Seeing the bottom line awash with red ink yet again, Susie Sears reluctantly decided to shut down her family-owned Widgets-R-Us. Pressured by thinning margins, a weakening labor pool and increasing competition from foreign markets, Widgets-R-Us is leveraged to the hilt and profits are insufficient to pay even her secured debt. With no viable assets or business, there’s nothing to mortgage or to sell. How can Susie and her fellow company officers walk away without becoming personally liable?
In the summer of 2016 Stormy Sultry aka Peggy Peterson and Dennis Duck aka David Dennison engaged in some alleged hanky-panky. Wanting to nip in the bud any later stories about what happened, Duck’s agent gets Sultry to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in exchange for which Duck happily pays Sultry $130,000 for her silence and her agreement that any dispute over the NDA could only be pursued in a private arbitration. Agreeing that damages for any breach are not readily determinable in dollars, the NDA has a liquidated damages provision that damages are $1 million per breach. Is the NDA enforceable? Continue Reading How to Avoid Trumping Non-Disclosure Agreements
Having won her primary, Starr Struuck is ready to update her campaign website and Instagram feed to jazz up her image and promote the reasons why she should win the general election. Having been chastised by Captain Kurff of Star Warp’d who tweeted Struuck to take her personalized and autographed photograph of the two of them at the Comic-Con convention off her newsletter and website, she remains determined to stick with her Star Warp’d theme. A Getty image photograph of the Starship Enterprise circling an unknown planet is now pasted across her social media. This time Getty images complains. Again, Struuck insists that she was merely publicly confessing her affection for geeky space adventure shows. Is Getty in the right to complain and demand to be paid?
After setting up new locations in Texas, N. O. Smelz, owner of Smelz Rug Cleaning, obtained a hazardous waste permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the disposal of the company’s cleaning chemicals after use. In addition to the permit, the TCEQ issued a compliance plan to Smelz. Because he was too busy managing the financial side of the company, N.O. delegated oversight and implementation of the compliance plan to Wright Handman. Compliance is running smoothly for about a year, but business is growing quickly and Handman doesn’t have time to train Rhule Brecker, a new carpet cleaning technician. In fact, Handman never trains Brecker. During Brecker’s second year on the job, Handman sees that Brecker is pouring the used cleaning chemicals into a storm drain on the street, which violates the compliance plan. Two weeks later, Smelz gets a notice from TCEQ that it believes Smelz is violating the compliance plan and that an investigation will be conducted. Brecker fesses up, and Handman also admits he didn’t train Brecker properly. TCEQ sues Smelz, Handman and Brecker for civil penalties of $50 per day for failing to properly implement the compliance plan. Are Handman and Brecker personally liable to the State?
Running for office, Starr Struuck sent out a campaign newsletter extolling her qualifications and a list of reasons why she should be elected rather than her incumbent opponent. Prominently displayed in her newsletter and website was a personalized and autographed Comic-Con convention photograph of Starr Struuck perched beside wildly popular and well-known Captain Kurff of Star Warp’d. When advised of her campaign literature, Captain Kurff tweeted Struuck demanding that she destroy all copies of the campaign newsletter and remove his likeness from any of her campaign materials as he was not endorsing her. Protesting that she was merely publicly confessing her affection for the Captain and geeky shows generally, Starr resisted. Is Captain Kurff right?
Frustrated with the high number of employees that did not show up for work in the fall and winter last year, Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., issues a memo to all employees that they must provide proof that they got a flu vaccine shot by January 1, 2018 or they would be fired. Tommy Goinmyownway protests, saying that his religious beliefs prohibit him from getting vaccinations. New Year’s Day comes and Tommy is fired after he doesn’t provide the required proof. As he is escorted out of the plant Tommy threatens to sue Duncey’s for discrimination. Does he have a claim? Continue Reading Sticking it to Your Employees During Flu Season
Frazzled by the incessant demands for her company Acne Brick’s financial records from her husband’s divorce lawyer Ditcher Quick, company president Annie Acne was wondering what her next maneuver might be when her Information Technology officer walked into her office. The subpoena that he was holding demanded production of all Acne email communications between Annie and (i) her divorce lawyers and (ii) her attorney brother who helped her rearrange just a few things. Annie immediately called her attorney Elle O’Quent to ask, “Can Acne Brick be ordered to produce Annie’s emails from Acne’s computer?” Continue Reading Is Your Company Email to Santa Protected?
Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., decides to hold an employee/significant other holiday party this year with live music and an open cash bar managed by a third-party bartending service. Each employee will get three drink tickets. Jim also hires private security for the party because he knows there’s bad blood between two of his employees, Jake Hammerhead and Tom Colecocken. As the party is winding down, Hammerhead grabs another drink from the bar, even though he’s clearly intoxicated. As he turns around he bumps into Colecocken and yells “Watch where you’re going!” Colecocken, who is also visibly intoxicated, turns and goes nose-to-nose with Hammerhead. At that point a crowd gathers around, and people start video recording. When Hammerhead refuses to back down, Colecoken throws a sucker punch, leaving Hammerhead knocked out on the floor.
With the entire room stunned, Colecocken manages to walk out the door and get into his truck to drive home. At the very first traffic light, he crashes into three parked vehicles. Luckily no one is hurt. The police arrest him for DWI, but Colecocken gets bailed out once he sobers up.
The next day, Karl Bumler, another Duncey’s Caps employee, finds out that his wife posted her video of the fight on their joint UzeTube account. Bumler called his wife and told her to take it down, but it’s too late – the video had gone viral. On Monday morning Duncey calls Hammerhead, Colecocken and Bumler into his office and summarily fires all three. Can Duncey do that? Do Duncey, the bartending service, or the security service have any liability to the owners of the three parked cars?
Continue Reading Fight Night at Your Company Holiday Party
Reverend Leatl Hope, pastor of the to Boring Fourth Day Adventist Church in Gun Barrel City has been reading about the deadly shootings in churches all over the country, and he is worried. His small congregation does not have the resources to retain a full-time security officer. Yet, he believes that he should be doing something to protect his flock. Does he have any options?
Board of directors member Y.I. Gnough, who is also president of Algae Company, is in a pickle. Although denying any knowledge of sexual harassment and misconduct by the company founder and deal-maker Iam Algae, three co-board members resigned fearing for their reputational and financial survival. Employees are fueling the rumors of women who complained of unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other over-the-line behavior. Even Algae’s former counsel discloses that several years ago the board and the company were told of three or four confidential settlements with women. Company investors suggest that Y.I. and fellow officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty. Should Y.I. be concerned about his pocketbook and his reputation?