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Expert Testifies in NCAA’s Class Action Lawsuit

June 11, 2014

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s ban on compensating student-athletes came under question for the second day in federal court. The class action lawsuit claims that the NCAA is violating antitrust laws by forbidding that Division I football and basketball players get paid anything beyond their awarded scholarships. Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken is overseeing the case that “centers on whether such athletes should be allowed to share in profits from the lucrative college sports revenue stream, such as from merchandise and particularly from television rights.” The NCAA’s argument rests on the belief that allowing student-athletes to share in that profit with ruin the system and negate education in college sports.

An economics expert witness, Roger Noll, from Stanford University testified for the college athletes saying the policy violates federal antitrust laws. He said “athletes are illegally being deprived of the right to share in the multibillion-dollar college sports bounty.” The attorney for the NCAA said that student-athletes get to enjoy the “notoriety of college sports”; however, Noll responded by saying that “they like everything that goes with [playing sports]… that doesn’t mean they aren’t being exploited.”

Arizona Supreme Court Approves “Cold” Expert Testimony

June 2, 2014

On Thursday, May 29th, the Arizona Supreme Court approved “cold” testimony from experts. This means that “juries are entitled to hear from an expert witness on a particular type of crime even if that [expert] knows nothing about the specific victims in the case”. This marks the first time that Arizona will allow expert witnesses to opine on a case and give their views of general principles without knowing exact facts about the case.

The Arizona Supreme Court, on Thursday, also refused to overturn Martin Salazar-Mercado’s convictions on multiple counts of child abuse. Martin was indicted in 2011 on charges of child molestation and during his trial, his attorney stopped a forensic interviewer from testifying about child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. The idea was to try and explain the mental state and behavior of a child who has been abused; this includes “delayed reporting of the abuse to a relative, trouble pinpointed when events occurred, and even one victim changing her version of events between the time of reporting and trial.” Although the experts do not have specific details on the case, their testimony can help the jury better understand the evidence and, in this case, could have “helped the jury to understand possible reasons for the delayed and inconsistent reporting”. However, it is important to note that the expert is limited to general principles of behavioral or social science and it may not apply to all cases. The judge will need to play “gatekeeper” and decide whether the expert’s testimony may be admissible.

Featured Forensic Accounting Expert

May 21, 2014

jolene Name: Jolene N Fraser

Company: Ueltzen & Company, LLP

Location: Sacramento, CA

Specialty: Forensic Accounting

Website:   http://www.ueltzen.com/db/Members/MembersJolene/tabid/93/Default.aspx

Expert witness profile information provided by Ms. Fraser:

Jolene is a Principal in the firm’s forensic accounting practice and is a CPA with 17 years of public accounting and consulting services experience.  She specializes in Forensic Accounting including professional standards litigation consulting, special investigations, fraud investigations and economic damages in commercial civil litigation matters.  She has provided a variety of services including complex financial accounting analysis, compliance analysis and audit and reporting services.  Jolene’s background includes managing audits of clients across multiple industries such as commercial and residential real estate, non-profit organizations, manufacturing and distribution, high technology, publishing and employee benefit plans.

Jolene holds a Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.  She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accountancy. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Be sure to check out Jolene Fraser’s expert witness profile for more information

Apple and Samsung Must Both Pay for Patent Infringement

May 14, 2014

Earlier this month a jury in California awarded Apple $119 million, ending the patent battle with Samsung over cell phone features. The damages awarded were much less than what was originally claimed ($2.2 billion); the jury also ordered Apple to pay $158,400 for illegally using one of Samsung’s patents in the iPhone 4 and 5.

An Apple spokeswoman said that “Samsung willfully stole [their] ideas and copied [their] products,” however, a law professor from Santa Clara University thought that although “this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple… This amount is less than 10 percent of the amount Apple requested and probably doesn’t surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case.”

The case started on March 31 and a verdict was reached on May 2, 2014; however Judge Koh “recalled the jury May 5 to recalculate one of the damages figures.” The issue was that Apple did not receive damages for a version of the Samsung Galaxy S2 that they believed should have been awarded based on Samsung’s infringement of the ‘172 patent. The jury granted around $4 and $5 million for other Galaxy 2 versions.  After reconvening the jury “shuffled around damages awarded to each of the Galaxy S2 models but did not change the total”, stating it was a clerical error.

Samsung said this after the jury gave their final verdict:

We agree with the jury’s decision to reject Apple’s grossly exaggerated damages claim. Although we are disappointed by the finding of infringement, we are vindicated that for the second time in the US, Apple has been found to infringe Samsung’s patents. It is our long history of innovation and commitment to consumer choice, that has driven us to become the leader in the mobile industry today.

General Mills Retracts Policy, But is This Just the Beginning?

April 29, 2014

Earlier this month General Mills updated its privacy policy to include what is known as “forced arbitration”. The company, who owns Nature Valley, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Progresso and countless other well-known treats, notified consumers of this change with a two-sentence alert at the top of these brands’ webpages. The new policy stated that if you are a United States citizen that participates in a General Mills contest, signs up for one of their many e-newsletters, “likes” the company on Facebook, interacts with the company on any of its social media platforms, downloads or prints a coupon, or redeems any promotion or offering, you forfeit your right to sue the company.

The following is an excerpt from the company’s now-retracted policy:

Of course, your decision to do any of these things (i.e., to use or join our site or online community, to subscribe to our emails, to download or print a digital coupon, to enter a sweepstakes or contest, to take advantage of a promotional offer, or otherwise participate in any other General Mills offering) is entirely voluntary. But if you choose to do any of these things, then you agree to be bound by this Agreement.

 

The uproar and backlash that General Mills received when it announced their new policy forced them to retract it a few days later. In addition they issued an apology (to read the full apology, click here):

Those terms – and our intentions – were widely misread, causing concern among consumers. So we’ve listened – and we’re changing them back to what they were before.

On behalf of our company and our brands, we would also like to apologize. We’re sorry we even started down this path. And we do hope you’ll accept our apology. We also hope that you’ll continue to download product coupons, talk to us on social media, or look for recipes on our websites.

Although it is great that General Mills took responsibility and listened to its customers it seems like it is a battle the consumers are not going to win. “In two recent cases, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and American Express Company v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Supreme Court held that mandatory-arbitration clauses- of the same substance as the mandatory-arbitration clause in General Mills’ change of terms- should be enforced against plaintiffs, even though doing so would make pursuing a legal claim so economically irrational that, in all likelihood, no cases would ever get brought.”

 

Source: The Atlantic and The New Yorker

Apple v. Samsung: Expert Witnesses Weigh In

April 17, 2014

Multiple expert witnesses testified this week that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s patents for “quick links, universal search, slide-to-unlock, and auto-correct. Kevin Jeffay, computer science professor, argued that Apple’s “647 quick-links patent is more limited than the company claims.” Quick-links allows data that can be clicked to be automatically detected. Mr. Jeffay said he does not believe Samsung has infringed that patent after pointing out that Apple’s patent uses an “analyzer server” and Samsung devices do not; this process (on Samsung devices) is performed by the application itself.

Another computer science professor, Martin Rinard, testified that after careful analysis he concluded that Samsung did not infringe Apple’s universal search patent. Furthermore, Saul Greenberg, a professor at the University of Calgary, “testified that slides are common in most user interfaces and Samsung did not copy Apple’s slide-to-unlock technology.”

Not only did the experts testify that Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s patents, they went further and testified that there was no evident commercial success that resulted from those supposed infringements. The experts said there is lack of proof that people bought iPhones because of the slide-to-unlock feature. In addition the experts believe that Apple’s patents are not valid, Martin Rinard said “the patent office didn’t have the information in front of it to make the right decision [when it granted Apple a patent for universal search].”

Samsung also questioned another expert witness, Daniel Wigdor, on the “validity of Apple’s ‘172 patent for predictive text.” Mr. Wigdor told the court that other companies had developed that auto-correct feature before Apple filed a patent for it.

Both Samsung and Apple are back at the same courthouse less than two years later fighting over patent infringements. Although millions are at stake, it seems that the more important feat is dominance over the smartphone market.

Stay tuned for what happens next, court resumes tomorrow.

 

Source: cnet

Google Glass: Technology in the Legal Industry

April 10, 2014

The legal industry and technology have found many ways to grow together; platforms such as Courtroom Insight were founded for that reason alone and again we see another instance of how technology can aid firms in their success. A pilot program, started in January, by two personal injury lawyers in Phoenix gives Google Glass devices to clients, businesses, jurors and expert witnesses.

One of the clients in the pilot program is a man who lost his arm and leg in a forklift accident. He has used Google Glass to text lawyers using voice-to-text, video conference and document his hardships as a result of the accident. Normally videos are taken by a third party but Google Glass allows others to live it through this man’s eyes. They get a first person perspective of the everyday challenges that come with such a disability.

Even more telling are the ways that this pilot program has used Google Glass in mock trials. Usually attorneys ask jurors for their opinions and feedback on the trial; however, now they can see what the jurors see. Google Glass allows attorneys to see whether the juror was “looking at the witness, the lawyers, or even the ceiling.”

This technology has even proved effective for expert witnesses who can use Google Glass to recreate an accident scene; showing the drivers perspective.

 

Source: ABA Journal

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