Monthly Archives: September 2015

Trump Reveals Tax Plan

Donald Trump’s tax plan will make it more simple to pay the government. There are four tax rates under the plan: 25%, 20%, 10% and 0%, eliminating most deductions. The death tax will be eliminated.

According to the website, “The Trump plan eliminates the income tax for over 73 million households. 42 million households that currently file complex forms to determine they don’t owe any income taxes will now file a one page form saving them time, stress, uncertainty and an average of $110 in preparation costs. Over 31 million households get the same simplification and keep on average nearly $1,000 of their hard-earned money.”

Small business should see some relief. Under the new proposed law, all businesses will be paying the same rate. “No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. This lower rate makes corporate inversions unnecessary by making America’s tax rate one of the best in the world.” A corporate inversion occurs when a U.S. company incorporates in another country to avoid paying high taxes here on income not earned in the U.S.

Batmobile Protected by Copyright

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a ruling against Gotham Garage, a maker of replica automobiles from movies and television shows. Gotham Garage sells a “Batmobile,” which looks like the original. DC Comics claims it owns a copyright in the Batmobile and the design is protected intellectual property. The Ninth Circuit ruled the Batmobile’s appearance and other distinct attributes make it a “character” that cannot be duplicated without permission from its owner. “As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,'” 9th Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for a unanimous three judge panel stated in her opinion.

Larry Zerner, an attorney for defendant, said he was disappointed in the ruling. He argues the law states that automobile designs are not subject to copyright. “My client just sells cars,” Zerner said. “The car is not a character. The car is a car.”

The replica automobiles sell for $90,000 each.

 

GM Criminal Settlement Over Ignition Switches Pending

The Justice Department may soon reveal the details of a criminal settlement with GM over its failure to recall vehicles with defective ignition switches. The deal will require GM to plead to wire fraud and pay a penalty of approximately $1 billion. “GM is expected to enter a deferred prosecution agreement under which the government will eventually seek to dismiss the case if the company abides by the deal’s terms, according to the people familiar with the matter.”  Corporations, even though they are not natural persons, can be found guilty of crimes and be fined.

The claim is over the ignition switch, which can slip out of the run position and disable airbags, power steering, and brakes. The Justice Department alleged GM failed for over a decade to warn drivers of the safety issue even though GM knew about the problem. In one estimate, more that 100 people died and more than 200 were injured as a result of the switch failing.

House Republicans Have Standing to Sue the Executive Branch Over Obama-Care

A federal court has ruled that the House of Representatives, collectively, has standing to sue the Executive Branch over a provision in the Obama-care legislation dealing with cost-sharing subsidies. These subsidies are intended to help lower income people with their deductibles and co-pays. “Many legal observers expected the lawsuit to fail on standing: that Congress wouldn’t be able to show a way in which the Obama administration had harmed legislators, a prerequisite for a court challenge.”

House Republicans argue these subsidies are being illegally paid by the Treasury to insurers and claims the House “never appropriated” the funding. The House alleges it “has been injured, and will continue to be injured, by the unconstitutional actions of defendants . . . which, among other things, usurp the House’s legislative authority.”

Courts hear cases and controversies, and unless a plaintiff has sustained some type of injury, courts cannot take the case and will dismiss it for lack of standing. But here, the court found the House has standing to sue because they are allegedly harmed as an institution, not as individual members. The court held, “The Congress is the only body empowered by the Constitution to adopt laws directing monies to be spent from the U.S. Treasury. . . . Yet this constitutional structure would collapse, and the role of the House would be meaningless, if the Executive could circumvent the appropriations process and spend funds however it pleases. If such actions are taken . . . the House as an institution has standing to sue.”

Georgia Judge Orders Fiat Chrysler to Pay $40 Million in Products Liability Case

Posted by Dana Domenick.

A four year old boy was riding in his aunt’s 1999 Jeep Cherokee when it was rear-ended in 2012. He was killed when the SUV burst into flames. The gas tank on this Jeep Cherokee model is located behind the rear axle which means when the truck is hit from behind, it will likely trigger an explosion. The location of the gas tank is a major flaw in the truck and caused over 75 deaths. Fiat Chrysler took action on this issue in 2013, by recalling over 1.56 million Jeep Cherokees manufactured from 1993-1998 (Associated Press).

Judge J. Kevin Chason in Decatur County, Georgia ordered $40 million in damages to the child’s family. Three fourths of the damages were given to the family for his death while the other portion was given for pain and suffering. Fiat Chrysler requested a new trial, claiming that the jury acted irrationally and their prejudice tainted the verdict. Their motion was denied by the judge (Associated Press).

I agree with the court’s decision. The engineers who built these Jeeps should have had enough knowledge to place the car’s parts at locations in which they were protected. Extensive road testing should have been conducted on every vehicle to play out every possible collision scenario to ensure that the quality of the vehicle met the highest efficiency and safety standards. This death, as well as the many others caused by this issue, could have been prevented had Fiat Chrysler took their road testing more seriously and therefore, the verdict was correct.

Dana is a psychology major with a legal studies in business minor at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business (minor), Class of 2017.

Reverse Mergers

Posted by Kevin Pereira.

This past Thursday, the F.B.I. arrested Benjamin Wey at his home located in Manhattan. He was charged for “securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in an eight-count indictment unsealed in a federal court in Manhattan.” In addition, Mr. Wey had already been arrested for sexual harassment a couple months prior to this incident. Mr. Wey was making Chinese companies public in the United States using a process known as a reverse merger. To explain, a reverse merger is a way for private companies to go public by buying the “shell” of a public American company.

Mr. Wey fulfilled this fraud by involving his family members and close friends. He portrayed the Chinese companies he was taking public to be mature and prosperous so that inventors were fooled into thinking that they were successful corporations in the NASDAQ stock market. Therefore, many clueless investors were investing into these masked corporations, which were being upheld by his family members. In addition, Mr. Wey’s banker, Seref Dogan Erbek, was helping falsify the “sales, volume, demand and price of the shares of the companies they took public.” The SEC in a civil complaint charged Mr. Erbek, Mr. Wey’s wife, his sister, and two lawyers as being part of the fraudulent matter.

Mr. Wey was inflating the prices of the shares by trading them between his family and friends. By doing this, the sudden increase in price attracted many eager investors. Once Mr. Wey had an audience, he would sell the inflated shares and generate millions of dollars. The money he was making would be sent to bank accounts offshore in Japan and Switzerland. Mr. Wey’s family members would then transfer the money back into the United States, stating it was a gift.

Kevin is a marketing major at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2018.

Fox News Co-Anchor Sues for Appropriation

Fox News’ Harris Faulkner, co-anchor of the daytime show Outnumbered, sued Hasbro toy company for $5 million. Hasbro sold a toy hamster named the “Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll” as part of their “Littlest Pet Shop” product line.

In the complaint, Faulkner alleges unfair competition under the Lanham Act and common law violation of right to publicity. She claimed she is “distressed” that her name would be associated with a toy that indicates it could be a potential “choking hazard” to children, and that portraying her as a rodent is demeaning and insulting.

She further claimed that since as a journalist she cannot be connected with a commercial product, “Hasbro’s use of her name in association with the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll creates the false impression that Faulkner would impugn her own professional ethics by agreeing to have a commercial product named after her.”