Scales of Justice

Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41 – SB 383 Limits Demurrers in California

Effective January 1, 2016, SB 383 severely limits the use of demurrers in California through newly-enacted California Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41.

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Unlawful Detainer Complaint - Landlord Tenant Lease

Right to Partition is Absolute

Co-owners of real estate in California have an absolute legal right to partition the property, thereby causing the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed.

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Scales of Justice

Should Lawyers “force” their clients to mediate?

Recently, a litigant refused to mediate their dispute, ultimately losing in court and paying the attorney's fees of the prevailing party.

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reid & hellyer

Employer Class Action Certification

For those employers who had all but given up hope of receiving relief from the courts, the California Supreme Court recently provided a glimmer of hope with its holding in Duran v. U.S. Bank.

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reid & hellyer

Employees Training/Education Cost Repayment Contracts

Many employers train or educate employees at considerable expense. Can employers be reimbursed if an employee leaves shortly (within a few years) after completing the training/education? Can you deduct the cost of training/education from an employee’s wages?

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Anonymous Internet Surfer

Protecting Trade Secrets From Use by Former Employees

The most prudent approach for an employer is to minimize the risk of loss of trade secrets by taking all reasonable measures available to protect the trade secrets.

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What Is An Integration Clause – And Why Should I Care?

Many written contracts include a short paragraph usually entitled "Entire Agreement" or "Integration Clause" that has legal ramifications that the parties should understand.

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reid & hellyer

Contractual Arbitration Provisions Under California Law

If you have ever purchased or sold a home, or seen a medical doctor, no doubt you were presented with a proposed written agreement, possibly on a preprinted form, that contained an arbitration provision.

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Contesting a Petition for Adjudication as a Newspaper of General Circulation

What happens when a newspaper files for adjudication, but it doesn't meet those requirements?

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Construction

Calemine v. Samuelson- Duty to Disclose Prior Construction Defect Lawsuits

A seller's duty to disclose construction defects likely includes the duty to disclose prior construction defect litigation under the California ruling in Calemine v. Samuelson.

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Professional employee

U.S. Supreme Court Delivers Body-Blow To Employee Class Action Litigation

Employers seeking to avoid class action litigation should be encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent counter-punch delivered in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant.

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Citing Unpublished Opinions: The Conflict Between the No-Citation Rule and Judicial Notice

California courts should allow unpublished opinions to be cited as persuasive authority under statutory judicial notice, despite the no-citation Rule of Court.

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Tax Law

Tax Issues in Identity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise and is a frustrating process for victims. Some studies estimate that over nine million persons a year are victims.

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reid & hellyer

California Courts Narrowly Construe Covenants Not to Compete

California courts have narrowed an employer’s ability to restrict employee activities after termination.

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Hiring a Disbarred Colleague May Jeopardize Your Own License

Would you consider hiring a disbarred or suspended friend or colleague?

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Circumventing Workers Compensation Preemption

Workers compensation preemption prohibits third parties that allegedly injure an employee from seeking redress against an employer by way of a cross-complaint for indemnity.

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Hiring a Contractor? Make Sure the Contractor Is Insured!

If you'll be hiring a contractor to do work on your property, be certain you review their liability policy carefully.

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reid & hellyer

Arbitrator Disclosures Give Rise To Litigation

Court rules that arbitrators need not live in splendid isolation!

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Business, Labor & Employment

Service and Repair Contracts – What is Required in California

Before you have a contractor begin any home improvements, there are some things you should know.

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Lawyer Seeks White House Honey Ale Recipe via Freedom of Information Act Request

A California attorney has apparently become the first person with legal training to issue a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the White House seeking the recipe of President Obama's White House Honey Ale.

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past due debt

Sending a Debt Collection Letter to Debtor’s Place of Employment May Violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that a lawyer (or other debt collector) may not send a debt collection letter to a debtor at the latter’s workplace – even if it’s addressed in the debtor’s name, “care of” the employer and marked “personal and confidential."

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Professional employee

Corporate Officer Liability for Failure to Supervise

Although California law creates a duty to supervise employees by the designated officer of a corporate real estate broker, the Court of Appeal ruled that this duty is owed only to the corporation, not to third parties harmed by the failure to supervise.

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Worker Factory

Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. – Undocumented Workers May Be Precluded From Bringing Claims Against Employers

Employers will want to pay close attention to the California Supreme Court’s pending decision in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. as it may substantially affect their exposure to liability for certain claims by undocumented employees.

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Unlawful Detainer Complaint - Landlord Tenant Lease

Commercial Lease Recapture Provision May Terminate Assignor Liability

Commercial landlords should carefully draft recapture provisions in leases if they seek to hold assignors of the lease liable for a breach of the covenant to pay rent by the assignee.

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making a deal

The Property Information Sheet: A Trap for the Unwary Real Estate Broker

A standard real estate form known as the Property Information Sheet may create legal problems if not used properly by commercial real estate brokers.

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Impulsive Use of E-Mails May Trigger a State Bar Inquiry

Rule 5-100 of the State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits an attorney from threatening an opposing party with criminal prosecution or professional disciplinary actions to gain an advantage in a civil matter.

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Jury Fees Must Be Posted Before Case Management Conference Under New California Law

A new California law requires jury fees to be deposited on or before the date scheduled for the initial case management conference, with such fees non-refundable.

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JURORS GONE WILD! Emotions Run Amok?

Recently, a California jury awarded a fired employee a stunning $167.7 million, made up of $125 million in punitives (emotional distress).... Have we placed our emotions above what remains of our intellects?

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Tired of Residential Tenants Smoking in Your Rentals? Civil Code Section 1947.5

California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 332, adding to Civil Code as section 1947.5, allowing landlords of residential property to ban smoking tobacco therein as of January 1, 2012.

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CEQA Hits Home – Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted to provide the fullest possible protection of the environment when governmental entities make decisions that have the potential of adversely affecting the environment.

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Freedom to Choose Your Roommate: Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com

Can the selection of a roommate give rise to a legal claim for discrimination? The Ninth Circuit recently weighed in.

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medical marijuana collective cooperative

Medical Marijuana Collectives v. Local Governments: California Supreme Court Cases Predicted to Change Legal Landscape

The California Supreme Court granted review of Inland Empire, Pack, G3, and Evergreen- cases that may change the legal landscape in the litigation between municipalities and medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives.

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past due debt

What You Should Not Do When Trying To Collect On A Debt

Creditors, collection agencies, and even attorneys can be held liable for abusive collection practices under both federal and state law. There are steps you should avoid taking when attempting to collect on a debt:

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Email Disclaimers: Legal Effect in American Courts

Are boilerplate email disclaimers of any legal effect? One website touts the necessity of these lengthy paragraphs, while The Economist wrote in 2011 that these automatic email footers are both annoying and “legally useless.” So who is correct?

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Toyota Motor Corporation v. Superior Court – Corporate Person Most Qualified / Knowledgeable Depositions

Corporate employers with employees located outside California will have to decide whether to agree to send any out-of-state employees to California for future Person Most Qualified/Knowledgeable depositions.

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Scales of Justice

The Uncertainty of Litigation

Attorneys regularly counsel their clients regarding the unpredictability of juries. Less is said regarding the unpredictability of judges.

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Report Someone to the IRS for Fun and Money

Who are the IRS’s favorite superheroes? The X-Men. The IRS loves to hear from ex-spouses, ex-business partners and ex-employees about taxpayers who may not have fully met their federal tax obligations.

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Why is it Legal Malpractice?

I see another major law firm has been sued for legal malpractice by a hedge fund manager and a distressed investment firm who claim that their lawyers didn't advise them about a particular term in a deal involving tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

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Scales of Justice

Some are Slow Learners

Reprimanded teacher objects to disclosure of the reprimand. The appellate court’s opinion in Marken v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unif. Sch. Dist. (Jan. 24, 2012) No. B231787 is an excellent recap of the California Public Records Act with respect to disclosure of certain records of public employees.

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Unlawful Detainer Complaint - Landlord Tenant Lease

Is There Any Way I Can Get Out of My Lease?

If your business is continuing to suffer, is there any way to get out from under what may now appear to be an unfavorable lease?

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Arbitration Agreement

Employers Beware – Provision in Employment Agreement Requiring Binding Arbitration May Be Unenforceable

Arbitration agreements in employment agreements may not be enforced, absent special care given by employers when hiring employees.

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Paid in Full

Check Marked “Paid in Full”: To Cash or Not to Cash?

I have repeatedly been asked the question from puzzled clients, “should I cash the check or not?” This situation usually arises when the client is owed $2,000 (for example) and the customer mails the client a check for $1,500 with a notation “payment in full” written on the check.

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California Mechanic’s Liens and Bankruptcy

California’s Mechanic’s Lien Law (Civil Code section 3082 et seq.) is littered with short deadlines, which are further complicated by the rules of bankruptcy.

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Construction

Homebuilders: Good News About Your Alternative Nonadversarial Prelitigation Contractual Provision

The recent ruling in Baeza v. Superior Court upheld the alternative nonadversarial prelitigation contractual provision utilized by one homebuilder.

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The Value of a Lawyer’s Reputation

“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do" said Henry Ford. Indeed, much of a lawyer’s value is his or her reputation in the legal community, a lesson that I hope no attorney learns the hard way.

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Alley

Is It Possible To Obtain A Prescriptive Easement Over An Existing Easement?

A recent decision regarding commercial property in Orange County, California addressed one rare situation in which payment of property taxes may be required to establish a prescriptive easement.

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Arbitration Agreement

Not All Arbitration Clauses Are Enforceable

Although it is common practice among retailers to use form contracts presented to consumers for signing without explanation and without an ability to negotiate any of the terms, a court recently held that an arbitration clause in a form contract for the purchase of a used vehicle was unenforceable.

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making a deal

Attorneys Who Enter Business Agreements with Friends Should Use the Same Standards as Business Agreements with Clients

Attorneys should be careful when entering into business transactions with friends that have also been clients, as Rule 3-300 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a member of the State Bar shall not enter into a business transaction with a client unless certain requirements have been satisfied.

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Foreclosure

A Lender Owes No Duty to a Borrower to Disclose an Intent to Defraud the Borrower

Homeowners sued their lenders, creatively claiming that the lender had a separate duty to disclose to each of them the lender’s intent to defraud them on their loans.

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Work Injury

Finally, A Victory For The “Imperfect” Homeowner!

Individual homeowners, and homeowner’s associations (and HOA management companies), should continue to pay close attention to property conditions that may pose a significant risk of injury to guests and visitors.

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Warning to Contractors and Material Suppliers: Your Workers’ Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Wealth

A flooring contractor was found to have negligently caused a fire started by a worker’s discarded cigarette that damaged a homeowners’ property in the amount of $424,050.

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Terminated Employee

Fired Employee’s Lawsuit Dismissed After Employer Discovers Fake Social Security No.

In light of the recent decision in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co, California employers should look closely at the identification provided by employees during the hiring process whenever an employee pursues claims for discrimination or retaliation relating to any termination or failure to hire.

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Foreclosure

Oops! Foreclosing Trustee Has to Eat Error

Foreclosing trustee represented that the delinquency amount was about $22,000. Actually, this was about one-tenth the true amount of about $220000. The Court of Appeal shifted the loss to the trustee, ruling that the buyer could obtain the huge windfall.

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Foreclosure

Developers May Be Liable to Homeowners for Marketing to Sub-prime Buyers

Can homeowners sue a developer for the damages caused by that developer in marketing neighboring homes to sub-prime buyers who presented a high risk of foreclosure? The answer is an uncomfortable “maybe” for housing developers, according to the recent Ninth Circuit decision in Maya v. Centex Corp.

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kitten

What is the Legal Value of a Cat?

A California Court of Appeals recently allowed a cat owner to recover $36,000 in vet costs and punitive damages from their neighbors who allegedly shot and injured the cat, rejecting that only the fair market value of the stray cat could be recovered.

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notary fraud

Dishonest Notaries Can Escape Civil Liability After 6 Years

A dishonest notary can corrupt the chain of title of real property with a void deed by falsely notarizing the forged signature of the grantor, with no recourse if the statute of limitations has passed.

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Unlawful Detainer Complaint - Landlord Tenant Lease

Landlord Responsibilities to Neighboring Properties for Problem Tenants

Whether you are a landlord for a residential or commercial property, you will owe certain legal duties to your neighbors, even if you never actually occupy your property or use it beyond renting it out.

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HOA

HOA Fees are Non-Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

A homeowner should be aware that homeowners association dues, fees or assessments are non-dischargeable in Chapter 7, 11, 12, & 13 bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(16).

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Construction

Unlicensed Contractors Can Agree to Binding Arbitration

Generally, an unlicensed contractor may not collect compensation for construction work. However, will a court enforce an arbitration award involving an unlicensed contractor where arbitration was voluntarily agreed to by all parties?

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Professional employee

Law Clerk Claims Not to be a “Professional,” Loses Appeal

California employers may now be able to lean a little more on the "learned professional" exemption when facing an employee's claim that he or she should have been treated as "non-exempt" for payroll purposes.

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sabbatical vacation

Vacation Time Disguised as a “Sabbatical” May Require Employee Compensation Upon Termination

A court ruled that a program described by an employer as a sabbatical program can be deemed to be additional vacation time for the employee requiring compensation by the employer.

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Discovery Documents

Jumbled Document Production Equals $74,809 In Sanctions

We lawyers may want to keep this case handy to drop into a meet-and-confer letter to send to opposing counsel/party who plays discovery games and to warn our own clients that such games can be costly.

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past due debt

How to Collect a Debt

During the economic downturn of the last few years, an increasing number of our firm’s clients have expressed concern over the fact that a growing number of their business’s customers are becoming slow pay . . . or, perhaps, no pay. In some instances, clients have asked, "what should I do when a customer has an account receivable that is more than four months past due and that customer refuses to return my call?"

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HOA

Statements About Candidates at Homeowner Association Meetings are Privileged – Cabrera v. Alam

The Court of Appeal recently found that statements made at a homeowner association meeting immediately before the election of the board of directors could not support a claim for defamation.

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Buy-Sell Agreements: An Introduction – Part I

Buy-sell agreements are contracts by which interest holders in entities may seek to maintain control over the ownership and management of their business by restricting or compelling the transfer of the ownership interests.

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Fee Disputes Between Lawyers and Their Clients: Deadbeat Clients Beat Back Against Their Lawyers

Many lawyers have seen an increase in the number of clients who stop paying them for their services. And, the legal malpractice industry reports that there has been an upswing in the number of legal malpractice claims against lawyers in the same time frame.

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tax-finance

California SB 86 Tries Carrot and Stick Approach to Tax Shelters

California's new Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2 is an opportunity for taxpayers who may have underreported their California income tax liabilities, through the use of abusive tax avoidance transactions or offshore financial arrangements, to amend their tax returns for 2010 and prior tax years and obtain a waiver of most penalties.

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A Judicial Foreclosure Sale Tale: Training for Deputies

Judicial foreclosure sales appear to be so rare in Riverside County that the judicial sale that I recently attended was also used as a training vehicle for several uniformed deputies in the sheriff’s office.

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California Judicial Council

Trees Saved From Slaughter!

The new California Rules of Court have eliminated the requirement that paper copies of non-California authorities be lodged with the court when cited in a brief or memorandum.

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Government Geographic Information Systems are Not a Freely Available “Public Record”

Should the California Public Records Act allow free access to high-tech mapping databases maintained by governments? The California Court of Appeal says no, concluding the governments may charge for access to these databases maintained at taxpayer expense.

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Innocent Spouse IRS

Innocent Spouse Relief Extended by IRS

The IRS announced Monday that it will make it easier for some taxpayers who were not aware of their spouse’s misreporting of taxes to seek innocent-spouse relief. The innocent spouse rule can relieve taxpayers of their tax liabilities, interest and penalties as a result of filing a joint tax return with their current or ex-spouse.

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Real Estate Appraisers and Appraisals under California Law

When Is a Deposit Not a Deposit? When it is in Conjunction with the Purchase of Property

Is a buyer's deposit in an unconsummated real estate transaction refundable? As you may have guessed, it depends, though a recent court decision returned a "non-refundable" deposit to a buyer.

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business owner alter ego

Sole Shareholder of Corporation Is Not Liable for Employment Discrimination in the Absence of Alter Ego Liability

In the recent case of Leek v. Cooper (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 399, the court addressed the issue as to whether or not the sole shareholder of a corporation that was operating a car dealership could be held individually liable for age discrimination on the basis that the sole shareholder had actual control over the affairs of the business.

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Disobeying Motion In Limine is Attorney Misconduct

The obligations of counsel at trial and misconduct in ignoring the motion in limine ordered by the trial court have recently been clarified by the Court of Appeal.

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Terminated Employee

Anti-Retaliation Statute Applies Both to Written and Oral Complaints

The Supreme Court held that it is unlawful to terminate an employee who made oral complaints about his employment, the anti-retaliation statute applies both to written and oral complaints.

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Richard Sander

California Public Records Act Applies to Bar Admission Documents – Sander v. State Bar of California

The unanimous opinion of the First District Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred when it refused to allow a UCLA Law School professor to view the demographic data of the State Bar.

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Internal Revenue Code

Forming a Tax Exempt Organization

With the current state of the world, charities are needed now more than ever. If you are contemplating creating a charity you should consult with a qualified tax attorney or advisor as the world of charities is more complicated than you would think.

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Should I Provide My Zip Code To Retailers Who Ask?

Retailers may start to think twice about continuing to ask customers for their zip code, as it may subject them to litigation from their customers.

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Employer Handbooks don't need to be perfect

Union’s Personal Attacks on Managers Have Limits

Not all statements by a union and its members are protected, even in the context of a strike or other union action.

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making a deal

Will Questions About 998 Offers Ever Cease?

California Code of Civil Procedure section 998 has generated a lot of published appellate opinions over the years.

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California Employers Wrestling With How to Control the Social Media of Their Staff

California employers wrestling with how to control the social media of their staff now have some guidance concerning permitted discipline of rogue employees.

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distressed lawyer

Do I Have to Pay my Disbarred Lawyer?

What is the client to do when his or her attorney is ordered suspended by the California Supreme Court and therefore unable to practice law?

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doing business with a suspended corporation - The Law Of Suspended Corporations In California

The Law of Suspended Corporations in California

In California, both the Secretary of State’s office and the Franchise Tax Board have the authority to suspend a California corporation under certain situations.

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Pension Benefits of Public Retirees Not Private

Public employee pay and benefits have been hot topics of late, exacerbated by the fiscal crisis in California at all levels of government. This topic reached the courts when one of the state's leading newspapers sought the records of a public employee retirement system.

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Trees May Be a “Spite Fence”

Even California's bent towards environmental protection could not prevent a court from agreeing that even trees may qualify as an unlawful "spite fence" in California. A "Spite Fence," which may be prohibited by court order under California law, is defined as "[a]ny . . . structure" over 10 feet that was "maliciously erected or maintained for the purpose of annoying [a neighbor]."

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Scales of Justice

IRS Appeals Procedure

The IRS provides a forum for appealing a proposed income tax deficiency known as IRS Appeals, the only level of administrative appeal within the IRS.

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Business Partnership Dissolution

Ending the Business Marriage – Dissolving the Partnership

Just like most marriages, the beginning of most business partnerships are filled with hope, optimism, enthusiasm and a general feeling of future success. Unfortunately, as with some marriages, problems develop over time in partnerships and a dissolution or divorce is needed.

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trust and estate plan

Preparing Your Own Will or Trust Without Consulting a Lawyer Is a Risk Not Worth Taking

Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney before creating your own estate plan documents, as costly unintended consequences may arise.

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Creditor Twenty-Day Claims and the Bankruptcy Code: “Goods” or “Services”?

A bankruptcy court recently ruled on what constitutes "goods" that are entitled to a priority administrative claim for their value under § 503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code.

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Angry Man

Frosted Ice Cream Customer Faces the Cooler; Appellate Court Warms to the Task

An annoyed Cold Stone Creamery customer was arrested and convicted for repeatedly leaving lengthy, vulgar voicemails on the company's customer complaint line. The Court of Appeal reversed, freeing the annoyed customer.

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I Might Not Get Paid Anything?

If you represent those in the construction industry, you should advise them to pay close attention to any licensing requirements of any contract or subcontract they may enter into.

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One Year to Sue A Lawyer for Malicious Prosecution – Statute of Limitations Explained

Malicious prosecution claims against an attorney must be brought in one year, according to a recent California Court of Appeal opinion. These suits may be on the upswing since the California economy cratered in the past few years.

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Internal Revenue Code

IRS Codification of the Economic Substance Doctrine Imposes New Penalties

Taxpayer seeking the tax benefits of a transaction that the IRS deems to have no economic purpose, aside from reduction of tax liability, will face stiff penalties under the new 2010 Revenue Reconciliation Act.

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business running

The Perils of Procrastination – Misunderstanding a Statute of Limitations

When does a statute of limitation begin running, i.e., when does a cause of action accrue and what's the deadline for filing suit? That depends.

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military-employee

Employer Liable for Employment Discrimination if Military Status is “Motivating Factor”

Employers that think they can’t be held liable for anti-military animus or other discrimination in the workplace caused by supervisors with only limited authority should think again in light of the Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in Staub v. Proctor Hospital.

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What Must an Employer Do When a Non-Employee Harasses an Employee?

An employer that learns of harassing behavior from a third party must take immediate and appropriate action to correct the situation.

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Work Injury

Homeowner Sued by Subcontractor’s Injured Employee

Under certain circumstances, an injured person working in your home can file a civil lawsuit against you as the homeowner, rather than being limited to workers compensation. A recent California Supreme Court decision held that this is the case and defined the standard of care to be used in a case brought by an injured employee working on a homeowner's substantial remodeling project. (Cortez v. Abich (2011) 51 Cal. 4th 285.)

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mediation mediate

The Consequences of a “Failed” Mediation

Several years ago, a judge called me to see if I could mediate a matter that was in trial in her department that day, starting at the lunch break. Flattered, I said I would. Little did I know that this mediation would become one of my most memorable.

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truck

Truck Drivers Parked Alongside Freeways Owe a Duty to Motorists

Should the duty of drivers to exercise ordinary care for others in their use of streets and highways include truck drivers parked alongside a freeway? The Supreme Court of California's recent decision in Cabral v. Ralphs Grocery Company (Feb. 28, 2011) No S178799, concerning an automobile/truck accident found no exception for truckdrivers.

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Tax Law

Circular 230 – Regulation of Practice Before the IRS

Circular 230 contains rules governing the recognition of attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, and other persons representing taxpayers before the IRS.

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home inspector

Home Buyers Beware: Sellers Can Lie and Get Away With It!

California law imposes a duty on home buyers to perform inspections and charges them with knowledge of conditions that are patent and obvious.

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Non-Compete Clauses After Edwards v. Authur Andersen LLP

Over the last several years courts have been narrowing an employer's ability to restrict employee activities after termination, culminating with the California Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Authur Andersen LLP.

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Construction

Homebuilder Alert: Your Home Sales Contract May Not Protect You

If a homebuilders alternative contractual pre-litigation provisions are found to be unconscionable, the builder cannot require homeowners to comply with SB 800’s statutory, non-adversarial procedures.

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offshore-account

Foreign Account Holding Can Come in from the Cold

The IRS announced on February 8, 2011 a special voluntary disclosure initiative designed to bring foreign accounts back into the U.S. tax system and help people with undisclosed income to avoid civil and possible criminal penalties.

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making a deal

But a Deal is a Deal, Right?

All attorneys should learn from Critzer v. Enos. A deal is only a deal, if it is in writing or read on the record before the court, by a party or an authorized non-attorney representative of a party.

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Scales of Justice

Duran v. U.S. Bank – Can Class Action Plaintiffs Use Statistical Sampling to Prove Liability?

Duran v. U.S. Bank could dictate how future class action lawsuits are litigated by allowing statistical samples to prove liability, not just damages, which will not favor employers.

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medical marijuana collective cooperative

The Business of California Medical Marijuana Cooperatives and Collectives

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (Senate Bill 420) decriminalized medical marijuana use and implemented a statewide identification card system for medical marijuana users and providers under California law. Since then, scores of medical marijuana “dispensaries” began operating throughout California.

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Construction

Bonded Stop Notice Claimants Must Serve Proper Office of Bank or Construction Lender

Contractors should be aware of the requirement that stop notices be served on the particular branch of the construction lender actually “administering or holding” the loan funds, per California Civil Code section 3083.

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Debt Consolidation

Debt Consolidation v. Bankruptcy: Weighing Your Options

Consumers are best advised to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney when choosing between debt consolidation or bankruptcy.

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Terminated Employee

Terminating Employee Shortly After Complaint to HR Exposes Employer to Liability

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee’s termination two days after he complained to his employer’s HR office raised a triable issue of material fact based on circumstantial evidence that he was subject to retaliatory termination and that the employer’s stated reason for his termination was a mere pretext.

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Arbitration Agreement

Right to Arbitrate May be Waived by Proceeding With a Lawsuit

The California Court of Appeal recently found that a plaintiff’s election to proceed far into their lawsuit waived their contractual right to arbitrate the dispute.

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Anonymous Internet Surfer

9th Circuit Unmasks Anonymous Online Speakers

While Internet users may presume that their anonymous posts on message boards and social media sites will remain anonymous, web surfers may want to think twice before they click “post” as a Ninth Circuit opinion in 2011 allowed the unmasking of anonymous online speakers engaged in commercial speech.

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Fram Oil Filter Commercial - Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

You Can Pay Me Now or You Can Pay Me Later

A brief legal consultation before signing a contract can save money and headaches later.

Spending a few hundred dollars for an attorney to review a proposed agreement of any sort is a good business practice as it can save thousands of dollars and headaches in the long run before the transaction and the relationship have soured.

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Riverside Skyline

Developers Beware! Comply with the California Environmental Quality Act or Go Broke

California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted in 1970. The law has undergone numerous amendments and has been the subject of countless published court opinions, which often have confused legal scholars and non-lawyers alike.

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Real Estate Appraisers and Appraisals under California Law

Proposed California SB 6: Beware of Fraudulent Real Estate Appraising

Proposed California laws will increase the liability of those persons who prepare real property valuations, opine on the value of real property or influence appraisers.

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Newspaper Businessman

Too Quick to Sue a Newspaper: Anti-SLAPP Part Two

Last month, I wrote about a defamation case brought by a doctor against a newspaper. This month, let’s talk about a lawyer who sued a newspaper on his own behalf. The old adage is that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.

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Construction

The Preliminary 20-Day Notice, Mechanic’s Liens and Stop Notices: California Civil Code sections 3097 & 3097.1

While most construction contractors and material suppliers know about serving the preliminary 20-day notice in order to qualify for a mechanic’s lien and/or stop notice, few focus on the proof of service requirement in California Civil Code section 3097.1(a).

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Bankruptcy and Tax Law

How Bankruptcy Affects Tax Obligations for Individuals and Sole Proprietors

Our capitalist system encourages individuals to take risks. Some prove productive; unfortunately, for those that fail, many times the individual is left with tax debt.

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Underage House Party

Charging Minors Admission to a House Party? Social Host Immunity from Liability Remains

California law provides broad immunity from civil liability for a social host who "furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person," as many Californians do at their house parties. (Civil Code section 1714 (c).) However, a social host loses that immunity if he or she "sells, or causes to be sold, any alcoholic beverage, to any obviously intoxicated minor." (Business and Professions Code section 25602.1.)

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Paycheck

Employers- Avoid the Million Dollar Liability in Your Paychecks

To the surprise of one local employer, a class action labor and employment attorney alleged that their pay stubs failed to include the required information. With the opposing attorney specifying damages at the statutory maximum of $4,000 for each of their 250 employees, the employer was faced with a potential $1M liability.

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Anti-SLAPP in California

Think Twice Before Suing a Newspaper!

Don’t rush to sue a newspaper or other media outlet. Losing’s bad enough, but paying the newspaper’s lawyer rubs salt in the self-inflicted wound.

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Evidence at State Bar Disciplinary Hearings Changing in 2011

Beginning January 1, 2011, the California Evidence Code, as applied in civil cases, will no longer govern California State Bar attorney disciplinary hearings. The new Rules of Procedure, new rule 7.12, provide that the hearing need not be conducted according to technical rules of evidence.

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Service

Non-Party Recovery of the Costs of a Subpoena Requiring Document Production

An added pressure to businesses can be the cost of responding to a subpoena requiring the production of documents. While many assume that only parties can be subpoenaed, a third party, also known as a non-party, can be subject to this power as well.

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Inland Empire Business Press serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties

Corporate Formalities Checklist: Comply with Corporate Formalities to Ensure Limited Liability

In order to be protected by limited liability, a corporation must act like an independent legal entity and follow through with its corporate formalities of properly addressing corporate records, regular meetings and financial statements.

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Construction

Construction Lenders Beware of California Civil Code section 3137(c)

Construction lenders beware of California Civil Code section 3137(c), which provides that a mechanic’s lien for “site improvements” has priority over a trust deed recorded before commencement of the site improvement work in certain circumstances.

That provision has several subparts, but one trap for the unsuspecting lender and title insurance company is this if the loan proceeds secured by the trust deed are solely or primarily to pay for the construction of the site improvements, then a mechanic’s lien for those site improvements would have priority over the prior-recorded trust deed. Period.

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