Commercial · Fun/Interesting · Trade Secret

In Trial Today

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – There are four civil cases in trial in San Francisco Superior Court this Wednesday morning.

Three of the cases are personal injury cases. In a premises liability case, a woman alleges a BART train operator negligently closed the doors on her. In the second case, a pedestrian alleges defendant owned a vehicle that struck her in a Safeway parking lot. Finally, the third case is a hotly disputed products liability case in which a maintenance worker alleges that Monsanto failed to warn him that an herbicide chemical caused his cancer.

The fourth case is a commercial dispute in which plaintiff Ashbury Heights Capital, LLC alleges in-part that it developed a unique method for analyzing stock market data and predicting stock movements. Ashbury goes on to allege that it licensed its product to defendant FactSet Research Systems, Inc., formerly Revere Data, LLC, who used it but refused to pay agreed-upon commissions/royalties. Ashbury also claims Revere destroyed critical evidence in the case, commonly known as spoliation. Defendant FactSet says, in part, that plaintiff’s claims arise from an oral discussion that is disputed. The case is in Judge Ulmer’s courtroom and is set for closing arguments today.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true. In most cases, the allegations are disputed.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
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Discrimination · Retaliation

S.F.’s Own Employment Laws Cannot Be Ignored, Including a New Law Prohibiting Asking Job Candidates About Past Salary

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mehrdad Tabatabaian has sued Professional Technical Security Services Inc. alleging, among other things, that the defendant failed to follow the regulations in San Francisco’s Health Care Services Ordinance, which generally requires employers with more than 20 employees set aside funds for employees’ health care expenditures.

San Francisco enforces the HCSO and its other laws through the S.F. Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is a fairly active agency that has assessed millions of dollars in fines against offending employers. For a list of S.F.’s employment laws, go to the S.F. O.L.S.E.’s website, here.

One new law of particular interest is the Considering of Salary History Ordinance, which took effect July 1, 2018. The Consideration of Salary History Ordinance prohibits employers from considering current or past salary of an applicant in determining whether to hire the applicant or what salary to offer the applicant. The ordinance also prohibits employers from (1) asking applicants about their current or past salary or (2) disclosing a current or former employee’s salary history without that employee’s authorization unless the salary history is publicly available.

Sound crazy? S.F. is just following the state’s lead. The State of California passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their current or past salary last year. The law took effect January 1, 2018.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
Commercial

Non-Compete Clauses in Contracts Governed by Other State’s Laws

SANTA CLARA, CA – A California sales representative is suing his former employer, an Illinois company, for declaratory relief. The plaintiff says the non-compete clause in his employment contract is unenforceable. Jeffrey Blaisdell v. EVO Exhibits LLC.

The employment contract is, however, governed by Illinois law, which does not have the same restrictions as California. The contract also has a forum selection clause requiring all disputes be litigated in Illinois.

Blaisdell is likely trying to beat EVO to the punch by suing here in California, where California judges are more likely to invalidate the non-compete clause. If EVO sues in Illinois and gets a judgment before Blaisdell, California judges may give full faith and credit to the Illinois judgment regardless of California’s policy against non-competes.

If you are in a similar situation, your employment contract is governed by another state’s law and the contract requires disputes be litigated there, be aware of the issues and prepared to sue. Consider sticking to declaratory relief and not bogging your action down asking for damages, as Blaisdell has done. Timing might be everything.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
Commercial

Collection is Always an Issue

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A mortgage bank sued a mortgage broker and settled. After the broker failed to make the agreed-upon settlement payment, the mortgage bank sued the individuals in control, alleging the individuals stripped the company of its assets. Plaintiff Rescap Liquidating Trust specifically alleges that the individuals in control of First California Mortgage Company (“FCMC”) were transferring assets away from the FCMC before, during and after signing the settlement agreement. Violation of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act are alleged, among other torts.

Collection is always an issue, at the beginning of a case and, as this case points out, at the end. Prosecuting a lawsuit is exhausting, economically and otherwise. Imagine going through that process, winning and having to file another lawsuit and go through it again, as is being done here. Not fun.

A good plaintiff’s lawyer considering taking a contingency fee case will consider collectability and not take the case if there is a risk of winning with no reward. Plaintiffs paying hourly should go through the same mental exercise and analysis. Lawsuits are investments and only worth it if there is a strong likelihood of a positive return. If the risks are too great, that same money should be put in a mutual fund instead.

Plaintiffs should name companies and individuals where possible, explore provisional remedies, like writs of attachment and, when settling, explore personal guarantees and/or securing property/assets.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
Investment · Tech

Startups Overstating Progress

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Theranos is in the news for overstating what it’s products/services could do, but it is not the only startup accused of overstating progress to keep cash flowing. Drone maker Lily was sued by the SF District Attorney for overstating what it’s throw-and-follow-you drone could do, prompting the company to refund pre-order money and ultimately file for bankruptcy protection. And, just recently, a water bottle company was sued.

Three plaintiffs: Winston Ibrahim; S.A. Ibrahim and Alan Sheriff are suing: Jay Parekh; Aakash Mathur aka Kash Mathur; Alexander Mittal; Arjun Srinivas; and Michael Young alleging that they induced plaintiffs to invest in Hydros, a filtering water bottle. Plaintiffs say defendants falsely touted the bottle as being able to filter water at higher rates of flow than competing filters like Brita even though the technology did not work.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
Commercial

Supermarkets, Successors and Mitigation of Damages

ALAMEDA, CA – The supermarket industry is rather fascinating. There seem to be an unending number of competing chains. The chains go in bankruptcy and get bought out. Each time, all of their locations are reviewed. Some are kept. Some are rejected.

In a recent lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court, a property owner alleges the Mi Pueblo chain, branded Cardenas, owes $6.5 million for lost rent at a Newark site, a site which was kept when the chain exited bankruptcy but later shut down for lack of profitability.

There are a couple issues that are in the forefront. The first is successor-in-interest liability. The complaint goes to great lengths to allege the existing operator of the chain is the successor to the previous company who signed the lease. Successor liability may be imposed if assets were purchased for inadequate consideration.

The second issue is mitigation of damages. A party to a contract who is looking at suffering damages from a breach must take steps to mitigate that damage. In the case of a landlord, this means re-leasing the space. There will likely be a fight about whether the landlord has met the mark.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.
Commercial

Breaking Myths About Non-Compete Clauses in California

MARIN, CA – An insurance brokerage, Woodruff-Sawyer & Co., is suing a former employee after the employee resigned. Plaintiff alleges that the employee started competing with plaintiff in violation of a buy-sell agreement that prohibits competition.

There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about the enforce-ability of non-compete clauses in California. In general, non-compete clauses are not enforceable but there are exceptions, including where owners and/or part owners sell their interest. The exceptions are spelled out in Business and Professions Code sections 1600 et seq. and include the sale of partnership interests, LLC member interests and other ownership forms.

Interestingly, in the case at hand, no trade secret or other violations are alleged – just the non-compete.

This blog reports on cases filed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements made are based on the allegations in court-filed documents. Allegations are just accusations, and may or may not be true.
The authors of the blog are attorneys at the San Francisco litigation firm, Wood Robbins, LLP. If you have a legal issue, send them an email. If they cannot help you, they will try and point you in the right direction.