Businessman Signing An Official Document as a DBAFrasier and Niles fulfill a lifelong dream by purchasing a treasured but faded restaurant through their company, Crane Brothers, LLC. They rechristen their restaurant as “Les Freres Heureux” and file an assumed name certificate registering that name. Frasier also signs multiple contracts to renovate the building and purchase food, beverages, and furniture in the following manner: “Les Freres Heureux by its president, Frasier Crane.” Unfortunately, opening night is a disaster, and the restaurant quickly closes its doors. Frasier and Niles put Crane Brothers, LLC into bankruptcy, so unpaid vendors begin suing Frasier, arguing that he is personally liable for the contracts he signed. Is Frasier in the soup?
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an elderly person has mental problems. The President of First Bank of Buxboro Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux is growing older, and he’s showing it. Despite tightening bank regulations on lending and credit documentation, Big Daddy seems to be getting even more lax. Moreover, just last week – during important loan renewal negotiations with the Bank’s largest customer – Big Daddy could not remember the name of the company or the name of its principal. Do the directors of First State Bank owe any legal responsibility to the FDIC as the insurer? Do the Bank directors have any legal responsibilities to the Bank?  What about Big Daddy, personally, does he have rights?
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Girl feet on the hover board. Self-balancing scooter or mini segwayOn 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?
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businessman hands tearing apart money banknote into two peaces. vector illustration in flat designIn 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?
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Feedback online or review on computer laptop concept vector illustration, flat cartoon pc with voting hands thumbs gesture and reviews stars, idea of like or dislike symbolsIf 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?
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tornado over the house (3d rendering)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?
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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.
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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. 
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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?
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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:

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