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Paul Zimmerman

Business Litigation
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Attention Indie Musicians

Attention indie musicians: Rhapsody International Inc. has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve claims that they failed to pay songwriters royalties for their streamed music. What this means is that you may be entitled to compensation. (Read more)

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Pokémon Oh No! Augmented reality raises specter of personal injury claims

Article was originally published on GeekWire on August 6, 2016

There’s no denying it—Pokémon have taken over the country and, as of the popular app’s launch in more than 30 countries over the past few weeks, the world.  As the media is eager to point out, the game’s launch has not been without certain glitches (i.e. server errors), publicity mishaps (Poké Stops on graves and in Holocaust museums), and security concerns (apparently Niantic Inc., developer and publisher of Pokémon Go, had full access to users’ Google accounts). But perhaps the most frequently discussed incidents are the minor, and sometimes major, physical injuries occurring as players hunt high and low in the hope of catching ‘em all. (Read More)

Business Litigation
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CA Appellate Court Rules That Outside Counsel’s Fact Investigation is Privileged

On June 8, 2016, the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal, reversed a Sonoma County Superior Court, holding that an outside counsel’s investigative report was protected from discovery by the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine despite outside counsel’s agreement not to provide “legal advice” based on her findings.  City of Petaluma v. Superior Court (Cal. App. 1st Dist. June 8, 2016, ordered published June 30, Case No. A145437). The Court also held that the assertion of an avoidable consequences defense did not waive the attorney-client privilege or work product protection because the investigation was initiated after the plaintiff resigned from her position. (Read More)

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Taken for a Ride: Under-Fire Uber Pays the Price

A recent settlement between Uber and the Los Angeles and San Francisco County District Attorneys Offices presents an interesting opportunity to examine the tools available to California law enforcement to police potentially false or deceptive advertising and the different ways in which Uber and its main competitor, Lyft, responded to nearly identical complaints by government regulators. (Read More)

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Wendy’s Data Breach Expands in Scope, Malware Attacks Point-of-Sale System

Fast-food chain, Wendy’s, has disclosed that the number of franchised restaurants hit by a recent cyber-attack was “considerably higher” than the fewer than 300 locations that it had originally suggested were impacted. Wendy’s states that it has discovered an additional strain of malware that affected previously unidentified franchises. As cyber-attacks continue to rise within the retail sector, the particular vulnerability of franchised hospitality establishments comes into focus. (Read More)

Business Litigation
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Jason Speros ©

Class Action: Supreme Court Rules That Federal Plaintiffs Must Show a “Concrete” Injury

Some may view it as a blow to consumer class actions, while others might characterize it as an example of a high court “punting” on a key issue, but regardless of one’s characterization, the United States Supreme Court’s 6-2 decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins is reverberating throughout the legal community. In a long awaited opinion, the Supreme Court vacated a Ninth Circuit ruling that had deemed so-called technical violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) sufficient to establish an injury-in-fact for purposes of satisfying the standing requirements to bring a lawsuit under federal jurisdiction. According to the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit’s standing analysis was not complete because it failed to consider whether the alleged injury was “concrete.” The Supreme Court has remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit to re-consider the standing issues in light of the Court’s guidance. While the Court may have refused to decide the underlying issue of standing, it did make a significant, and potentially momentous, finding that could curtail the spread of consumer class action lawsuits in which lead plaintiffs identify no actual harm from the violation of a statute. (Read More)

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New Federal Trade Secret Law: Key Takeaways for Employers

Congress recently passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) which, for the first time, allows companies to file civil lawsuits for theft of trade secrets under federal law. On Wednesday, May 11, President Barrack Obama signed the legislation into law. The DTSA does not pre-empt existing state laws, including California, which previously codified the Uniform Trade Secret Act (UTSA), a model statute. The new federal legislation does, however, provide plaintiffs with a federal private right of action for trade secret claims, enabling companies to sue in federal court for damages related to theft of trade secrets. The DTSA is also significant to California employers in that it imposes specific rules and regulations with regard to whistleblower immunity. In light of these significant requirements, employers should review their agreements, handbooks and procedures to ensure compliance with this pending legislation. (Read More)

Business Litigation
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Consumer Agency Proposal Would Expose Banks to More Class Action Lawsuits

Under new rules proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), consumers would be handed greater ability to bring class action lawsuits against financial institutions and consumer financial services providers. The proposed rules would essentially prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration clauses that contain class action waiver provisions in contracts for consumer financial products and services. The CFPB’s publicized objective is to prohibit consumer financial services providers from using arbitration provisions to prevent consumer class action lawsuits. Covering a range of products, from bank accounts and credit cards to auto and student loans, the rules are ostensibly intended to enable customers to utilize the court system to challenge potentially deceitful practices or other improper conduct. There will now be a 90-day public comment period, which will surely be contentious; the consumer finance industry immediately voiced strong concerns with the CFPB’s proposal. (Read More)

Business Litigation
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Federal Court Paves Way for TCPA Defendants to Attack Class Actions on Constitutional Grounds

A recent, seemingly innocuous decision out of the Western District of New York sheds new light on a compelling constitutional argument against high-dollar class action lawsuits brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In Hannabury v. Hilton Grand Vacation Co., LLC, No. 14-cv-6126, 2016 WL 1181789 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 25, 2016), the Court held that a named plaintiff’s TCPA claims did not survive his death.  While the decision appears, on its face, limited to a narrow issue, it may in fact have far-reaching significance. In its reasoning, the Court held that the TCPA’s damages provision is “disproportional" to actual damages suffered. This would suggest that (as detailed below), when the disproportionate remedy is aggregated exponentially in the context of a class action lawsuit, the TCPA’s statutory damages provision violates the U.S. Constitution – a finding that should have significant ramifications for ongoing and future TCPA litigation. (Read More)

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Legal Storm Enveloping Trump “University” Highlights Potential Advertising Pitfalls

Among his many business ventures before seeking the republican nomination for President, Donald Trump created “Trump University,” a for-profit “school” that claimed its students would be empowered with the secrets of real estate success and “insider information.”  Among his many claims, Trump represented that he, or one of his “hand-picked professors,” would share this invaluable information with students that paid a fee for the course(s). Trump and his school have become the target of at least three lawsuits, including one filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, alleging that the school was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scheme for Trump and that the advertising used to attract students was false and misleading. (Read More)