Category Archives: News

Counterpunch! Countersuit in UFC Trade Secrets Case

Photo by Lee Brimelow

Kris Karkoski reports that, after being sued by the UFC for allegedly acquiring trade secrets, Bellator has filed a cross-complaint against the UFC.  Bellator apparently accuses the “UFC of casting Jonathan Brookins to The Ultimate Fighter 12 while the lightweight was still under contract with Bellator.”

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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Chicago Sued Over BlackBerry Overtime

A  Chicago police sergeant has brought an FLSA collective action against the city for overtime pay related to the off-hours use of his BlackBerry PDA device.  The complaint in Allen v. City of Chicago, No. 10-CV-03183, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  You can view the complaint here.

Photo by Cheon Fong Liew

The complaint alleges that it is brought by a Chicago Police Sergeant on behalf of himself and other similarly situated members of the Chicago Police Department for purposes of obtaining relief under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 as amended, 29 U.S.C. §201, et. seq. (hereinafter “FLSA”) for unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, declaratory and/or injunctive relief, and/or any such other relief the Court may deem appropriate.

Defendant has willfully violated the FLSA by intentionally failing and refusing to pay Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees all compensation due them under the FLSA and its implementing regulations over the course of the last three years. Defendant administered an unlawful compensation system that failed to provide hourly compensation and premium overtime compensation to employees that work overtime hours “off the clock.” Plaintiff and similarly situated employees were issued personal data assistants (“PDA’s”), such as BlackBerry devices, that they are required to use outside their normal working hours without receiving any compensation for such hours. Defendant’s deliberate failure to compensate its Chicago Police Department employees for these hours worked violates federal law as set forth in FSLA.

The plaintiff’s attorneys are MaryAnn Pohl and Paul D. Geiger.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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Crocs Settles Trade Secrets Misappropriation Suit Brought by Columbia Sportswear

A boy wearing Crocs
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Columbia Sportswear settled a trade-secrets lawsuit against Crocs.  The suit stemmed from Crocs’s hiring a Columbia employee as an independent contractor.  Columbia alleged claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, intentional interference with contract, and aiding and abetting the employee’s breach of his duty of loyalty to Columbia.  Read a report from the Denver Post here.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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Judge Walker Lifts Stay

2008 Proposition 8 Protest
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Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Northern District of California today lifted a stay on his decision where he ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.  Judge Walker, however, delayed implementation of the order to lift his stay until August 18.

Defendant-intervenors Dennis Hollingsworth, Gail Knight, Martin Gutierrez, Mark Jansson and ProtectMarriage.com brought a motion to stay the court’s judgment last week to ensure that Proposition 8 remains in effect as they pursue their appeal in the Ninth Circuit. In the alternative, proponents sought a brief stay to allow the court of appeals to consider the matter.

San Francisco asked the court to deny the stay and order the injunction against Proposition 8 to take effect immediately. California’s Governor and Attorney General also opposed any stay.

The Court held that “[b]ecause proponents fail to satisfy any of the factors necessary to warrant a stay, the court denies a stay except for a limited time solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner.”

Federal courts look to four factors in deciding whether a stay is appropriate:

(1) whether proponents have made a strong showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits;

(2) whether proponents will be irreparably injured absent a stay;

(3) whether the stay will substantially injure other interested parties; and

(4) whether the stay is in the public interest.

See Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. —-, 129, S. Ct. 1749, 1761 (2009) (noting overlap with Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. —-, 129 S. Ct. 365, 374 (2008)).  The first two factors “are the most critical.”  Nken, 129 S. Ct. at 1757.

The order reads:

None of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay. Accordingly, proponents’ motion for a stay is DENIED. Doc #705. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment forthwith. That judgment shall be STAYED until August 18, 2010 at 5 PM PDT at which time defendants and all persons under their control or supervision shall cease to apply or enforce Proposition 8.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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California Supreme Court Rejects Private Right of Action for Plaintiffs in Tip Pooling Cases Under Labor Code section 351

Hawaiian Gardens from the 605
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The California Supreme Court today issued its opinion in Lu v. Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc., an eagerly anticpiated decision where the issue was whether Labor Code section 351 provides a private cause of action for employees to recover any misappropriated tips from employers.  The Court concluded that “section 351 does not contain a private right to sue.”

Labor Code section 351 prohibits employers from taking any gratuity patrons leave for their employees, and declares that such gratuity is “the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left for.” Several appellate opinions have held that this prohibition, at least in the restaurant context, does not extend to employer-mandated tip pooling, whereby employees must pool and share their tips with other employees. (See Leighton v. Old Heidelberg, Ltd. (1990) 219 Cal. App. 3d 1062, 1067 (Leighton); see also Etheridge v. Reins Internat. California, Inc. (2009) 172 Cal. App. 4th 908, 921-922; Budrow v. Dave & Buster’s of California, Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 875, 878-884; Jameson v. Five Feet Restaurant, Inc. (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 138, 143.)

Plaintiff Louie Hung Kwei Lu (plaintiff) was employed as a card dealer at defendant Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc. (the Casino), from 1997 to 2003. The Casino had a written tip pooling policy.  Plaintiff brought a class action against the Casino and its general manager. His complaint alleged that the Casino‟s tip pooling policy amounted to a conversion of his tips, and violated the employee protections under sections 221 (prohibiting wage kickbacks by employer), 351 (prohibiting employer from taking, collecting, or receiving employees‟ gratuities), 450 (prohibiting employer from compelling employees to patronize employer), 1197 (prohibiting payment of less than minimum wage), and 2802 (indemnifying employee for necessary expenditures). The complaint also alleged that the Casino‟s conduct giving rise to each statutory violation constituted an unfair business practice under the unfair competition law (UCL) (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.).

The trial court granted the Casino‟s motion for judgment on the pleadings on the causes of action based on sections 351 and 450. It agreed with the Casino that neither section contained a private right to sue. The court also granted the Casino‟s successive motions for summary adjudication on the remaining causes of action. Plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Appeal held, “pursuant to the analysis in Leighton, that tip pooling in the casino industry is not prohibited by Labor Code section 351.” However, it reversed the trial court‟s order granting summary adjudication of the UCL cause of action based on section 351. While section 351 itself contains no private right to sue, the Court of Appeal concluded this provision may nonetheless serve as a predicate for a UCL claim because plaintiff presented triable issues of fact as to whether section 351 prohibited certain employees who participated in the tip pool from doing so because they were “agents” of the Casino.

Less than two months later, another Court of Appeal expressly disagreed with the holding on section 351 of the appellate court below. (See Grodensky v. Artichoke Joe’s Casino (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1399, review granted June 24, 2009, S172237.) The Supreme Court granted review to resolve the conflict on this narrow issue.

The Court concluded that the statutory language does not “unmistakabl[y]” reveal a legislative intent to provide wronged employees a private right to sue.  Based on a review of section 351‟s legislative history, the Court also concluded that there is no clear indication that the legislative history showed an intent to create a private cause of action under the statute.

Justice Chin wrote the opinion for the California Supreme Court, with all other Jusitices concurring.  Judge David L. Minning of the Los Angeles Superior Court was the trial judge.

The attorneys for appellant were Spiro Moss, Dennis F. Moss, and Andrew Kopel.

David Arbogast submitted an amicus curiae brief for the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Respondents were represented by Tracey A. Kennedy and Michael St. Denis

Anna Segobia Masters and Jennifer Rappoport submitted an amicus curiae brief for the California Gaming Association on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.

Dennis F. Moss and Tracey A. Kennedy argued in front of the Court.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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Judge Vaughn Walker Strikes Down Proposition 8

Rally for Prop 8 in Fresno, California
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Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Northern District of California issued his much anticipated ruling today in Perry, et al. v. Shwarzenegger, et al., Case No. C09-2292 VRW.  Judge Walker struck down the so-called gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, concluding that “Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8.”   The case involved a challenge to the November 2008 voter-enacted amendment to the California Constitution (“Proposition 8” or “Prop 8”).  Cal. Const. Art. I, § 7.5.

The Court concluded that:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result, see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

The Court ordered the following:

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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