BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Ex-Maxwell official criminally charged under FCPA

Maxwell Technologies S.A. is a Swiss subsidiary of a U.S. company which is developing, manufacturing and marketing energy storage and power delivery solutions for different kinds of areas. Alain Riedo, a Swiss citizen and the former general manager, was criminally charged by U.S. prosecutors with violating anti-bribary and falsifying company records. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act strictly prohibits such behaviour. The indictment was filed in in the Southern District of California.

Riedo is accused of conspiring to bribe Chinese government officials in order to win contracts to sell electric storage devices. He is suspected of having paid $2 million in bribes to government officials from 2002 through 2009. Riedo now is facing nine counts, saying that he is not guilty. No charges were filed against the company itself. 

The whole case: United States v. Alain Riedo, No. 13-cr-3789 JM (S.D. Cal. October 15, 2013).

Friday, November 15, 2013

A possible threat for ObamaCare: the subsidy lawsuits

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called "ObamaCare", has been plagued by several problems so far. The latest debacle was the website that was not ready; the next crisis could be lawsuits filed against the laws subsidies. By 2014, Americans will be required to have health insurance either by buying a policy through a health insurance marketplace or by enrolling in other subsidy programs.

The subsidies are a key element of the ObamaCare because many people could not afford private health insurance without it. Only eligible individuals receive cost assistance via tax credits or similar benefits in order to be able to afford healthcare in accordance with the PPACA. Americans making under 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) can get a type of subsidy, depending on their individual percentage of the FPL. Medicaid is an existing health program in the United States and is also part of the ObamaCare subsidies. An expansion of the Medicaid eligibility in 2014 is part of the healthcare reform and shall be granted to people with an income up to 138% of the poverty line. 

According to Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Consitution, the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises. Therefore, subsidies in the form of tax credits are up to the Congress to impose. According to the Obamacare law, subsidies shall be granted through an exchange established by the state, not through one set up by the federal government. In its latest decision NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate to buy health insurance as a constitutional exercise of Congress's taxing power. They also agreed that the states are not required to participate in the new Medicaid program. Thus, many U.S. states have chosen to reject the expansion of Medicaid and declined to establish their own marketplaces with the result that individuals are not able to qualify for the program.

Several lawsuits were filed calling the ObamaCare subsidies unlawful. This imposes a huge threat to the whole ObamaCare program being unconstitutional. First of all, parties argue that it would not be fair to prevent only a part of the population from obtaining specific subsidies. This would force many people to either purchase the insurance or to pay a penalty instead. Furthermore, it is a question of legislative competence. Obamacare prevents the government from enforcing the federal law in those states that decided not to establish their own marketplaces. However, there is another provision that allows the federal government to set up its own marketplace in the states that opt out. Attorneys from the government stated that the “Congress made clear that an exchange established by the federal government stands in the shoes of the exchange that a state chooses not to establish.” This is a way of interpreting and skirting the existing law in order to provide tax credits for eligible individuals in every state. As a matter of fact, the federal government interferes with the state law and it's decisions. What is the sense of having states opt out if the government will provide tax credits anyways? After the above-named decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the whole program, it seems like nothing will get in the way of Obamacare. A lawsuit against the circumvention of the law and a contempt of the separation between state and federal law could endanger the whole Obamacare program.

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

Thursday, November 14, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court will review details of EPA's climate rules

The Supreme Court will review some details of the Environmental Protection Agency's early efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. The question is, whether the EPA has exceeded its power concerning the latest climate rules. States and industry groups challenged these regulations.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA was responsible for regulations about carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Since then, the EPA has established many regulations. 

The Supreme Court will now review 6 out of 9 petitions considering the question "whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.” This means that the Supreme Court will not review the EPA's determination that greenhouse gases threaten human health and the environment or its carbon limits for vehicles. The fact that the Supreme Court wants to review EPA's rules reveals that they want to keep an eye on how they use their power. However, this does not affect the EPA in moving ahead with its rules to curtail carbon-dioxide emissions.

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

Ticketed for driving with Google Glass

A woman in California received a traffic ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving. The California
law wants to prevent people from driving while watching television or be distracted by similar monitors. However, Cecilia Abadie is not willing to accept this punishment. She is of the opinion that Google Glass cannot be more distracting than a navigation system. Furthermore, she wasn't even using Google Glass while she was driving.

Traffic laws are different from State to State. In some states like Arizona and West Virginia, legislation that precisely prohibits wearing Google Glass while driving is being drafted at the moment. In California, the rule is not clearly defined and the law is obsolete. Google Glass itself recommends to read the state laws before wearing Google Glass in the car.

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

RapidMiner: Headquarters from Dortmund to Boston


German-founded company RapidMiner has moved its Headquarters from Dortmund to Boston and raised a $5M Series A round. RapidMiner was founded in Dortmund and will maintain an R&D office there.

RapidMiner provides software, solutions, and services in the fields of predictive analytics, data mining, and text mining. Their technology allows companies to use previously unexplored data to inform their decisions, optimize their processes, and take advantage of the highest level of business intelligence.RapidMiner spans industries to solve the challenges facing today’s business analysts.

With the participation from the European firms Earlybird Venture Capital and Open Ocean Capital, RapidMiner could raise their first outside capital. In the Boston Area, the company will expand domestic and international sales and marketing operations and develop new products within their product line. RapidMiner has more than 400 customers who use the RapidMiner technology, including reputable companies such as PayPal, Pepsi, Siemens, Lufthansa and Volkswagen. The investment also leads to a new profile: the name changed from Rapid-I to RapidMiner, just like the name of the product.

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

USA Flights – Passengers may use Laptos during Takeoff and Landing

Experts agree: switched-on mobile phones do not affect the technology of airplanes anymore. The US Federal Aviation Administration now permits the use of electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, starting by the end of the year. It remains prohibited to talk on the phone during flights or to surf in the internet via mobile data connections. The flight-mode still has to be turned on.

European Airlines are not ready to relax the rules concerning electronic devices in airplanes yet. Therefore, an adjustment of international rules between the FAA and the european EASA (Electrical Apparatus Service Association) will be important for the future.

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

Death of co-conspirator has no effects on claim

The case: Koch Measurement Devices, Inc. is a Wilmington-based subsidiary of a German glass conglomerate. They distribute high-end glass beer growlers imported by the German company Wassermann. Koch’s principal shareholders are Karl Koch Thermometerfabrik Verwaltungs GmbH (75 %) and Defendant Kenneth Armke II (25 %). Armke was the only employee of the subsidiary in Wilmington. The other Defendant ist Michael Walsak, who used to provide Koch with various services such as graphic design, website design, etc.

In 2011, Koch alleges that Armke and Walsak incorporated Tote Glass by conspiracy and closed Koch Measurement Devices without advance notice to the majority owners. Furthermore, they are accused to have taken the company's hard drive, the internal web serves as well as customer files. Tote then used the same pricing plan and partners, Koch alleges. Armke and Walsak had to face several claims, but before the case went to trail, Armke deceased.

The questions was, whether the conspiracy claim had to be dismissed with the death of the only other conspirator. North Carolina Business Court Judge John R. Jolly allowed the claim to move forward.

The full decision is Koch Measurement Devices, Inc. v. Armke

Author: Anja Rettig Legal Intern at BridgehouseLaw Charlotte