Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Corporation as Regulatory Partition and the Veil Peeking Exception

Mariana Pargendler, Veil Peeking: The Corporation As a Nexus for Regulation, _ U. Pa. L. Rev. _ (forthcoming), available at SSRN.

It is time to retire the term “veil piercing” from debates about corporate rights. Scholars have been drawn to the veil piercing language because of the tendency of courts to ignore the separate legal personality of a corporation when determining whether it may assert a particular constitutional or statutory right. For example, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court looked to the religious beliefs of the shareholders in allowing the corporation to claim protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yet cases like Hobby Lobby, in which shareholders assert a corporate right to avoid an otherwise applicable law or regulation, are quite different from veil piercing cases in which creditors seek to access shareholder assets in satisfaction of a corporation’s debt. These deviations from following the general rule of “corporate separateness” are analytically and functionally distinct.

In her forthcoming article, Veil Peeking: The Corporation As a Nexus for Regulation, Professor Mariana Pargendler gives us new language for discussing the variety of circumstances in which the law looks behind the corporation or disregards its separate legal personality. Pargendler starts by reviewing the concept of asset partitioning as an essential characteristic of the corporate form. Over the past two decades, distinguished scholars have illuminated the importance of asset partitioning for establishing the key corporate features of entity shielding, limited liability, and capital lock-in. But, as Pargendler explains, the partitioning between the assets of the corporation and those of its shareholders is only one dimension of corporate separateness. Corporate legal personality also separates the legal or regulatory spheres of the corporation from its shareholders—she terms this “regulatory partitioning.” And when the general rule of separate legal or regulatory spheres is disregarded, and shareholder rights or detriments are imputed to the corporation, she calls this “veil peeking.”

The article is at once both creative and classic. It nimbly draws connections between diverse areas of law such as antitrust, discrimination, and tax, to observe a basic yet important characteristic of the corporate form: it exists in a separate legal sphere from its shareholders. That is, the legal rights, duties, privileges, and detriments of a shareholder are generally not projected onto the corporation, which instead has its own separate existence that functions as a nexus for regulation. Continue reading "The Corporation as Regulatory Partition and the Veil Peeking Exception"

Protecting the Health of the Elderly

Like other regions in the world, Europe is being confronted with major demographic changes through decreasing birth rates and an ageing population. Although one cannot deny the advantages of the increased life expectancy, the elderly are struggling with stereotypes and facing discrimination based on age. For instance, elderly people use healthcare services disproportionally compared to younger generations, and an ageing population will further increase healthcare costs. Also, in times of public health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an ongoing discussion on whether the elderly should be deprioritised for admission at intensive care units due to scarcity of ventilators.

Facing such challenges, Ageing, Ageism and the Law includes the outcomes of a research project on the consequences of ageism and the role of law (enacting, enforcing and changing laws) in fighting ageism in contemporary societies. Continue reading "Protecting the Health of the Elderly"

Rethinking National Injunctions

Russell L. Weaver, Nationwide Injunctions, 14 FIU L. Rev. 103 (2020).

In a delightful article recently published in the Florida International Law Review, Professor Russell Weaver has done a great service to us all by helpfully summarizing the current state of the law concerning nationwide injunctions, drawing on and summarizing recent scholarship and numerous cases in the field. His article should prove to be of great value to the practitioner and the professor alike and, given its length and clarity (at seventeen pages, Prof. Weaver’s article packs quite a punch), those teaching in the area may even consider assigning it to their students. I probably will, because although many of my students seem to grasp the logic of compensatory damages due to some exposure in their first-year contracts and torts classes, they often seem mystified, at least initially, when it comes to injunctions, which is to say nothing of nationwide injunctions!

Part of this mystery, it seems, stems from the fact that injunctions grew up in courts of equity, whereas damages (primarily) grew up in common law courts, and the first-year curriculum (outside of a few contracts cases on specific performance) largely focuses on the latter at the expense of the former. This means that although students are familiar with the idea that compensatory damages should generally try to return an injured party to the position it would have occupied but for the wrongful harm inflicted by the wrongdoer, they have a harder time understanding why an injunction should be issued before a wrongful harm has ever come to pass. But the difficulties do not stop here. Unlike damages, which can be measured in dollars, they also find measuring the “amount” of an injunction to be counterintuitive. In theory, a court should award the “amount” of injunction needed to prevent the plaintiff from suffering from a potential future wrongful harm. But even talking about injunctions in this way seems odd, for injunctions cannot be “counted” in the same way that dollars can, and therefore determining the proper scope of an injunctive remedy is incredibly difficult. Continue reading "Rethinking National Injunctions"

Beyond Predictions About Predictive Policing

Kate Robertson, Cynthia Khoo, and Yolanda Song, To Surveil and Predict: A Human Rights Analysis of Algorithmic Policing in Canada, Citizen Lab and International Human Rights Program, University of Toronto (2020).

To Surveil and Predict is longer than the usual Jotwell suggestion. The authors carefully document and then explore the rights implications of the use of algorithmic and predictive tools by police forces in Canada. They conclude with a series of recommendations focused on public policy. My recommendation here is focused on the method and the equality focused parts of the report, although I like it all–a lot.

First, method. The Report works to expose and explore something that’s only just starting up. So classic doctrinal methods–where are the cases?–are not going to work well. But some of the analysis is quite legal, running things through Canadian human rights and charter provisions. At the same time and contrary to much (also very good) early work in this sector, they do not spend much time speculating about potential future technologies. Instead, Robertson, Khoo and Song pursued information (inter alia) about what was happening “on the ground” through freedom of information (FOI) requests. One of the many aspects of their work that I like: they provide information about how these requests were received and negotiated. (P. 13; Appendix A.) FOI is a critically important tool for researching the administrative state. How the process plays out is usually connected to the quality, volume and nature of the information obtained, but the process of making requests (and receiving replies, or not) is rarely described in articles. In my view, discussion of how the FOI requests worked in context is a good reason for adding length to research reports and analysis. Continue reading "Beyond Predictions About Predictive Policing"

The Shield Behind The Badge

Rachel Moran, Contesting Police Credibility, 93 Wash. L. Rev. 1339 (2018).

We are in the midst of a massive national protest, comprised itself of a wave of local protests, against the very institution of the police, or at least the widespread overuse of that institution to engage in actions beyond the crime-fighting competence that they claim for themselves. The distinction matters, because if the goal is not to abolish the police completely, but to defund and refocus their activities, some type of police reform is still necessary. Our attitude to the police, and our ideas about local and national means to control of the police, will profoundly shape what sort of reform we endorse. Rachel Moran’s recent article, Contesting Police Credibility, argues that law enforcement oversight requires robust institutional measures to challenge, resist, and hold accountable the police when they inflict harm upon the public.

Moran reveals that accountability is not transparency. Transparency might demand that the police are open and public about the wrongdoers in their midst, and disseminate records of police misconduct. Accountability requires an adequate process by which to hold the police answerable when departments or individual officers are called out for wrongdoing. Professor Moran’s focus is the lack of effective internal and external mechanisms of accountability. This lack of accountability, when combined with evidence of police wrongdoing, ought to subvert the presumption of reliability that the criminal process—judges, prosecutors, and juries—extend to the police as public officials. This presumption ensures that when the police are challenged on the streets or in the courthouse, the criminal justice process defers to the police as providing the only credible version of events. Continue reading "The Shield Behind The Badge"

#Getyour$$now!: A New Plan for Class Action Notice and Administration

Amanda M. Rose, Classaction.gov, __ U. Chi. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2020), available at SSRN.

It is easier than ever to notify class members of a proposed settlement and for class members to file claims. So why are participation rates so low in consumer class action settlements? This is one of the most important puzzles in modern complex litigation. With billions of dollars spent on class action litigation, a 9% participation rate in consumer class actions seems a dismal return on that collective investment, even accounting for the deterrent or quasi-punitive functions that a large settlement represents for the defendants. In her new essay, Amanda Rose offers a solution to this and other related problems of class action administration and transparency—have the federal government develop and administer a website, classaction.gov.

Classaction.gov is an intriguing proposal that would centralize and standardize certain administrative aspects of class action litigation and settlement (notice, informational websites, claims processing, and claims distribution) that she identifies as barriers to higher class participation rates as well as to the overall transparency of individual actions and class action litigation. Rose’s key insight is that broader and cheaper notice are insufficient to induce broader class participation, even when the average class recovery is a non-trivial sum. Rather, consumers must absorb the costs of reading and understanding the notice and assuring themselves that it is not fraudulent. A federally sponsored website would leverage Americans’ trust in the federal government. The use of a common government database would further streamline both the notice and claims processes. Continue reading "#Getyour$$now!: A New Plan for Class Action Notice and Administration"

Heeding the Call of Those Harmed by Contractual Incapacity

Sean M. Scott, Contractual Incapacity and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 124 Dick. L. Rev. 253 (2020).

Inherent in contractual defenses such as infancy and mental incapacity is the goal of protection. In the case of infancy, contract law seeks to protect underage minors from themselves and from opportunistic adults who may attempt to take advantage of their lack of experience and judgment when entering into contracts. Similar protection goals underlie the contractual defense of mental incapacity whereby individuals with a mental disability or illness may avoid a contract due to their inability to understand the transaction or act reasonably with regards to it. The defense is intended to benefit those with mental disabilities. However, as currently conceived, it may actually do more harm than good. Utilizing the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Disability Rights Movement (“DRM”) as her guides, Dean Sean Scott explores this important issue in her recent thought-provoking article, Contractual Incapacity and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Dean Scott begins her article with a discussion of Renchard v. Prince William Marine Sales, Inc.1 wherein a buyer of a yacht sought to avoid the purchase agreement and other contracts with the seller due to his alleged physical and mental disabilities. Although the buyer unsuccessfully attempted to amend his compliant to allege discrimination under the ADA, Dean Scott hypothesizes that sellers may impose heightened scrutiny and screening and avoid making contracts with certain individuals based on their fear of contract rescission or avoidance due to courts’ current application of the mental incapacity doctrine. In light of this possibility and the conflicting language and principles associated with contractual incapacity as compared to the ADA and the DRM, she argues “that the mental incapacity doctrine should yield to the DRM and the ADA” (P. 257) and that the doctrine “should be limited to people with mental disabilities who were subject to a plenary guardianship when they entered into the contract at issue.” (P. 255.) Continue reading "Heeding the Call of Those Harmed by Contractual Incapacity"

To Delegate or Not to Delegate: Celebrating a Scholarly Exchange About Originalism and the Nondelegation Doctrine

Ilan Wurman, Nondelegation at the Founding, 130 Yale L.J. __ (forthcoming 2020), available at SSRN.

A riveting originalist debate over the nondelegation doctrine is currently playing out in the legal academy. The nondelegation principle suggests, in part, that “Congress cannot delegate its legislative power to the executive.” In their recent article Delegation at the Founding, Professors Julian Mortenson and Nicholas Bagley argue that the framers originally understood the Constitution to permit such delegation. In a forthcoming essay in the Yale Law Journal, aptly titled Nondelegation at the Founding, Professor Ilan Wurman takes the opposite position.

As a policy matter, the answer to the question whether Congress can delegate some legislative power to the executive branch could have a profound effect on the way our federal government regulates various aspects of American life. Justice Kagan has warned that a robust application of the doctrine could lead to the conclusion that “most of Government is unconstitutional,” including the promulgation and enforcement of many consequential environmental, labor, and other regulations. Some proponents of the nondelegation doctrine reply that these and other regulations involve difficult policy choices that—in the interest of democratic accountability and the preservation of liberty—Congress should not be able to pass off to the executive branch. Continue reading "To Delegate or Not to Delegate: Celebrating a Scholarly Exchange About Originalism and the Nondelegation Doctrine"

How Commercial Secrets Become Government Secrets

Deepa Varadarajan, Business Secrecy Expansion and FOIA, 68 UCLA Law Review __ (forthcoming, 2021), available at SSRN.

The breadth of exemptions to mandatory disclosure of government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has long been criticized. The exemptions for national security, the agency privileges, and privacy are among those that have rightly come under fire. Even Congress has tried to rein in some of the most sweeping of these exemptions with recent amendments to the statute itself, capping the applicability of one exemption, the deliberative process privilege, to records less than twenty-five years old. But FOIA usually stands alone. Rarely is there an analogous body of law to learn from or to which it compares.

Deepa Varadarajan’s terrific forthcoming article, Business Secrecy Expansion and FOIA, demonstrates that FOIA’s trade secrets exemption is an exception. Varadarajan traces the history of trade secrets litigation back to its common law origins, documenting its steadfast march toward an ever-broader understanding of what constitutes a trade secret. Now, she explains, trade secrecy law protects any information of commercial value not generally known in the industry and which the owner has taken measures to protect. Continue reading "How Commercial Secrets Become Government Secrets"

What to Do About Well-Grounded Fears?

Blair Druhan Bullock, Uncovering Harassment Retaliation, __ Ala. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming, 2020), available at SSRN.

Articles sometimes do an important service by exposing what seems obvious, but only in retrospect. Blair Druhan Bullock’s Uncovering Harassment Retaliation, forthcoming in the Alabama Law Review, does a great job of surfacing an issue that had previously received little attention in the law journals.

It’s not news that women have been, at least before #MeToo and probably still, reluctant to report harassment. Neither is it news that one reason is their fears of retaliation for invoking the employer remedial processes that have been put in place in the wake of the Faragher/Ellerth structure for employer liability. And it will come as no surprise  that the courts have been remarkably unreceptive to claims of victims of sex harassment that delaying a report until the situation became unbearable was reasonable because of fears of retaliation. What is needed, and what Professor Bullock provides in Uncovering Harassment Retaliation, is an empirical basis for believing such fears are well grounded and not (as one might think from reading court opinions) paranoiac. Continue reading "What to Do About Well-Grounded Fears?"

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