February 15, 2017 – Firm client Puglia Engineering today filed a $10+ million dollar lawsuit against multinational defense contractor BAE Systems and various of its related entities. The claims arise over Puglia’s agreement to take control of the BAE Systems dry dock facility located at Pier 70, which is leased from the Port of San Francisco. As recounted in its complaint for fraud and securities law violations, Puglia agreed to acquire the facility by purchasing all of the stock of a BAE subsidiary; however, when Puglia began providing services to the site in January of this year, Puglia discovered that, contrary to BAE’s representations, BAE had failed to maintain, repair and dredge the facility in accordance with its lease obligations to the Port, rendering large portions of it unusable. Based on these discoveries, Puglia seeks to rescind the transaction. When the Port discovered these circumstances, it put the parties on notice that the Port had “suffered a loss of revenue due to the decline of its assets resulting from the tenant’s failure to perform the repair and maintenance obligations” of its lease. BAE disclaimed any responsibility to the Port for this loss. The Pier 70 facility, the oldest continuously operating private shipyard in the country, currently employs roughly 240 workers. The lawsuit also names the Port of San Francisco as a defendant, solely on a declaratory relief claim. Puglia is represented by firm partner Randy Erlewine.
January 25, 2017 – David Given will appear as a panelist at the South by Southwest music conference this year. Entitled “Death, Taxes and Legacy Management,” David’s panel will consider legal and business issues that arise in connection with estate planning and legacy management for talent in the music industry. The panel is scheduled for Friday, March 17th beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center. In addition to continuing to offer advice to living artists on the disposition of their creative property and royalty interests, David’s past practice has included representation of significant estates, including those of Jerry Garcia, jazz great Vince Guaraldi and famed author Alan Watts.
January 20, 2017 – Federal district court judge George Wu today granted the motion of DEAD KENNEDYS to intervene to defend an on-going copyright infringement action over artwork made for and used by the band dating to their seminal punk rock album In God We Trust, Inc. and single Too Drunk To Fuck, both released in 1981. Artist Winston Smith sued retailer Supreme last year, claiming the cutting-edge brand had used three copyrighted images from those recordings’ covers on apparel it manufactured and sold in 2014 without his knowledge or permission. As it turned out, the band authorized the use of those images in written agreements, and advised Smith of that fact, at around that same time. Moreover, Supreme promoted the apparel under the DEAD KENNEDYS moniker, and featured the name of the band and the titles of its biggest hits, on the apparel in question. Following earlier proceedings in which the firm convinced Judge Wu that the band was a required party to the case, the firm successfully moved to include DEAD KENNEDYS as a defendant. The band contends that it owns at least two and perhaps all three of the images in issue, which were created in collaboration with band members, and has in any event had an agreement with Smith to use the images in connection with band-related merchandise dating back 30+ years, pursuant to which the band has consistently paid Smith including on the Supreme deal. The case is currently set for trial beginning May 30th.
January 11, 2017 – Firm partner Randy Erlewine today prevailed upon a state court judge to compel DCH Auto Group and its related entities to disclose employee information in the firm’s ongoing wage theft class action against them. In a carefully considered opinion, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer sided with the firm’s clients, a putative class of approximately 2,000 of the auto dealership chain’s current and former clerical and other non-mechanic employees, ruling that the dealership chain must supplement discovery responses and provide employee contact information following an opt-out opportunity. Judge Feuer also rejected the argument that, after a stay in discovery was vacated, objections to further discovery responses were warranted because of the pendency of other actions filed against it in the interim. For more information on the case, click here.
January 3, 2017 – In his capacity as co-lead counsel, firm partner Nicholas Carlin today filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement the firm concluded last year on behalf of a class of approximately 400 California-based auto mechanics with DCH Auto Group and its related corporate entities and parent, Lithia Motors, Inc. (the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S.), in its wage theft case against them. The settlement agreement comes after several months of intensive mediation with a well-respected retired California state court judge, and provides for a total monetary recovery of over $4 million, or about $10,000 per class member. The California Judicial Council has appointed Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones to preside over coordinated proceedings in the matter. A hearing on the firm’s motion before Judge Jones is pending.
January 3, 2017 – The firm today added Pola C. Stein to its staff of full-time associate attorneys. Pola is a 2011 graduate of Cornell Law School. For the past five years she has served as a public defender, most recently in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Pola will focus on employment and intellectual property matters. Pola joins another Cornell Law graduate, Manuel Rodriguez, who became of counsel to the firm late last year. Manuel has worked at several large law firms in the Bay Area, and will continue to concentrate his practice on representing technology-based companies as well as individual investors and investment funds on corporate, securities and intellectual property transactions.