Tuesday, April 14, 2009

News America Whistleblower Appeals

Robert Emmel, a whistleblower who formerly worked for News America Marketing, is appealing an order granting summary judgment against him for breach of contract based on his disclosures to government authorities.

Mr. Emmel filed a notice of appeal yesterday, seeking reversal of the court's order finding that he breached an agreement not to disclose confidential information about News America, and permanently enjoining him from disclosing such confidential information to third parties. Given that appeals typically take over nine months to resolve in the Eleventh Circuit, the appeal is unlikely to be resolved before the Valassis and Insignia trials, so the appeal is unlikely to affect those cases.

In the Floorgraphics case, the plaintiff subpoenaed Mr. Emmel, and he provided strong testimony in their favor, previously reported on this blog here and here. For example, Emmel testified that News America's former CEO, Paul Carlucci, told employees that if there were "bed wetting liberals" who were uncomfortable with News America's tactics, he could arrange for those individuals to be fired. He also testified, as BNET recently reported, that News America charged manufacturers for placements of floor and shelf ads in hundreds of supermarkets that did not receive ads.

Valassis and Insignia will try to use to Mr. Emmel's testimony in their own cases. While the injunction against him may prevent Mr. Emmel from voluntarily testifying in person (absent a court order allowing him to do so), testimony from Mr. Emmel is likely to be introduced at least through transcripts or deposition videos.

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