Courthouse Steps: Digital Reality Trust, Inc. v. Somers

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Teleforum

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While working for Digital Reality Trust, Paul Somers filed reports to senior management concerned about possible violations of securities fraud.  Somers was subsequently fired from his position and sued under the anti-retaliation clause for whistleblowers of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.  The company said that because Somers was not reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Somers was not protected by Dodd-Frank.  The district court rejected this argument, citing a decision by the Second Circuit, which said that the protections extended to internal reporting as well.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.  However, the Fifth Circuit in the past has read Dodd-Frank more narrowly and stated that the protections only apply when the reporting was done to the SEC.  The Supreme Court will decide whether the definition of whistleblower in the act is restricted to those who file with the SEC and therefore if Somers was entitled to anti-retaliation protection. 


Todd Braunstein, Global Head of Legal Investigations, Willis Towers Watson


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