Account

One of the most basic premises, but often the least understood by taxpayers, is that U.S. Citizens and Residents are taxed on their worldwide income.

Detroit Bankruptcy Focuses Attention on Pension Costs

Financially stressed cities across the country are watching carefully as Detroit comes to grips with its unsustainable pension and benefit costs.

Composing the Expert’s Report: Factors for Compliance with Federal Rule 26(a)(2)(B)

The recently amended Rule 26 is the result of a proposal made by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. Approved by Congress, it became effective on December 1, 2010.

SCOTUS Rulings On Same-Sex Marriages Create Tax Refund Opportunities

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The decision in United States vs. Windsor (No. 12-301, June 26, 2013) by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) creates important tax issues and opportunities. These include potential refunds for same-sex married couples and their employers for years not closed by the statute of limitations.

The Appraiser/Consultant Umbrella

Appraiser Tania Evans on the roles of an appraiser/consultant/researcher in the equine industry (2010).

Experts Offer Differing Opinions on the Future of Pensions

Josh Gotbaum, Director (CEO) of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and Dallas Salisbury, President & CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, provided their perspectives on the future of pensions at the Wall Street Journal CFO Network Annual Meeting in June. They were asked to address whether there is a pension crisis in the United States and how organizations can handle increasing pension obligations.

There Is No Place to Hide from IRS Scrutiny

Some people considering an IRS voluntary disclosure of their foreign income and assets don’t do so because they fear prosecution.

Watch out because the IRS is watching 419 Plans

A business owner wants legitimate tax planning ideas. One solution sometimes offered today is a 419(e) plan (419 Welfare Benefit Plan). The local insurance agent or the company’s CPA who may have an insurance sales license, may suggest that the 419 Welfare Benefit Plan will provide shelter from taxes today, the costs of the plan are tax deductible and the plan will provide tax free benefits for the owner when he or she is ready to retire. The concept seems too good to be true.

Should You Close Your Foreign Bank Account

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a fair world? Wouldn’t it be nice if the IRS gave the little guy a break? Unfortunately, that’s just not the way it is. The news is littered with casualties of the IRS’ aggressive stance on taxpayers who don’t come clean.

Preventing and Predicting Software License Disputes

Software licenses are critical enablers of entrepreneurship and product excellence. Yet they are also common sources of litigation between erstwhile partners. Licensing disputes arise when inartful drafting combines with the peculiarities of software and its distribution to complicate the computation of royalties. Good licensing practices are thus a critical aspect of business strategy. Understanding some common pitfalls of licensing can confer both offensive and defensive strategic benefits.

Could We Have This Debate Before It Is Too Late?

Is the use of fully insured group health insurance products as stop-loss coverage for group health plans going to remain a viable solution?

A Banker’s Perspective: Banks, Hedge Funds and New Distribution Platforms

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Adrian Ward is a smart, producer friendly banker who has been in the trenches of independent film financing for close to 20 years. Having started with the Lew Horwitz Organization, a stalwart in the indie film world of the 90’s, Adrian is now at Pacific Mercantile Bank. I sat down with Adrian to get a banker’s perspective on the industry landscape and where producers should be putting their energies.

New Municipal Pension Accounting Rules Draw Attention to Unfunded Liabilities

New accounting and financial reporting standards for U.S. state and local government pension and benefit funds start to take effect this month. Confusion is likely to ensue as taxpayers, plan participants, and even plan sponsors take a hard look at new numbers that more clearly identify funded or unfunded municipal pension liabilities.

Insurance Companies Are in Big Trouble and Most Do Not Know It

Many life insurance companies are using captive insurance to alter their books and look better. This could lead to another taxpayer bailout and insurance companies being taken over. This would put benefits in policies at risk for some policyholders.

The Cost of Employee Turnover

Business owners are acutely aware of the costs of employee turnover.

Neither Expert Nor Inventor Allowed to Opine On Reasonable Royalty Damages

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A Delaware federal court recently closed the door on each of two possible paths to damages for Plaintiff in the matter of AVM Technologies, LLC v. Intel, Inc. (Civil Action No. 10-610-RGA).

Liability Driven Investing Gains Favor with Corporate Pension Plan Sponsors

Kraft Foods Group actively seeks to reduce pension plan funding volatility with a liability-driven investment (“LDI”) structure, according to a company release for the fourth quarter of 2012. Many other Fortune 500 pension plan sponsors, as well as some municipal plans, are following a similar risk management strategy.

If the IRS Contacts You...

Keep your mouth shut-take this advice seriously.

Corporate Owned (or Foundation/Trust) Accounts vs. Personal

If your primary reason for going offshore is for more secure, more private, safer and more varied banking and investment options then you may want to think again.

If You Have or Had Money Overseas You Better File for Amnesty ASAP

According to various reports the IRS is investigating the Israeli banks Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank for conspiring with individuals to enter into a loan scheme intended to evade taxes on funds brought to the U.S. from undisclosed foreign bank accounts.

401(K) Plan Participants Yawn over New Fee Disclosures

Long awaited 401(k) management fee disclosure mandates imposed last year by the U.S. Department of Labor to help workers understand the costs of retirement plan investment options appear to have had little impact so far.

There Is a Tree Service Standard of Care!

Certified arborist, registered consulting arborist, tree expert, tree service and landscape contractor, so many different consultants and contractors to choose from for tree care consultation and remedial work. How can you ensure your tree assets receive the state of are care they deserve? Certified arborists and tree care professionals adhere to the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) A300 tree and woody ornamental pruning standards.

Denied Life Insurance Claim Overturned

Provided by: Steve C. Burgess
Contestable life insurance claims are common and there are ways to navigate through an insurer's investigation process and get the claim paid. Here we discuss how we forced an insurer to pay a denied claim and improve their application in the process.

Guidance for Collecting Life Insurance Death Claims

Provided by: Steve C. Burgess
This article provides real life guidance on how to prepare for submitting a life insurance death claim and examples of what can cause a claim to be denied. Use these tips to ensure you will receive your life insurance death claim with as little hassel as possible.

How to Get Life Insurance Claims Paid

Provided by: Steve C. Burgess
Getting a life insurance claim paid can be a complex and lengthy process, but an understanding how the process works can assist in getting a delayed or denied claim paid.

Welfare Benefit Plans Funded with Permanent Life Insurance Are Abusive Tax Scams

Similarly, the IRS position on single employer welfare benefit plans invested in permanent life insurance where the employer deducts more than the term cost of insurance is that those plans are also abusive tax scams.

Section 79

For businesses with 10 or fewer employees, the law prohibits full medical underwriting of the policies that are issued ("group" underwriting is required, which is much more risky for an insurance company).

Conundrum of Public Safety

Public Safety is in crisis with fire stations closed, firefighters and police officers laid off and the demand for emergency services at an all time high. What does this mean to our citizens?

Patent Infringement Damages Under Fire

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner is one of the foremost legal scholars in the United States, particularly on economic matters. He has written numerous influential opinions and almost forty books on law and economics, teaches at the University of Chicago Law School, and is widely respected in the legal community. And two of his recent damage rulings will have a signification impact on the patent litigation process, or more specifically reduce it.

Corporate Pension Funding Gap Widens as Interest Rates Remain Low

The Federal Reserve Board’s effort to keep interest rates low is forcing Fortune 500 companies to dip into cash reserves for pension funding.

The Irrevocable Trust Cash Release Program

Through a special program, created by Money Watch Consultants Inc., called The Irrevocable Trust Cash Release Program, funds from the insured’s irrevocable trust can be released and made available to pay for long term care, in a facility or at home. And this care can even be provided by a family member.

CPAs Dabbling is Russian Roulette with 5 Bullets - Part 4

In Part 3: we addressed that having an advanced accounting degree is not the same suite of skills as full time practice in a niche, such as business valuation.

CPAs Dabbling is Russian Roulette with 5 Bullets - Part 3

In Part 2: we provided an illustration of what a prudent CPA firm did that outsourced work when it conflicted with their other practice services and the consequences of a CPA who had “followed the steps” in applying a discount, but was nevertheless penalized for dabbling because failed to support the proper level. We demonstrated what was not done and what should have occurred allowing the taxpayer to prevail.

CPAs Dabbling is Russian Roulette with 5 Bullets - Part 2

In Part 1, we addressed the woeful inadequacy of education and experience of the accounting professional who chooses to dabble in a niche sector to make a few thousand dollars and why the AICPA, IRS and the Courts have brought the hammer down and the knowing or unwitting practitioner learns s/he is facing penalties, sanctions, fines, lawsuits and no E&O coverage. Game over.

CPAs Dabbling Is Russian Roulette with 5 Bullets - Part 1

The AICPA has some straightforward opinions on CPAs who “dabble” in niche practice areas. In short, it brings ethical issues and subsequent penalties to bear. So, why do more than a few CPAs dabble in financial services, revenue sharing of insurance product, advise on equity transactions without FINRA/SEC approved licensing and, my favorite, business valuation? For the money. Why is it an ethical issue for the AICPA? Competency.

Confined Space Awareness

Michelle Copeland, Occupational Safety Resource Inc., March 12, 2013

Are You Really Prepared for the Valuation Litigation Meat Grinder?

Received your ABV certification. Check. Or your CVA certification. Check. Pulling down an extra $20,000 to $50,000 for the firm. Check. Performing 2 to 4 formal reports annually. Check. And you now have five years under your belt with 20 or so reports completed and while you haven’t memorized AICPA’s SSVS-1, you know it addresses valuation standards applicable to CPAs. Check. Check.

PBGC Deficit on Multiemployer Plans Reaches $5.2 Billion

Underfunding of multiemployer pension plans is now at unprecedented levels, according to recent reports submitted to Congress by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”). As of fiscal year (FY) 2012, the PBGC multiemployer program held assets of $1.8 billion against liabilities of $7.0 billion for a net financial deficit of $5.2 billion.

IRS Attacks Business Owners, Accountants, Lawsuits over 412(i)/419 and Similar Insurance Based Plans

A 412(i) plan is a “defined benefit plan” – a retirement plan, a pension plan that claims to offer very large tax deductions. It is funded with annuity and life insurance products.

Underfunded U.S. Teacher Pension Liability Estimated at $393 Billion

Teacher pension systems are unsustainable, according to a new report issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality (“NCTQ”) titled, “No One Benefits: How Teacher Pension Systems are Failing Both Teachers and Taxpayers.”

Event Data Recorders: Proper Evidence Collection in Criminal, Insurance and Tort Liability Investigations

The use of Event Data Recorders (EDRs), also referred to as vehicle black boxes, in traffic accident reconstruction and vehicular fraud investigations has become increasingly common over the last few years. However, many law enforcement officers, insurance professionals and experts witnesses have failed to adopt a standardized set of practices toward preserving this crucial evidence. This article address the potential pitfalls of following sub-standard evidentiary practices.

Firefighters Failing a Medical/Physical Examination

Firefighters die from preventable diseases. Fire Departments must implement a comprehensive testing process to ensure your employees stay healthy and a program designed to return the firefighter back to work if there is the discovery of a possible disabling medical condition.

Firefighters Carrying Guns on the Job

Firefighters and EMS personnel are dying on the job, shot by their patients or others specifically targeting public safety officers. Will arming the firefighters or EMT's provide a greater level of protection for them, their fellow firefighters or the patients?

The Northern District Court of California Provides Useful ESI Guidelines

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Electronic data comprises a large portion of discovery and provides efficiencies in searching and manipulating the data for further analysis. Establishing a protocol for retention of electronic information and e-discovery of electronically stored information (ESI) is a critical step toward ensuring that relevant data is preserved and ultimately produced.

Supreme Court Brings California Closer to the Federal Expert Witness Admissibility Standard

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In a unanimous opinion, the California Supreme Court clarified that trial courts may use either California Evidence Code Sections 801(b) or 802 to admit or exclude the expert’s testimony. Potentially, the Opinion widens California judicial authority to exclude expert testimony by placing California closer to the federal Daubert standard and the majority of other states that follow such standard.

What to do if you have a 419 Plan

The IRS to attacks the legitimacy of deductions taken for contributions to Section 419 plans in all circumstances. In addition, the IRS has classified most Section 419 arrangements as “listed transactions.” Any employer who currently sponsors a plan is well advised to take immediate action to terminate the plan and seek the assistance of an Expert Witness before the IRS contacts you.

Are You Being Aggressive, Enough (Legally)?

The question in the 80′s used to be, “How far can I push it before I get audited?” However, with increased IRS enforcement, it’s now important to ask, “Will I pass an IRS audit?”

Healthcare Associated Infections- Surgical Site Infections

Hospitals are not the safe places we would like them to be. That’s the finding issued by members of the Surgical Patient Safety System Collaborative Group in a 2010 medical journal report. They discovered that nearly 1 out of every 10 people admitted to the hospital experienced an “in-hospital adverse event” (harm resulting from medical care), which resulted in a longer hospital stay or a disability and 7 percent of the patients died

IRS Announced the Reopening of its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

On January 9, 2012, the IRS announced the reopening of its offshore voluntary disclosure program (now in its third iteration) to assist people who have been hiding offshore accounts in becoming compliant with their tax liabilities.

5 Internet Marketing Strategies Attorneys Should Ignore in 2013

Provided by: Majux Marketing
As more and more law firms begin to pay attention to their internet marketing efforts, any practice areas that have good online lead appeal will soon prove increasingly competitive as law firms, lead generation sites, and even spammers are all now throwing their hats into the Google search result ring.

Playground Injury Litigation Tips

Provided by: Safety Play, Inc.
There are many elements to a playground case that go unnoticed and some techniques and sources that go unused. In this highly specialized field, it is critical to work with someone who is aware of the applicable rules, as well as knowing what does not apply. Some of these rules have been adopted into law in many states.

Large Deductible Workers Compensation Policies Not a Panacea for Employers

Many larger employers now purchase Large Deductible Workers Compensation insurance policies. They should do with eyes wide open about the benefits and potential pitfalls of such policies.

Controlling Quality Construction - Part 3

Provided by: MPGroup
The following, is a recommended check list that should be followed by the Project Superintendent and Special Inspector for STRUCTURAL STEEL AND WELDING INSPECTIONS:

Controlling Quality Construction - Part 2

Provided by: MPGroup
The following, is a recommended check list that should be followed by the Project Superintendent for MASONRY INSPECTIONS:

Controlling Quality Construction - Part 1

Provided by: MPGroup
This article is intended to give the reader a thumbnail sketch of how Quality Control relates to the project Superintendent on the job site.

Legal-Ease for Mediators Symposium - Construction Syllabus

Provided by: MPGroup
Sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Service DRS Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) CONSTRUCTION SYLLABUS March 7, 2009

What Are Construction Defects? - An ICBO Symposium

Provided by: MPGroup
A Syllabus for the Orange Empire Training Academy 1997 Training Matrix, Sponsored by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) Orange Empire Chapter Symposium on September 3, 1997.

What Are Construction Defects?

Provided by: MPGroup
Since the "Building Boom" of the 1980's and the advent of the ten year cycle ( California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 337.15 ) for "LATENT DEFECTS" ( A latent defect is one that a property owner does not know about and would not be expected to discover through the exercise of reasonable care. ) construction defects claims and subsequent litigation has exploded into horrific proportions.

Construction Defects: Defending Against The Claims

Provided by: MPGroup
The following article has been written, in part, by a Lawyer, Mr. Thomas M. Condas, with Attorneys and Insurance Professionals in mind and, therefore, contains case law citations. The information contained herein, is intended to be highly useful for all persons interested in its subject matter.

IRS to Audit Sea Nine VEBA Participating Employers

The IRS may be auditing many more participating employers in the coming months.

Protecting Clients from Fraud Incompetence and Scams

Over the past decade business owners have been overwhelmed by a plethora of choices designed to reduce the cost of providing employee benefits while increasing their own retirement savings. The solutions range from traditional pension and profit sharing plans to more advanced strategies.

How MAP-21 Relates to PBGC Reporting Requirements

Pension funding stabilization for single-employer defined benefit pension plans is the goal of special rules issued by the IRS in Notice 2012-61 dated September 11, 2012. The IRS guidelines relate to amendments to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) made by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. No.112-141. MAP-21 was enacted July 6, 2012, and contains a number of pension provisions in Division D (Finance).

How 'Rules of Thumb' and Formulaic Software Models are Dangerous for Damage Calculations

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Plaintiffs often desire short cuts to damage measurements. Given the cost of using experts employing proper methods and data, the temptation is obvious.

Potential Abusive Tax Avoidance Transactions

412(i) plans and employers under audit for "potential abusive tax avoidance transactions" have asserted claims against insurance companies and their agents to recover money paid for insurance policies and for IRS assessed interest and penalties. Most are or will be audited by IRS for not properly filing under IRS code 6707a and will also lose the lawsuits for failing to mitigate the damages etc.

Abusive Insurance and Retirement Plans

Single-employer section 419 welfare benefit plans are the latest incarnation in insurance deductions the IRS deems abusive.

Litigation Involving Private Money, Hard Money, Commercial Lenders, and Alternative Lenders

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains some of the important issues that arise in litigation involving private lenders and credit companies.

Abusive Tax Shelters

As an expert witness on 419 412i and abusive tax shelters my side has never lost a case. Many insurance agents that sold, and were sued, for selling those plans are now selling captive insurance and section 79 plans. The IRS is now looking at these plans. I have also received calls from people who are being audited by the IRS.

419 and 412 Plan Fraud

You think you know what you are getting when you buy an insurance plan, but what do you do when you find out that your plan does not work they way you thought?

Standards for Establishing Business Interruption Economic Damages Claims for Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains some of the important nuances of establishing business interruption economic damages for an insurance claim or for litigation.

Class Action Challenges Propriety of 412(e)(3) Annuities

On August 1, 2012, a putative class action lawsuit was filed in the District of Connecticut challenging the propriety of certain insurance contracts used to fund defined benefit plans described in section 412(e)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. U.S. Telemanagement, Inc. v. Fidelity Security Life Insurance Co. et al., No. 3:12-cv-1110 JBA (D. Conn.).

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (10 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Business Interruption, Income, Extra Expense and other time element coverages are unique to business entities and are seldom purchased correctly.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (9 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Coinsurance is one of the most common insurance purchase misunderstandings. The coinsurance clause/penalty is a stated understanding and agreement within most property policies that requires the property owner to purchase insurance for a certain percentage of the full value of the property.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (8 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Property values matter and vary based on the purpose of the valuation. Although this issue seems easy, there is more contention at the time of a property claim on this issue than practically any other issue.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (7 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Understand Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage before it is needed.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (6 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Accuracy is necessary and important!

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (5 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Agent's have a duty to their client.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (4 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

Experience Matters!

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (3 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

An insurance contract must be understood by the buyer.

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (2 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

The first trigger to an insurance contract - Premium Payment

Property & Casualty Insurance Procurement & Litigation (1 of 10 Reoccurring Themes Every Lawyer Should Know)

There are ten recurring themes that often lead to litigation. Attorneys either dealing in insurance procurement litigation issues or with clients who purchase insurance may want to consider these ten themes. Just like poor legal advice, poor understanding of insurance procurement issues can be very expensive for your client. Theme 1 - Roles and responsibilities in the insurance buying process are important and different.

Expert Advice on Loan Quality and Management Considerations in FDIC Directors and Officers Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness for plaintiffs and defendants in 525 cases - including 8 regulatory Directors and Officers Liability cases - former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 90 banks, Don Coker, explains some of the important nuances of loan quality and institutional management issues important in litigation involving nationwide banking and savings institution industry standard policies, practices and procedures.

Preparing for Swiftwater Rescue Incidents

This article discusses the need for Fire, Rescue, EMS, and Law Enforcement agencies to PLAN for, TRAIN for, and acquire the RESOURCES required to safely and effectively MANAGE incidents in, on and around the water. In February 2004, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue (SAR) Incidents.

Prevention and Management of Torso Reflex

Torso Reflex, also known as Gasp Reflex , Inhalation Response, or Cold Water Shock, is caused by sudden immersion into water colder than 70 degrees F. Sudden immersion into cold water triggers an involuntary reflexive torso gasp that can cause the person to aspirate water into his/her airway and lungs, which can lead to laryngospasm, disorientation, panic, and the loss of any physical ability to swim or remain afloat.

In the Rhythm of Saving Lives

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart stops suddenly and is caused by life threatening arrhythmias in the heart’s electrical system. The only effective treatment for ventricular fibrillation is defibrillation—the delivery of a shock to the heart that stops VF and allows a normal heart rhythm to resume.

Escape and Rescue from Submerged Vehicles

Each year, there are approximately 1,500 incidents and 600 deaths involving vehicles that have gone off the road and plummeted into water. The public needs to plan for these types of emergencies, and the government needs to implement appropriate safety protocols and equipment to assist occupants in escaping from submerged vehicle incidents.

Issues With Potential Criminal Charges: Voluntary Disclosure - FBAR-OVDI

From the IRS website: New Filing Compliance Procedures for Non-Resident U.S. Taxpayers - The IRS is aware that some U.S. taxpayers living abroad have failed to timely file U.S. federal income tax returns or Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs), Form TD F 90-22.1.

FBAR OVDI Offshore Tax Issues

In 2012 the IRS announced another offshore voluntary disclosure program (the 2012 OVDI). These programs offer reduced penalties in exchange for taxpayers’ voluntarily coming into compliance before the IRS is aware of their prior tax indiscretions.

OVDI FBAR Use It or Lose It

The IRS has announced a reopening of its 2011 offshore voluntary disclosure initiative (“OVDI”). This program will have essentially the same terms as the 2011 OVDI, but with a penalty rate of 27.5 percent (rather than 25 percent) of the highest account balance during the period covered by the initiative.

The Bank Secrecy Act Requires a Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

U.S. persons to avoid taxes by hiding money offshore. The FBAR covers a calendar year and must be filed no later than June 30th of the following year and includes any interest a U.S. person has. The Bank Secrecy Act requires that a Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), be filed if the aggregate balances of such foreign accounts exceed $10,000 at any time during the year.

Fbar Ovdi Want to Go to Jail? Offshore Tax

The Federal government is aggressively pursuing taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts and unreported foreign income using information furnished by the foreign banks and other sources. If you have not yet applied for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, Recent convictions involving UBS Clients:

Abusive 412(i) Tax Shelter Litigation

Parties: Typically, these transactions will include an Insurance company, accountant, tax attorney, and a promoter (someone with an insurance background, perhaps an actuary, who knows how to structure the policy itself). These groups will use insurance brokerages and sub-agents (licensed in the various states) to sell the policies themselves.

How to Make Indie Filmmaking Profitable in the Age of Tentpole Franchises

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
To some, indie filmmaking is an art form, to others a dream of of seeing their story come to life on the big screen, however, it is meant to be a profitable business. Investors put money into a film, and expect to get their money back and receive a decent return on their investment. Cindy Nelson-Mullen, Co-CEO of MonteCristo International, an international sales agent/production company, and discusses with her the elements it takes to make a profitable film.

The Sales Agent Perspective on Indie Film Financing

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
In the first installment of our interview with Michele Taverna of MonteCristo Entertainment, "The New Core of the Film Industry," we discussed your position as sales agent being the “natural first stop” on the road to producing films. Let’s take a look at how you go about making the all important decisions on which films to produce and how to get them financed.

The New Core of the Film Industry - The Sales Agent

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
The film financing and distribution arena is constantly changing, and with that so does the epicenter of action. It is a well-known fact that talent drives movie making. Since the advent of CAA in the late 80’s the gatekeeper to those stars has been the agent, and still is. However a new power-broker in film financing has surfaced in the last couple of years…and that player is the International Sales Agent.

Getting Real with Indie Film Finance and Distribution...Part 2

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
In Part I, we talked with Financier/Producer Michael Mendelsohn about Hedge funds and what they are looking for in terms of financing films. They prefer slates, which create a portfolio effect with which they can amortize the risk across a variety of film, genres and budgets. If that’s the game Hedges funds are playing, what are equity/wealthy individuals looking for?

Getting Real with Indie Film Finance - Part 1

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Seeking to get an inside look from a former banker now producer, I asked Michael Mendelsohn, Chairman and CEO of Patriot Pictures, what is really going on with film finance in today’s market. The following is his down to earth and “genuine” perspective on the indie film biz.

Why Mutual Funds Are Not a Good Investment

Taxes take a large bite out of taxable mutual funds. Recent tax-break laws will end in 2010 and it would be smart for taxable mutual fund investors to keep an eye on one of the main drags on their performance: taxes. One key reason why mutual funds paid out such hefty taxable distributions in recent years is because they can no longer carry forward the steep losses incurred during the 2000-2002 bear market, which had been used to offset gains in recent years.

Rethinking Investing in Mutual Funds

Taxes take a large bite out of taxable mutual funds. Recent tax-break laws will end in 2010 and it would be smart for taxable mutual fund investors to keep an eye on one of the main drags on their performance: taxes. One key reason why mutual funds paid out such hefty taxable distributions in recent years is because they can no longer carry forward the steep losses incurred during the 2000-2002 bear market, which had been used to offset gains in recent years.

Abusive Insurance Plans Get Red Flag

Tax Briefs - The IRS in Notice 2007-83 identified as listed transactions certain trust arrangements involving cash value life insurance policies. Revenue Ruling 2007-65, issued simultaneously, addressed situations where the tax deduction has been disallowed, in part or in whole, for premiums paid on such cash-value life insurance policies.

How to Get Fined $100,000 by the IRS and Lose Your License

Over the past decade, business owners have been overwhelmed by a plethora of arrangements designed to reduce the cost of providing employee benefits and taxes, while simultaneously increasing their own retirement savings. The solutions ranged from traditional pension and profit sharing plans to more advanced strategies.

How to Get Audited

The government needs money. Hopefully, after you read this article, they will not get any more of yours. The IRS has learned that small businesses give them the best results on audits with the least effort on their part. The IRS has decided to go where they think the cheating is taking place. Unfortunately, they think that you and your small business are not paying your fair share.

FBAR Information

The willful failure to file the FBAR report or retain records of your foreign accounts can potentially lead to a ten-year prison sentence and fines of up to $500,000. This criminal penalty applies to all US citizens pursuant to 31U.S.C Section S322B and 31 C.F.R. Section 103.S.9.C It may also apply to persons living in the United States who are not citizens.

How to Avoid IRS Fines for You and Your Clients

Beware: The IRS is cracking down on small-business owners who participate in tax-reduction insurance plans sold by insurance agents, including defined benefit retirement plans, IRAs, and even 401(k) plans with life insurance. In these cases, the business owner is motivated by a large tax deduction; the insurance agent is motivated by a substantial commission.

The Effectiveness of Your Expert Witness Could Win or Lose a Case for You

Benefits companies occasionally get sued and sue others. To defend the lawsuit, you need to hire an attorney. Normally the attorney needs an expert witness to bolster the case. In my experience, I have found that many attorneys are terrible at selecting expert witnesses. This is unfortunate because selecting the right expert witness can be critical to the outcome of the case.

Bad Broker or Bad Luck?

You've lost money in the market – maybe a substantial amount. Money you thought was going to plan for your future, maybe put your kids through school is now gone. You're hurt and you're angry and we understand. Can you sue your broker, fund manager or financial adviser? It depends. The Big Question: Were You a Victim of Fraud or the Market? The big question is whether your broker did anything illegal.

Business Owners and Accountants Face Huge IRS Fines

The IRS is attacking people in retirement plans and so-called 419 plans that contain life insurance, and the consequences are very bad. The IRS has collected millions by calling various types of retirement plans, more specifically 412(i), plans listed transactions or similar to. They have also attacked all types of 419 plans.

Posner Opinion Provides Worthwhile Damage Guidance

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In re: Apple vs. Motorola, the parties sued each other for patent infringement involving smartphones. Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, sitting by designation, threw out all damage witnesses for both parties on Daubert motions. Then, since both parties lacked damages testimony, he dismissed both cases with prejudice.

US International Student Mobility Patterns

Nearly one million international students study annually in the United States.

How to Select a Marketing Firm: Some Tips From the “Other Side”

Lawyers are not marketers by nature and they don’t teach practice building in most law schools. Hiring a marketing vendor requires an investment beyond the expenses involved in the actual purchasing of ad space, pay-per-click services, broadcast time, printing services, etc. But once the decision to move forward has been made, how should law firms go about the actual selection process?

Expert Witness Retainer Practices

Provided by: William Gulya, Jr.
Recently while being interviewed for a case by an attorney, after discussing the basic issue involved the attorney naturally asked about my fee structure. I outlined my fees in detail, and informed her that I hold the retainer until the end of the engagement and apply it to the last invoice I generate for the case and/or any unpaid invoices. However, the retainer is nonrefundable if I work on the case less than 10 hours.

Highway Funding Bill Maps Directions for Pension Plan Interest Rates

Pension funding guidelines travelled an unusual road this summer as part of the transportation bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (also known as MAP-21), which was signed into law on July 6, 2012.

IRS FBAR Voluntary Disclosure Program Updates

For years the IRS has been pursuing – the disclosure of information regarding undeclared interests of U.S. taxpayers (or those who ought to be U.S. taxpayers) in foreign financial accounts.

Accountants Get Fined By IRS And Sued By Their Clients

Form 8886 is required to be filed by any taxpayer who is participating, or in some cases has participated, in a listed or reportable transaction.

Construction Trench Collapse Cases Require Knowledge and Experience with OSHA

Provided by: William Gulya, Jr.
Trench collapses (a.k.a. cave-ins) are one of the most feared construction accidents in the underground utility and site-work construction industry. The very thought of being buried alive and crushed by the soil is horrifying and often results in death or serious injury. Construction Trench Collapse Cases Require Knowledge and Experience with OSHA Trench collapses.

Ireland's banking-fueled deep recession

HAVING RECENTLY attended a Tax Tips Seminar in Dublin, Ireland, I was reminded of this fact: Those of us whose wealth relies on our individual income will continue to take a hiding every pay-day, with tax rates at 52 per cent and set to rise further. Whereas those who can reinvent themselves as limited companies, or those of us who have acquired (or earned) capital assets have much more tolerable tax rates (of 25% or lower) to live with.

Performance Metrics for a Sustainable Health and Safety Program

The basic objective of a occupational and/or environmental health and safety management program is to meet regulatory requirements, protect organizational assets, provide safe and healthful working conditions for the workforce, public (community), and the environment. Most organizations have numerous external as well as internal stakeholders. Therefore, the health and safety management system must evaluate all stakeholders equally without bias.

FBAR Amnesty Quiet Disclosures of Offshore Foreign Accounts

Taxpayers with foreign accounts can take advantage of the current voluntary disclosure program to minimize their tax exposure and to resolve these looming and unresolved problems. This disclosure program brings IRS scrutiny and potential civil penalties, and in some situations criminal penalties. Some taxpayers with interests in foreign assets have tried to sidestep these issues by employing a strategy called a “quiet disclosure.”

Strict Liability

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer (as in negligence), strict liability claims focus on the product itself. Under strict liability, the manufacturer is liable if the product is defective, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making that product defective.

Insurance Company Allies

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
Most injuries are of employees covered by workers’ comp so there are no damages suits for you.

Multiemployer Pension Plans: An Overview

A multiemployer pension plan is defined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) as a collectively bargained plan maintained by more than one employer, usually within the same or related industries, and a labor union. These plans are often referred to as "Taft-Hartley” plans.

How To Get The Discovery You Need From Your Opponent

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
An extraordinary amount of time is incurred in discovery asking for records that may not even exist, or asking for records that do exist, but the other side declines to produce records that were not requested using just the right terms.

Trends in International Education

International higher education is a big business, a $400 billion dollar “industry.” Since 2000, the number of overseas students, graduate and undergraduate students and exchange students, has increased by nearly 80%. Higher education is a business wrapped around every corner of the globe.

International Education Interesting Facts and Trends

Education is the fourth largest source of exports in the U. S. behind: royalties and license fees, business, professional, and technical services and financial services.

Chinese Higher Education Trends

Chinese student enrollment will continue to increase and dominate international student enrollment in the immediate future. However, as the Chinese government continues to fund higher education and Chinese colleges and universities improve fewer students will leave China to study. It won’t happen tomorrow but is a trend to watch with huge implications for colleges and universities around the world who depend on Chinese enrollment for financial viability.

New Trends in International Education

In 2010-11 there were 723,277 international students enrolled in the United States. In the prior year the number was 547,867 and in 1980-81 the number was 311,882.

India Higher Education Trends

According to an article in “The Economist,” India’s growth rate could overtake China’s rate by 2013 due to China’s aging population and the one child policy. There are over 600 million Indians under the age of 25 but less than 12% have access to higher education. Indian demand for higher education far exceeds supply.

Trends in International Education Selected Countries

Trends in International Education Selected Countries

Economic Tsunami and the Impact on Higher Education

The world’s economy has entered a major downturn with unemployment and financial strains affecting many countries in Europe, China and the United States. This is not a single year situation, but one that will affect high education for years to come challenging the business model that has dominated higher education for decades.

China’s Economy and Its Impact on Higher Education

This article will list some of the economic and political factors affecting China’s economy and the potential for ramifications on Chinese higher education and Chinese student mobility.

Computer Forensics and Child Exploitation

How a computer forensics investigation firm can help with child exploitation cases. (Pt. 1) Child Exploitation cases are difficult for everyone involved. The alleged victims encounter a range of emotions. This type of accusation can destroy reputations and wreck havoc on all those involved. The nature of this accusation is intense.

How Unallocated File Space Can Help Your Case

Technology has opened a door to a world of new ways of storing and obtaining important data. The internet, computers, cell phones, PDA’s and other electronic devices that have memory storage enable us to communicate and save information electronically. When this is done, the data is saved into the memory disk of the device.

Preserving Digital Evidence

Are you properly preserving digital evidence for your case? If there’s anything important in the legal field, it’s the preservation of evidence. When it comes to digital evidence, also referred to as eEvidence, different procedures have to be used in order to capture and preserve it.

Legal Fire Prevention - Pregnancy Policy

Discrimination and inequity in the administration of light duty policies related to female firefighters leads to significant problems for fire departments that chose to ignore the law and discriminate against their female employees and firefighters. A recent case in Davie, Florida brings this issue to the forefront and the need for a light duty policy equitably administered to all employees.

Public Pension Plan Accounting Changes Highlight Shortfalls

The $1 trillion gap between pension benefits promised to public employees and the actual funding needed to finance these benefits will gain more attention with pending public pension accounting rule changes. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (“GASB”), the industry organization responsible for establishing accounting standards for U.S. state and local governments, recently approved two new standards regulating the accounting and financial reporting of public entity employee pensions.

Expert Witness Advice on How to Demonstrate and Prove Economic Damages in LIBOR Manipulation Lawsuits

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking and economic damages expert witness for plaintiffs and defendants in over 500 cases, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 80 banks and numerous municipalities and other governmental entities, Don Coker, explains some of the important nuances of establishing and quantifying economic damages in Libor manipulation litigation.

Tax Crimes - Is the IRS Coming to Get You?

People who have money in other countries are a target of the IRS. I get a lot of phone calls with people who have these problems. 419, 412i, hiding money offshore etc. The IRS may be looking for you if you had anything to do with this. Tax crime attacks by the IRS are up almost 50% so you need to be careful. Last year IRS raided the offices of Benistar, Grist Mill Trust, Nova with about 50 agents and took all the files. If you did business with them the IRS will probably come to you.

Section 79 and Other Abusive Plans Being Audited IRS

The IRS is on guard and starting to attack Section 79 plans. The decision to participate in such plan requires commitment to ensure the legality and proper guidelines are being followed in income inclusion, tax deductions and reporting. Based on the number of phone calls we are receiving from people being audited in abusive Section 79 plans the buyer must be very careful.

Fire Investigations and “The Scientific Method - Change is Good!”

Provided by: Pyrocop, Inc.
"Over time, there have been significant changes in the standard of care for conducting a fire investigation. Therefore, it is essential that fire experts and attorneys become familiar with the guidelines of NFPA 921, particularly the investigative process referred to as the "Scientific Method".

Defending RMBS Lawsuits Alleging that Banks and Mortgage Companies Misled Investors Regarding Lending Standards

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness for plaintiffs and defendants in over 500 cases, former high-level banking executive and banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 80 banks, Don Coker, explains the most effective methods for defending against lawsuits alleging violations of nationwide mortgage banking industry standard policies, practices, principles and procedures for underwriting, originating, selling, and servicing mortgage loans and Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities.

A Primer on Creating and Using Surveys

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Opinion polls (surveys) are used extensively to understand almost everything that cannot be looked up as a scientific fact. Polls are reported everyday on subjects ranging from what flavor toothpaste kids like most (Colgate probably already funded this poll), to what voters think is the best way to get out of an economic recession.

California’s Business Judgment Rule Offers No Protection for Officers

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Before its failure, IndyMac Bank was the largest savings and loan association in the Los Angeles area and the seventh largest mortgage originator in the United States. IndyMac was the fourth largest bank failure in United States history, and the second largest failure of a regulated thrift.

GM and Ford Offer Retirees Lump-sum Pension Payments

Auto company retirees have important investment decisions to make as they consider special pension buy-out programs being offered by both General Motors (“GM”) and Ford Motor Company (“Ford”). While the unprecedented lump-sum buy-out offers will assist the auto makers in what Ford describes as a “long-term strategy to de-risk its global funded pension plans,” the action will transfer the risk of managing pension funds from these Fortune 10 employers into the hands of the pensioners themselves.

Real Estate Appraisal Nationwide Industry Standard Practices and Procedures Important in Banking Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking, lending, and mortgage banking expert witness, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 80 banks Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of nationwide banking industry standard policies, practices, principles and procedures of the real estate appraisal industry as they relate to mortgage and banking litigation.

Expert Witness Advice on Bank Holding Company Structure Issues Important in Banking Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 80 banks Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of nationwide banking industry standard policies, practices, principles and procedures of bank holding company structure that are important to keep in mind during litigation.

Expert Witness Advice on Defending Securities Litigation Involving SEC Rule 10b5-1 Insider Trading Issues

Provided by: Don Coker
A renowned financial expert witness, former high-level banking and investment portfolio management executive and board member, banking regulator, and nationwide consultant to 80+ banks and investment management companies explains important nuances of how non-attorney investment and banking professionals view nationwide industry standard policies, practices, principles and procedures involved in defending alleged insider trading litigation claiming a violation of the SEC’s Rule 10b5-1.

Landscape and Maintenance Contractors, are you Creating a Trip and Fall Hazard (and Potential Lawsuit?)

As a landscape and certified tree arborist expert witness, I have been involved with several trip and fall construction negligence lawsuits. In many cases, the hazard was created inadvertently by a landscape or maintenance contractor. Often times, the homeowner association and property management company were unaware of the potential hazard. The article discusses landscape contracting and maintenance related trip and fall and other construction negligence cases and issues.

Violating the Code of Ethics can Get You Sued

Provided by: Larry Lowenthal
Realtors who ignore the Code of Ethics do so at their own peril. Angry buyers & sellers who believe they suffered financial damages because of a real estate agent are quick to instigate lawsuits to recover their alleged losses. Lawsuits can be costly in time, money, and reputation, and are always emotionally stressful. But prudent Realtors who learn and then abide by our Code of Ethics can avoid the mistakes, pitfalls, and temptations that lead other licensees to litigation nightmares.

The Importance of Consistently Generating New Content for Your Law Firm’s Website

Literally hundreds of variables determine where your firm’s website will rank on a search engine directory. One of the most important of these is the existence of new content. Google, Bing, Yahoo and all the others absolutely love fresh material and reward those who consistently update and enhance their sites.

Set-Off Industry Standard Policies, Practices, Principles and Procedures Important in Banking Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness consultant, former high-level banker and governmental banking regulator Don Coker explains some important issues in the often misunderstood procedure of Set-Off as it arises in banking litigation. When a bank has a loan to a borrower, the borrower will not pay, and the borrower has money in a bank account that is held at the same bank, the lender may elect to use its right of Set-Off to seize funds in the bank account and use the funds to pay the debt.

Fiduciary Liability Insurance and ERISA

The definition and responsibilities of an ERISA fiduciary compared to an ERISA settlor form the basis of a recent New York Court of Appeals ruling in Federal Insurance Co. v. IBM Corp., 2012 N.Y. LEXIS 311 (N.Y. Feb. 21, 2012). - Background on the Distinction between an ERISA Fiduciary and Settlor - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) establishes legal and operational guidelines for private pension and employee benefit plans.

Unsettled Times Call for a Little Magic

What does the future look like for those of us in the Employee Benefit industry? Some wonder if there will even be a group health insurance market in a few years. Until the US Supreme Court makes their decision(s) regarding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) later this year, that is a question which seems to hold credence with many when it really shouldn’t.

419 Welfare Benefit Plans

A view from a former IRS Agent, CPA, College Professor - Sam Susser - Welfare Benefit Plans (WBP), also known as Welfare Benefit Trusts and Welfare Benefit Funds are vehicles by which employers may offer their employees and retirees with certain types of insurance coverage (e.g., life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care), as well as other benefits such as severance payments and educational funding.

Elder Abuse - It Isn't Always about Physical Abuse

Provided by: Michael Panish
Seniors seem to be one of the prime targets for construction scams. Having recently testified as the door hardware, lock and security expert witness on a very serious elder abuse case involving the rape of a 93 year old resident of a retirement home, I am intimately aware of the potential for physical violence and neglect aimed directly at senior citizens. The following is about a completely different kind of abuse involving our senior population.

The Ins and Outs of Automatic Door Operation - A Basic Primer in How They Work

Provided by: Michael Panish
A Basic Primer about Automatic Door Functions - One of the most frequent calls I receive from attorneys is about injuries sustained from an automatic door malfunction. The call usually begins with a scenario much like, "My client, who is almost eighty years old, was in a hotel lobby, and as she was walking through the doorway to the parking lot, the sliding doors slammed shut on her, causing her to break her hip."

Door Defects and Related Injury Claims - A Guided Tour of Manual Doors and Hardware

Provided by: Michael Panish
Early photos and expert inspection of a door injury site can be extremely important for your case. Hiring a competent door expert and capturing critical evidence is one of the most important things that you can do for your client. While your door expert should be thoroughly versed on every aspect of doors, door hardware, and installation elements, your ability to effectively describe the site shows your professionalism and concern for your case.

Expert Witness - Plaintiff or Defense?

Provided by: Michael Panish
The first two questions that I am often asked by attorneys during deposition or trial testimony are "On what percentage of construction cases do you work for the Plaintiff?" and "On what percentage of construction cases do you work for the Defense?" It has been said that any expert that will work on either side of a case must have his own financial interest as his primary concern; the expert being considered an unreliable "Gun for Hire."

Cabinetry Expert Witness - Discussion on Wood Finishes

Provided by: Michael Panish
I have been contacted as an expert witness by homeowners, contractors, and attorneys on many occasions to give my opinion on issues arising from alleged defective cabinet, wood, and furniture finishes. With the constant changes in formulations of finishes and paint products, modern methods for application and preparation have become very challenging. Finishes that were available 15-20 years ago have been outlawed due to EPA regulations.

Automatic Doors - The Importance of Checking Your Doors Daily

Provided by: Michael Panish
Most chain stores very rarely have a periodic maintenance (P.M.) plan in place for automatic door systems. Daily safety checks are the responsibility of the store or facility management. While evaluating your next door related injury case, it is essential that you have a full understanding of the various layers of responsibility that may play a role in the path leading to the door malfunctioning.

Cabinetry and Millwork: Defective Design or Defective Workmanship? Who is Responsible?

Provided by: Michael Panish
For cabinetry defect lawsuits the usual course of action by attorneys is to sue all parties in the chain of events, from design through installation. My job as a cabinetry and mill work expert witness is to inspect and evaluate casework, cabinetry, or millwork that may have either failed or may be deficient in some way.

Manual Door Closers - Do You Have an Open and Shut Case?

Provided by: Michael Panish
I am offering this article for general information to assist attorneys in determining potential issues relating to manual door closer mechanisms. Manual door closers are ubiquitous. We take advantage of their service on a daily basis without usually noticing that they are in place or that they are doing their job correctly. It is when something is seriously wrong with these closers that they become blatantly noticeable and potentially dangerous. Why can door closers cause injuries?

Panic Hardware - Getting to Know the Basics

Provided by: Michael Panish
Injuries resulting from panic hardware are more prevalent than you might think. Injuries can be due to lack of maintenance on these devices and/or installation of spurious parts or components. As a door and hardware expert witness and forensic consultant, I have been retained on many cases where installed panic hardware has been the source and cause of severe bodily injuries.

Garage Doors - A Brief Tutorial on Garage Door Safety and Installation

Provided by: Michael Panish
A brief description of a few different types of garage doors. I have been involved in numerous garage door cases where many different reasons for an injury have occurred. Having been retained as an expert witness for both plaintiff and defense for all types of automatic doors, several common factors have been observed. As a door expert witness, I am called upon many times a year to evaluate garage door injuries.

Expert Witness Assistance in Real Estate, Mortgage and Financial Fraud Scams Using a Straw-Man or Straw-Borrower

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 75 banks Don Coker explains some of the important nationwide banking industry standard policies, practices and procedures encountered in fraud scams that utilize straw-man and straw-borrower parties in real estate, mortgage, sale closing, mortgage closing, title, and financial fraud schemes.

401k Retirement Plan IRS Audits

401k IRS audits be careful - The Flooring Contractor Summer - Has Your 401k or Other Retirement Plan Been Reviewed? By Lance Wallach. Government officials now expect 401(k) plan sponsors to conduct periodic due diligence reviews. With respect to their 401k or other retirement plans, the problem is that most sponsors (owners) do not have the in house resources to do so.

Section 79, Captive Insurance, IRS Audits and Lawsuits on 419 and 412i Plans

IRS Attacks Business Owners in 419, 412, Section 79 and Captive Insurance Plans Under Section 6707A - By Lance Wallach - Taxpayers who previously adopted 419, 412i, captive insurance or Section 79 plans are in big trouble. In recent years, the IRS has identified many of these arrangements as abusive devices to funnel tax deductible dollars to shareholders and classified these arrangements as listed transactions."

Life Agents and Accountants Fined $100,000 for Selling 419 and Other Insurance Plans

Accountants and others fined $100,000 for signing tax returns and selling 419, 412i and other abusive life insurance plans. - Accounting Today - ‘Don’t Become A Material Advisor’ - Accountants, insurance professionals and others need to be careful that they don’t become what the IRS calls material advisers.

419 Plans Attacked by IRS

Insurance agents and costs attacked. - Enrolled Agents Journal March*April - For years promoters of life insurance companies and agents have tried to find ways of claiming that the premiums paid by business owners were tax deductible. This allowed them to sell policies at a “discount”.

FBAR International Tax Problems Transfer Pricing and the IRS

IRS is looking at transfer pricing, FBAR and international tax. FBAR International Tax Problems Transfer Pricing and the IRS - By Lance Wallach - The IRS dedicates enormous resources toward dealing with taxpayers who are involved with any form of transfer pricing.

Older People Hurt by Insurance Salespeople

Insurance agents are taking advantage of older people. Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots, by Sid Kess; Author/Moderator: Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC - Excerpts have been taken from this book about: Senior abuses.

Offshore Money, FBAR International Tax and the IRS

FBAR, International Tax, IRS audits be careful. IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program Reopens Do YOU have money overseas? By Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC - Recently the Internal Revenue Service reopened the offshore voluntary disclosure program to help people hiding offshore accounts get current with their taxes.

Captive Insurance Buyer Beware

Is a captive insurance cell the way to go? - Accounting Today - Captive Insurance: Achieve large tax and cost reductions by renting a “CAPTIVE”. Most accountants and small business owners are unfamiliar with a great way to reduce taxes and expenses. By either creating or sharing “a captive insurance company”, substantial tax and cost savings will benefit the small business owner.

Section 79, Captive Insurance, IRS Audits and Lawsuits

Section 79 and captive insurance plans with life insurance in them are being looked at by the IRS. We have received calls from people that are being audited. - The dangers of being "listed" - A warning for 419, 412i, Sec.79 and captive insurance. Accounting Today: October 25, 2010, By: Lance Wallach

Corporate Officer Financial Responsibility and Authority in Bank Account and Related Financial Matters Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and banking consultant to over 75 banks Don Coker explains nationwide banking industry standard policies, practices and procedures that are important factors in litigation involving corporate officer financial responsibilities and authority in bank account and related financial matters.

Asset-Based Lending Nationwide Industry Standard Practices and Procedures Important in Business Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned expert witness, experienced asset-based lender and former high-level banker and banking regulator Don Coker explains nationwide industry standard policies, practices and procedures for asset-based lending at institutional and private lending entities.

Upcoming Change in Experience Modification Factors

Changes in the NCCI experience rating formula will impact policyholders across the US. Starting in 2013 the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has announced it will be changing the formula used to compute experience modification factors for employers.

412i Plans Attacked by IRS, Lawsuits

IRS has been attacking abusive 412i plans for years. Business men have been suing the insurance agents who sold the plans. The IRS has attacked 412i, 419 plans for years. As a result promoters are now promoting section 79 and captive insurance plans. They are just starting to be attacked by the IRS.

Captive Insurance but Be Careful

Most business owners want to: build wealth and maximize the value of what is left behind for heirs; protect their wealth to insure that what they have spent a lifetime building isn’t eaten away by taxes, inflation and/or the cost of medical care; distribute their wealth so that their loved ones may be taken care of, and see to it that their assets and possessions go where they want them to go in the time frame they want this to happen. This is the essence of estate planning.

International Tax, Transfer Pricing, FBAR Problems

The IRS dedicates enormous resources toward dealing with taxpayers who are involved with any form of transfer pricing. The transfer pricing provisions of IRC 482 address four general types of transactions between commonly owned or controlled parties.

412i, 419, Lawsuits, IRS Audits

419, 412i, plans are being audited by the IRS. Lawsuits are the result. Small businesses facing audits and potentially huge tax penalties over certain types of retirement plans are filing lawsuits against those who marketed, designed and sold the plans.

You Can Beat the IRS

Beware of someone whose fee is based on a percentage of how much you save in taxes. Or who promises to get you a significantly higher refund than anyone else can. People like these are likely to prepare outrageous returns that will land you deep in trouble with the IRS.

412i IRS Audits, Listed Transactions - IRS Auditing 412i Plans

Excerpts have been taken from this book about: Bruce Hink, who has given me permission to utilize his name and circumstances, is a perfect example of what the IRS is doing to unsuspecting business owners. What follows is a story about Bruce Hink and how the IRS fined him $200,000 a year for being in what they called a “listed transaction”.

IRS Audits and Lawsuits

419 and 412i plans being audits, insurance agents sued. The IRS is cracking down on what it considers to be abusive tax shelters. Many of them are being marketed to small business owners by insurance professionals, financial planners and even accountants and attorneys. I speak at numerous conventions, for both business owners and accountants.

Automobile Retail Installment Sales Contract Details Important in Car Financing Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness, former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, Ford Motor Credit officer and banking consultant to over 75 banks Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of banking and lending litigation involving nationwide industry standard policies, practices and procedures for the handling of automobile retail installment sales contracts.

Five Public Pension Mistakes that Increase Municipal Bankruptcy Risk

Cities and counties across the country are running headlong into the inevitable fact that previously promised pension and retiree health care benefits are insufficiently funded. The Pew Center on the States estimates that the gap between cumulative benefit levels and the funds set aside to pay for them is more than $1 trillion and growing.

How Projects Go Awry

Provided by: Chason Energy, LLC
HVAC Engineering - Over the years, we have observed many cases of building humidity gone wild, with the attendant formation of mold or other moisture damage. Condensation can be the result of actions by the various players in the construction process.

Construction …Risk, Liability and Respondeat Superior

Provided by: The Artisans Group
Construction projects involve many parties, who often have competing needs and interests (e.g.: oneself vs. other stakeholders, money, time, features, spec’s, regulatory, and ethics).

Credit Card Processing, Merchant Account and Merchant Agreement Details Important in Credit Card Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, banking consultant to over 75 banks, and renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of banking litigation involving nationwide industry standard policies, practices and procedures for credit card and debit card processing and merchant accounts.

Bond Insurer Litigation v Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) Issuers over Alleged Misrepresentation

Provided by: Don Coker
Former high-level mortgage banking executive, high-level banking regulator, banking consultant to over 75 banks, and renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of mortgage banking and securitization litigation involving representations and warranties, repurchase demands, and due diligence nationwide industry standard policies, practices and procedures important in bond insurer litigation.

Understanding the Problem Loan Process in Banking

Provided by: Michael F. Richards
Successful discovery and depositions require an understanding of the problem loan process in banking. Once a bank has designated a loan as a problem, it takes on a new set of regulatory and policy requirements. Problem loans are sometimes also designated as “Workout Loans.” Virtually all problem loans have an adverse classification per regulatory guidelines.

Expert Witness Assistance in Bankruptcy Preference Defense Cases Due to Ordinary Course of Business Payments

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned expert witness Don Coker discusses nationwide industry standard practices and procedures in bankruptcy preference defense cases due to payments made in the ordinary course of business from the viewpoint of an expert witness who is a former banker experienced at corporate finance for all types of businesses.

Do You Need a Security Check-up?

Do You Need a Security Checkup? Properties Magazine, October 2008 - In the days and weeks following September 11, 2001, the attention paid to the security of our buildings was intense, enormous, and even frenzied at times. It seemed there was just not enough time in the day to get every building as secure as possible. Resources, both time and money, flowed into projects designed to get every owned or managed building ready to respond to an emergency or crisis or threat.

Creating World Certainty Via Petroleum Price Stability

The certainty created by a set price for petroleum should tend to create stability in many other sectors of the economy. Certainty in petroleum pricing should lead to certainty in the industrial sector and to a degree of certainty in the world’s financial sectors, namely less volatility for interest rates and other debt instruments. A higher level of certainty in the financial markets and the petrochemical markets should foster an arena for world growth and stability.

Inflation and the Middle Class – 2011 Onwards

Most middle class consumers are facing the concept of hard choices, something the baby boomers have not faced in almost thirty (30) years, based in good part via a combination of government entitlements, tax breaks, subsidies and deficit financing. As most of the “low hanging or easy fruit” has been picked, those who now enjoy life via consumption, namely the middle class are going to realize neither they nor any government can spend their way out difficult financial decisions.

Mortgage Securitization and Foreclosures

One never knows what is going to come out of Congress, as not even Congress truly knows what is going to come out of Congress. Hence, it was a real surprise when Congress tried to extend the concept of home ownership to the lower levels of the overall income earning segment. Subprime lending, namely the granting of mortgage loans to households wherein their total incomes did not qualify for a “standard” or “prime” single family home loan, was clearly an American made “craze”.

Public Companies Ask Congress for Pension Funding Relief

Low interest rates mean trouble for savers, especially institutional savers like pension plans. Federal Reserve Board efforts to maintain a low interest rate environment, which are expected to persist through 2014, present a problem for pension plan sponsors who need to fund future health and retirement benefits.

When is a Broker a Common Carrier?

Provided by: David G. Dwinell
Forty percent (40%) of trucking business is brokered (about $300 Billion in 2007). The liability of the broker is in question. One motor carrier hiring another motor carrier is brokering and by far is the majority of the billions of the percentage figure quoted above. Both of these carriers are 100% liable for loss, one to the other.

The Role of Intellectual Property Analytics in Technical Management

A discussion on the importance of managing intellectual property aggressively in a technical management role. Knowledge is power, but many companies fail to utilize the ready cache of information that exists in industry patents today. In recent years there has been an increasing need for patent analysis, but that need has frequently been ignored.

Thermonics and Groundwater Exploration

Traditional methods of groundwater exploration only detect properties of the earth through which water flows. Only Thermonic methods actually measure a property of the water as it exists in the subsurface. Thermonics is the name of a geophysical method of groundwater exploration.

Foreseeability in Premises Security Liability Cases

Provided by: Special Service
The underlying concept in most premises security liability cases is foreseeability. But that concept is not always fully understood. As relates to adequacy and sufficiency of security – the standard by which a business’s security will be measured – foreseeability as defined by most courts in the U.S. (with only a few minor exceptions, most notably Michigan) is a broad concept which is usually determined by a formal assessment of 4 distinct criteria:

Water Rights - What Are They?

In most states, one cannot divert and use either surface water or ground water without the legal permission to do so. The legal authority to divert and capture water is called a water right. Within the United States it is generally necessary to have the legal right to divert and capture either surface or ground water. The legal right to divert and capture water is called a water right.

Restaurant Sector: Expected 2012 Themes

The Restaurant space can expect an exciting, challenging year. What will be driving influences? US restaurant inventory won’t decline, despite the compelling need for that to happen. Almost 1 million US food and beverage venues mean you can get something to eat almost anywhere. This industry is based on growth, and in the US that is difficult. We don’t feel flat inventory expectations to be a positive driver of same store sales as some have hoped.

Notification of Change or Claims - What it is and Why it is Important

In a recent construction dispute between a Developer of upscale urban properties and its General Contractor (GC), I was engaged to provide expert services for a forensic schedule delay analysis resulting in a presentation of the GC’s claims before a contractually-mandated dispute review board (“DRB”). There was approximately $14 million in claims and counterclaims at stake.

Quality Fade in China

Provided by: Rosemary Coates
Quality Fade is the single biggest issue in Chinese manufacturing. Quality Fade, the process of quality degradation over time, is the single biggest issue in low cost manufacturing countries. It happens frequently in China where manufacturing processes are immature and competitive pricing drives the profits to extremely low levels. It also happens in Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and other low-cost countries.

The Landscape of Broker-Dealer Compliance and Exception Reporting Systems

Provided by: Tilkin Group
The landscape of compliance and exception reporting has changed significantly since 2002. Many brokerage firms were resistant to advancing their compliance and supervision efforts for years based on two factors: that the regulatory “bar” would be raised for firms using advanced compliance systems, and that the data, notes and documentation of the system would be discoverable. As it turns out, both of these facts have come to pass.

Pensions May Take a Hit from National Mortgage Settlement

Pension investors and bond fund managers have expressed some concern about the $26 billion mortgage settlement announced by the U.S. Government and state Attorneys Generals on Thursday, February 8, 2012. The settlement "is cheap for the loan servicers while costly for bond investors including pension funds," according to Pacific Investment Management Co.'s ("PIMCO") Scott Simon as first reported by Bloomberg Business Week.

Police Leaders must Walk the Walk (Police Pursuit Driving)

Published in the Orlando Sentinel "My Word" Column on February 19,2012. Police policies lay the groundwork for the culture of a police department. Police executives must be sure that they are reinforcing the agencies polices and not substituting an underground culture. Police pursuits and police driving in general is dangerous to the public and the police officers. Police leaders must not only examine their policies on a routine basis but should reexamine the practices and customs as well.

Protection Failure Analysis of an Armored Toyota SUV

Using practical shooting reconstruction techniques, the authors successfully determined the cause of a shooting injury in an armored civilian vehicle in Iraq. Determining the reason for the vehicle’s armor failure was considered paramount to address safety concerns for allied military personnel. This information was used to improve safety in vehicles destined for military and civilian service in Iraq and the Afghanistan theatre.

Injury from an Explosion of a Steel Reheat Furnace

A worker was injured when a gas fired furnace exploded. Expert’s Job Assignment: To assist with the case by the plaintiff against any third party equipment suppliers and various contractors.

Death on an Electric Arc Furnace

A welder was killed while doing maintenance on an electrode arm on an electric arc furnace. Expert’s Job Assignment: To assist with the case by the plaintiff widow against a third party industrial company and various contractors.

Injury on a Fork Truck

A worker was injured while working from the uplifted forks of a fork truck. Expert’s Job Assignment: Analyze the accident cause for the insurance company.

Electrocution in a Backyard

A renter was killed when he stepped on a 120 volt supply line feeding a garage. Expert’s Job Assignment: To act on behalf of the widow’s lawsuit.

419 Insurance Welfare Benefit Plans Continue to Get Accountants in Trouble

Popular so-called "419 Insurance Welfare Benefit Plans," sold by most insurance professionals, are getting accountants and their clients into more and more trouble. A CPA who is approached by a client about one of the abusive arrangements and/or situations to be described and discussed in this article must exercise the utmost degree of caution, not only on behalf of the client, but for his/her own good as well.

Abusive Insurance, Welfare Benefit and Retirement Plans

The IRS has various task forces auditing all section 419, section 412(i), and other plans that tend to be abusive. These plans are sold by most insurance agents. The IRS is looking to raise money and is not looking to correct plans or help taxpayers.

Tax Avoidance can Lurk in Employee Benefit Plans

As the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to crack down on abusive retirement and employee benefit plans, many accountants will almost certainly, though inadvertently, land their clients and themselves in trouble. Two particular types of arrangements top the IRS list of abusive plans: the so-called 419 insurance welfare benefit plan and the 412(i) defined benefit retirement plan.

Abusive Insurance Plans Get Red Flag

The IRS in Notice 2007-83 identified as listed transactions certain trust arrangements involving cash-value life insurance policies. Revenue Ruling 2007-65, issued simultaneously, addressed situations where the tax deduction has been disallowed, in part or in whole, for premiums paid on such cash-value life insurance policies.

Corporate Governance Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Provided by: Moat Associates
SOX: Creating the Public Accounting Oversight Board & Increased Corporate Responsibility- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“the Act”) was passed in July 2002 in response to the rash of real and perceived failures in corporate governance and financial disclosure. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act , also known as Sarbox or SOX, was passed in July 2002 in response to the rash of real and perceived failures in corporate governance and financial disclosure.

Repurchase & Buyback Demands, Representations and Warranties Claims in Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities

Provided by: Don Coker
Former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, consultant to over 75 banks, and renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some important factors in banking, mortgage banking, and mortgage-backed securities litigation involving repurchase and buyback demands based upon alleged breach of representation and warranty claims contained in the documents creating the business relationship between the mortgage loan originator and the purchasing lender or investor.

Navigating Workers' Compensation Insurance Premium Disputes

Summary - Workers comp premium disputes can be complex, expensive, protracted, and divisive. They may require the involvement of several administrative and adjudicative bodies, including a rating bureau, one or more state agencies, and courts. Premium disputes also frequently impair or disrupt otherwise desirable business relationships among insurers, brokers, and policyholders. Increased mediation and arbitration to resolve premium disputes would reduce costs and preserve relationships.

Small Business Retirement Plans Fuel Litigation

Small businesses facing audits and potentially huge tax penalties over certain types of retirement plans are filing lawsuits against those who marketed, designed and sold the plans. The 412(i) and 419(e) plans were marketed in the past several years as a way for small business owners to set up retirement or welfare benefits plans while leveraging huge tax savings, but the IRS put them on a list of abusive tax shelters and has more recently focused audits on them.

Don’t Give the IRS Every Last Drop

The chances of an individual being audited have approximately doubled since 2000. So you need to be careful with your tax return. Have you seen the commercials where certain companies advertise that they can settle an IRS debt for “pennies on the dollar?" Usually the offer is too good to be true. Besides, you never want to have the problem in the first place.

Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence, and Scams

This is a story about Bruce Hink and how the IRS fined him $200,000 a year for being in what they called a “listed transaction." Excerpts have been taken from this book about: Bruce Hink, who has given me permission to utilize his name and circumstances, is a perfect example of what the IRS is doing to unsuspecting business owners. What follows is a story about Bruce Hink and how the IRS fined him $200,000 a year for being in what they called a “listed transaction."

Subordination Agreement Nationwide Industry Standard Practices and Procedures Important in Banking Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Former high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, banking consultant to over 75 banks worldwide, and renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of banking nationwide industry standards and practices involving subordination agreements and related litigation.

Municipal Pension Holders at Risk as Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Filings Increase

Jefferson County, Alabama filed the biggest Chapter 9 bankruptcy in United States history on November 9, 2011. The $4 billion filing covering the city of Birmingham and 658,000 county residents far surpassed Orange County, California, the previous record holder, which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 1994 with $1.7 in debt.

Get Your Tree off My Property

Jeremy Rappoport, President of Rappoport Development Consulting Services LLC discusses his most frequent tree consulting issues, tree root and canopy encroaching neighboring properties. The article examines tree selection and why property line encroachment and tree risk assessment are becoming increasingly frequent legal issues.

Forensic Handwriting Examination - Selecting Your Expert

Forensic handwriting examiners or questioned document examiners are typically sought by investigators or private citizens when a question arises regarding the authenticity of a particular writing. They can also be sought out by attorneys preparing cases for settlement or trials. How should you address the level of competence of a forensic handwriting examiner before asking for their assistance? Once a request is made for an examiner to begin analysis, it is too late to rethink the submission.

In the Trenches…The Producers Part 2 – The Shifting Landscape

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Continuing the dialogue with producers Jonathan Dana and Cindy Cowan, let’s take a look at the shifting landscape of film financing and distribution.

In the Trenches…The Producers Part 1 – Independent Film Production

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
I often receive inquiries from around the world on how best to go about obtaining film financing. Projects come in all shapes and sizes – a wide array of genres, varying budgets and an assortment of experience levels. In every case, the biggest questions are: How do I put together financing for a movie? What elements need to be attached? Where does the money come from?

What the AMR Bankruptcy Means to American Airlines Pension Plans

American Airlines employees could lose a billion dollars in pension benefits if American terminates their pension plans as a result of the company’s November 29, 2011 bankruptcy filing, based on estimates by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

Writers, Producers, Directors — The DEAL

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
In addition to film financing, the writer, producer and director deals are a major factor in getting films produced − each deal differs depending on the experience and clout of the players involved. These deals will in turn have a huge impact on back end money that may or may not be available for the producer.

Economic Damage Claims in the Entertainment Industry – Speculative or Beyond a Reasonable Certainty

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
The large majority of lawsuits that involve individuals in the entertainment industry revolve around lost wages or fees. These claims often allege millions of dollars in lost earnings depending on the role the person plays within the industry. Given the exorbitant amount that some actors, writers, directors and producers earn, it’s easy to understand how often these claims get made. However, the operative word in this scenario is some.

State Pension Plan Rates of Return under Review

More than half of state pension plans use a rate of return assumption of 8 percent, according to a 2011 PBS report. While the assumed rate of return may sound like an academic exercise, it influences billions of dollars in taxpayer expenses when applied to the future funding requirements of pensions and benefits for retired school teachers, fire fighters, police officers and other public employees.

MF Global, Securities, and Commodities Firms' Industry Standard Fiduciary Duty to Safeguard Clients' Funds

Provided by: Don Coker
Former high-level financial executive and governmental financial institution regulator, veteran expert witness called on in over 500 cases, expert consultant to over 75 banks worldwide, and expert witness consultant in the Refco case Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of litigation involving fiduciary duties to safeguard client funds and keep them separate from the investment management firm’s operating funds.

Naked Licensing: Not as Rare as One May Think

Published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal November 9, 2011.

Declaring Muslim Marriage Void Will Have Ruinous Effect on Wives

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
New Jersey Law Journal, November 20, 2006 Dear Editor: The Appellate Division's ruling, in Yaghoubinejad v. Haghighi, 384 N.J.Super. 339 (App. Div. 2006), declaring a Muslim marriage "absolutely void" when entered into without a state marriage license, will cause inequity to women in New Jersey.

Oklahoma Amendment is Unconstitutional

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
The National Law Journal, November 15, 2010 On Election Day, the Oklahoma voters passed an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that provides that the "Courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the Court shall not consider International law or Sharia law," dictates the amendment.

When Custody Disputes Go Global

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
New Jersey Law Journal, August 7, 2000 The rapid globalization of the world economy has facilitated massive migration among nations. This flux has produced an ever-increasing number of marriages among people from different countries. One of the resulting corollaries is the transformation of otherwise simple custody disputes into jurisdictionally complex international quagmires.

Remove Remarriage Barriers for Muslim, Jewish Women

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
New Jersey Law Journal April 9, 2009

Religion-Based Claim in Abuse Case Wisely Pierced by Appeals Court

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
New Jersey Law Journal, September 20, 2010 On its face, a case working through New Jersey's courts would seem to pit a defendant's religious beliefs against the state's law against domestic violence. Fortunately, the Appellate Division has seen through that argument and reversed the denial of a restraining order.

Attorney-Client Sexual Relations - The Journal of the Legal Profession

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
Copyright (c) 1997 The Journal of the Legal Profession The Journal of the Legal Profession; 22 J. Legal Prof. 131 1997/1998 Attorney-Client Sexual Relations

Attorney-Client Sex Should Always Be Off Limits

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
New Jersey Law Journal, March 13, 2000 The issue of attorney-client sex has come under heightened scrutiny by courts and state bar associations in the past several years.

Beware of International Service of Process

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
If an attorney representing an American litigant seeking to institute an action against a foreign defendant is not very cautious in the method of service used to serve the foreign defendant, the result could be vacation and dismissal years after judgment.

Abu Zahar: Appellate Division Declines to Adopt a Bright-Line Rule Prohibiting Out-of-Country Visitation

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
Often fueled by intense parental sentiments, custody disputes rank high among the fiercest of legal battles known to jurisprudence. Corollary issues concerning parenting time and post-divorce travel abroad with a child have gained increasing judicial scrutiny in an ever-changing complex and divisive world.

Court Enforces Mahr Provision in Muslim Marriage Contract

Provided by: Abed Awad, Esq.
Muslim marriage contracts include a provision called mahr, which American courts have mis-construed to be prenuptial agreements. Recently, the New Jersey Superior Court, in Odatalla v. Odatalla, Docket No. FM-16-366-01 (Ch. Div. June 24, 2002), properly used a simple contract approach to resolve a dispute over a mahr. This approach is the most consistent with the charac-ter of mahr under Islamic law and with American notions of equity and justice.

Hybrid Pension Plans Gain Popularity

An employer-sponsored retirement plan that offers the features of both a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit pension plan is known as a hybrid pension plan. This article evaluates the leading types of hybrid plans, the regulatory basis for pension plans, common concerns, and the future outlook for hybrid plans.

Can Real Estate Agents Explain the Contract?

Provided by: Guy Berry
Unfortunately for most, the answer is no.

The Petroleum Matter or Mess?

Will the elevated cost of petroleum will turn out to be a blessing or a curse for the United States, especially the nations middle class? Its effects can be broken down into three major categories: direct, indirect and subsequential...

Six Expert Witnesses Banned from Testifying

I was very concerned and shocked today, when I read that on August 23, 2011 the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier decision striking six experts from testifying at trial. After all, my livelihood is based upon the fact that I write expert reports and testify in court.

An Expert Witness Is Above All, Objective

The credibility of an expert witness’ testimony is largely based on their ability to have an objective opinion. Objective: not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.

Electrocution on an Amusement Park Ride

A maintenance man was killed when he came in contact with an ungrounded and energized car on an amusement park ride.

Electrocution on a Paper Cutting Press Due to Poor Grounding

This happened during a maintenance operation. Deceased was replacing the dies on a paper cutting machine, a “Press” in this case. The press was designed to cut heavy paperboard into the proper shapes for further processing. He reached into the press below the die area for a dropped screw or nut with his left hand when his right calf came into contact with the exit conveyor frame. Evidently there was a source of voltage that had energized the conveyor frame, thus causing his death.

An Easy Assist for an Overlooked but Tough Group

There are few groups more reliable than the United States military. One could change all of their mottoes to “Again and again - no questions asked.” Those who have served in the military have done so at a solid financial cost. Despite this, the years of the 1950s, 1960s and even into the 1970s were periods with high savings rates, rates that today appear almost unachievable. How did they save so much, seek to enjoy life so fully and raise another generation, the Baby Boomers?

Litigation Forcing Diversity

Diversity in the Fire Service is a challenge to all leadership. It appears that we have not moved very far in removing the discriminatory practices in our entry testing and promotions related to women and minorities. Litigation is forcing the fire service to adopt hiring practices that levels the playing field. If we are not careful, lawyers and judges will be hiring your next generation of firefighters.

Liability-Driven Investing for Pension Plans

Pension plan administrators with responsibility for defined benefit plans are reducing their exposure to the equity markets by using more predictable investments, such as bonds, to fund future obligations. An increasingly popular investment technique to match plan assets with liabilities is known as “liability-driven investing” or LDI. This article provides an overview of liability-driven investing.

Bank Corporate and Municipal Bond Trustee, Registrar, and Stock Transfer Agent Fiduciary Duty Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide expert witness Don Coker, explains some of the important nuances of banking litigation involving bank trust departments acting in various capacities for several different types of securities.

Participate in a 419 or 412i Plan or Other Abusive Tax Shelter You Could Be Fined $200000 Per Year

Did you get a letter from the IRS threatening to impose this fine?

General Motors Joins Yogi Berra

Even with creative financing, accounting techniques and decreased profit margins, the American automobile industry appears unable to sustain itself and has suffered significant losses, especially in recent years. Given these realities, it would seem prudent to rely upon baseball and the one special feature they have enjoyed via compliments of a United States Supreme Court Decision in 1922, namely exemption under the Antitrust Laws, basically Sherman and Clayton Acts.

The “Real” Real Estate Situation

While it is true that the National Housing Act of 1930 and other acts and organizations sought to both foster and insulate housing from the overall financial marketplaces, such separation is not limitless. No matter how many special authorities, administrative agencies, or segregated financial institutions are created, in order to supply adequate shelter, the financial instrumentation utilized in the housing market is still an integral part of the overall financial marketplace.

Should You File, and Then Opt out?

Announced February 8, 2011, the IRS 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) program is a welcome but conditional amnesty allowing taxpayers with foreign accounts to come clean and get into compliance with the IRS. The program runs through Sept. 9, 2011.

Elder Financial Abuse Litigation Claims Against Banks and Mortgage Lenders

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, explains some of the important nuances of banking litigation involving claims of Elder Financial Abuse.

IRS Audits 419, 412i, Captive Insurance Plans With Life Insurance, and Section 79 Scams

The IRS started auditing 419 plans in the ‘90s, and then continued going after 412i and other plans that they considered abusive, listed, or reportable transactions. Listed designated as listed in published IRS material available to the general public or transactions that are substantially similar to the specific listed transactions. A reportable transaction is defined simply as one that has the potential for tax avoidance or evasion.

Sexual Assault of Adults and the Importance of Competencies versus IQ

Provided by: Lamb and Maddux LLC
Sexually assaulted mentally-defective adults in New Jersey have protections under the law similar to minors.

FBAR Offshore Bank Accounts and Foreign Income Attacked by IRS

You may want to think about participation in the IRS’ offshore tax amnesty program (called the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative). Do you want to play audit roulette with the IRS? Some clients think they are too small to be prosecuted. They are wrong.

Accident Analysis

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
As an engineering expert witness I am called upon to explain what happened in an accident, including the cause or causes ('Accident Reconstruction'.)

Two Faces Of Product Liability

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
The author, an engineer, has rendered opinions in cases with each face of product liability.

Safety Labels

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
It is customary to provide an instruction document with an electric tool or appliance and to include a variety of safety warnings in the document. Typically a circular in small print. How many real people read safety warnings if they can just plug in the device and use it?

Industrial Accidents

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
The author, a licensed professional engineer, is an expert witness in factory accident and other industrial accident and product liability cases.

Don’t Get Stuck With a Foreign Bank Account

Have A Foreign Bank Account? FBAR Deadline is here. Filing deadline for the IRS’s offshore tax amnesty (called the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative).

Choosing a Horse Trainer That is Right for You

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
A professional riding instructor is the person who will make sure you and your horse stay on the right track and help you whenever you want to improve your horsemanship, riding skills or improve your horse. The following are several factors you will want to consider in choosing the trainer that best suits your needs.

Law Change in California Affects How You Buy and Sell a Horse

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
Open-ended horse deals are quickly coming to an end. Florida has a statute (Section 535.16 of the Florida Statutes) and the California Legislature recently amended a similar one that now requires written documentation for horse sales. This change affects buyers and sellers whether as a private individual or as a business.

The Texas House and Senate Pass Equine Dentistry Bill

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
On May 30, 2011, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners became one step away from having the authority to regulate non-veterinarian equine dentists.

How Tree Selection and Location Influences Tree Risk Assessment in the Urban Area

Jeremy Rappoport is a certified arborist and tree risk assessor. In the article, Mr. Rappoport discusses the importance of understanding the cultural characteristics as they relate to tree size, location and use. Find out how a good tree sited in a poor location can affect the health and safety of the tree and how tree risk assessment is the current standard of care in determining the tree hazards and attendant risk.

Don't Become a Material Adviser

Accountants, insurance professionals and others need to be careful that they don’t become what the IRS calls material advisors. If they sell or give advice, or sign tax returns for abusive, listed or similar plans; they risk a minimum $100,000 fine. Their client will then probably sue them after having dealt with the IRS.

Pension Options: A Look at Individual Account Balance Plans

Individual account balance plans or defined contribution plans are types of retirement plans that provide an individual account for each plan participant. Benefits in these plans are based solely upon the amount contributed to the account, plus or minus any income, expenses, gain, and losses allocated to the account. The employee or the employer (or both) contribute to the account under the plan, sometimes at a set rate. This article explores different plan types.

Forensic Accountants: Why, When and How to Hire Them

Due to their unique blend of education and experience, forensic accountants are able to apply accounting, financial analysis and investigative skills to uncover truth, assist in financial investigations and ultimately provide credible analyses that may be relied upon in court or mediation. This article discusses who can benefit from their services, when in the process to hire them and what to look for.

Lost Production in Manufacturing

Automotive and other manufacturers rely on integrated production lines, tooling and other assets to produce products to sell. This article addresses some of the issues that may affect the ability of assets to perform.

A Comparison of Self-Funded and Insured Health and Welfare Plans

Employee welfare benefit plans can be either fully insured, or self-funded. This article explains and compares the differences between the two types.

Accountants Business Owners and Others Face Large IRS Fines

Since the late nineties, unsuspecting business owners and professionals have purchased retirement plans and other plans from insurance professionals. The IRS has organized task forces to go after the abusive plans.

ZIP Code Collection Litigation Pursuant to California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act & Similar Acts Nationwide

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, explains some of the important issues and considerations for defendants and plaintiffs in ZIP code collection litigation.

Taxpayers Who Previously Adopted 419, 412i, Captive Insurance or Section 79 Plans are in Big Trouble

In recent years, the IRS has identified many of these arrangements as abusive devices to funnel tax deductible dollars to shareholders and classified these arrangements as listed transactions." Insurance agents, financial planners, accountants and attorneys seeking large life insurance commissions sold these plans.

Save Community Policing

Our struggling economy has forced us to look closely at our police departments and consider ways to cut the budget.

Can “Failure to Train” Lead to Litigation?

The Fire Service provides training to their staff and firefighters. Are we providing all of the right training and can we be held responsible and liable for training not offered?

The PBGC and ERISA

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) was created by Congress as part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The purpose of the PBGC is to protect pension payments when private sector defined benefit pension plans fail. Currently the PBGC guarantees payment of basic pension benefits for 44 million Americans in more than 27,500 ongoing private sector plans.

Automobile Floor Plan Loan Industry Standards and Practices Important in Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, explains nationwide industry standard practices and procedures for automobile floor plan lending.

Adaptation in the Fire Service

It is important that the Fire Service adjusts to the ever changing political and financial pressures that affect its survivability.

Training is the Key to Success, or Failure, in Business

Provided by: Dr. Bob Rose
Business runs on processes such as hiring, safety, management techniques, etc. And the larger the business the more likely these processes will have associated training programs vs the OTJ training in Mom and Pop companies. And these training programs, while appearing excellent on the surface, may be quite faulty. If you evaluate problems relating to safety, proper employee treatment, etc. you should start by looking at the training.

Personal Injury Due to Glass Breakage, Window Detachment and Mirror Breakage

Provided by: Mark Meshulam
Despite codes and standards for safety glazing and consumer product safety, injuries continue to occur due to glass and mirror breakage, and window detachment. Who is at fault? What went wrong?

Wall Street Reform

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Wall Street Reform Act) was enacted into law July 21, 2010. Among other provisions, Title XIV of the Wall Street Reform Act amends TILA to establish mortgage loan origination standards. (HR4173, 2009) Included is a provision termed Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.

Irrigation Landscape Construction - Standard of Care and Industry Practices

Attorneys involved in construction defect and negligence cases determine whether or not a defendant satisfied the industry standard of care. However, cases involving irrigation related accidents and resultant lawsuits maybe difficult to determine the standard of care for a variety of reasons. This article examines standard of care issues and provides useful information for plaintiff and defendant cases.

Targeting Internet Child Pornography

Provided by: The MPM Group, Inc.
Are our law enforcement agencies effectively finding the real violators or are we simply identifying those who are slipping from Fantasy to Felony?

The Seven Rules for Hiring a Wireless Technology Expert

There are a number of factors that make retaining a wireless technology expert a daunting experience. The field of wireless technology is wide, the topic is deep and the specifics are complex. This article provides seven things you should look for when hiring a wireless technology expert to help guide you through this minefield.

State Pension Plans Influence Real Estate Purchase Decisions

School districts used to be the number one concern among families shopping for a new home or relocating. Homebuyers may now realize that public pension & retiree health obligations are an essential measure of a state, city, school district or county’s long term financial viability. Businesses deciding where to locate a new plant, open an office, or relocate their headquarters also are likely to add unfunded public pension & retiree health liabilities to their checklist of selection criteria.

Help Yourself for Sentencing

Provided by: PCR Consultants
A defendant's actions before, during and after sentencing can have a significant impact on his or her future. The Supreme Court Highlighted this issue in Pepper v. United States (No. 09-6822).

Economic Factors Important in Noncompete Agreement Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking and financial expert witness for plaintiffs and defendants in over 500 cases, Don Coker, discusses nationwide industry standard practices and procedures for noncompete agreements and how to establish economic damages.

Credit Union Litigation Issues Involving Nationwide Industry Standard Practices and Procedures

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, explains several common areas of credit union litigation.

Credit Damages Fundamentals for Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Recognizing, establishing and effectively demonstrating Credit Damages in litigation requires a comparative view of the damaged person’s or entity’s situation before and after the proximate cause, and a present value calculation to yield a current damages figure that incorporates estimated future damages, as explained by renowned nationwide banking and economic expert witness Don Coker.

Financial Fraud & Embezzlement Investigations & Prevention in Businesses, Divorces, Estates, Trusts & Probate

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, discusses financial fraud and embezzlement committed by employees as well as financial fraud and embezzlement in divorce, partnerships, estates, trusts, probate, and bankruptcy situations; and nationwide industry standard practices and procedures for avoiding many of these problems.

New ERISA Fiduciary Requirements for Expense Disclosure

Self-directed retirement programs, in the form of 401(k) and other individual account balance plans, now fund retirement income security for 72 million Americans, according to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). An estimated 483,000 participant-directed individual account plans hold almost $3 trillion in assets. Most, but not all individual account balance plans are self-directed by the participants.

Owning a Horse is a Huge Financial Investment: Get a Pre-purchase Exam Before You Buy!

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
You’ve decided to buy a horse and you have now located the horse of your dreams. There are a lot of emotions involved. Try very hard to put your emotions aside so you can make a sound financial and economic investment. Rarely do horses come with a money-back guarantee.

Trees and Litigation: Does the Tree Accident Merit for Defendant and Plaintiff Lawsuits?

Based on experience working with plaintiff and defendant cases, this article focuses on trees in the urban landscape and provides information that may prove useful for attorneys to consider in tree related cases.

The Selection of a Physician Assistant Expert Witness

When an attorney is in need of an expert witness physician assistant early retention and involvement of the expert can provide additional assistance to the attorney. This article reviews areas to consider when evaluating a potential physician assistant expert as well as a brief overview of the profession. It should be very valuable to the attorney who has not needed the expertise of a PA in a prior case.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Bankruptcies

The bankruptcy of a corporation that sponsors an ERISA governed pension or health plan triggers a series of actions intended to protect the benefits of plan participants if at all possible. This article identifies the different types of bankruptcy filings, the role of the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and options available to participants and beneficiaries.

Screening Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Horse

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
There are some very important preliminary questions you should always ask when buying a horse.

Construction Expert Witness Practice Overview

Provided by: The Artisans Group
This article offers an introduction to construction expert witness practice from our perspective. It includes some insights into: our capabilities; what a prospective client should seek from a construction expert; how to minimize the risk of being involved in a dispute, and some resources that may help the interested parties.

Legal and Psychological Effects of Workplace Harassment

As firefighters, we thrive on action. We are problem solvers, priding ourselves on working through problems and issues, particularly when called to assist complete strangers, regardless of the hour. We jump on our rigs and arrive at incidents to provide the highest level of service and professionalism to our community. Our question is: Do we provide this high level of service and professionalism to each other?

Catastrophic Economic Damages Valuation Methodology Issues in Insurance Claims and Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
How to recognize, establish and effectively demonstrate the various elements of Catastrophic Economic Damages for litigation is explained by renowned nationwide banking and economic expert witness Don Coker.

Evidence Collection for Wildlife Damage Related Cases

Tips for collecting evidence related to wildlife damage management problems and cases.

Time Required to Obtain a Facility Security Clearance (FCL)

Various factors affect the amount of time it takes a company or organization to obtain a facility security clearance (FCL) . Taking these factors into consideration can enable a company to reduce or minimize the amount of time required for it to obtain a U.S. facility security clearance.

Introduction to Voluntary Employees’ Benefit Associations (VEBA)

A voluntary employees’ beneficiary association is a type of trust fund formed to provide members and their beneficiaries with a specified set of employee benefits. Life, health, accident, and medical (including retiree medical) coverage are the most common benefits provided through a VEBA.

Are New Jersey’s Efforts at Curbing Attorney Mail Solicitations Missing the Real Issues?

New Jersey legislators are considering statutes that would require attorneys to wait 30 days before contacting defendants or victims of accidents. The proposed bills raise questions as to how law firms might effectively market themselves while still remaining true to all ethical guidelines.

Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence (FOCI) and U.S. Facility Security Clearances

Foreign Ownership, Control, or Influence (FOCI) affects an organization’s ability to obtain and maintain a facility security clearance in a number of ways. Whether an organization is applying for a Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret facility security clearance, FOCI is always assessed by the U.S. government.

Seven Biggest Retirement Mistakes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
As with most things in life, a few mistakes can dominate the final results achieved. We identify and explain the most expensive common retirement financial mistakes.

Addressing Electronic Database Discovery – Challenging yet Rewarding

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
It is naïve to think that any complex commercial case can be run competently without involving data bases used by your client and/or your opposing party. This short article provides the initial information needed to get you started on the correct course.

Seven Questions Every CIO Should Be Able to Answer about eDiscovery and Legal Holds

eDiscovery & Legal Holds are increasingly showing up on the radars of CIO's and IT Managers. Since the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) came about, internal legal counsel and IT departments have had to start a new dialogue as to what responsibilities, and capabilities an organization has in regards to preserving data required for legal discovery. Even more challenging are the tasks IT staff are being asked to perform in terms of actually doing the electronic preservation.

Wildlife Damage Management - An Introduction

Many lawyers are familiar with liability issues related to pest control companies. However, most don't know about a sister field called wildlife damage management. Wildlife damage management has significant liability issues as well but is not as familiar or understood by the public. This article details some of the key differences.

European Volcanic Ash Cloud Economic Damages Factors that Are Important in Damages Calculations and Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
How to recognize, establish and effectively demonstrate Economic Damages in litigation over the Eyjafjallajökull European Volcanic Ash Cloud airline disruptions is explained by renowned Banking and Economic Damages Expert Witness Consultant Don Coker who was chosen to serve as the economic damages expert witness for the 900 business owners in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish and that were damaged by the Ingram Barge’s Industrial Canal breach during Hurricane Katrina..

Keep Records of Your Horses Show Records

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
Show records provide proof that your horse can do what you say it can do, it can indicate proof of soundness, it can help you substantiate an increase in value for insurance purposes, and it can help you establish equity in your horse.

Defending Electronic Funds Transfers Act Missing ATM Sticker Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some important issues that impact Electronic Funds Transfer Act litigation over missing ATM stickers or decals.

Economic Damages Factors from the BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Discharge into the Gulf of Mexico

Provided by: Don Coker
How to establish and effectively demonstrate for litigation the various elements of Economic Damages that resulted from the BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion & Oil Discharge is explained by renowned nationwide Banking & Economic Damages Expert Witness Don Coker who was chosen to serve as the economic damages expert witness for the 900 business owners in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish and that were damaged by the Ingram Barge’s Industrial Canal breach during Hurricane Katrina.

Economic Damages Fundamentals and Industry Standard Practices for Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
How to recognize, establish and effectively demonstrate Economic Damages in litigation is explained by renowned nationwide banking and economic damages expert witness Don Coker who was chosen to serve as the economic damages expert witness for the 900 business owners in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish and that were damaged by the Ingram Barge’s Industrial Canal breach during Hurricane Katrina.

Banking Industry Standards and Practices for Funds Wire Transfers by Fed Wire, CHIPS, SWIFT, ACH, and EFT

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, provides an informed inside view on important and confusing issues that often arise in banking litigation and business litigation involving funds wire transfers by Fed Wire, CHIPS, SWIFT, Automated Clearing House transactions, and Electronic Funds Transfers, and how to handle them in litigation.

Selecting Discounts Rates for Personal Injury & Employment Damage Calculations

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
When calculating damages covering future periods, the future amounts must be reduced to present value to account for the time value of money. In the majority of cases, economic damage calculations in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment cases use discount rates that are too low. Consequently, the calculated damages pertaining to future periods are too high.

Obama Commission Presents First Ideas on How to End the U.S. Government Financial Disaster

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In August 2010, we summarized an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report that concluded the U.S. is broke. Last week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued similar conclusions in its report on the Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook.

Defending Foreclosure Class Action, Mortgage Loan Modification, and Attorneys General Lawsuits

Provided by: Don Coker
State Attorneys General and other entities have filed class-action lawsuits against many mortgage investors and mortgage servicers over alleged foreclosure errors, alleged missing documents, alleged business practices that they do not like, mortgage loan modifications, and other matters. Renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker explains some important issues that impact defending these class action lawsuits.

Retiree Medical Benefits and Obligations

As baby boomers prepare for retirement, many are planning on future medical benefits from their employers. Unfortunately, many retirees will be disappointed to learn that these benefits can be changed or terminated. Studies indicate the number of companies with 200 or more workers offering retiree health insurance fell from 66% in 1988 to 33% in 2005. This article explores several key provisions of retiree medical benefits and associated ERISA guidelines.

Proving a Case in Litigation Against Rating Agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking and mortgage banking expert witness Don Coker, explains from a banker's and valuation professional's viewpoint how to analyze one of the major supporting issues that impacts Rating Agency Litigation involving mortgage-backed securities.

Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Buyback, Putback, and “Robo-Signer” Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned nationwide banking, lending, and mortgage banking expert witness Don Coker explains some important issues that impact litigation involving Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (“RMBS”) forced mortgage buybacks, also known as mortgage putbacks, and “Robo-Signer” allegations.

Personnel Policy Manuals - Time for Review?

Personnel Policy Manuals are an important tool in guiding on duty and off duty behavior of your employees. Most Personnel Policy Manuals have not been revised for many years and may contain material not appropriate for today's workforce and out of compliance with current laws.

Banking & Mortgage Litigation Involving Missing Loan File Documents and Foreclosure Errors

Provided by: Don Coker
A renowned nationwide mortgage banking expert witness explains that mistakes occur in banking, like all businesses. When a missing documentation or foreclosure error is found, it should be corrected as quickly and accurately as possible. Like other businesses, banks follow established industry standard procedures utilizing the universal economic principle of division of labor in correcting documentation problems, and follow up with a ratifying, authorizing signature on the foreclosure documents.

New Frontiers in Expert Testimony: Quantifying Risk in Commercial Litigation

The article will examine litigation arising from failed banks and the Gulf oil spill. These high profile cases involve catastrophes that are alleged to have been caused by risk management failures attributable to human error. The author will demonstrate how behavioral economics and a branch of study known as ‘decision making under risk and uncertainty’ is used to quantify human factor risks. The article was first published by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education on October 1, 2010.

Major Fire Loss Investigation - A Fire Analyst's Perspective

This article discusses the "ins" and "outs" of fire loss investigation for the insurance industry discussing major fire loss investigation procedures - applicable also to smaller fire loss examinations. A focus upon preservation of subrogation potential and recovery is its major theme. A guiding document, NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation is discussed, as are the proper procedures when investigating a major fire loss. The author is a seasoned veteran in the field.

Home Security Tips

While the author has maintained a burglar alarm system for many years, he does not rely on this system as his sole protection source. There are many other actions that can be used to protect your home. Burglars will normally by pass homes that appear more challenging to gain access. Most access is made through doors and windows during daylight hours.

Forgery Proof Your Signature

Since no two people write exactly alike, signatures are used for identification on legal and financial documents. However, some signatures are poorly written enabling others to successfully forge their signatures. This article offers suggestions to improve your signature so that it cannot be easily imitated.

Florida Homeowners Are Losing the Fight but It’s Not Because of the Banks

Provided by: MFI-Miami
Are Florida attorneys doing a disservice to Florida homeowners?

Preventing Fraud in Troubled Companies

Provided by: HP Accounting
In an economic downturn, many companies begin to encounter issues with their primary lenders as a result of financial losses and diminishing liquidity.

Insight into the Armored Car-Cash-in-Transit Industry

Most news regarding the armored car industry is the result of news media covering robberies or truck crashes. This article provides insight into this little known industry and the men and women who risk their lives daily transporting and guarding valuables.

Church Security Suggestions

Far too many churches in our country provide little or no physical security for parishioners. I believe that this lack of security is due to concern that a security program will create unnecessary alarm for parishioners. Many church leaders believe that a security incident will not occur at their church.

Tamper Evident Security Deposit Bags

Customers are using tamper evident deposit bags thinking that if these bags are compromised, tell tale signs are evident. When a tamper evident bag is compromised, a marking such as VOID should appear on various parts of the bag; the type of marking varies. If these markings do not appear, the bag is considered uncompromised when in fact a poorly designed bag may not reveal that the bag was indeed compromised. The absence of industry standards adds to the confusion.

What Banks Can Learn From Casinos

Provided by: Jim G. George
Casinos are the most sophisticated industry when it comes to customer identity issues and fraud control. Banks can learn from some of their techniques.

Eight Opportunities for Better Consumer Banking Fraud Controls

Provided by: Jim G. George
Having worked as a fraud-reduction consultant for many years, the author finds many banks have opportunities to strengthen their anti-fraud programs.

The Viability of Process Audits in the Subrogation Process

When subrogation documents are received by an attorney, claims adjuster or carrier the focus is normally on whether or not the insured can be held liable for the damages caused and an investigation is either commenced or the facts regarding the situation are reviewed. When dealing with files that pertain to large loss fire, water, smoke or other similar incidents some thought should also be given to the viability and precision of the quantum being claimed.

The usefulness of Parameters in Large Loss Restoration

As persons who utilize the services of restoration firms for either expensive and complex projects it is beneficial to view the process through an informed prism. I have alluded to several factors that should be taken into consideration before during and after the project is underway. A process audit will confirm the validity of the methods, equipment and labor utilized to complete the project however as they say an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Did Your Tree Fail and Cause Injury or Property Damage? Don’t Expect to Use an Act of God as Defense

In this article, the author writes about premise liability and the responsibilities of homeowners to protect the public by maintaining their property in a safe, hazard free condition. The same responsibility to protect the public has been increasingly extended to trees and hazardous conditions they represent. Are your trees creating a legal liability?

Fire Subscription Services – A Legal and Moral Conundrum

The recent lack of an effective fire fighting response to a house fire in the rural area surrounding the city of South Fulton (Obion, Tennessee) has created a national fire storm of discussion related to rural fire protection, the moral obligation of the firefighters and how to pay for these services.

ERISA Summary Plan Description Requirements

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that governs private pension, group life, and health plans, requires that plan participants receive a document known as a summary plan description ("SPD"). Although the SPD must be drafted in accordance with two Department of Labor regulations, it does not have to be called "The Summary Plan Description." This article describes the general content and distribution requirements of the summary plan description.

IRS Scales Back Its Draconian Schedule UTP Draft, and Requires the Finalized Schedule in 2010

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The now-finalized form is required in 2010. We provide the background, changes, potential solutions (for some), and the remaining difficult legal privilege issues.

Small Business Law Creates Tax Breaks and “TARP 2” Lending

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
This week, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The law contains $12 billion of tax decreases & increases, and creates a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund that allows the Treasury Department to make capital investments in smaller banks.

Defending Bank Garnishment Litigation Filed Against Banks and other Financial Institutions

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness Don Coker, explains some important issues and banking industry standard policies, procedures, and practices that impact bank garnishment litigation.

Wire Transfer Fraud

Provided by: Richard F. Cross
Small businesses are being victimized by wire transfer fraud that involves substantial financial losses to the victims. The victims’ banks have denied responsibility citing UCC4A as a defense. Case law needs to affirm a bank’s financial responsibility for customer losses from Internet fraud where either the bank’s security procedures are not commercially reasonable or the bank failed to recommend commercially reasonable security procedures and controls to its Internet banking customer.

There's Gold in Power Supplies!

It is no secret that power supply related patent disputes can be highly lucrative. And it is not hard to see why - power supplies are ubiquitous. If you are thinking of filing a patent infringement suit, I invite you to consider the intellectual property related to power supplies.

Diversity: the Fire Service Must Define this Issue before We Can Solve It

There has been a lot of controversy and discussion about diversity in the fire service. Some fire service authors have indicated that we have too much diversity; others that we don’t have enough diversity; and still other that there is room for all at the table.

Guide to COBRA Health Insurance Benefits

COBRA is widely known to both employees and employers as a way to provide continued health insurance coverage when a period of employment ends. Many people do not realize that COBRA is actually an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, passed by Congress in 1986, and not an acronym related specifically to the language of employee benefits. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was amended with the passage of COBRA.

Protect Yourself when Purchasing a Horse

Provided by: ValueMyHorse, LLC
Because the cost of a lawsuit is so steep, make sure your "horse transaction" is memorialized with a lawyer-prepared, well-written contract.

Mark to Market Considerations in Banking Asset and Liability Valuation and Bank Accounting

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains some important issues that impact the Mark to Market debate taking place today.

Texas Forgeries

Recognizing Forgeries in Land Documents.

Sectional Scaffolding Basics

The author describes sectional scaffolding in which his expertise is essential for the attorney in determining causation of injuries suffered by workers.

Economic Substance and Banking Aspects of Custom Adjustable Rate Debt Structure CARDS Tax Shelter Transactions

Provided by: Don Coker
Banking consultant, former high-level governmental banking regulator, and renowned banking expert witness consultant Don Coker explains some important economic substance and banking issues in CARDS tax shelter litigation.

ERISA Reporting and Disclosure Requirements

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") was enacted by Congress to protect the retirement funds of hard working Americans. While the law does not require an employer to offer a pension plan, it does set minimum federal standards and reporting requirements for corporations, unions, and other entities that choose to provide employees with a retirement or benefit plan. Read the full story for details.

Checklist of Suspicious Features

If you have a suspicious document or handwriting, any or all of these clues should alert you to the need for a document examiner.

Serial Killers - A Homicide Detective's Take

An article by Captain Nelson Andreu concerning his experiences with Serial Killers during his 20+ year tenure with the Miami Police Department. Submitted May, 2005

Scaffolding Basics - Part 1

There are good reasons to carefully select the right scaffolding for your project, probably the least important of which is the cheapest bid for the supply and its erection. What follows is based upon many years of experience in the design, fabrication and erection of this equipment.

Outsourcing the Fire Service

This article looks at the trends of Cities and Town's looking to reduce the cost of providing services to the community targeting public safety.

Identifying the Source of a Power Surge

Provided by: LWG Consulting
Q: Is it possible to differentiate between lightning related surges and artificially generated electrical surges?

An Expert for Which, Defendant or Plaintiff Cases? Impartiality Is the Key

Continuing his monthly expert witness publication, Jeremy Rappoport, President and founder of Rappoport Development Consulting Services LLC discusses the importance of impartiality governing the decision to represent defendant or plaintiff cases.

Electrical Accident Liability

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
Electricity may be, correctly or incorrectly, a source of a liability claim.

Recovery Beyond Workers' Compensation

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
After most industrial accidents insurance compensates their victims with workers' compensation paying medical bills and wages. There is no tort liability of the employer even if he is guilty of negligence.

Electrical Injuries

Provided by: Lawrence Kamm
Electrical accidents create personal injuries which are the subjects of attorneys' lawsuits. Expert witnesses reconstruct these accidents for lawyers and establish their liabilities. Among these accidents are electric shocks, electrocutions, electrical explosions, electrical fires, and flash burns. Lawyers are particularly interested in product liability cases. This lawyer's tutorial explains the basics of electrical accidents as an introduction to dealing with expert witnesses.

Firefighter Arsonists – Stopping the Problem at the Door of the Firehouse

This article explores the reasons or motivations behind firefighters setting fires, and what is missing in the recruitment, hiring, testing and training process that allows these individuals to become members of our profession.

Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB)

The term “other post employment benefits” refers to a type of deferred compensation. Certain specified non-pension benefits are promised after the employee retires or leaves a company, in exchange for their current service.

Prepare Now For 1099 Reporting Under The Health Care Act

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In order to pay for health care benefits, the scope of Form 1099 was considerably extended. Effective for payments made after December 31, 2011, practically all business transactions will require 1099 reporting. We provide suggestions for the considerable additional work and systems, which should be started soon.

Supreme Court Certiorari Decline Paves Way for IRS Proposal of Important Tax Return Disclosure

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Proposed Schedule UTP requires taxpayers to report areas in which the IRS can easily assert additional taxes are owing. We explain the accounting rules and legal privilege issues.

Four Tactics to Obtain Full Value When Using Accounting Experts

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
Business litigation is expensive, and the cost of consulting and testifying experts can constitute a significant part of the overall budget. Attorneys who strive to effectively advocate for their clients while being cost conscious should consider the dynamics of the relationship they have with their experts. The following tactics for improving interaction and communication with an expert can reduce overall costs and enhance the value the expert can contribute to the conduct of your case.

Supreme Court Ruling in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB: Even Without SoX, Better Auditing is Here to Stay

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
On June 28th, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the matter of Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, finding that Congress went beyond its powers in establishing the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SoX”).

Expert Witness Advice on Prosecuting & Defending Bank Director & Officer Liability Lawsuits Filed by the FDIC

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, a veteran expert witness for the government and defendants in extensive FDIC D&O litigation in the previous banking crisis, explains some of the important issues in director and officer liability litigation, and how to handle them.

SEC Takes Initial Measures to Avoid a Second Flash Crash

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
We explain high-frequency trading that likely caused the crash, and the additional regulatory changes that will be seriously considered.

Interactive Chi-Square Calculator Illustrates Independence Testing

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
We explain this widely used and valuable test, other statistical alternatives, and non-discrimination uses. But the pièce de résistance is the online calculator that you can use yourself.

More Is Needed to Improve Credit Rating Agency Conclusions

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Ratings of debt instruments are an integral part of U.S. financial markets. Reliance on these ratings is increasing, but their reliability is pathetic. A Congressional commission held a recent hearing involving the credit rating agencies. Past and current Moody’s employees who testified provided shocking information.

Nevada Attempts to Capitalize on California’s High Taxes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Nevada is running another series of advertisements which attempt to woo California’s businesses to their state. Advertisements released this last week mock California legislators.

CEOs Rank California Worst for Business in Entire Country

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In its sixth annual report, CEO Magazine reported the results of its survey of over 650 chief executive officers regarding how all 50 states rank as to its business conditions. This is not a predetermined result based on uncontrollable factors, but is instead the result of leadership and policy issues that are avoidable.

Indian Tribes Win Big in California Lawsuit

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In a ruling that has not received deserved press attention, the Ninth Circuit concluded California could not obtain revenue sharing or “taxes” from Indian tribes because the arrangements violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The case has national significance since it prohibits similar arrangements in numerous states that now benefit from Indian gaming.

In Midst Of Record Deficits, Congress Will Not Have A 2010 Spending Plan

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
This is the first time since the current 1974 rules were created that the House will fail to pass a budget. We explain legal requirements, and why this is happening.

Critically-Important CBO Cost Estimates for President Obama’s Health Care Changes Were Materially Wrong

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Last week the Congressional Budget Office issued “updated and expanded” cost estimates that show their prior “final” estimates were entirely incomplete and misleading. We explain what happened, and what should have happened.

Expanded SEC Whistleblower Program Is Likely

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A little-noticed provision in the financial regulatory overhaul legislation currently before Congress provides for a significantly expanded SEC whistleblower program. We explain the proposed law, the IRS’s results with a similar program, and practical suggestions of what to do.

New Economic Substance Test Eliminates Certain Judicial-Based Confusion, but still Allows Significant Judgment

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The recent health-care legislation (H.R. 4872) will be partly paid by a 40% penalty on tax underpayments related to transactions that lack “economic substance”. Although aimed at tax shelters, the new penalties could be used by the IRS for much broader tax assessments.

Banking Litigation Involving Check Fraud, Bookkeeper Embezzlement, and Checking Account Administration Issues

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, renowned nationwide banking expert witness, former banking executive, and former governmental banking regulator Don Coker, explains some important banking issues and nationwide banking industry standard policies, procedures, and practices that impact employee check fraud embezzlement litigation.

NFPA 1001 Standards as Minimum Training Standard for Firefighters

The NFPA 1001 (Firefighter I and II) standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements for career and volunteer fire fighters whose duties are primarily structural in nature and the purpose of this standard shall be to ensure that persons meeting the requirements of this standard who are engaged in firefighting are qualified. It shall not be the intent of the standard to restrict any jurisdiction from exceeding these requirements. How does that affect you and your department?

Multiple Employer Pension Plans and ERISA

A “multiple employer pension plan” (or MEPP) is a qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, that is sponsored by multiple unrelated employers. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) applies to MEPPs, which must meet the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code in order to receive employer contributions for employee retirement benefits.

Spousal Guaranties in Business Lending Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author discusses the sometimes tricky area of spousal guaranties in business lending. Federal Reserve Regulation B prohibits lenders from requiring that a spouse guarantee a loan simply because she or he happens to be the spouse of a person applying for credit.

Banking Litigation Involving Check Deposits Made at a "No-Envelope" or Imaging ATM

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains the process of how check deposits made at no-envelope, image-capable ATMs work, and discusses important issues that often arise in banking litigation involving check deposits made at these ATMs, plus some related forged endorsement issues, and how to handle them.

Measuring Bank Capital and Bank Financial Health

Provided by: Don Coker
The author draws on his experience as a high-level banking executive, high-level banking regulator, and regulatory-appointed interim manager of several insolvent institutions in this explanation of measuring bank capital and bank financial health.

The Dark Side - An Ethical Dilemma

Should an expert testify for the Dark Side? Is there a dark side? Should an expert be a zealous advocate for his client? What guidance, if any should a client give to an expert in forming an expert opinion? This article will help you understand the role of an expert and why the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation is important in picking an expert.

Searching for Dollars in Old Policies

When a lawsuit against your company alleges bodily injury or property damage occurring years ago, insurance companies will not respond if you cannot find your policies or prove they existed. This article has helpful hints on where to look and what you need to find so that the insurance company will respond.

"Non Qualified" Executive Compensation

In the benefits and compensation field “non-qualified” is generally used to describe arrangements which do not receive special tax favored treatment, while “qualified arrangements” do. For example a qualified 401(k) plan produces a current year tax deferral for contributions and a tax deduction for the employer’s portion. This article reviews the differences between non-qualified and qualified executive compensation plans.

Safety 101: Laws that Save Lives

Legislation regulating transportation safety is saving lives and reducing serious injuries in motor vehicle collisions year after year. This ongoing legislative effort continuously changes the landscape of our transportation system and the automotive industry in profound ways by mandating programs, rules and regulations that proactively address the three key elements of highway safety: Humans, Vehicles, and the Environment.

Litigation Over the Calculation & Application of Mortgage Loan Payments, Late Fee Charges & Escrow Accounts

Provided by: Don Coker
Many disputes between borrowers and mortgage lenders have at their root the question of how mortgage payment amounts should be applied to the loan balance. Other lawsuits arise over questions involving escrow accounts and the payment of insurance premiums and property taxes.

Anti-Money Laundering Laws and Practices for Banks, Individuals, and Corporations Involved in AML Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author discusses the requirements of the United States’ anti-money laundering laws and the banking industry’s standard practices and procedures for implementing these legal requirements. He also explains some related principles of offshore banking, wire transfers, Know Your Customer, Economic Substance, and other pertinent practices related to anti-money laundering issues and litigation.

Letters of Credit, Bills of Lading & International Trade Finance Documentation Issues Important in Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains from a banker’s and financial professional’s point of view factors that must be taken into account by attorneys handling litigation involving letters of credit, bills of lading, documentary collection, international trade finance documentation, offshore transactions, offshore finance, transfer pricing, international business entities, multinational business entities, and other related subjects.

Fire Training Officer Liabilities

Training is a vital part of fire department operations. Its importance is even greater when you consider the mission of the fire department and the inherent dangers of a firefighter’s job. Firefighting and first-response fatalities average 100 each year with more than 83,000 injuries occurring annually. Training is designed to prevent these deaths and injuries but unfortunately, improper and unsafe training also results in firefighter deaths and injuries.

Litigation Involving Offshore Banking, Offshore Bank Accounts, Offshore Finance, Trade Finance, and Tax Havens

Provided by: Don Coker
Court-recognized banking, anti-money laundering, and taxation expert witness and former banking regulator Don Coker explains from a banker’s and financial professional’s point of view factors that must be taken into account by attorneys handling litigation involving offshore banks, offshore bank accounts, offshore finance, offshore transactions, transfer pricing, international business entities and finance, multinational business entities, tax havens, wire transfers, and many related subjects.

Corporate Governance: Accounting Standards Compliance a Concern

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
Audit Committee members should ensure that the accounting departments of the companies on whose boards they serve are adequately staffed and resourced to cope with FASB’s Accounting Standards Codification, IFRS, and other looming changes to the financial reporting landscape. Doing so should be seen as central to the governance duties of the committee.

Seven Tips for Attorneys to Utilize GAAP Accounting Standards Codification

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
Attorneys serving as advisors to business clients, as house counsel, or for assisting in structuring major transactions such as business combinations or filing SEC registration statements, should be familiar with the importance of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). While not accounting experts, per se, attorneys need to be assured that GAAP is being applied properly and that their clients are being protected from contractual provisions that could be disadvantageous to them.

Three Ways an Expert Witness Can Save Law Firms Time and Money

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
Many law firms unknowingly, and unnecessarily, sacrifice limited billable hours by only utilizing an expert witness and litigation support staff during the final trial phase. Law firms can improve efficiency throughout the litigation process by retaining an expert witness early on, and then consulting with that expert witness throughout the trial preparation process.

EBITDA Pro’s and Con’s

EBITDA, an acronym for "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization," is an often-used measure of the value of a business.

Rules in Medical and Dental Malpractice

Provided by: JD.MD, Inc.
This means the doctor has to be up-to-date and in step with modern medicine or dentistry. For example, we know today that lumpectomy and simple mastectomy produce better results in most cases of breast cancer than the disfiguring, disabling radical mastectomy that was popular with breast surgeons for many years. Today, a doctor who rushes in and does radical breast surgery, without considering conservative treatment, is not up to the state of the art and is guilty of malpractice.

How to Hire an Independent Accountant: What an Attorney Needs to Know

Provided by: Epstein + Nach LLC
An accountant can add dimension and provide unique solutions to attorneys engaging in litigation or performing transactional work. Deciphering the credentials and understanding the type of accountant that would serve the needs of a specific project can be challenging. The backgrounds and capabilities of some of those who might assist attorneys are addressed in the following paragraphs.

Proposed DOL Rules Will Dramatically Change Investment Advice Provided To 401(k)S And IRAs

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Last week, the Department of Labor proposed requiring investment advisers to (i) disclose their fees and (ii) show that the computer models used to offer advice are objective and unbiased. The new rules will alter the investments commonly held in 401(k) and IRA accounts.

Moody’s And Bernanke Warn Of U.S. Budget Deficits And Related Credit Rating Problems

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Moody’s warned that it might pull the federal government’s triple-A credit rating if President Obama’s recently-released budget is implemented. Last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gave similar serious warnings about the same budget.

Expert Witness Federal Rule Changes Will Take Effect December 2010

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
On September 15, 2009, the Judicial Conference approved rule changes under federal Rule 26 regarding expert reports and the discoverability of communications with expert witnesses. The rule changes have been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court with a recommendation that they be approved and transmitted to Congress in accordance with the Rules Enabling Act.

ESI Spoliation Case Will Be Widely Followed

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In another case destined to be widely quoted, U.S District Judge Shira Scheindlin of Zubulake fame issued a ruling electronic discovery spoliation which she entitled Zubulake Revisited: Six Years Later. (See Original our case summary for a primer on the first Zublake decisions).

Dodd’s Retirement Casts Further Doubt On Proposed Financial Industry Regulation

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The Obama administration’s financial regulation proposals are significant, although they have been overshadowed by the health care debate. The financial industry proposals will now receive much greater attention, but these “reforms” may also be in doubt.

IRS to Finally Require Tax Preparer Registration, Continuing Education, and On-Site Visits

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
For the 2007 tax year, about 60% of the 143 million individual tax returns filed with the IRS were done by paid preparers. Tax preparer registration for these paid preparers has been considered for years.

Construction Lending Industry Standard Practices Applicable to Construction Loan Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
The author, and experienced lender and expert witness, explains the industry standard process of how construction loans and acquisition and development loans are originated and administered.

Broker Price Opinion and Property Inspections Practices and Procedure for the Mortgage Industry

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains some of the details of property inspections and Broker Price Opinions that are often misunderstood and become the subject of disputes between borrowers, mortgage lenders, and mortgage servicers.

Rumplestiltskin LLP: Spinning 1 Junk Fax into Bars of Gold…or Pigs of Lead

In this article, the author explains the basics of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and illustrates the risks of unsolicited fax solicitations with an example scenario. He briefly discusses preventions and defenses based on his considerable expertise in telecommunications and his experience as a consulting and testifying expert for the defense in TCPA cases.

Can Coronary Artery Disease Be "Thin Sliced"?

In Malcolm Gladwell's best selling book, "blink," the author desrcibes the concept of "thin slicing," that is, using what appear to be seemingly innocuous, superficial characteristics and patterns in people and situations to make astonishing, profound and correct predictions. Can this same principle be applied to medicine and in particular heart disease?

Construction Claims During the Financial Crisis – What Developers Need to Know

Provided by: Prime Consulting
Developers need to be extremely careful during an economic downturn when Contractors are desperate for work. This may sound confusing, however, the fact remains that the lowest tender is not usually the best tender, especially during the current crisis. Claims-savvy Contractors can convert low tenders/negative margins to profit by pursing an aggressive claims strategy.

Obama Administration Shows Phony Tarp Profit Through Tax Trick

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Without any Congressional approval, the IRS quietly eased net operating loss (NOL) rules for companies that sold stock to the federal government under the TARP program. The new tax rule provides still further subsidies to non-government shareholders, while paying for the increased value entirely with foregone taxes that apply to other corporations.

Expert Witness - A Valuable Asset

Provided by: William Gulya, Jr.
Are attorneys overlooking a valuable asset? Many indeed are. As in any field of expertise, there are good and bad expert witnesses. A slogan I once read said, “The right attorney can make the difference.” So too can the right expert witness.

Mediation in Romania

Provided by: Zeno Daniel Sustac
Custom is a second human nature and the Romanian justice has inoculated itself for years the concept that any misunderstanding should be resolved in a court of law.

Top 2010 Legal Growth Areas Create Opportunities for Thought Leaders

“Follow the money” is a suitable adage for legal marketing when it comes to business development in the new decade. Industries like energy and health care are obvious recipients of funding inflows based on governmental policies and demographics. Ten top law practice areas with expected high growth rates in 2010 and beyond are outlined below. Attorneys who set themselves apart as thought leaders—through speaking, writing, and press coverage—will gain a competitive advantage.

Basic Characteristics and Life of Residential Mortgage Loans

Provided by: B & F Experts
In today’s real estate mortgage market, it is essential that the expert understand, be fully aware of, and cognizant of the entities involved and their roles in initiating, processing, underwriting and funding all types of prime and subprime residential mortgage loans including ones. In addition, the stages that a prime and subprime residential mortgage loans processes through during its “life” are also crucial. The following is a summary of these two areas.

Facebook and Divorce: Airing the Dirty Laundry

Provided by: ViaForensics
For those who want to connect or reconnect with others, social-networking sites are a huge, glorious honeypot. But for those who are disconnecting, they can make things quite sticky. And as the age of online-social-network users creeps up, it overlaps more with the age of divorce-lawyer users, resulting in the kind of semipublic laundry-airing that can turn aggrieved spouses into enraged ones and friends into embarrassed spectators.

IRS Needs Significant Additional Controls in Its Role as Disbursing Agent for Refundable Tax Credits

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In two reports made public in December 2009, the IRS Inspector General concluded (i) the IRS ignored previous recommendations, causing significant refundable tax credits to be paid improperly, and (ii) by improperly issuing taxpayer identification numbers, the IRS allowed billions of dollars of fraudulent refundable credits.

Sharia Law Will Likely Be a Creditor Disaster in the Dubai Restructuring

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Dubai announced that it would seek a six-month postponement of debt repayments. The announcement came as a shock initially, but has since been generally dismissed by the press. This situation provides insights regarding Islamic finance with which most in the West are unfamiliar.

House Passes Important Regulatory Changes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The entire House of Representatives will soon consider the Investor Protection Act. We provide a summary of what it contains without the political sound bites that you have already heard (and hopefully dismissed).

401(k) Fee and Disclosure Litigation Gets a Boost

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
This month, a settlement occurred which (i) demonstrates that these cases have meaningful value and (ii) will likely provide a model for others. We review the settlement, and the primary employer-friendly case that encourages employers not to settle at all.

Upcoming Supreme Court Ruling Could Impact The Mutual Fund Industry … But Probably Will Not

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Section 36(b) of the Investment Company Act establishes a fiduciary duty. Since a 1982 industry-favorable ruling, there has not been a single successful lawsuit against a mutual fund over management fees. The U.S. Supreme Court now is considering this issue. Mutual fund management fees may need to be reworked, or at least rigorously justified through analysis based on the costs of servicing the different classes of investors.

November 2009 Law Provides more Stimulus and Unemployment Spending

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Under broad bipartisan support, Congress passed the Worker, Homeownership & Business Assistance Act. The authors provide details not covered in the surface-level reporting you may have already seen.

The Weakest Link

Provided by: Michael Levine
The mishandling of informants by unqualified law enforcement and covert agency personnel at the highest levels of management, has led to horrific tragedies, from the killing of innocent citizens and false arrests to the opening of the heart of America to terrorist actions.

Employment Records

During recent years I have been asked to prepare career employment and compensation reports by attorneys acting on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Whilst carrying out these assignments, I have noticed in numerous cases that it has been a common feature for the plaintiff’s actual employment history and educational details to be incomplete.

Determining the Admissibility of Event Data Recorders for Traffic Accident Reconstruction in Illinois

The admissibility of information obtained from vehicle event data recorders (black boxes) has been challenged in many states. This article is intended to explain how EDR data was challenged in Illinois and ultimately accepted.

Bank Security Principles and Issues Important in Bank Robbery-Related Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Bank robberies are traumatic for those involved and sometimes lead to litigation. The author, an experienced nationwide banking expert witness, explains some of the nationwide industry standard policies, procedures, practices, and considerations in bank security, as well as measures that can be implemented to improve bank security, including the employment of security guards that can be utilized to reduce the chances of a bank robbery occurring in the first place.

Litigation Involving Bank Trust Departments, Wealth and Investment Management Nationwide Industry Standards

Provided by: Don Coker
Having faced just about every issue that can come up in the fields of bank trust departments, wealth management, and investment management involving estates, trusts, and probate, the author, renowned nationwide expert witness Don Coker, shares his insights on many of these recurring issues and nationwide industry standard practices and procedures.

Why We Need Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and How to Resurrect Them

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains the difficult situation with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and how to restore them to their useful place in our financial funding system.

Considerations in Defending State Attorneys General Class Action Lawsuits Against Mortgage Lenders

Provided by: Don Coker
In response to the unusually high levels of delinquency rates and foreclosure rates for mortgage loans, including subprime mortgage loans, the attorneys general of several states have filed class-action lawsuits against some of the country’s higher profile mortgage lenders. However, the situation may not be as simple as the state attorneys general see it.

Juror Expectations: Successfully Utilizing Forensic Animation in Courtroom Proceedings

As our society becomes increasingly saturated with technology, jurors will expect the use of more complex and accurate visual aids in the courtroom. Jurors, especially of the younger generation, have come to count on visual media to augment their understanding of a topic.

Small Public Companies Will Get No Further Reprieve From Internal Control Reporting

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
After years containing numerous delays, an additional six-month delay was granted. However, the new deadline is for real.

Affluent Should Consider Roth Conversions

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Starting in 2010, affluent taxpayers can convert assets from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. We review the various factors that should be addressed in making this decision. Many affluent taxpayers should take advantage of this in 2010.

California Service Firms Must Now Register With BOE, and File Annual Use Tax Returns

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Practically every California law firm and every other service business will now be required to register with California’s Board of Equalization (BOE), and file a new annual tax return covering use tax obligations. The first reporting will cover the three years of 2009, 2008, and 2007. Unless you are one of the rare businesses that fully reported use tax previously, penalties and interest will also be due.

Two Recent Bankruptcy Cases Threaten Secured Lenders’ Position

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Secured lenders should be concerned about two recent rulings in which the bankruptcy court used its discretion in performing its role as a court of equity. The cases (i) expand the definition of an “insider” to include a creditor with a “close relationship” to a debtor, and (ii) under what circumstances a lender can be equitably subordinated.

Defending Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Debtors pursued by companies that have purchased their delinquent debt often file a counter claim or other lawsuit against the owner of the debt.

Equine Appraisal: The Value of our Horses

I am frequently asked, “What is an Equine Appraisal?” There are many definitions of appraisals in general terms. The shortened version for equine appraisal purposes is as follows: “An appraisal is not a precise measurement, nor a guess. It is a relative estimate (opinion) of value based on supporting facts.” I always like to compare equine appraisal with real estate appraisals. The two are basically the same, with a few exceptions, of course.

The Latest Technology in Email Tracking and Notification

Provided by: SysArc, Inc.
You just sent a prospect or client an important email? Oh-Oh, what happens next?

Employee vs. Independent Contractor Status Receiving Increased Attention

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The IRS announced a new audit initiative. In light of employers’ risk under both tax and employment laws, companies and their legal advisors should proactively review this area. We summarize the IRS and employment law rules for making these judgmental decisions.

Federal Circuit Reverses $350 Million Damage Verdict Not Supported by Proper Expert Testimony

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The Plaintiff failed to put on a complete damages analysis, yet the jury (and trial court) allowed a huge award. The broader lesson involves the need to present a complete damages analysis at trial using an expert witness who is willing to say “no” when the client’s desired result is clearly ridiculous.

Financial Experts Improve Bankruptcy Litigation Results

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Bankruptcy is largely a financial negotiation. The cost of getting expert appraisal and accounting assistance is a fraction of the “prize” that is being negotiated. We review the bankruptcy process and explain opportunities where financial expert help is necessary.

SEC Inspector General Report Shows Incompetence at Best and Fraudulent Cooperation at Worst

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The Madoff scandal is the largest financial fraud to have ever occurred. The Office of Inspector General recently issued a scandalous report entitled “Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme”.

The Basics of Film Finance

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Financing of film projects often requires an elaborate patchwork of investors, banks, soft money tax credits and in-kind services, and some companies specialize in financing specific stages of production. One of the overall themes of the industry that can at times make obtaining financing hard is the risks involved in making films, many of which may have very little tangible value at the end of the process.

The Entertainment Industry — Points to Consider When Evaluating a Case

Provided by: Kathryn Arnold
Of the thousands of screenplays written every year, only 450 to 500 of these are "lucky" enough to be made into motion pictures. Of those produced, less than half are released in theatres and of those remaining, only a portion are released directly to DVD.

Embalming and the Standard of Care

Handling a case that involves embalming of a decedent is difficult and challenging. Having a consultant or expert embalmer is the key to understanding the standard of care or any possible torts involved.

Citations and Your Credibility

Provided by: William Gulya, Jr.
Whether you have been an expert witness for years or are just starting out, accurate research, proper formatting of citations and clarity will make your written report accurate, impressive and, most of all, credible. As you gain more experience in utilizing proper techniques you will become more comfortable and confident.

Five Characteristics of Successful Family Law Practitioners

Provided by: Ferris Consulting
I have been coaching and working with family lawyers, mediators and collaborative practitioners across North America and Europe for the past 8 years and have observed the characteristics of highly successful practitioners . Here are the five characteristics that I’ve found that work for practitioners who have succeeded in building a family law practice.

Considerations in Defending Banking and Financial Class Action Lawsuits and Multi-District Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Important factors in banking and financial class action lawsuits alleging economic damages and credit damages.

Mortgage Banking and Mortgage Loan Servicing Industry Standard Practices and Procedures

Provided by: Don Coker
The author explains some of the industry standard practices and procedures in use in the mortgage banking and mortgage loan servicing industries.

Deletion of "Claims Clauses" from Construction Contracts - Does it Prevent Claims?

Provided by: Prime Consulting
This article discusses the risks associated with removing clauses that relate to claims from modern standard construction contracts (like FIDIC) while amending the same to suit a particular project/development.

Toxic Bank Asset Valuation Principles

Provided by: Don Coker
Sometimes, you just have to wonder what a loan officer and a loan committee were thinking when they approved and originated a particular loan. People that have the authority to approve loans have to have the courage to, as Nancy Reagan put it, “Just Say No,” when the answer fits the loan request.

In Print or On-Line? Where Should those Directory Dollars Go?

One of the questions that consistently comes up these days is how law practices should allocate or rather reallocate their advertising funds between print directories versus directories of the on-line variety.

Mortgage Banking & Loan Servicing Industry Standard Practices & Procedures in Wrongful Foreclosure Cases

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Banking and Lending Expert Witness Don Coker Presents An Explanation of the Banking, Loan Servicing, and Mortgage Banking Industry Standard Policies, Practices and Procedures in the Foreclosure of Real Estate Mortgage Loans.

Top Reasons to Market Your Law Firm Online

Several of the most recognized law organizations are becoming continuously more dependent on the world wide web and their company website to draw in new clients. Even when the competition is high in terms of numerous well-known lawyers and law organizations already flooding the internet, the virtual world still presents many alternatives for smaller groups. Thus, it could very well be a smart move to invest into law firm marketing online if you’re new in the game.

Bernie Madoff is a Bad, Bad Man

Provided by: Don Coker
Other than Bernie Madoff, who else is responsible for this mess? An experienced banker, investment manager, and expert witness examines some of the issues in this significant investment fraud case.

A Primer on Intellectual Property and Intangible Asset Royalty Rates

Provided by: Don Coker
A survey of the structure of royalty rates for intellectual property and intangible assets is explained by experienced expert witness Don Coker.

Detailed Audit Provisions Save Headaches

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The audit provision within many licensing agreements is nothing more than a short paragraph in what may otherwise be a highly detailed document. We provide sample audit provisions that a licensee should include in every agreement.

First Circuit Applies New Standard Restricting Work Product Privilege when Information is Used for Financial Reporting

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The attorney work product doctrine, now codified in Federal Rule of Evidence 26(b)(3), protects from discovery documents prepared "in anticipation of litigation or for trial." In a 3 to 2 decision, the First Circuit determined that only information directly "prepared for" use in litigation is protected from disclosure. Potentially, the ruling affects every public and private company that addresses litigation and/or tax exposures for financial reporting.

My Experience at IndyMac Bank

This article discusses the conflicts of interest, including executive compensation, that resulted in the eventual failure of IndyMac Bank. It also discusses appraisal issues and the legal issues facing a discharged whistleblower.

Real Estate Syndication Fraud

Real estate syndicates often have agendas that do not align with the interests of the limited partners and usually derive most of their income from fees which are proportional to property acquisition prices. This is a built-in conflict of interest and was an area rife with abuse in the 1980s. New, trans-national syndication are emerging to purportedly exploit real estate opportunities in other countries.

Commercial Mortgage Fraud and Appraisers' Responsibilities

This article focuses on common methods of deception used in fraudulent schemes involving commercial properties and land.

Ninth Circuit Reinstates More Lenient Standard For Whistleblower Protection

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Because of the DOL’s hostility to whistleblowers otherwise protected under Sarbanes-Oxley, the only real relief for employees has been through the district courts. Last week, the Ninth Circuit made its first ruling on the standard necessary for fired employees to claim protection under SOX’’s whistleblower provisions.

Former Madoff CFO Pleads Guilty, Pledging Cooperation That Will Help Both Criminal And Civil Cases

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Frank DiPascali Jr. is the first person to fully cooperate with the government in the $65 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme. DiPascali acknowledges the involvement of unidentified others in the fraud, and describes the mechanics of the cover-up. We also address failures of the regulators and government auditors in light of DiPascali’s revelations.

Use of Standards in Cases Involving Agricultural and Grounds Maintenance Equipment

This article summarizes how important it is in cases involving agricultural and grounds maintenance equipment that an agricultural engineering expert find all of the appropriate government and industry standards as well as safety information from other organizations and then determine whether the equipment involved in the case complies with these standards.

Three Things that are Wrong with Most Executive Pay Plans

When a company experiences a decline in its financial numbers, the finger is often pointed at the easiest culprit: the compensation plan.

Compensation in the Context of Total Rewards

The newest “buzz phrase” in the compensation world is “Total Rewards.” This includes not only the traditional elements of pay and benefits, but it recognizes that people want to enjoy their work and, when they finish the day’s work, they want a life from which they get pleasure.

Incentive Compensation in Family Businesses

Between now and the year 2015 family-owned businesses are going to have to learn to cope with at least three new realities. First, business in general will continue to get more competitive and faster paced, thereby requiring greater management skills.

Compensation In Nonprofits

Compensation In Nonprofits: Why Variable Compensation Is An Important Consideration In The Design of Effective Compensation Packages

Mortgage Banking and Loan Servicing Industry Standard Practices and Procedures for Force Placed Insurance

Provided by: Don Coker
A look at what happens when a collateral property is not covered by insurance and a lender has to force place insurance.

Handling Family Law Problems in a Tough Economy

Provided by: Vitetta Law Group
For average Americans, divorce or separation can be the greatest emotional and financial drain they ever confront, but it doesn’t have to be. With all of the economic uncertainty, comes greater stress and potential exacerbation of family tensions. If you are facing divorce, separation, custody, alimony, or child support issues and want to keep moving forward in a cost effective way, here are some suggestions to consider...

Why do you Need a Swimming Pool Expert?

An expert analysis of the various paths to resolving problems with swimming pool construction. The bottom line is that you will eventually need an expert... Don't waste your time and money on ineffective solutions.

Financial Checklist for People Contemplating Divorce and Separation

Provided by: Vitetta Law Group
Regardless of the type of divorce process you choose to use, it is important to identify your marital estate...

Alimony is Serious Business

Provided by: Vitetta Law Group
It is natural to wonder early on in a divorce process what kind of alimony obligation there might be. However, it is one of the more complicated aspects of Family Law...

Troubled Bank Management 101: A Detailed Analysis of an FDIC Cease and Desist Order

Provided by: Don Coker
Restructuring Bank Operations, Practices, and Procedures to Comply with the Requirements of Cease and Desist Orders and Banking Laws and Regulations.

Taxpayers with Unreported UBS Foreign Accounts should Accept IRS Amnesty Deal

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Previously-secret Swiss bank account information will soon be given to the IRS. The IRS contends that UBS has 52,000 of these unreported accounts containing $14.8 billion total asset value. We provide details of UBS’s court losses, and the IRS’s related amnesty program.

Practical Applications of California’s New Electronic Discovery Law

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
California’s “Electronic Discovery Act” is effective now. While most of this closely follows federal law, there are a few important distinctions. We provide practical guidance on understanding and applying the new requirements.

How Private Equity Firms Can Profitably Invest in Troubled Banks

Provided by: Don Coker
Private Equity firms can profitably invest in banks by injecting reasonable capital, engaging experienced, professional bank management, and prudently investing the bank’s funds in loans and other investments that make economic sense.

Largest-Ever Patent Infringement Damages Award

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas, known for its “rocket docket”, dished up a Texas-sized damages award involving a blockbuster drug. The filings, docket, and time incurred look more like a small-time breach of contract case than a $1.7 billion case between industry titans. This district houses 11% of all patent cases nationally, and is the largest jurisdiction for patent cases in the country.

U.S. Private Companies Now Have Additional Accounting Alternatives

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Although there has often been a call for simplified accounting principles for smaller or non-public enterprises, U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) historically has not included a separate financial reporting standard for smaller companies. This changed last week. The new rules are dramatically simpler and shorter. But, companies adopting the new standards will also need to make other changes in how certain transactions are treated.

A Troubling Process Industry Trend

This trend has increased risks and caused process plant explosions.

Iran Sanctions: Still a Viable Option!

Provided by: Victor D. Comras
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to address a Canadian House of Commons Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the potential use and impact of sanctions on Iran and its quest for nuclear weapons. My Testimony is below:

Internet Check Scams that Target Attorneys and Law Firms

Provided by: Don Coker
Check Scam scenarios evolve and become more sophisticated over time. Anyone can become a target for a check scam criminal. However, as strange as this may sound, one of the most popular (and effective) check scam scenarios today is one that targets attorneys. Expert Witness Don Coker explains what you need to know to protect yourself and to deal with problems that occur.

A Banker's Guide to Effectively Managing and Marketing Bank Owned Foreclosed Real Estate Properties

Provided by: Don Coker
A Banker's Guide to the Major Considerations in Handling OREO/REO. A discussion by former high-level banker, banking regulator, banking consultant to 60 banks, and experienced troubled bank rehabilitation manager.

The Wacky World of Interim Management

Provided by: Don Coker
The author comments on Interim Management, Interim Turnaround Management, Interim Restructuring Management, Transition Management, Crisis Management, Project Management and other Temporary Management situations often arise suddenly and can involve work anywhere in the world.

Subprime Lending Fundamentals Important in Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
A Primer on Subprime Mortgage Loans, Subprime Lenders, Alt-A Mortgage Loans, Alt-A Mortgage Lenders, Subprime Credit Cards, and Subprime Car Loans.

Credit Card Expiration Dates and FACTA

Provided by: Don Coker
Important Legislation that Affects Every Business that Accepts Credit Cards.

“Gotcha!” at Closing: Beware the HOA Inspection Report when Buying a Home

Ask the right questions before your home purchase contract becomes irrevocable.

Business Valuation Fundamentals

Provided by: Don Coker
An Overview of Several Methodologies for Valuing Businesses.

Managing Troubled and Failed Banks for Maximum Advantage

Provided by: Don Coker
Major Factors to Consider When Hiring Management for a Failed or Troubled Bank.

Prescription Drug Abuse: In the US and Florida

According to the Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse, United Way, 2008, in 2007 there was a daily average of 9 lethal overdose reports in the state of Florida that involved the non-medical or illegal use of prescription medications , total of 3,317 fatal overdose reports, a 19% increase over the 2,780 fatal overdose from the previous year. According to DEA-ARCOS reports, Florida physicians dispense five times more oxycodone than the national average of dispensing physicians.

When the Port of Authority was Allowed to Write their Own Codes

Allowing any agency such as the Port authority or USPS to ignore rules as a cost cutting measure lives are placed at risk such as the inadequate fire suppression systems in the WTC and how the post offices ignored the dangers of employees coming into contact with asbestos on the work room floors where everyone came into contact with it

What Temperature should Hot Water Be?

I am constantly asked in court "what is the ideal temperature of hot water."

Real Estate Closing Fraud and Title Company Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Fraud and Litigation Involving Real Estate Closings, Closing Protection Letters, and Title Insurance Industry Standard Practices and Procedures, explained by Expert Witness Don Coker

Bakken Oil Could Significantly Improve U.S. Economic and Political Strength

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Worldwide oil discoveries have been less than worldwide annual production since 1980. U.S. oil reserves are quite low. We review a hopeful U.S. oil discovery that could be huge. Ironically, sharply increased oil prices could make the U.S less foreign-oil dependant.

Real Estate Tax Assessment Appeals Start Now

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Real estate values are dropping materially. With these value drops comes the possibility that you may be entitled to real property tax relief. However, you must specifically ask for the lower taxes. We describe the process and requirements.

A Primer on Intellectual Property Valuation

Provided by: Don Coker
A Primer on the Valuation of Intellectual Property, Intellectual Capital, and Intangible Assets is presented by experienced expert witness and valuation professional Don Coker.

The Facts on the FACTA Clarification Act

Provided by: Don Coker
Important New Information on What is Now Considered Willful Violation of FACTA.

Residential Real Estate Declines Become Quite Large … and are Still Growing

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The declines are far beyond the initial impact caused by subprime lending woes. We present graphs and related commentary using the best real estate price index that is available. Real estate lenders will continue to be quite cautions in this environment. It is likely that real estate will be one of the last industries to escape the current recession.

FASB Toughens Off-Balance-Sheet Accounting

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
An important accounting rule change will be finalized this month that will result in $900 billion in liabilities being put on the balance sheets of the nation's 19 largest banks that just completed the Treasury’s stress tests. Some banks will have to record related losses that have previously been hidden.

Is the Bureau of Prisons Failing to Properly Implement the Second Chance Act of 2007?

Provided by: The MPM Group, Inc.
As of this writing, there are approximately 200,000 people being confined by the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a component of the Department of Justice (DoJ). Their offenses span the spectrum from high treason, acts of terrorism, bank robbery, or even murder - to the more mundane non-weapon/non-violent offenses.

Does Unlicensed Software Put your Organization at Risk?

Software licensing is a major challenge for every software manufacturer from a one-person start-up to Microsoft. Piracy is rampant and software manufacturers are continuously looking for new ways to prevent illegal distribution of their products and catch those who use pirated versions.

Search Engine Optimization Success Tips

To succeed at marketing any business you must focus on achieving high “ROI”, or Return on Investment. Simply put, spending your marketing dollars intelligently to maximize your returns.

GAAP Reorganization Will Cause Short-term Frustration, but should Improve Research Capabilities

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
On July 1, 2009, the new “Accounting Standards Codification” (ASC) becomes the sole authoritative accounting guidance for U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The ASC divorces new codification content from historical pronouncements, and will require certain accounting disclosures to be re-written. Accounting and legal professionals will need to re-learn everything they know about how U.S. GAAP is documented, updated, referenced, and accessed.

Toxic Drywall Claims Could Be Next Large Wave Of Construction Litigation

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The newest phase of “sick house” litigation appears to be here. Drywall imported from China is releasing sulfur compounds that provide a rotten egg smell, and causes corrosion to copper used in plumbing and air conditioning tubing, electrical wiring, bathroom and kitchen faucets, appliances, and other metal products. Health hazards are also being alleged. We provide background and analysis.

Working Smarter — Not Harder

What a manager needs to consider as he/she moves from being a supervisor to top levels of management. The challenge of deciding how to work smarter rather than harder.

Tax Proposal would Mean the Practical End of the Most Popular Estate Planning Trust

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A Senate bill would allow the unused portion of the first-to-die’s estate tax exemption to be used by the second-to-die spouse. This eliminates the primary reason for most estate planning trusts. The bill makes other important estate planning changes, and makes permanent many of the existing rates and tax benefits outside of the estate planning area that are scheduled to sunset. As expected, outside of the estate planning changes, those making more than $171,550 will not get these tax goodies.

Post-Judgment Royalty Rates in Patent Infringement Cases Increase

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
As part of the fallout from the Supreme Court’s eBay decision, trial courts must make separate non-jury findings regarding post-verdict damages when a permanent injunction is not granted. Under this recent case, all other things being equal, the royalty rate will always be higher than what the jury found.

Understanding and Calculating the Cost of Turnover

A brief look at how one determines their turnover rate. Another article details the causes of turnover and how to reduce it's impact on your organization.

Reasons for Turnover!

Resolving turnover issues is not too difficult if one is committed to taking the appropriate actions.

How to Conduct an Effective Interview

Far too many managers approach an interview as something they have to do rather than looking at it as an opportunity. Being prepared to interview enhances the possibility of hiring the right person for the right position. Lack of preparation almost ensures you get another warm body needing a job!

M&A Accounting for Lawsuit Contingencies Revoked

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
An accounting pronouncement highly criticized by the legal profession was formally revoked this month, putting back in place rules that the lawyers have known for years. The requirement of disclosing in the financial statement footnotes the range of expected outcomes for a recognized contingency at the acquisition date is similarly eliminated.

Central District of California Case Poses New Requirements for Internal Investigations

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In a recent Central District of California case, the judge suppressed evidence and referred the lawyers involved to the state bar for disciplinary action. The Court concluded that a written conflict waiver was needed before the results of an interview of the chief financial officer could be used/shared. A written waiver is not the current standard when performing internal investigations, which causes the case to have broad interest and concern.

Employers Should Disable Internet Explorer 8 InPrivate Browsing

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Microsoft recently launched Internet Explorer 8. This Internet browser controls around two-thirds of the market, and will be automatically updated through Microsoft’s updates. The most important feature of the new program is what the press called “porn mode”, or the ability to have Internet usage kept private. All other Internet browsers either have or soon will have a similar feature. This causes legal and human resource issues that are best addressed by turning this feature off.

Legal Work Explodes During A Troubled Company Restructuring

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
These complex deals require a host of legal efforts, even if a bankruptcy does not occur. We provide a graphical and summary explanation of the major efforts that should be occurring in the non-legal areas, and the timing of each.

The Prestigious American College Of Trial Lawyers Proposes Dramatic Litigation Changes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The very specific recommendations largely affect discovery. The entire process would be changed, and new strict limitations would exist. These proposals would change the economics of litigation, both for the clients and the litigators serving those clients.

RIF Statistical Audits Reduce Discrimination Risks

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Employers contemplating a reduction in force (RIF) can reduce exposure to discrimination claims through relatively inexpensive pre-RIF statistical testing. When compared to the cost of litigation, testing before final conclusions are reached is an inexpensive check. We review recent disparate impact cases, and provide best practices for avoiding litigation.

The General Aggregate and Long Tail Claims - A Historical Perspective on Claims For Increased Limits

Since 1985 the Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy has had a General Aggregate Limit. Prior to that time there was no aggregate for premises bodily injury and there were four separate aggregates for property damage. This article explains why and how the aggregate limit developed over time.

Enforce the Jones Act and Stop Letting Foreign Vessels Work in the Gulf

Provided by: iMajestic
You would think that in these days and times when Americans are suffering with economic difficulties and Government is spending money faster than they can print it, that the U.S. Government would be doing everything it could do to keep jobs for its citizens from letting jobs fly out the door to foreign concerns. You would think that, if there were jobs right here in the United States, the Government would at least try to keep those jobs from going to foreigners.

What to Buy When the Market Crashes?

Opportunities are abundant in a market crash, but what are the best choices?

Limited Time Remains for Valuation Discounts with Family Entities

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Several important changes are expected in estate & gift taxes. A common planning tool involves creating family-owned entities and then valuing the transferred interests at a discount. In all likelihood, this tool will end. As long as the current proposal is not changed to become retroactive, estate planners should accelerate these plans. We describe expected changes in the estate & gift tax, and the likelihood of passage.

History Lesson for Stocks: Time to Buy?

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
With the major indexes hitting valuations not seen for more than a decade, one might understandably believe that stocks are a poor place to have one’s money. Regardless of whether you suffered from the recent stock carnage or were smart enough to exit before the decline, the question at this time (or any time) is what will be happening to future prices? Our interactive model calculates historical returns. We then provide the lessons to be learned for today’s market.

More Resources Will be Allocated to Financial Fraud Initiatives

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Government resources are usually allocated based on the political sentiment of the day. Currently, white collar financial crimes associated with the recession are in favor. We summarize statistics released by the FBI and Treasury department. White collar defense lawyers face improving business conditions.

Major (And Expensive) Tax Changes in Stimulus Bill Explained

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 makes over 300 changes to the Internal Revenue Code. Most changes are retroactive only to January 1, 2009, and affect primarily individual (vs. business) taxpayers. Practically none of the cuts benefit higher-income taxpayers. We explain who benefits, how much, and when.

First Law Signed by Obama will Increase Employment Discrimination Litigation

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
By reversing a Supreme Court the statute of limitations ruling, employees are now able to pursue discrimination cases that otherwise would not have been viable. Statistical analysis in these cases will likely be a tool used by both sides.

New SEC Chairperson is Likely to Bring Big Changes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Mary Shapiro is now the first permanent female SEC chairperson. She is almost certain to change numerous positions taken by her predecessor.

The Role of the Expert in the Courtroom, Choosing the Right Expert

It is absolutely necessary that the forensic expert is an impartial evaluator. The outcome of a case is not relevant to the forensic expert; it is not his or her job to win or lose cases. The job of the expert witness is to reach an impartial opinion and then defend that opinion within an adversarial context. If new information is provided that changes the weight of the evidence in such a way as to change the expert's opinion then the expert must be prepared to do so.

2008 and 2009 Personal Tax Changes For The Affluent

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
This article addresses changes that we already know about. The Obama administration and its friendly Congress will certainly enact additional tax law changes. We focus on items affecting the affluent, and not the myriad of tax breaks that are eliminated when one’s income reaches various threshold levels.

GAO Issues Report on Regulatory Changes – A Great History Lesson, but Most Ideas Come up Short

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The GAO just issued a report that will likely to assist the Obama administration’s changes to the U.S. financial regulatory system. We summarize the GAO’s description of the regulatory problem, and their ideas of what to do about these problems. Although the report is correct on many fronts, the good ideas are lost in other Pollyannaish, obvious, and banal thoughts that are not worth the ink spilled.

SEC Finally Updates Oil & Gas Reserve Reporting

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Reserves are the most important asset for most energy companies. Surprisingly, this publicly-reported data is based on 30-year old technologies and measurement approaches. Last week, the SEC voted to allow important changes that will give the public much-needed information.

Largest-Ever Ponzie Scheme should have been Obvious to Anyone who Looked Seriously

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
$50 billion was duped from wealthy and otherwise sophisticated investors who could have avoided their losses if they followed some easy rules. We summarize the Madoff scandal, and explain how ponzie schemes and other financial frauds can be avoided.

Is There Evidence for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury? A Case for the Expert Neuropsychologist

Traumatic brain injury occurs in many forms, ranging from a fall or blow to the head resulting in concussive injury, gun shot or other penetrating wounds or classic automobile or motorcycle impact. When there is impact to the head, the scalp, skull, the covering of the brain (meninges), and the brain itself are affected to some degree and respond to the insult differently. The manner, in which these various parts react, depends on many factors.

The Value of Closely-Held Business Interests since the Financial Crisis

How the financial "crisis" has effected the value of closely-held business interests. Business Owners: Do Your Estate Planning Now!

Economic Realities Force General Counsel to Take a Hard Look at Legal Cost Control

As the economy takes a tailspin, don’t expect your law firms to voluntarily lower their fees. Astonishingly, this year partner billing rates broke record highs, with one firm exceeding the $1,200 mark and another rising above $1,100 per hour. That’s just the outside edge of the rate envelope. Other lawyers, emboldened by those outliers, are sure to close the gap.

No Relief Likely for Huge Pension Underfunding

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
With the end of the year just weeks away, many companies having traditional pension plans face a significant problem with woefully underfunded pension plans. Because of falling stock market values, lower investment (interest) returns, and changes in pension funding from a 2006 law, most employers with these plans will need to make significant additional contributions. Appeals for legislative change will not occur under the Bush administration.

Volcker Is a Fascinating Choice for Obama’s Economic Advisor

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
President-elect Obama announced the formation of the "President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board". The board will be chaired by 81-year-old Paul Volker, who served as the chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan. Volcker is out-of-line with current government actions which are dramatically increasing the money supply. However, in the long-term, Volcker may be exactly the advisor Obama needs the most.

Using Expert Witnesses: Get Your Money’s Worth!

Insurance attorneys are busy! No two cases are the same! Attorneys face weekly tight schedules for legal filings, depositions and court deadlines. Not to mention phone calls and client counsel sessions on a daily basis. As insurance expert witnesses we find this true of both plaintiff and defense trial lawyers who retain us. No secrets here.

Are You at Risk?

How prepared are you to defend your premise from litigation stemming from a charge of negligent or inadequate security? Looking back on the incident, we realize it would have been far less expensive if we would have hardened our defenses in the first place. Many times it is not that we neglected to install a security or safety feature, only that we didn’t make sure it worked or was installed correctly or was still working.

Can You Really Afford Low Price Security Guards?

Do you really believe the low cost bid will provide you with an effective security guard? Many organizations hire security guards because they “have to” or in order to compete for business or employees, or to make customers feel more safe. Many of them choose to have “warm bodies” demanding the lowest cost possible.

Credit Union Robbery Prevention - A Review of Best Practices for Prevention and Employee Safety

The robbery of a credit union is a traumatic event no matter if it is by passing a note (note passer) or a more violent robbery like a take-over or morning glory robbery. Robbery prevention should be a priority for each credit union office. Many robberies can be prevented by following accepted best practices and adherence to proven countermeasures.

Perfect Storm: The Science behind Subrogating Catastrophic Flood Losses

Subrogating flood losses remains a complicated issue which requires the diligence of subrogation professionals and their interaction with subrogation counsel and hydrology experts. Recognition of subrogation potential remains the biggest obstacle in successful subrogation of flood losses. Potential subrogation usually cannot be recognized unless you understand and speak the language of hydrology, and are willing to invest the time and resources necessary to flush out third party liability.

Deciphering the NHTSA Vehicle Black Box Ruling

Event Data Recorders (vehicle black boxes) have been installed in most motor vehicles for years, but it was not until recently that NHTSA decided to standardize the technology. This article is intended to explain the NHTSA Event Data Recorder Ruling.

Top Ten Legal Questions about Vehicle Black Boxes

Litigation involving Event Data Recorders (vehicle black boxes) is becoming increasingly more common. This article is intended to answer basic legal questions about the capabilities of event data recorders.

Licensing and Royalty Audits Deserve Greater Attention

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Companies can improve performance by (i) licensing technology or other intellectual property, and (ii) more assertively performing audits of existing licensees. Both of these areas generate the need for legal assistance. Legal counsel wishing to add value to client services (and who isn’t during challenging economic times?) should inquire about client practices in these areas.

What You Should Be Doing for Taxes Before Year-End

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Less than a month remains for planning transactions that will reduce your overall taxes. This year is considerably more complicated (yet important) because of expected changes under the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress. This article focuses on higher-income earners.

E-Discovery: Small Steps That Can Yield Great Savings

Over the past few years, e-discovery has grown from a little mentioned, often avoided aspect of litigation into a core component that can make or break a case. It first gained widespread attention in the Zubulake and Morgan Stanley cases, and was thrust into the spotlight late in 2006 by changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that specifically targeted discovery of electronically stored information (ESI).

Early Engagement of a Computer Expert Maximizes the Value of Electronic Evidence

Finding answers to the questions that arise in litigation often hinges on the proper acquisition, preservation, analysis, and presentation of electronic evidence. Reliance on electronic information is sure to increase as computer systems continue to integrate into more aspects of modern life. An experienced computer expert can provide key insight into making the best use of electronic evidence in a case.

IRS Toughens Position on Deductibility of Government Settlements

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The IRS recently issued two pronouncements that specify limited conditions under which settlement payments made to any government will be deductible. Lawyers negotiating settlement agreements will need to be more specific before their taxpayer clients can get a deduction.

Superior Sales Management Coaching – The Successful Blending of Process and Content

Provided by: Don McNamara CMC
Long before coaching became a recognized niche of and by itself, there was a long-standing belief in many sales organizations that coaching of employees was a fundamental management responsibility. Moreover, every professional sales trainer you spoke to, every textbook you read and every sales manager who had several years of experience would verify that coaching was a fundamental cog on the sales manager success wheel. But what has happened since?

Shifting the Sales Compensation Paradigm

Provided by: Don McNamara CMC
Before us is the thorny question of how to protect cash positions while balancing the seemingly contradictory problem of keeping cost of sales under control and your sales force intact while revenues decrease. Compensating sales efforts appropriately is one solution for protecting margins, profit and cash. Solving this issue may take creating a new paradigm for sales representative compensation.

Selling Nonstandard Products

Provided by: Don McNamara CMC
Over the years you will be asked by both prospects and customers to have your company create, build or supply a product, service or capability that is not part of your standard line.

Ball of String Sales Management Supervision

Provided by: Don McNamara CMC
How many times have you hired a new sales manager and because he or she was experienced and successful somewhere else, they understand how to be successful in your organization? Moreover, did you take for granted that the new manager understood what was expected of them on the very first day they began with you? And unfortunately sometime later discovered they do not have your company’s sales process, policies, procedures and prices well understood?

Sales Citizenship

Provided by: Don McNamara CMC
Experienced sales managers are always on the lookout for new sales representatives who, among other attributes, possess good people skills and are pleasant to be around. There are two fundamental reasons they should select incoming sales representatives who have sound social skills.

Finding an Expert in Iraqi Law

The author tells about his experiences as a expert on Iraqui law.

The Lesser Known Benefits of Forensic Animations

Most articles about forensic animations tend to talk about the persuasiveness and level of memory retention an animation can have on a jury. However, there are two other valuable benefits that are rarely talked about and in practice, are the most beneficial to an attorney.

Controversial Proposal Regarding Litigation Disclosures is Tabled, but Still Alive

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The legal community objected strongly to the FASB’s proposal to significantly increase litigation disclosures contained in financial statements. The proposed changes that were scheduled to start in just a few months will be delayed for a year. The FASB will create an alternative proposal for consideration, but the original proposal for has not been withdrawn.

Goodwill Impairment Tests are Important in the Current Economic Environment

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Because of the current recession and related bear market, practically every company will need to pay greater attention to its annual goodwill impairment test. Even without the recession and changing valuation landscape, previously acceptable goodwill appraisals might not pass the new fair value rules. Not following this accounting rule could have legal consequences with acquisition agreements and loan agreements.

The Challenges of Purchasing an In-ground Swimming Pool

The author gives some suggestions to consider when buying an in-ground swimming pool.

U.S. Treasury Committee Declines to Recommend Liability Limitations for the Large Accounting Firms

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The major accounting firms have a major litigation problem that threatens their very survival. This blue-ribbon committee made around 30 suggestions to ensure the “sustainability of a strong and vibrant public company auditing profession”, but did not provide the accounting firms what they really wanted.

Bailout Bill Includes Numerous Tax Provisions

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The $700 billion Wall Street bailout received most of the attention. But there are also important tax provisions that have little to do with the bailout. We provide a summary.

Nonprofit Organizations Now Need a Whistleblower Reporting Mechanism

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Regrettably, a large number of nonprofit organizations are victims of employee fraud. We provide the statistics, and reasons for these results. Because whistleblowers are the most common means of identifying malfeasance, whistleblower systems are now considered a best practice. Larger nonprofits will need to publicly report whether they have such a system in place as of the end of this year, and annually thereafter. Smaller nonprofits will have similar disclosure requirements in the future.

Litigation Settlement Errors are Remarkably Common

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A recent statistical analysis demonstrates that litigants should be settling more. A shockingly large percentage of litigants are getting trial results that are substantially worse than the offers they rejected. We summarize the study, when the errors are most common, and how to avoid this situation with better analysis.

Expert Case on Scaffold Accident

The author describes a typical accident case in which his expertise is essential for the attorney presenting the case.

DOL Continues to Ignore and Rewrite SOX’s Whistleblower Law

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Complaints involving this portion of SOX are initially administered though the Department of Labor’s OSHA. OSHA has dismissed almost half of employee complaints based on a strained interpretation of the law, and has substantively ruled against the employee in most of the rest of the actions. The authors of this portion of SOX have demanded change

Insurance Claims for Large-Scale Hurricanes

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
If your business has key suppliers or customers in the Gulf Coast area, your business could be significantly affected. This is true even though your own business property may not have sustained physical damage. This frequently occurs because of strategic supplier and customer relationships, outsourcing agreements, and just-in-time inventory systems. We explain this specialized type of insurance coverage, and provide additional advice regarding hurricane-related claims.

Investment Calculator – Should You Sell Before New Capital Gains Rate Increases Occur?

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
One of the differences between the presidential candidates is their tax policies. Current tax rates arise from two pieces of legislation supported by and signed into law by President Bush during his first term.

California Loses Big in Litigation Involving Its Tax Jurisdiction and Related Residency Audits

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A former California resident received a jury award of more than $388 million after suing California's Franchise Tax Board (FTB) for its conduct in auditing him.

Forensic Animations – Are they Right for Your Case?

Attorneys need to consider how well a forensic animation will fit into their case. Is it worth the expense? Will you get something that is effective? This article looks at some considerations before committing to a forensic animation for your case.

Cost to Review Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDD)

You’re excited about buying a franchise and are ready to trade your briefcase for an ice cream scoop. The company’s told you it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, given an impressive tour of their headquarters and taken you to a couple of their operating outlets. When the day ended, they presented their FDD or Franchise Disclosure Document. The representative told you to read it and the contract couldn’t be signed for at least 14 days, Who do you use and what’s it going to cost?

“Shameful” Interpretation of GAO Report Used to Mislead The Country

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Last week, the news repeated a Congressional report that the vast majority of corporations were making enormous profits, yet paying absolutely no taxes. The misleading commentary served as the starting point for proposing a corporate tax increase. Unfortunately, a complete and proper explanation of the facts was never offered. Examples like this support the saying “Figures lie and liars figure.”

Banks Settle With Regulators Over Auction Rate Security Misrepresentations

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Last February, enormous numbers of investors were caught with illiquid investments that were sold as cash equivalents. Over the last week, five major banks agreed to repurchase these investments and pay substantial civil fines. The remaining non-settling banks now face increased pressure to also settle. However, litigation will continue over substantial consequential damages that customers incurred.

Communication and the Forensic Animator-Attorney-Reconstructionist Team

Communication is one of the key elements in the successful application of forensic animation technologies to an accident reconstruction (or recreation).

Quick Tips for Preparing Courtroom Graphics and Animations

Far too often, the materials presented in court are just mediocre at best and do not pack the kind of punch required to really get a particular message across to the jury. There are a number of different aspects to preparing courtroom graphics and animations, but by just sticking with some of the more practical tips, better value will be gained from the visuals.

IRS Crackdown on Unreported Foreign Trusts Gets Big Boost

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Wealthy Americans are tempted to avoid high U.S. income taxation by moving funds offshore. But this “foreign” income is still fully taxable by the U.S. … unless the IRS never knows about it. Recent investigations have (or soon will) uncover the names and details of thousands of wealthy Americans who have engaged in illegal tax evasion. If you never gave in to the obvious temptation to have such a “tax-free” account before, you should not start one now.

DOL Issues Significant New Requirements for 401(K) Plans

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The DOL proposed new rules that will be effective as early as January 1, 2009. Generally, the rules require additional disclosures regarding costs charged to participants, and make it easier for plan sponsors to qualify for protection from litigation. Given the shameful undisclosed marketing practices used by vendors of 401(k) plans and the costs paid by participants at many these plans, the additional disclosure will cause plan sponsors to finally pay much-needed attention to this area.

DOJ’s McNulty Memo In Evaluating Corporate Cooperation Is No Longer DOJ Policy

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Under pressure from proposed legislation that would mandate a policy change, the Department of Justice promised to retract controversial portions of current DOJ policy that allows USAAs to (i) force waiver of the attorney client privilege and (ii) prohibit payment of employees’ legal fees.

Cell Phones And Handheld Devices Provide Discovery Opportunities

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The expanded power and intensive use of mobile devices mean that they often contain evidence that may not be anywhere else. But mobile devices provide challenges that do not exist for traditional computers.

Admissibility of Forensic Animations

Ensuring that your investment in a forensic animation gets admitted into court should be a concern for attorneys. By asking the right questions and working with a qualified forensic animator, one can avoid a costly and embarrassing situation. This article sets out a number of questions that an attorney should ask about the preparation of a forensic animation.

Deposition Translation

A professional deposition translator must be neutral and impartial. They must also have a firm understanding of the American legal system and its deposition process. The following are my views on what ought to be the appropriate protocol and critical aspects of being a deposition translator.

Exxon Punitive Damages Case Has Broader Implications

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
In deciding to limit punitive damages to no more than related compensatory damages, the U.S. Supreme Court set forth principles that go beyond maritime law.

Supreme Court Rules In Employees’ Favor On Disparate Impact Issue

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
After plaintiffs are able to “isolate and identify the specific employment practices that are allegedly responsible for the statistical disparities”, the employer has the burden of proof regarding why no discrimination is occurring. This brings the rest of the country to where the Ninth Circuit and California state law already was. Stealing a page from the plaintiffs’ play book, more employers should consider use of statistics to justify their conduct.

Five Mistakes Attorneys Make After Deciding To Hire An Expert

Provided by: Capital Finance
Today, many cases are won or lost on the testimony of the expert witness. Selecting the right expert for your needs is no easy task, but diligent work with experienced trial counsel in the selection and preparation process pays invaluable dividends. For a successful selection, the author explains what should be taken into account from his expert’s point of view.

Using Electronic Stored Information

Information technology has come a long way since the time of cuneiform tablets. Today litigators are finding that their cases---whether "computer cases'' or not---are relying increasingly on electronic stored information (ESI). This article considers two issues of ESI: data formats and encoding, and why lawyers should not fear the technology.

What Is a Safe Walking Surface?

There are a number of standards for measuring walkway surface traction, some of which have some validity, and some have been demonstrated to be invalid. The author gives some insights on this issue.

Learning to Speak Technobabble

As a Risk Management Consultant, the author discusses technical aspects of pedestrian slip resistance measurement and explains the terminology used by tribometrists. Furthermore, he explains some terms used by slip prevention practitioners.

Buying a Franchise: How To Evaluate Franchise Disclosure Documents and Franchise Investments

Buying a franchise represents a different approach to starting a business, a dream shared by millions. Having the independence that being your own boss brings, the security that no one can fire you, enjoying a good income - and for the most successful - the accumulation of wealth and prosperity. Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against a new small business making it big - or making it at all. An endless stream of problems makes competition from large, sophisticated chains too intense.

Cost Factors of a Forensic Animation

This article attempts to explain some of the cost factors of a forensic animation by considering and understanding the animation process.

SEC To Require Mandatory XBRL Submissions

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Starting with this calendar year, the largest public companies will have to tag their financial statements with computer code that facilitates compilation and comparison of reported data. Starting next year, all “accelerated filers” will have such reporting. We explain the background, importance, and cost of this financial reporting.

Home Equity Lines Of Credit May Be Dischargeable Even When Borrower Lies

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
A bankruptcy ruling from the Northern District of California could have enormous impact to the subprime loan crisis. Despite finding that the borrowers lied and would otherwise not be eligible for a bankruptcy discharge, the Court concluded that typical “liar loans” which underlie much of the subprime crisis are dischargeable because no lender would have reasonably relied on the representations contained in the loan application.

SEC Investigators Are Themselves Investigated By Whistleblower

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Last week, a federal Court ordered the SEC to produce thousands of pages of potentially damaging documents involving insider trading that the SEC did not pursue. Both the Senate and the Court are critical of the SEC’s lack of action. We summarize this interesting case.

Special Masters And Court-Appointed Experts Save Electronic Discovery Costs

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
When databases, computer forensics, or other large collections of electronic information are at issue, discovery challenges can be best handled with hands-on assistance from a neutral party. Courts lack the time and technical capabilities to cost-effectively get the job done. We summarize the reasons why special masters can save money, and summarize the authority for their appointment.

IRS Loses Another Case Involving Auditor Work Papers

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
Taxpayers won again in the ongoing dispute over whether tax accrual work papers are privileged. The case arguable applies regardless of which of the split in authority one adopts as the starting point. All of this is important because accounting requirements (FIN 48) would otherwise make accountants’ tax accrual work papers an IRS treasure trove. The case might also have applicability in battles over other types of work papers in which legal contingencies are at issue.

Study Addresses Electronic Storage Best Practices

Provided by: Fulcrum Inquiry
The prestigious Advanced Practices Council just released a study that was not intended for lawyers, but which litigators and in-house lawyers should understand. We summarize the recommended best practices, explain why most Information Lifecycle Management applications fall short, and tell you why many lawyers should care.

Photogrammetry in Forensics Introduction

When one tries to imagine how many digital images are captured each day around the world to preserve some type of visual data for accident or crime scenes, it quickly becomes apparent that there are practical uses for photogrammetry in forensics and reconstruction. Historically, the Remote Sensing and Mapping industries have been the largest users of photogrammetry; however, there has been an adoption of this technology in areas such as architecture, forensics, archeology and film.

Introduction to Forensic Animation Technology

In the legal industry forensic animations have seen a growing use by lawyers and courts since the early 1990’s. Even so, there are still numerous people who have avoided this technology simply because of a lack of understanding. Yet, time and time again, forensic animations have proven to be advantageous in deciding settlements or trials simply because they are one of the best communication tools available to lawyers and accident reconstructionists today.

CPR (Cooperative Project Recovery) - Reviving the Drowning Large-Scale IT Project (V2.0)

This article introduces my tested and proven four-tier, 13 step model which focuses on the actions that must be taken to turn around, overcome, and compensate for deficiencies in project management, methodology, technology, and people in live, ongoing projects — before you scrap the project, fire your staff, and/or move to litigation!

Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDD) - Mission Accomplished?

Franchise Disclosure Documents are a good concept in theory. Unfortunately, reality plays a more important role and reveals an entirely different picture. Here are some of my observations, based on twenty-eight plus years of experience in the franchise industry as a franchise attorney, franchise expert and former franchise owner. During this time, I’ve drafted, reviewed and negotiated over 500 Franchise Disclosure Documents.

How To Franchise A Business - Strategic Planning & Management of Franchise Systems

A company planning to franchise a business must realize it is entering a new business, offering an entirely different service (training & support) to entirely new customers (business owner-operators). This new business requires different skills, abilities and expertise. In the new business of franchising, it is critical to develop effective evaluation, documentation, training and consulting skills.

Franchise Attorneys and Franchise Consultants - Critical Evaluation Questions To Ask

Evaluating franchise attorneys and evaluating franchise consultants can seem a daunting task. But the firm a company selects to assist its entry into franchising (or refining existing franchise efforts) will have profound consequences. While you can always ask for a list of "references" (and when is anyone ever dumb enough to provide a bad reference?) there are more objective criteria that are not dependent on selectively disseminated information.

ERISA: The Distinction between Settlor, Fiduciary and Corporate Functions

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that establishes legal and operational guidelines for private pension and employee benefit plans. Not all decisions directly involving a plan, even when made by a fiduciary, are subject to ERISA’s fiduciary rules. These decisions are business judgment type decisions and are commonly called “settlor” functions.

The Source and Creation of ERISA Fiduciary Obligations

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that establishes legal and operational guidelines for private pension and employee benefit plans. The law requires that plan sponsors must provide participants with specific information about plan features and funding. ERISA also establishes certain fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage the plan, which is what will be discussed in this article.

ERISA Fiduciary Duties

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that establishes legal and operational guidelines for private pension and employee benefit plans. The law requires that plan sponsors must provide participants with specific information about plan features and funding. ERISA also establishes certain fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage the plan.

Plumbing to Prevent Domestic Hot Water Scalds

There are two types of hazards from domestic hot water systems: scalding and thermal shock. In the last few decades, the plumbing industry has come a long way in protecting people from these hazards.

Independent Report Concerning Mediation and the Mediation Profession in Romania

Provided by: Zeno Daniel Sustac
The amicable conflict solving between two or more parties, a procedure successfully employed in the USA and Europe, has determined the romanian society to perceive the advantages of the alternative means of conflict solving.

Mediation in the Romanian Criminal Law

Provided by: Zeno Daniel Sustac
The Romanian lawgiver has applied mediation to the field of Criminal Law. Articles 67-70 in the Law 192/2006 comprise special provisions regarding mediation in the criminal cases, thus paying special attention to mediation in this field.

Admissible Evidence

Computer forensic techniques must ensure that data collected during electronic discovery can be used as evidence in a court of law.

Construction Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

There are so many different types of building construction performed daily throughout the world. Some constructions involve building high rise structures while others involve roadways and tunnels. Most people understand the inherent hazards and construction safety but what about the latent effects from solvent vapor and dust exposures.

De nouvelles règles de procédure pour les experts judiciaires en Belgique depuis septembre 2007

Provided by: Costmasters
En Belgique, la réforme du Code judiciaire applicable à l’expertise judiciaire qui fut votée en avril 2007 est d’application depuis le 1er septembre 2007. Après septe mois de pratique, cet article met en avant les principales nouveautés de cette loi et en tire de premiers enseignements.

What’s on Your iPod?

Portable media devices put companies at risk of data theft or loss.

Workers Compensation Insurance Premium Disputes

This year, California employers will pay nearly $15 billion for workers compensation insurance. Although premiums – the price insurers charge for coverage – have dropped by half in just four years, they remain a major expense and an occasional severe headache for many companies.

Computer Forensics Specialist Is Able to Disprove a Claim Involving Improper Use of Data

As more and more business is conducted electronically, the legal community has become aware of the need to properly archive data that might be required as evidence in litigation. Computer forensics investigation certainly plays a key role in the electronic discovery process.

An Effective Electronic Use Policy, Combined with Computer Forensics, Can Help Prevent Employee Misconduct

Organizations purchase computers and other electronic equipment to increase productivity and improve customer service — but that doesn’t mean that’s all the equipment is used for. Employees tend to assume a degree of “ownership” of the devices on their desktops, and use them to some extent for personal reasons.

An Introduction to Ultraviolet Light (UV) and Electron Beam (EB) Curable Coating Technology

Ultraviolet light (UV) and electron beam (EB) curable materials are unique solvent-free compositions that cure (harden) in a fraction of a second upon exposure to a UV or EB source. The absence of solvent eliminates the need for large baking ovens used to process conventional solvent-based coatings (paints) and inks.

Mainframe Computer to PC Conversion Issues

When you need access to computer records or databases often you need to convert that data to a format your staff can use during investigation. When dealing with source data from IBM Mainframe and Mid-Range computers, the data files can use concepts foreign to PC languages and applications. Conversion accuracy and process documentation are critical to solid evidence. Many factors should be considered.

New Computer Aided Design Tools Enhance Forensic Accident Reconstruction

The latest advancements in Computer-aided design render forensic scientists far more helpful to attorneys, with far less effort, than ever before.

Construction Defects: What Often Goes Wrong And How the Contractor Can Avoid Defects Litigation

Provided by: MPGroup
Webster's Dictionary defines the word defect, as: 1. lack of something necessary for completeness; shortcoming 2. an imperfection; fault; blemish. To some Plaintiff Attorneys, and their Experts, the word defect has an entirely different meaning. It could mean that the work was performed with less than absolute perfection, with the "Standard" being "Absolute Perfection".

Construction Defects Can Be Avoided!

Provided by: MPGroup
In my previous article entitled "Construction Process Can Lead to Defects", I illustrated various aspects of how the construction process may well lead to defects.

Construction Process Can Lead to Defects

Provided by: MPGroup
Webster's Dictionary defines the word defect: 1. lack of something necessary for completeness; shortcoming 2. an imperfection; fault; blemish. When relative to construction claims, the word defect also equates to financial disaster when it reaches litigation.

"Safeguarding Machines with an Ergonomic Spin" Reprint

While the NSC publications provide generous guidance, two aspects they do not address fully are the application and implication of ergonomics and human factors in the design of machine safeguards.

"Matters of Interpretation" on the Issues of Confined Space & LOTO

Confined Space entry and Lockout & Tagout under OSHA are procedural standards... using procedures and practices to a significant degree. Due to this, there are always "questions" of what a certain section may mean. OSHA has offered numerous interpretations, and this article discusses some of those. This article appeared in the February 2005 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Interlocks as Machine Safety Devices

Interlocks are often required by codes and standards, but sometimes, where there is no such requirement, the safety philosophy of the configuration needs to be examined. The following article, previously published in a safety journal, discusses some related issues.

TASER Type Devices: Guidelines to Use of Force

The TASER type device (also known as an Electro-Muscular Disruption Device or EMDD) has received considerable news coverage over the last few years and most recently involving its deployment on a University of Florida student on campus several months ago. Much discussion has been generated as to when this type of weapon should be deployed by police and law enforcement personnel, and where it falls within the Use of Force Continuum.

First 100 Days - Transitioning A New Managing Partner

Provided by: Patrick J. McKenna
It may not be fair, but it’s true: Your first few months as Managing Partner—the time when you are just starting to grasp the totality of your new job—may well turn out to be the most crucial in setting the stage for a tenure that hopefully should last for years.

Specific Questions Enhance an Interview not Detract from It!

Improve your hiring by becoming a master of questioning.

Analyzing Failures

Failure analysis determines the root cause of failure. The information presented in the failed component allows a company to reduce the possibility of re-occurrence. This paper will discuss failure analysis in general terms.

Railroad Battle Brewing

Provided by: Fritz R. Kahn, P.C.
The proposed merger of the DM&E into the Canadian Pacific and its entry into the coal rich Powder River Basin of Wyoming is sure to be opposed by the Union Pacific and BNSF, which now alone originate coal shipments there. The dispute will need to be resolved by the Surface Transportation Board. If the transaction is approved, the rates for transporting coal are likely to be reduced, favoring the construction of coal fired electric generating stations.

Mediation for the Defaulting Homeowner

As long as home prices continued to increase at a blinding rate, there was no reason for the lenders to worry about the security for the loan they approved and funded. Now, in a very different market environment, they find themselves facing mass defaults on loans and very angry homeowners who say that the loan underwriters deceived them when they allowed them to purchase homes for which they were clearly unqualified.

Forensic Science - Fake Fingerprints?

Fingerprint evidence has widely been thought to be irrefutable in court. Things aren't always as they appear to be.

Following Procedure

Rules change is forcing organizations to establish processes for archiving, retrieving and handling data for evidentiary purposes.

Forensic Science - Erroneous Handwriting Opinions?

Sometimes corners are cut when utilizing forensic science to "solve" an issue at hand. This can lead to life affecting mistakes as well as expensive blunders. It is important to utilize all the tools available in order to reach a valid forensic opinion.

Forensic Science - The Good and the Bad

Like any field, forensic science has both good and bad practitioners. If analysis results are based on science, and science is exact, then how can there be opposing experts in litigations?

Bi-Lingual Safety Trainers are in Demand

Provided by: HSE Solutions, Inc.
Hispanic constructions workers are increasing but in many cases without proper safety enforcement and training. There is a need for more Spanish speaking OSHA instructors and inspectors to fill the void.

Has MSHA Lost Its Will To Enforce?

Provided by: HSE Solutions, Inc.
This article deals with the lack of strong enforcement of MSHA safety regulations which may have played a role in recent mining disasters. The author has over 35 years experience in safety with 10 years as an MSHA engineer and inspector.

Institutionalization of HSE

Provided by: HSE Solutions, Inc.
Institutionalization of HSE is not widely discussed but is the highest level of achievement that HSE performance can achieve. It means that HSE has become part of the corporate culture and is the way "we do business". It has become as natural as breathing. This paper discusses how an organization can achieve this lofty level of success. It is not an easy road but when achieved is well worth the effort.

HSE for the 21st Century - My Experience in Kazakhstan

Provided by: HSE Solutions, Inc.
This article outlines my experience in transforming a former Soviet Republic oil company's HSE program from a poor performer to an industry best performer using tried and proven principles.

Simplified Risk Assessment

Provided by: HSE Solutions, Inc.
The use of risk assessment principles is key to an effective and successful safety program. This article provides a basic introduction to risk assessment by utilizing a simple example involving a car crash. When these simple elements are introduced into a work place, accidents reduce and the severity of the accidents also reduce.

Field Examination Performed “By Proxy”

My dilemma revolved around limitations pertaining to the original document bearing the questioned signature: time and location.

Seventh Circuit Questions An Esop Trustee’s “Failure To Apply Marketability Discount” In Reversal Of Summary Judgment

In the Armstrong v. LaSalle Bank National Association decision on a motion for summary judgment, the trial court found in favor of the defendant trustee’s decision to accept an employer stock valuation that did not include a discount for lack of marketability. The plaintiff appealed the unfavorable trial court decision to the Seventh Circuit. While recognizing an ESOP trustee’s discretion in employer stock valuation matters, the Appeals Court reversed the summary judgment decision.

Recent Court Decisions Related To The Reasonableness Of Executive Compensation

In litigation controversies related to the income tax deduction of shareholder/executive compensation as a business expense, the courts generally apply a multi-factor test to determine if the compensation is reasonable. The courts apply this test with an emphasis on the perspective of a hypothetical independent investor. In this analysis, the extent to which the courts accept and rely on compensation data from published compensation surveys and/or from comparable company analyses varies.

The Draft Expert Report—Caught In The Tug of War Between Full Disclosure and The Work Product Doctrine

There is a split in authority in the federal courts regarding the discoverability of attorney work product provided by counsel to his or her expert and in particular, the discoverability of draft expert reports. Most jurisdictions have ruled that the 1993 amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure makes it clear that any materials provided by counsel to a testifying expert is discoverable, including information contained in draft reports.

The Application Of Daubert Challenges To Economic Damages Expert Testimony In Commercial Litigation Matters

Trial judges perform a “gatekeeping” function, deciding whether to admit or to exclude expert witness testimony as trial evidence. Trial judges often apply the four factors articulated in the Supreme Court Daubert decision in their judicial decisions regarding the admission of expert testimony. This discussion summarizes the evidentiary considerations regarding (1) the level of certainty in the causation of economic damages and (2) the level of certainty in the measurement of economic damages.

CPR (Cooperative Project Recovery): Reviving the Drowning Large-Scale IT Project

With software project failure rates still unacceptably high or “scrapped” before they are completed, every IT CXO and Project Manager must be aware of a turnaround process that can keep their sinking projects afloat and put them back on smoother, navigable waters.

Opportunities To Challenge Computerized Evidence

Increased use of computerized data in disputes also increases the number of times that incorrect conclusions are reached because the data has not been properly obtained, handled and interpreted.

How To Select The Right Form Of Electronic Discovery

The form in which you receive electronically stored information can make or break a case. The new FRCP rules provide for document production in various forms. Selecting the proper form in your situation can save costs, and/or provide additional information.

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