Quiz: How well do you remember January’s top legal stories?

Test your knowledge of some of the most significant—and strangest—legal events of the past month

The first month of 2013 is already over, but before turning the page on January InsideCounsel took a look back at some of the most significant, or simply bizarre, legal stories that topped the news last month. How well do you know your legal news?


1) There was a lot of shuffling in the upper echelons of the government in January. Which of the following high-ranking officials did not step down from his or her position last month?

a. Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel Mark Cahn

b. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief Robert Khuzami

c. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis

Answer:

a. Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel Mark Cahn

Mark Cahn did leave his post as SEC general counsel, but it was at the end of 2012. In early January, the SEC selected Geoffrey Aronow as his replacement. Aronow joined the agency from the Washington D.C. office of Bingham McCutchen, where he had spent the previous four years as a partner.

2) Which of the following companies purchased some of bankrupt Hostess’s brands this month?

a. Aunt Millie’s Bakeries

b. Pepperidge Farm

c. Flowers Foods

d. Great Harvest Bread Co.

Answer:

c. Flowers Foods

Flowers Foods, which owns Cobblestone Mill, Nature’s Own and Tastykake brands, paid $390 million to purchase some of Hostess’s brands, including Wonder, Butternut and Home Pride. Flowers will also take over 20 bakeries and 38 depots from Hostess, which went bankrupt in November 2012.


3) Why is the Department of Justice considering suing Lance Armstrong?

a. The DOJ wants Armstrong to return sponsorship money that the government gave him after his Tour de France victories, including a $5 million bonus given to Armstrong for his 6th title, in light of the revelation that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

b. Armstrong’s blood-doping scandal has gotten the U.S. in hot water with the International Olympic Committee, which is considering eliminating cycling as an event in light of the scandal.

c. The DOJ might join a lawsuit brought by one of Armstrong’s former teammates, claiming Armstrong defrauded the government when he accepted sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service, only to turn around and fill his blood with drugs.

Answer:

c. The DOJ might join a lawsuit brought by one of Armstrong’s former teammates, claiming Armstrong defrauded the government when he accepted sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service, only to turn around and fill his blood with drugs.

Armstrong accepted $30.6 million in sponsorship money from the Postal Service between 2001 and 2004. Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, filed the whistleblower suit that the DOJ is considering joining in 2010. The team’s contract with the Postal Service reportedly included language that would render the agreement invalid if anyone on the team received negative publicity for the use of banned substances.


4) Which financial company was considering suing the U.S. government over the very bailout that saved it at the start of the recession?

a. JPMorgan Chase

b. AIG

c. Wells Fargo

d. Bank of America

Answer:

b. AIG

Former AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg’s investment firm sued the government in 2011, claiming the government didn’t fairly compensate shareholders when it took a nearly 80 percent stake in AIG as part of the bailout agreement. AIG considered joining the suit, but ultimately decided not to, as that would have been ridiculous.


5) True or False: The 7th Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s controversial right-to-work law, the same law that led to the attempted recall of Governor Scott Walker.

Answer:

False.

The 7th Circuit did uphold Act 10—a controversial Wisconsin labor law—but it was not a right-to-work law. The law does deal a significant blow to unions, though, limiting employees’ collective bargaining ability, banning employers from automatically deducting union dues from paychecks and making it more difficult to recertify a union. Wisconsin has yet to join its Midwestern fellows Michigan and Indiana in becoming a right-to-work state.


6) January wasn’t a great month for fast food chains, several of which faced litigation from angry consumers. Which of these restaurants was not the target of one of the following lawsuits last month?

a) McDonald’s, for allegedly selling food that did not conform with Islamic dietary restrictions

b) Subway, for supposedly selling Footlong sandwiches that actually only measure 11 inches

c) Taco Bell, for allegedly stealing the idea for its famous Chihuahua mascot from two Michigan men

d) Burger King, for widespread sexual harassment allegations

Answer:

c) Taco Bell, for allegedly stealing the idea for its famous Chihuahua mascot from two Michigan men

Two Michigan men did win more than $40 million from the chain, after a jury ruled in 2003 that Taco Bell had turned down the duo’s pitch for the famed Chihuahua mascot, only to continue the idea with ad agency TBWA. But both the suit—and the Taco Bell Chihuahua—were gone long before this year.

The chain retired its mascot in 2000 due to falling sales and, some say, concerns that the canine was offensive to the Latino community.


7) The National Football League made headlines this month when it was revealed that the league had pressured an Indiana man to relinquish his trademark on what term?

a) “Harbowl”

b) “Bounty-gate”

c)  “Joe Wacco”

d) “Raymania”

Answer:

a) “Harbowl”

Super Bowl XLVII will be the first to feature two brothers facing off against each other as head coaches—in this case, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens skipper John Harbaugh. Indiana man Roy Fox, anticipating that the two teams might make it to the championship game, paid $1,000 to file for the trademarks “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl.”

In August, however, the NFL asked Fox to give up his trademarks, arguing that they were too similar to the league’s trademark on “Super Bowl.” After the league allegedly threatened Fox with legal action, he says he agreed to abandon the trademarks.

8) Last week, a Brooklyn judge ruled that a mother of five must pay upwards of $20,000 to settle a disputed retainer agreement with her law firm. What explanation had the woman offered the court for her failure to pay the fee in question?

a) One of her children had spilled juice on the agreement, making it unreadable

b) Her memory was shot from the stress of raising her kids

c) The family dog had eaten the document

d) Her nanny had accidentally thrown the agreement into the trash after mistaking it for spam mail

Answer:

b) Her “memory was shot” from the stress of raising her kids

Stacey Golia says that she could not recall specific events from 2007, the year she purportedly signed the agreement with law firm Reingold & Tucker, because she had “a lot of things on [her] mind.”

But Judge Arthur Schack called the mother’s claims “beyond belief,” and noted that former First Lady Barbara Bush, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann—each of whom has five children—have never used a similar excuse.


9) The D.C. Circuit last month ruled that three of President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board last year were unconstitutional. What was the court’s reasoning?

a) One of the appointees had contributed to President Obama’s re-election campaign

b) President Obama made the appointments when the Senate was technically still in session

c) President Obama had failed to hold required Congressional hearings to confirm the appointments

d) The law dictates that only the Labor Secretary—not the President—has the power to fill NLRB vacancies

Answer:

b) President Obama made the appointments when the Senate was technically still in session

U.S. presidents have often used Congressional recesses as opportune moments to make appointments that may otherwise face resistance from legislators. But the D.C. Circuit argued in its ruling that the Senate was still holding pro forma sessions—brief, sparsely attended sessions that legislators convene to avoid the threat of recess appointments.

The D.C. Circuit’s ruling could invalidate hundreds of decisions that the NLRB has issued over the past year, since the five-member organization would not necessarily have had a majority on those decisions.


10) In early January, the Supreme Court set a date to hear arguments on what controversial issue?

a) Gun control

b) The U.S. government’s right to conduct drone strikes

c) Immigration

d) Gay marriage

Answer:

d) Gay marriage

The high court will take up the question of gay marriage on March 26 and 27, when it hears arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor, respectively. The former involves California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage; the latter deals with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition—and federal benefits—to married same-sex couples.

Alanna Byrne

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