On December 26, Marty and Dave McFly were playing video games when, downstairs in the living room, the hoverboard that Marty had received for Christmas ignited. The fire quickly engulfed the Christmas tree and spread throughout the house. Marty and Dave escaped with minor injuries, but their house was destroyed. Since the McFlys had bought the hoverboard from Amazon.com, they sued the company, alleging that it sold them a defective product and failed to warn them that it was unsafe. Amazon, however, argues that it is not responsible because it did not manufacture or even sell the hoverboard. Instead, it merely set up a marketplace by which a third-party Chinese manufacturer sold the hoverboard. Is the McFlys’ lawsuit up in smoke? Continue Reading Amazon Packages Bursting into Open Fires, Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose…
In this series on defining wins in litigation, we’ve talked about defining the goals and strategies at the outset, clear and open communication, and the benefits of resolving a dispute both financially and reputationally. The final piece in this series discusses why mitigating the plaintiff’s damage recovery can also be a “win”. I can speak from experience because I have effectively used this strategy for a client.
Suppose your customer accuses your company of taking certain actions that violated the terms of your contract. After digging into the contract and some other communications between the parties, it is clear you breached the contract. It also appears that your employees’ actions violate a statute that allows the customer to recover punitive damages. The customer claims $500,000 in compensatory damages, and wants another $3 million in punitive damages. What do you do from a litigation strategy standpoint? Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation: Mitigating Losses
Releasing an image of a pickup truck closely resembling I.M. Steelin’s, Texas Parks and Wildlife investigators believe a red stag deer was shot by I.M. Steelin over the Thanksgiving weekend. The exotic, tame, breeding, red deer bull “Rudolph” was found decapitated on Bragg Schtag’s sprawling Red Bull Ranch – a large hunting ranch with a high-fence on a remote road in northwest Burnet County. Facing a string of charges, including a potential third-degree felony for poaching, can I.M. Steelin really be jailed for poaching from a county road? Can Schtag sue Steelin for damages? Continue Reading Poaching Santa’s Reindeer – What’s the Penalty for Poaching Your Neighbor’s Red Stag?
This fall’s Dallas tornado was especially vexing to Winn Blohn who stored many personal belongings in Sasha Stach’s Stach-a-Lot Self-Storage unit. Sasha denied access to all the units for weeks. Can Sasha do that? Continue Reading When a Tornado Damages Your Self-Storage Unit, are Your Rights Blown Away?
If your business provides consumer-oriented goods or services, your reputation is very important to you. When I use the term “consumer-oriented,” I mean goods or services that are primarily used for personal or household purposes. That is not to say that businesses that do not directly affect consumers are not worried about their reputations. In fact, they are, because reputation means everything.
Suppose one of your customers claims one of your employees stole an item while they were at the customer’s home making repairs. You interviewed all of the employees who were at the customer’s home. None of them saw the item in question. You speak to the homeowner, and discover that your employees were working in a completely different part of the house than where the homeowner keeps the item. You looked in the company vehicles and do not see any evidence of the item. The only thing supporting the customer’s claim is that the customer was not home at the time your employees were there. The customer files a police report. Your team cooperates, and the police do not find sufficient evidence to support any charges. The customer is insistent that your employees took the item, and is threatening to sue. What do you do? Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation: Saving Reputational Costs
Henry Gale was having difficulty leasing his modest four-bedroom house in North Dallas. But his fortunes changed when multiple tornadoes blew through the city in late October, damaging multiple nearby homes. Suddenly faced with several offers, Henry doubled his rental rate and signed a twelve-month lease with the Diggs, a family whose home was undergoing a lengthy restoration due to tornado damage. But Henry’s elation turns to despair the next month when the Diggs sue him for “price gouging.” Are dark skies ahead for Henry? Continue Reading Price Gouging Law in Texas: How it Works and How it Backfires
Last month we talked about how establishing goals for litigation “wins” requires taking emotion out of litigation, and clear communication between lawyer and client. We also talked about the need to re-evaluate litigation goals as the facts and issues develop. This month we’re going to discuss the hidden costs of litigation, and the benefits of early resolution. Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation: Addressing the Hidden Costs
Years ago, Quicey Morris’s father bought the family ranch near Amarillo from Jonathan and Mina Harker. Having not heard from either until last week, Quicey was surprised when Mina showed up with a small urn and an unusual request. Mina explained that Jonathan’s last wish was for his ashes to be buried at the tree he planted on the ranch- his happiest years were spent there. Are private cemeteries legal in Texas? How would an urn affect Morris and his family ranch? Continue Reading Dying to Get In: Cemeteries on Private Property
Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux’s favorite old, majestic cypress tree “Cyrus” has a wide draping canopy near his property line adjoining his neighbor Sonny Gap. Gap recently complained that the roots and the canopy are growing into his property; that the roots have grown into his foundation and around the gas meter and pipes; and that some of the roots are growing into knees above-ground making walking in this area tricky. Plus, his wife thinks the tree is hideous. Can Gap make Big Daddy cut down the tree? Can Gap hire someone to cut it down? If not, can Gap just poison the roots on his property? Continue Reading When Can You Cut Down Your Neighbor’s Messy, Root-Invasive Tree?
Last month I talked about how litigation “wins” don’t always require a jury finding in your favor. This month we continue talking about reaching litigation “wins” through early communication and objectivity. If I got $100 for every time a client told me during an initial consultation that they wanted to extract a pound of flesh from the other side, I’d probably living the island life right now. These clients aren’t individuals looking to sue some international conglomerate; most are entrepreneurs or business executives. And I guarantee you that I am not alone. Most lawyers would tell you they hear the same thing from clients during their initial consultation. Sometimes clients continue that mantra for several months. Some even go so far as to say something like, “I don’t care what it costs. I want justice!” I get it too. When a client first contacts a lawyer about litigation, it’s because the client believes: (1) somebody did something that hurt the client (physically, emotionally or economically); or (2) somebody brought a bogus lawsuit against them. Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation: Flexible Goals and Open Communication Establish a Solid Foundation