Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin spoke recently with web based business resource platform Agenda about the rise of the #MeToo movement in corporate culture and how #MeToo has driven corporations to change how they handle misconduct. Rather than buying off accusers, as was once common, those in charge are instead imposing strong ethical standards and policy changes to ensure their companies don’t foster environments that enable misconduct.
Discussing the recent sexual assault litigation involving former Hollywood movie producer and mogul Harvey Weinstein, Annika observed to Agenda that ‘in the Weinstein situation, as is claimed to be the case in other circumstances involving misconduct within companies, there have been indications that those at the top knew about alleged bad behavior.”
“There is a component of whether the company is harboring someone like this and giving them access or opportunities for this type of conduct,” continued Martin, a plaintiff’s attorney who represents class members in large-scale sexual abuse lawsuits, including those against the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan, the NCAA, Frontier Airlines, and a series of hospitals in New York and California.
“There’s liability for knowingly allowing these people to stay in a position of power,” Martin continues, referring to other lawsuits that include civil liability via shareholder litigation. For example, derivative suits have been filed claiming Alphabet board members covered up Google executives’ misconduct, and similar complaints have been filed by shareholders against Wynn Resorts, Nike, and Lululemon.
Martin goes on to explain that “For the protection of employees, this is important. But if you want to be mercenary about it, it’s protection for the company” to have systems in place that root out bad behavior.”
About Annika K. Martin
A partner in Lieff Cabraser’s New York office, Annika K. Martin represents plaintiffs in class action and mass tort litigation concerning consumer fraud, environmental issues, and products liability. In April 2018, Annika was named Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in the national consumer fraud class action MDL against General Motors Company on behalf of all persons who purchased or leased certain GM vehicles equipped with an allegedly defective air conditioning system. Annika is also currently representing women who were sexually abused by gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D., in a class action against Tyndall and the University of Southern California.
Annika represented individuals, property owners, and business owners across the Gulf Coast in class action litigation against BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and other companies responsible for the 2010 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which resulted in the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Annika was deeply involved in negotiating, implementing, and gaining court approval for the economic and medical class action settlements with BP that are compensating hundreds of thousands of victims of the tragedy.
Annika has also represented plaintiffs with physical and economic injuries arising from GM vehicles with defective ignition switches, and patients nationwide suffering from the widespread outbreak of meningitis and other serious maladies caused by contaminated medication. Annika is the current co-chair of AAJ’s Class Action Litigation Group.