Publications Archives

Alter Ego Liability in Construction

Contractors routinely face a number of liability threats as a cost of doing business. One that is occasionally overlooked is the threat of "alter ego" liability. Are you the alter ego of your company? And what does that mean exactly? Under the law of most states, it means that you could be held personally liable for the debts or liabilities of your corporation or limited liability company if a plaintiff is able to satisfy certain legal requirements. Most likely, your intent in setting up a separate corporation or LLC was to avoid that kind of responsibility. It pays, therefore, to know a bit about the law of alter ego liability. 

Independent Contractor or Employee?

Employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors so that they can avoid paying payroll taxes, minimum wage or overtime, and complying with other employment laws, such as providing meal and rest breaks and workers' compensation coverage. Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor without a reasonable basis can lead to steep penalties and other significant legal consequences. Thus, it is critical that employers properly classify their workers. 

When Do You Settle a Policy Limits Case?

The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, applying California law, has held that an insurance company may breach its implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by failing "to effectuate settlement where liability is reasonably clear, even in the absence of a settlement demand." Du v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al. (2012) 681 F.3d 1118. The Court found this duty despite affirming the trial court's refusal to give a jury instruction requested by plaintiff's counsel to instruct the jury on the carrier's purported refusal to accept a reasonable settlement demand within policy limits. 

When to Update Your Estate Plan

Most people invest a great deal of time and thought into putting together the proper estate plan to protect their families and their hard earned assets in the event of their death or incapacity. However, initially putting the estate plan together is just the first step in making sure that your estate planning goals continue to be met in the future. As we all know, one of the only constants in life is change, and your estate plan should be examined periodically to accommodate for it. A properly drafted estate plan should be reviewed every 3-5 years to accommodate for changes in your family, financial or personal circumstances. 

Wage & Hour Update: The Department of Labor Is Cracking Down!

Employers, particularly restaurateurs in the Los Angeles area, need to be aware that the Department of Labor ("DOL") is increasing its surprise worksite visits and conducting immediate and unannounced wage and hour investigations. This news comes directly from Alfred Robinson, the acting Administrator of the DOL's Wage & Hour Division.

On April 18, 2012, the Wage & Hour Division issued a press release stating that it is "launching an enforcement and education initiative focused on the restaurant industry in the Los Angeles area to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and child labor provisions. Under this initiative, the division will be conducting unannounced investigations at restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles and other areas of Los Angeles County."

Mandatory Arbitration Agreements

For anyone considering the purchase of a condominium in California, time can be tantalizing. The time between when a case is argued before the California Supreme Court and when a ruling is issued can also seem like forever for the litigants and other interested parties. And that is just where Pinnacle Museum Tower Association v. Pinnacle Market Development, S186149, hovers right now: waiting for a decision from the Court on whether developers can enforce mandatory arbitration agreements contained in covenants, conditions and restrictions ("CC&Rs") against condominium associations which bring lawsuits for construction defects. 

Excess Disabled Access (ADA) Litigation

California businesses have long struggled with "drive-by" Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits brought by "professional plaintiffs" represented by unscrupulous attorneys. Both the Federal and State Legislatures have struggled with finding a balance between providing access to the disabled, as well as protecting business from burdensome lawsuits. 

Important New Law Applicable to All Employers for 2012 1

By: Allyson K. Thompson

The California Legislature recently enacted a new law that requires all employers to give their new hires written notice regarding the terms of their employment. This law goes into effect on January 1, 2012. The form is accessible through this link. Keep in mind that you do not need to have your new hires fill out this form if 1) the employees are directly employed by the state or any political subdivision; 2) the employees are exempt and not entitled to overtime, and 3) if the employee is covered by an collective bargaining agreement.

Evidence in a Divorce and/or Custody Hearing

Many hearings in the family court involve supplying the court with evidence as to your claims. Only relevant and competent evidence can be received and considered by the court. Not every scrap of paper accumulated is going to be considered "relevant" to the court. And often, due to the time constraints of the court, it is especially necessary to select only the most relevant evidence for the court to consider.

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