Days ago, engineer Anthony Levandowski was indicted on criminal charges accusing him of stealing information from Google-owned Waymo and taking it to Uber. While the indictment alleges he downloaded 14,000 documents containing trade secrets before he left Google, Levandowski insists the downloads were his. An arbitration panel ordered Levandowski to pay Google $127 million. After firing Levandowski – who repeatedly asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination before the trial – his new employer, Uber, paid $245 million to settle its own civil lawsuit with Google.  The sitting federal judge recommended a criminal probe into a possible theft – now an indictment. Everybody does it, right? Who pays the $372 million? Does Uber have to protect Levandowski? Can Levandowski claim ownership of his ideas? Can Levandowski go to jail? Continue Reading Who Pays When Your New Employee Brings Your Competitor’s Trade Secrets?

Does a “win” in litigation require a final judgment in your favor?  Not necessarily.  Litigation “wins” are defined by the circumstances facing a party at the outset of litigation, and how those circumstances change as litigation progresses.  Over the next few months we will dive deeper into this topic, and talk about issues such as:

Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation

Grant Bux, Big Daddy Bux’s nephew, owns Sparkle-Plenty Electrical Manufacturing in Dallas, and has a branch office in San Antonio. The Dallas office employs 13 family members and four non-family employees. San Antonio has 16 non-family employees. Grant learned that both the Cities of Dallas and San Antonio have mandatory sick leave ordinances becoming effective on August 1st. As a family business, will they impact Grant and Sparkle-Plenty?

Continue Reading Do the Mandatory Sick Leave Ordinances in Dallas and San Antonio Affect Your Family Business?

My last article pointed out a situation where parties conflate contractual indemnity and damages clauses.  The standard language in Dunce’s Caps’ contract provided for an indemnification of “any and all losses arising from any breach of any representation or warranty in the agreement” and capped those losses at the price of the order. When Dunce’s failed to deliver the promised 100,000 hats, Flat Backs filed an arbitration action seeking recovery of an alleged $4 million in damages, even though the purchase order price was only $500,000. Ignoring Dunce’s damages cap argument, the arbitrator Terry B.L. Judge awarded Flat Backs the full $4 million. Arguing that Judge was not permitted to award Flat Backs more than $500,000, Dunce’s appealed to the state court seeking to overturn the arbitration award because Judge exceeded his jurisdictional limits. Did Dunce’s contractual indemnification provision operate as a cap on the damages that Flat Backs could recover for Dunce’s breach of contract? Continue Reading The Case of Mistaken Indemnity, Part 2

Struggling these last several months with the family dynamics and dilemmas of transitioning his family business to the next generation, Big Daddy Ernest Bux, 65, now turns to ordinary, practical considerations. What are Big Daddy’s businesses worth, and do they have sufficient value/cash flow to accomplish his plans? Will Big Daddy’s estate planning cover the estate taxes and transfer estate assets consistent with his plans and goals?
Continue Reading Family Matters: Can a Family Business Succeed Without Maximum Valuation and Sound Estate Planning?

Continuing to struggle with transitioning his family business to the next generation, Big Daddy Ernest Bux, 65, considers perhaps the most difficult task on his checklist: Ensuring that both his management succession decision makers and all of his ownership succession members are good communicators of both business and family issues. A couple of months ago, Big Daddy Bux addressed the family factor and its two components – the management succession process and the ownership succession process. Now that the management successors (the business decision makers) and the ownership successors are identified, how can Big Daddy equip them both to be good communicators? Continue Reading Family Matters: Can a Family Business Succeed Without Addressing Overlapping Business AND Family Issues?

Nifty Counsel, Dunce’s Caps in-house lawyer, came up with what he thought was a brilliant way to minimize the company’s liability to its customers.  Nifty added arbitration provisions to Dunce’s customer purchase order agreements, and included language that the customer agreed the arbitrator could not award the customer damages exceeding the price of the order.  Flat Backs, a major retail hat company, filed an arbitration action against Dunce’s after Dunce’s failed to deliver 100,000 Auburn Tigers 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions hats.[1]  The demand for arbitration alleged $4 million in damages, even though the purchase order price was only $500,000.  Terry B.L. Judge, the arbitrator, ignored Dunce’s arguments that the purchase order’s arbitration clause prohibited Judge from awarding Flat Backs more than $500,000, and awarded Flat Backs the requested $4 million.  Dunce’s then asked a court to overturn the arbitration award for the same reason – Judge exceeded his jurisdictional limits.     Continue Reading The Case of Mistaken Indemnity

In recent months we have discussed litigation funding, specifically covering what litigation funding entails, whether such agreements are legal in different jurisdictions and the ethical issues surrounding litigation funding agreements. There’s an opportunity to continue the conversation as we keep a close eye on the Texas Legislative Session, just as we did last month with a recap of bills related to civil litigation. Members of the Texas House and Senate introduced bills relating to the disclosure of litigation funding in state court lawsuits. Continue Reading Could Litigation Funding Disclosure Be Coming to Texas?

Continuing to deliberate about when and how to exit from his family business, Big Daddy Ernest Bux, 65, considers yet another task on his checklist: Determine Exit Strategy. He’s already Identified Successors and Decision Makers, and Planned for Contingencies. Yet to be tackled are Establish Goals, Plan Entity Structure and Transfer, Complete Estate Planning, and Implement Document Maintenance and Control. Asking his banker last week about a new loan to expand his business, Big Daddy learned that his banker cannot give him a business loan without seeing a complete exit plan. How is an exit strategy different from last month’s thoughts on identifying successors? Continue Reading Family Matters: Can a Family Business Succeed Without a Written Exit Plan?