Business Law Assignment

1. The Senate recently released a report on wrongdoing at JP Morgan Chase. It found that bank executives lied to investors and the public. Also, traders, with the knowledge of top management, changed risk limits to facilitate more trading and then violated even these higher limits. Executives revalued the bank’s investment portfolio to reduce apparent losses. JP Morgan’s internal investigation failed to find this wrongdoing. Into what ethics traps did these JP Morgan employees fall? What options did the executives and traders have for dealing with this wrongdoing?

2. Located in Bath, Maine, Bath Iron Works builds high tech warships for the Navy. Winning Navy contracts is crucial to the company’s success—it means jobs for the community and profits for the shareholders. Navy officials held a meeting at Bath’s offices with its executives and those of a competitor to review the specs for an upcoming bid. Both companies desperately wanted to win the contract. After the meeting, a Bath worker realized that one of the Navy officials had left a folder on a chair labeled: “Business Sensitive.” It contained information about the competitors’ bid that would be a huge advantage to Bath. William Haggett, the Bath CEO, was notified about the file just as he was walking out the door to give a luncheon speech. What should he do? What pitfalls did he face? What result if he considered Mill, Kant, or the Front Page test?

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3. A group of medical schools conducted a study on very premature babies—those born between 24 and 27 weeks of gestation (instead of the normal 40 weeks). These children face a high risk of blindness and death. The goal of the study was to determine which level of oxygen in a baby’s incubator produced the best results. Before enrolling families in the study, the investigators did not tell them that being in the study could increase their child’s risk of blindness or death. The study made some important discoveries: the level at which too much oxygen increased the risk of blindness and level at which too little increased the risk of death. What would Mill and Kant say about this decision not to tell the families?

4. Because Raina processes payroll at her company, she knows how much everyone earns, including the top executives. This information could make for some good gossip, but she has kept it all completely secret. She just found out, however, that her boss knew that it is against company policy for her to do payroll for C-level employees. Yesterday, the CEO went to her boss to confirm that he, the boss, was personally doing the processing for top management. Her boss lied to the CEO and said that he was. Then he begged Raina not to tell the truth if the CEO checked with her. Raina just got a message that the CEO wants to see her. What does she say if he asks about the payroll?

1. YOU BE THE JUDGE WRITING PROBLEM Scott Fane was a CPA licensed to practice in New Jersey and Florida. He built his New Jersey practice by making unsolicited phone calls to executives. When he moved to Florida, the Board of Accountancy there prohibited him (and all CPAs) from personally soliciting new business. Fane sued. Does the First Amendment force Florida to forgo foreclosing Fane’s phoning? Argument for Fane: The Florida regulation violates the First Amendment, which protects commercial speech. Fane was not saying anything false or misleading, but was just trying to secure business. This is an unreasonable regulation, designed to keep newcomers out of the marketplace and maintain steady business and high prices for established CPAs. Argument for the Florida Board of Accountancy: Commercial speech deserves—and gets—a lower level of protection than other speech. This regulation is a reasonable method of ensuring that the level of CPA work in our state remains high. CPAs who personally solicit clients are obviously in need of business. They are more likely to bend legal and ethical rules to obtain clients and keep them happy, and will lower the standards throughout the state.

2. President George H. W. Bush insisted that he had the power to send American troops into combat in the Middle East, without congressional assent. Yet before authorizing force in Operation Desert Storm, he secured congressional authorization. President Bill Clinton stated that he was prepared to invade Haiti without a congressional vote. Yet he bargained hard to avoid an invasion, and ultimately American troops entered without the use of force. Why the seeming doubletalk by both Presidents?

3. In the landmark 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court examined a Connecticut statute that made it a crime for any person to use contraception. The majority declared the law an unconstitutional violation of the right of privacy. Justice Black dissented, saying, “I do not to any extent whatever base my view that this Connecticut law is constitutional on a belief that the law is wise or that its policy is a good one. [It] is every bit as offensive to me as it is to the majority. [There is no criticism by the majority of this law] to which I cannot subscribe—except their conclusion that the evil qualities they see in the law make it unconstitutional.” What legal doctrines are involved here? Why did Justice Black distinguish between his personal views on the statute and the power of the Court to overturn it?

4. Gilleo opposed American participation in the war in the Persian Gulf. She displayed a large sign on her front lawn that read, “Say No to War in the Persian Gulf, Call Congress Now.” The city of Ladue prohibited signs on front lawns and Gilleo sued. The city claimed that it was regulating “time, place, and manner.” Explain that statement, and decide who should win.

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