Legal Ethics

Two Fired In-House Lawyers Allowed to Pursue SOX Retaliation Claim


Two fired in-house lawyers who claim they were fired for raising questions about possible securities fraud at their employer may pursue their lawsuit as a result of a federal appeals court ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that under the Sarbanes-Oxley law, the two lawyers do not have to prove actual fraud to sue, the Recorder reports. All that is necessary is a belief that they believed there was fraud.

The husband-and-wife lawyers, Shawn and Lena Van Asdale, worked at the slot machine company Anchor Gaming. They had raised questions about the validity of a patent held by Anchor before it acquired another gaming company. If the patent were worthless, the benefits of the merger would have been overvalued, according to their suit.

The panel opinion was written by conservative Judge Jay Bybee, making plaintiffs “all the giddier,” according to the story.

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