June 29, 2018 – Two related corporate entities doing business as the well-known restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory today agreed to have judgment entered against them for $630,000 in a brain injury case brought by the firm on behalf of a client who fell at one of their restaurants in the Bay Area. Firm lawyers Nick Carlin and Mike Levinson litigated the case and stood ready for trial of the matter, which was set to begin Monday, July 2nd. The Friday before the case’s trial date defendants accepted the client’s offer of compromise. Entry of judgment in the case is pending.
June 26, 2018 – Firm partner David Given today filed an action against the AMC network and various production companies and individuals on behalf of comic book writer Mel Smith. The client’s complaint contends that elements of his comic book series DEAD AHEAD were copied and incorporated into several second season episodes of the hit television series FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, in violation of federal copyright law. The complaint recounts that one of that television series’ producers was an executive at Mr. Smith’s comic book publisher, Image Comics of Berkeley, and another was his agent in developing and shopping DEAD AHEAD for film and television use. Filed in the federal district court in San Francisco, the client’s lawsuit includes a state law claim for breach of fiduciary duty in addition to the claim under the federal Copyright Act. Further proceedings in the matter are pending the court’s assignment of the case to a judge.
June 25, 2018 – Firm lawyers Randy Erlewine and Brian Conlon filed papers today opposing the motion of Uber Technologies to compel individual arbitration of wage theft class action claims arising from Uber’s practices in its stock option grants to employees hired before late 2016. Those claims, brought by a former software engineer for the company, arise from the contention that Uber misrepresented in its written employment contracts the nature of those option grants, leading to a significant devaluation of employee compensation from the promises made in those contracts once employees started work at the company. In their papers, the firm’s lawyers argued that Uber’s arbitration agreement with its employees was unconscionable, pointing in part to a recent decision by an Administrative Law Judge that provisions of that agreement violated the federal National Labor Relations Act. A decision by federal magistrate judge Jacqueline S. Corley is expected shortly in the matter.
June 19, 2018 – Firm partners Nick Carlin and David Given today filed a complaint against the National Rifle Association on behalf of renowned visionary artist Sir Anish Kapoor. Late last year, the London-based artist discovered that the NRA had used an image of his sculpture “Cloud Gate” (also known colloquially as “The Bean”), located in Millennium Park in Chicago, without the artist’s permission in a recruiting video variously entitled “The Clenched Fist of Trust” or “The Violence of Lies.” Appalled over the use of his work in that video, Sir Anish asked that the NRA remove it. The NRA refused to do so, leading to a well-documented controversy earlier this year when the artist went public with his objection to and disgust over the use of his creative work in a video he felt played to the worst impulses of paranoia, conflict and violence. Filed in the federal district court in Chicago, the client’s lawsuit alleges that the NRA has committed and continues to commit willful copyright infringement, and seeks to prevent the NRA from further exploiting Sir Anish’s work in its video.
June 6, 2018 – The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed with the firm, issuing an order today directing that almost three dozen class actions against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica filed throughout the country should be centralized with the firm’s case in the federal district court in San Francisco. The Panel, which is tasked with determining if and where a large number of cases involving common questions of fact should be centrally situated, also assigned the judge in the firm’s case to the matter. Federal district court judge Vince Chhabria has set a hearing in the matter for July 18. To read the firm’s complaint, click here. If you believe you have been affected by the data breach or wish to learn more about the case, click here.
April 5, 2018 – Firm partner David Given completed his representation of long-time client Om Records in the sale of substantially all of its intellectual property assets. The transaction, which included the sale of rights in both songs and recordings, closed today. Founded in 1994, Om Records has enjoyed an almost 25-year run as one of the country’s leading EDM record labels and producers of live EDM events. Over the course of the last few years, David has counseled several individual and corporate clients in similar transactions valued collectively at almost $20 million.
March 27, 2018 – Federal district court judge Jon S. Tigar today granted final approval of the class action settlement reached in the firm’s breach of privacy case against a range of mobile application developers (including Twitter, Instagram and Yelp!) and Apple, Inc. Following hotly-contested litigation, including a successful class certification effort led by firm partner David Given, Judge Tigar preliminarily approved the $5.3 million settlement in July 2017. Today’s order marks the beginning of the end of the case, which began in March 2012 after reporting in the New York Times about private contact data being removed from iDevices without users’ knowledge or consent. Approximately 60,000 class members who made claims will share in the common fund. “As Judge Tigar’s order recognizes, this is an excellent result for the class,” Mr. Given said. “Moreover, the case produced four published decisions,” Mr. Given continued, “clarifying consumers’ rights to control their personal data and establishing a basis to pursue legal claims classwide when technology companies take or misuse that data.” A final judgment in the case is expected soon.
March 26, 2018 – Firm partner Nick Carlin today filed a class action complaint against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica on behalf of Facebook users affected by the data breach revealed by Cambridge Analytica co-founder Christopher Wylie on March 17th. Facebook has now admitted that Cambridge Analytica harvested and processed over 87 million American Facebook users’ private and sensitive information without user consent with the intent to use the data to manipulate the American public in elections. While this illegal behavior dates back to at least 2014, Facebook did nothing to remedy the breach until 2016 despite being aware of the problem of third-party apps obtaining information from users without authorization. Facebook furthermore has done nothing to date to notify users of the breach. The Complaint alleges among other things that Cambridge Analytica and related entities engaged in racketeering activities under the RICO statute for defrauding users into believing that the data would only be used for academic purposes. If you believe you have been affected by the data breach or wish to learn more about the investigation, click here.
March 5, 2018 – Firm lawyers Nick Carlin and Brian Conlon filed papers today opposing the petition of Hanlees Auto Group to compel individual arbitration of wage theft class action claims arising from Hanlees’ systematic failure to provide meal and rest breaks to its workers while falsifying time records to make it look like they were getting such breaks. In those papers, the firm’s lawyers argued that the purported arbitration agreement is invalid and unenforceable and that it would essentially be a “get-out-of-jail free card” for Hanlees. Hanlees owns and operates 16 car dealerships in California; hundreds of current and past employees have potentially been impacted by the practices alleged in the firm’s lawsuit. A hearing on the matter in the Alameda County Superior Court is expected shortly. For more information on the case, or if you have had similar employment experience with Hanlees, click here.
January 23, 2018 – Firm partners David Given and Nick Carlin filed a complaint today in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of a former employee at Burritt Room + Tavern, a restaurant until recently operated by the Charlie Palmer Group. The firm’s client seeks relief for California labor code violations by the collection of restaurants and hotels located in the State led by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer. The client's complaint alleges that the restaurant group denied employees proper meal and rest breaks and failed to properly compensate for overtime worked. Additionally, says the complaint, managers were instructed to falsify time records by marking employees as clocked out regardless of whether they had actually stopped working. The firm is investigating whether and how additional Charlie Palmer Group restaurants may have practiced similar labor violations. For a full list of locations under investigation, or if you believe you have been affected by any of these violations or wish to learn more about the investigation, click here.
January 2, 2018 – Firm managing partner David Given today announced the firm’s hiring of two new associate attorneys. Michael Levinson comes to the firm with six-years’ experience practicing law at a large plaintiff’s personal injury firm in the Bay Area, and will continue to specialize in that area. He graduated with honors from the University of Miami School of Law in 2010. Jake Feaver graduated with honors last year from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Hastings Law Journal. Jake served as a law clerk at the firm before law school, and rejoins the firm as an associate attorney after passing the California bar on his first try this past November. Jake will focus on intellectual property, entertainment and commercial law matters.