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Legal Wisdom

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Happy Halloween – Legally Mine

Happy Halloween – Legally Mine

Tonight is Halloween; the night we celebrate by mixing our fears with sugar, and taking the kiddies around the neighborhood to sequester goodies, it is appropriate that we share with you some some of America’s most outrageous lawsuits – so grab your favorite form of glucose and be prepared to be scared!

 

To Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Can Cost a Business Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars and Lawsuits for Violation of ADA Can Cost Millions  Four individuals owned a lodge (Timber Cove) at Lake Tahoe.

Timber Cove was built in 1973, prior to the passage of the ADA legislation. The plaintiff, Brenda Pickern, who was confined to a wheel chair, visited the Timber Cove in 1997, “where she allegedly encountered a number of barriers that made it difficult or impossible for her to use facilities such as the pool, laundry room, restaurant, ice machine, and restrooms.” At this point in describing the case, a cynic might add that her visit was so miserable that she returned again two
years later, where she “allegedly encountered many of the same barriers to access.” As a result, Ms. Pickern sued the owners of Timber Cove for violations of the ADA. (pickering v. Best Western Timber Cove Lodge Marina Resort, 2002 Us. Dist. LEXIS 1709 (E.D. Cal. 2002))

Family Owned Business Sues Discharged Employees for Violation of Non-compete Agreement. Family Owned Business Held Liable for $1,272,937 in Countersuit for Tortious Interference.

This case must have been especially galling for J & M Turner, Inc. [Turner], a family owned business that had apparently become a successful company with a very unique product. The product that the Turner family business had developed was a type of exclusive large washer system, used in the construction industry with large metal bolts for steel framing. The company was thriving when the conflict arose. For reasons not publicized in the court opinion, Turner discharged two of its employees. These two employees – in spite of the fact that they had signed non-competition and non-disclosure of trade secret agreements as part of their employment – turned around and opened a business, Applied Bolting Technology Products, Inc. [Applied] in direct competition with Turner. Turner immediately filed a lawsuit, which began a very difficult and contentious period of litigation that lasted over four years. The final suit between Turner and Applied involved no less than twenty-eight claims and counter-claims. In essence, Turner was suing for breach of contract, unfair  competition, patent infringement, violation of trade secrets, and fraud. Applied, on the other hand, was suing primarily for tortious interference with their business. Surprisingly, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Applied, awarding them with a judgment of $1,272,937. This verdict was upheld on appeal. To put this case in a nutshell, I would describe it as this: Discharged employees steal company secrets and in direct violation of non-compete agreements open up an identical business, producing a unique and identical product to that developed by their old employer. When the employer sues, the discharged employees counter-sue for tortious interference and win a million plus dollar verdict’ The discharged employees end up with a new business, a hot new product, and a million dollars-all courtesy of their old employer. (J & M Turner, Inc. v. Applied Bolting Technology Products, Inc., 1998 Us. Dist. LEX1S 1158 (E.D. Pa. 1998))

 

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