Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interesting Litigation Survey

Ted Aircraft at Denver AirportImage via Wikipedia

At the end of March my family and I escaped the dreary weather of Portland for the warmth and sunshine of Arizona. At the time I remarked to my wife just how much I disliked the whole air travel experience - from the lines at security to over-crowded planes with decreased/ nonexistent service (food, beverage, a kind word, etc...). There's just no comparison to the experiences I had as a child, when flying was fun (at least to me).

I thought about that today as I was flying across country, sandwiched between the window and a woman who evidently couldn't remember that her husband (and the person - I hope -on whose shoulder she wanted to sleep) was on her LEFT side, and not the right, where I sat. Because, despite the discomfort and inconvenience that is now associated with air travel, I actually had been looking forward to my flight. Not for the flying experience, but for the four hours my laptop battery would last, and the uninterrupted time to get some work done!

One of the things I did somewhere over Minnesota was read the 2008 Fulbright Annual Litigation Trends Survey, from the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski LLP. Although published in October of 2008, I just ran across this earlier this week, and I found it fascinating! Here are just a few tidbits I pulled from the report:
  • One third of all publicly held companies and 17% of all privately held companies have at least one lawsuit with more than $20 million at issue
  • One of every 10 companies spends at least $10 million or more annually (excluding settlements and judgments!)
  • A third of all publicly held companies and 17% of all privately held companies have at least one lawsuit with more than $20 million at issue
  • 43% of respondents from the largest companies expect disputes to increase this year
  • The greatest increases in multi-plaintiff cases in the US are Wage-hour, discrimination and privacy issues
  • Half of the US respondents consider Labor/Employment litigation to among their greatest concerns
  • Companies spending $1 Million or more on litigation increased in both the US and UK. Among smaller companies, the percentage spending $1M+ more THAN TRIPLED and increased by half among mid-sized companies
  • One third of privately held companies and 60% of publicly held companies conducted at least one internal investigation requiring outside counsel. More than half report 2 to 5 of these investigations

Considering all this, the biggest question I have is...

Why aren't more companies implementing ethics and compliance programs that have proven to reduce both the risk of litigation and the cost associated with settlements and judgments???

City of BostonImage via Wikipedia

Oh, and I was on a plane today because I am attending the first of the 2009 EthicsPoint Regional User Forums here in Boston. I'm really looking forward to meeting many of our customers here in the Northeast, including Doug Cornelius, who writes a great blog - Compliance Building, and will be presenting on the use of social media in Ethics and Compliance programs.
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