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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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.
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.
Commercial · Trade Secret

Oakland Coffee Companies Fight; Blue Bottle Named in RICO Action

U.S.D.C. Nor. Cal. – A 59 page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California tells the tale of a coffee scandal involving famed Blue Bottle Coffee. Plaintiff Mocha Mill, an Oakland company, alleges that its CEO conspired with competitor Port of Mokha to steal Mocha Mill’s product and distribution relationships.

According to the complaint, Mocha Mill spent thousands of dollars sending its CEO on extended educational trips around the world, forming relationships with Yemeni farmers and refining the processes to make Yemeni coffee. Mocha Mill alleges these efforts were successful in creating a new buzz for the product.

As soon as the CEO realized that they were on the right track, it is alleged that he shopped it for himself, including conspiring with Port of Mokha and distributor Blue Bottle, to convince unwitting Mocha Mill investors that their product had no value.

This will be an interesting case for Judge Laurel Beeler, one of the better judges on the N.D.Cal. roster.

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

Sonnen Motorcars Sues Many for Embezzlement, $7.4 Million

MARIN, CA – This civil complaint follows criminal proceedings against three managers at the Sonnen car dealerships in Marin. The managers are alleged to have orchestrated an embezzlement scheme that primarily involved paying fake advertising vendors. Per the allegations, the payments largely went back to the embezzlers.

Though most of the defendant companies are alleged to be complete shams, at least one is a going business in San Francisco, a glass company called San Francisco MAZ. The complaint alleges members of the Maroufi family were involved in the scam, including the owner of San Francisco MAZ, Maury Maroufi, who the complaint alleges embezzled $38,000 by submitting fake invoices for payment.

Setting up fake vendors is in the top five list of methods embezzlers use to steal from unwitting corporate owners. Be careful out there.

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.