August 18, 2014

All-in-One DUI Law Office Food Truck / Banana Stand

"There it is, dude," read the text  from my friend, "Across from Metro. Another dream stolen. All-in-one DUI law office and taco stand.  Left line for payments. Right line for sticky's, notarized Tahls and '2 for 1' burritos."

Great idea: Reminds me of the Bluth Banana Stand in Arrested Development

June 20, 2014

Don Sterling Always Lawyering Up

Another issue comes to mind In Re the Donald Sterling case:

If Don is judicially determined to be mentally unfit to serve as the family trustee, could that decision have an effect on whether he had the capacity to make the attorney-client fee contracts between him and his lawyers?

Are those attorney-client contracts voidable and subject to rescission?

There is a rebuttable presumption which affects the burden of proof that a person is of unsound mind if the person is substantially unable to manage his or her own financial resources.

Isn't that the reason the doctors gave for Don being unfit to be co-trustee of The Sterling Family Trust?
"In my opinion he is substantially unable to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence, and is no longer competent to act as trustee of his trust," concluded Dr. James E. Spar, who is affiliated with the division of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA.
If Don is willing to sue his wife and the NBA, do you think he'd be shy about litigating against his lawyers?

June 16, 2014

Attorney-Client Fee Agreements

To understand the Donald T. Sterling case, look at it from the point of view of an attorney-client fee agreement.

There are two basic agreements:  litigation on a hourly basis and non-litigation on an hourly basis. Either way, the lawyer, and his business partners, can make serious money with the right client and the right case.

According to the State Bar website when drafting an attorney-client fee agreement:

An attorney should err on the side of inclusion when enumerating standard rates, fees and charges. In an hourly case, fixed or minimum charges for specific functions should be clearly set forth in the agreement to avoid misleading the client. For example, most firms have a minimum billing unit; some charge a minimum time for a telephone call, letter, or court appearance; others charge flat fees for the use of standardized documents developed over the years, or for specific tasks.

                        Senior partners-------------------------/hour
                        Law clerks------------------------------/hour

Costs and expenses that are passed through should be enumerated in enough detail to avoid misunderstanding.  Charges passed through other than “at cost” should be detailed to avoid omitting a “standard rate, fee or charge.” Caution should be exercised in “marking up” or “surcharging” costs, as some authorities consider such practices unethical. Caution should also be exercised in charging for items that would be considered general office overhead.

Think about Maxwell Belcher's hourly rate. He's earned it. Combine that when he and his partner and a law clerk discuss the case, after they take a conference call from Don.  When Don calls the firm, they probably get at least 2 Associates, a Paralegal and a Partner on the line: assemble the team.

Time is charged in minimum units of one-tenth (. 1) of an hour. The following have higher minimum charges:

                        Telephone calls:        

The costs and expenses commonly include, service of process charges, filing fees, court and deposition reporters' fees, jury fees, notary fees, deposition costs, long distance telephone charges, messenger and other delivery fees, postage, photocopying and other reproduction costs, travel costs including parking, mileage, transportation, meals and hotel costs, investigation expenses, consultants' fees, expert witness, professional, mediator, arbitrator and/or special master fees and other similar items. Except for the items listed below, all costs and expenses will be charged at Attorney’s cost.

In-office photocopying                           /page
Facsimile charges                                  /page
Mileage                                                 /mile

The latest news is that Sterling has hired private investigators.  Consider a typical provision in a standard attorney-client fee agreement.  Don calls in ... the team assembles for the conference call.  Don wants to hire a private investigator. They decide to hire 4 separate firms.

Experts, Consultants and Investigators.  To aid in the preparation or presentation of Client’s case, it may become necessary to hire expert witnesses, consultants or investigators. Client agrees to pay such fees and charges.  Attorney will select any expert witnesses, consultants or investigators to be hired, and Client will be informed of persons chosen and their charges.

June 4, 2014

Lawyer Videos

Two remarkable lawyer videos:

One is (allegedly) an advertisement:

The other is (allegedly) from a Florida courtroom:

May 30, 2014

Notes on Sterling's response to the NBA

II - The Commissioner Has Not Established a Violation of the NBA Constitution

I love how Sterling's lawyer distills the entire event into a simple sentence:
"A jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend NBA rules."
I  Because the Conversation that V. Stivano Illegally Recorded Invades Sterling's Rights ... Cannot Be Used For Any Purpose, These Proceedings Must Be Terminated.

A person's privacy may be invaded when another person is found in violation of Penal Code section 632(a). V. Stiviano may have been in violation of California law. However, she has not been arrested or charged. She may become a defendant in a misdemeanor case. But to my knowledge the case hasn't been referred to the LA City Attorney's Office.

Her eavesdropping could also make her liable for damages if Donald T. Sterling were to sue her for invasion of privacy under the California Constitution.

While Sterling may have a right to expect that his private, confidential communications will not be recorded, his expectation of privacy under the circumstances must be reasonable.

The man was having an extra-martial affair. In most people's view, even in our enlightened society, those particular circumstances would tend to diminish one's expectation of privacy.

It's highly doubtful that any court would allow a litigant to invoke his Constitutional right to privacy to protect hate speech that took place during a conversation between an 80-year old married man and his much younger paramour.

There are so many other flawed arguments in that beautifully crafted pleading.

Oh, man, I wonder how much that thing cost?!

Looks like the problem is solved for now, though. Ballmer is prepared to peel off 2 off his stack of 20 billion.

May 27, 2014

NetSuite Sued: What You Say Can Be Held Against You In a Court of Law

Update [6/2/14 3:49 p.m.] We've obtained a copy of the complaint in Gulf Coast Medical Group, LLC dba SkinMedix vs Netsuite, Inc., Case No. 4:14-cv-02202. It contains 6 causes of action, including Intentional Misrepresentation and Negligent Misrepresentation, Restitution, Unfair or Fraudulent Business Practices in violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200, Breach of Contract and the kicker ..... Count VI: Violation of Penal Code section 496 - Receiving Stolen Property.

You don't see this cause of action everyday in a civil case.

The complaint alleges NetSuite and Mr. Bizarro committed theft. It calls them thieves. And, by alleging they committed a criminal offense, the complaint says, SkinMedix is entitled to treble (3x) actual damages and attorney's fees.

Update [6/2/14 2:45 p.m.]: Plaintiff Gulf Coast Medical Group, LLC dba SkinMedix is represented by Loren Kieve of Kieve Law Offices and Paul Sandler and Eric Harlan of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler.


Chris Kanaracus reported NetSuite has been sued by a company that "alleges an overzealous salesman led them to buy a software system that utterly failed to meet its needs."

According to the article the complaint states, the salesman's overly zealous efforts induced the company to purchase services from NetSuite.

Based on the salesman's assertions, the company's president signed a three-year software license agreement with NetSuite and hired it to build the website.

Kanaracus describes how the company felt NetSuite didn't come through on the salesman's promises. However, the article misses the gist of the complaint when it gives this "warning" from well-known IT specialist Frank Scavo:

“There are many references [in the complaint] to what Netsuite personnel represented to the company, but it is not clear whether any of these representations were ever made in writing,” said analyst Frank Scavo, “There is a lesson learned here for software buyers: if it isn’t in the contract, it doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, what Frank says may be kinda on-point if the sole claim was for breach of contract. But it doesn't matter. The company is probably not suing NetSuite for (only for) breach of contract.

May 21, 2014

Silver's Evidence Against Sterling

James Rainey and Nathan Fenno of the LA Times reveal the evidence the NBA has against Donald T. Sterling and his wife.

According to the article, there is more than the recording of the conversation between Donald and V. There is "a voluminous collection of accusations and statements."

The NBA sent Sterling an impressive looking "30-page document which included hundreds of pages of supporting statements."  The expenses incurred in simply preparing the document and for postage alone were impressive in and of themselves.  The Times reports that a lawyer by the name of David B. Anders, from New York, interviewed V. Stiviano and 20 Clippers employees and collected statements from "14 league officials and others."

Although the focus is on former attorney Donald T. Sterling fka Donald Tokowitz, the documents suggest the league is aware that the State of California considers any property acquired during a valid marriage by a husband or a wife community property and seeks to terminate his wife's ownership interest, as well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Shelly Sterling has retained lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell. His client and her husband have been living apart for more than a year, according to the article.  Therefore, she should just be given her half and be done with it.

However, the Association says "significant evidence exists in the public record and otherwise that Mr. and Mrs. Sterling are not in any sense estranged."

By the way, here is the press release from the Department of Justice announcing the $2.75 million settlement Sterling paid in the Housing Discrimination lawsuit. (By the way, this could be one of the "hundreds of supporting documents" in the 30 page document Sterling received).

(update: Link to Donald Sterling's Answer To The Charge)