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Hackensack Business and Commercial Law Blog

'Trust me, you'll need this later' - A tale of Civil Procedure p2

We are back to talking about a lawsuit over short sales of stock. We don't much care about the stock, though; rather, we care about the fact that the case has bounced back and forth between federal and state courts.

The plaintiffs are shareholders, and the defendants are a number of investment firms -- Merrill Lynch, UBS securities, etc. The initial complaint was filed in New Jersey and alleged that the defendants had violated various New Jersey laws, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

What is a breach of contract?

Your business can be significantly impacted by a breach of contract. You have probably seen a lawsuit filed over a breach of contract in the news but what does a breach of contract really mean?

A breach of contract is when duties that were promised to be fulfilled in the contract were not completed without any legal excuse. The failure to complete or perform the duties agreed upon in the contract can include not performing the duties according to industry standards, according to the Judicial Education Center.

'Trust me, you'll need this later' - A tale of Civil Procedure

An acquaintance in law school commented recently that he thought his civil procedure class was fairly dull. There is not much drama, he said -- not the way there is in criminal law, where defendants utter the name of their alleged assailant seconds before drawing that last breath. And certainly not as dramatic as torts, where plaintiffs are struck by random pieces of railroad station equipment in an explosion that occurred when someone dropped a package of fireworks on the track as he struggled to board the train.

A week or so ago, his professor was losing his patience, and he understood perfectly that these students thought civil procedure was a snoozefest. After waiting for someone to answer a question -- and waiting for some time, our acquaintance said -- the professor said rather loudly, "You need to know this stuff. Cases rise and fall on civil procedure."

Gee, it seemed like a good idea at the time….

The ridesharing business may not be all it's cracked up to be. While Uber Inc. is valued at nearly $40 billion and younger rival Lyft Inc. is worth about $6 billion, the ridesharing business model has been the cause of legal and regulatory headaches for the past couple of years. It would be easier if the companies could settle matters state-by-state, but individual municipalities are acting to prohibit the companies from operating within their borders.

Lyft is now the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco on behalf of drivers in more than a dozen cities, including New York. The plaintiffs accuse the company of fraud and breach of contract for its handling of promotional deals offered to drivers and applicants.

Does your business need a hand when it comes to compliance?

It is hard to believe, but we are just a couple of weeks away from the end of the first quarter of 2015. First quarter is when small business owners develop a solid picture of what the year will bring -- if only because April 15 is around the corner.

Tax season offers businesses a chance to test the waters of new federal and state laws. January and February are peppered with revelations of new risks and falling barriers. This year, for example, businesses have been dealing with New Jersey's new definition of "operational income" (see the Treasury Department's notice from August 2014 on the Tax Division's website).

Ocean City women are doing it for themselves and their businesses

From its Census profile, Ocean City, New Jersey, looks like a sleepy little town. The city's 11,400 residents live in about 5,700 households, and there is fairly large population of people who are 65 or older. In 2007 -- before the crash, but the most recent data available on the Census website -- the city boasted about 1,800 businesses. Thirty percent of those businesses were owned by women.

While the number has fallen a few percentage points over the past several years, women continue to find a friendly business climate in Ocean City, according to a study published by NerdWallet. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that 25 percent of those businesses have paid employees.

Court sides with employer in disability versus inability case p3

Running a small business so often means being pulled in a hundred different directions. There are production issues, financial issues, personnel issues -- the small businessperson has so many responsibilities that it's sometimes a wonder anything gets done. It's all important, so what do you do first?

Personnel issues can be a hassle. There are a lot of laws to consider, and anti-discrimination laws in particular can be complicated. Still, making a mistake can cost time, money and good will. The Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, bars discrimination, but what exactly does "discrimination" mean?

Court sides with employer in disability versus inability case p2

When you get a chance, take a look at your own or a coworker's job description. Check that description against reality, and see how it turns out. There may be tasks on there that you have never had to perform. Could you do it, though, if your supervisor asked you to?

This is, in part, what happened to the plaintiff in the case we are discussing. He claimed he had been in his job for more than two years without having to drive a commercial truck, a responsibility listed on the job description. (The company is a large food delivery operation in the Midwest.) But suddenly driving truck and having the commercial license became job requirements. Health problems, however, kept him from obtaining the license. He was in a tough spot.

Court sides with employer in disability versus inability case

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case that may raise a lot of questions for businesses across the country. The plaintiff is an employee of a large Midwestern food delivery company who claimed the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008. Just a quick reminder before we get into the facts and issues of the case: New Jersey is in the 3rd District, so courts may refer to the decision for guidance but are not bound by it.

The employee had worked at the company for years when, in 2003, he received a promotion: He was appointed supervisor for an entire facility. According to the job description's rundown of responsibilities, the supervisor was responsible for managing the truck fleet. The incumbent also had to hold a commercial motor vehicle certification from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the qualifications listed in a different section of the job description.

Smile, New Jersey, it's Presidents Day - whatever that is!

Baby boomers may remember the year Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays morphed into Presidents Day. It was particularly cruel to school kids who loved having four-day weeks so close together. Those two days in February, the 12th and the 22nd, came close enough on the heels of New Year's that toys had not lost their luster. During the '60s, a few big snowstorms here in New Jersey meant those days off were spent sledding in parks or at local golf courses. Those were the (birth)days.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 changed everything. Well, almost everything, and mostly for the federal government. Holidays were moved to Mondays, ostensibly to give workers more opportunities for three-day weekends. Businesses benefited, too: The Monday holidays decreased absenteeism around those holidays.

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