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- Braden Boucek - Director of Litigation, Beacon Center of Tennessee, Former Assistant United States Attorney in Memphis
Free markets have exponentially improved the well-being of humanity and lifted more people out of poverty than any government program. But severe inequalities persist, and gaps have widened in the past thirty years. Is this a problem in and of itself? Or only to the extent it is caused by unfairly distorting the market with the help of government – so-called “crony capitalism" – as opposed to the inherently unique capabilities of each individual? How should the law be structured to ensure a level playing field?
This panel was presented at the 2016 National Student Symposium on Friday, February 26, 2016, at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Panel I: Capitalism and Inequality
University of Virginia School of Law
On January 25, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Amgen Inc v. Harris without oral argument. Former employees of an Amgen subsidiary had participated in a benefit plan that offered ownership of Amgen stock. When the value of Amgen stock fell in 2007, stockholders filed a class action against plan fiduciaries alleging a breach of fiduciary duties, including the duty of prudence, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit initially reversed a district court decision dismissing the class action complaint, the U.S. Supreme Court then vacated the Ninth Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case in light of the Supreme Court’s then-recent decision Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, which set forth the standards for stating a claim for breach of the duty of prudence against fiduciaries who manage employee stock ownership plans.
On remand, the Ninth Circuit reiterated its conclusion that the plaintiffs’ complaint stated a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, and the Supreme Court again granted certiorari. In a per curiam opinion the Court reversed the judgment of the Ninth Circuit by a vote of 9-0, holding that the Circuit had failed to properly evaluate the complaint. In its current form, the Supreme Court concluded, the complaint failed to state a claim for breach of the duty of prudence. In remanding the case, however, the Court indicated that the district court could decide in the first instance whether the stockholders might amend their complaint in order to adequately plead a claim for breach of the duty of prudence.
To discuss the case, we have George T. Conway III, who is Partner, Litigation at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Gregory S. McNeal, Associate Professor of Law and Public Policy at Pepperdine School of Law, explains the FAA’s distinction between the commercial and the recreational use of drones, questioning whether or not this distinction is important.
Mergers and other transactions between large telecommunications companies are always the subject of vigorous public debate, and recent developments in the area provide an excellent opportunity to explore many of the big questions in play. What is the future of media and telecom companies in today’s vast changing technology landscape? How important is scale? How should government assess the competition and public interest benefits and threats of proposed deals? What process should be employed by what agencies? How do the principles of net neutrality play into the equation? Our experts discussed these questions and others.