Criminal Charges Filed Over Porter Ranch Gas Leak

If you live near the Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch, there is no doubt you are already familiar with the massive uncontrolled natural gas leak that is presently causing large numbers of people in the area to fall ill.  The leak, which sprung from a natural gas facility owned by Southern California Gas Company, has been ongoing since October and is allegedly releasing more than 30,000 kilograms of methane per hour—that’s roughly the equivalent of what 1.4 million cars… Read More >

FTC Sues Business For Using “Gag Clause” Against Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit against Florida-based company Roca Labs, which allegedly threatened to enforce “gag clause” provisions against consumers to stop them from posting negative reviews and testimonials online. The FTC alleges in its complaint that Roca Labs and their principles have threatened legal action and in some cases actually filed suit against customers who posted negative reviews or complained to the Better Business Bureau about the quality of various “weight loss pills” and diet supplements… Read More >

Policing For Profit

“To serve, protect, and also make a profit.”  Some would argue that is a more accurate slogan for police departments that participate in civil asset seizure—a legally sanctioned practice that permits law enforcement to seize cash believed to be the proceeds of drug trafficking and then keep a share of that money to help fund their department. 24-year-old student Charles Clarke is a recent example of how unfair civil asset forfeiture can be.  In February 2014, DEA agents seized $11,000… Read More >

Student Sues Over Suspension For Two Word Tweet

Two words have probably never generated more legal controversy than those “tweeted” by Reid Sagehorn in January 2014.  Then a high school senior, Mr. Sagehorn tweeted the words “Actually yes” in response to a tweet about whether he “made out” with a teacher from his school. The tweet caught the attention of Mr. Sagehorn’s school, and although Mr. Sagehorn tried to explain that the tweet was intended as a joke and not to be taken seriously, the school suspended Mr…. Read More >

Can You Be Sued For a Bad Online Review?

Review sites like Yelp, Google Places, and Angie’s List have become a popular platform for consumers to post reviews about local businesses.  Fast, efficient, and seemingly anonymous, an online review can be a great tool to get the word out about a product or service. But as more and more people base purchasing decisions on what they they read on the web, the incentive for businesses to clamp down on negative reviews is growing.  This has resulted in a disturbing… Read More >

Social Media And Your Personal Injury Claim

Social networking has become common-place in our personal lives, but what is far less certain is how the law treats what we post online—particularly in claims for personal injury. In November of last year, the New York Court of Appeals in McCann v. Harleysville Insurance Co. denied a defendant’s motion to access the private Facebook page of a plaintiff who was claiming damages in a personal injury action.  The judge reasoned that the defendant “failed to establish a factual predicate… Read More >

Signing Away Your Rights in the Fine Print

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Amex v. Italian Colors Restaurant that further diminishes the ability of consumers and small businesses to enforce their legal rights against large corporations. Italian Colors was a restaurant that filed suit against American Express alleging that AmEx was violating antitrust laws by using its monopoly power over charge cards to force merchants into accepting all AmEx-branded credit cards and pay higher fees.  Italian Colors’ contract with Amex had an “arbitration… Read More >

Making a 998 Offer

One of the many ways in which we facilitate the settlement of our clients’ lawsuits is by making a “998 offer” to the opposing counsel.  A “998” is a settlement offer made pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 998, which permits the plaintiff to recover his or her costs from the defendant if the plaintiff obtains a “more favorable judgment or award” at trial. A properly timed and calculated 998 offer can put tremendous pressure on the other… Read More >

Contractual Exemptions to the “Made-Whole” Rule

The “Made Whole Rule” is an equitable rule of law that that bars an insurer’s right to recovery from the settlement funds of a personal injury victim unless the victim has been fully compensated (“made whole”) for the damages he or she has sustained. Sapiano v. Williamsburg Nat. Ins. Co. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 533 adopted the Made Whole Rule in California in 1994, holding that a commercial vehicle insurer in a subrogation claim cannot “[a]ssert its contractual right to repayment… Read More >

The Myth of Frivolous Litigation

Plaintiff attorneys hear a lot about “frivolous litigation,” and whenever the subject comes up, discussion inevitably leads to the infamous McDonalds “hot coffee” case.   Eighteen years since the verdict and the case seems to have become emblematic of all that is wrong with our civil justice system. I certainly won’t argue that all lawsuits are justified, or that less-than-honest plaintiffs don’t on occasion file actions in bad faith.  What I do take issue with, however, is the notion that… Read More >