Articles Posted in Business Litigation

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Technology is an integral part of our business in this fast-paced world. This is true no matter the size of your organization, especially in the Bay Area. Managing contracts efficiently and effectively can be a burdensome task, but a critical one. Contracts form the basis for almost every deal we do. They are inherently important. Nowadays, there is software for virtually almost any application, including contract management. Considering a system to manage your Bay Area contracts can help to streamline your business.

What is a Contract Management System?

Contract management can mean different things to different businesses. In the general sense, contract management is the process a company uses to create, negotiate, execute, and track contracts. A contract management system is an automated system that helps streamline various components of contract management. There are many Bay Area and national companies that offer various software to manage contracts. At the heart of these systems is the ability to use it as a repository for legacy and new contracts, increase the operational process of contract drafting, and automate as much of the process as possible.

Fotolia_69411638_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Contracts are essential to any business deal. No matter how close the parties and no matter how clearly the terms are spelled out, there is always a possibility of the other party breaching the contract. Whether a contract is with a vendor, another business, an employee, or any other party, a breach can cause financial harm to your company.

Fortunately, a contract should also dictate your rights and options to seek legal remedies in the event of a breach. Our experienced business and contract attorneys can help you through each step of this process to ensure the matter is resolved as efficiently and favorably as possible.

  1. Talk to the other party. Sometimes, a party to a contract may not even realize they are in breach of the agreement. If the breach involves non-payment, there may be ways to agree on a payment plan or another arrangement to fulfill the contract without taking legal action. It is always a good idea to speak with a party – or have your lawyer do so – to explore options to resolve the issue.

Fotolia_75565417_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200If your business employs workers in California, you need to be aware of California laws that govern employer obligations and employee rights regarding overtime. Employer compliance is strictly enforced, and a failure to comply can result in a class action lawsuit against your business. California courts are known for being very employee-friendly, which can mean extensive liability for employers in overtime claims. At Structure Law Group, we can help your business understand the obligations regarding overtime and assist it with a plan to help manage those obligations.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

California law requires overtime to be paid to all non-exempt employees. An employee is only exempt if they fit into a specific category codified by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations. The list includes many professions and occupations, but some of the more common business classifications for an exempt employee includes:

Fotolia_183822998_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x176Many San Jose business owners find themselves embroiled in legal disputes with vendors, clients, employees, contractors, and other business relationships. It is highly likely that a legal dispute will arise at some point during your business operations. It can be difficult to know how to resolve such a dispute. Litigation can subject a business to unnecessary time, effort, and costs which will not always be reimbursed after a trial. Yet in some cases, litigation remains the only method of effectively preserving important legal rights.

Mediation and arbitration provides clients with the ability to settle their claims quicker and for less expense. However, one of the biggest cons of mediation and arbitration is the fact that neither party will be totally satisfied as the result of settlements is a compromise.

The experienced San Jose corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group have extensive experience in litigation, mediation, and arbitration.They can help you determine how best to protect your financial and legal interests in a business.

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A lawsuit can be an overwhelming experience for any business owner – particularly if you have not previously had any dealings with the court system. But it’s not cause for panic. The skilled employment law attorneys at Structure Law Group can help San Jose employers resolve such disputes through litigation, arbitration, the Labor Commissioner, mediation, or simple settlement negotiations. The experience of a knowledgeable attorney can allow for fast and effective resolution of employment claims with the least expense possible.

The Many Strategies for Dispute Resolution

Sometimes, a motion to the court can be used to end the litigation before it begins. This is what Yahoo’s legal team did to effectively end a gender discrimination lawsuit that had been filed against the company. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the tech giant had been sued by a former manager who alleged that the company’s performance evaluation system could be manipulated to produce a gender bias. In an interesting twist, the bias was alleged to favor women, and the lawsuit was filed by a male manager who claimed to have been treated unfairly by it. Yahoo maintained that the manager had been fired as a result of his poor performance. A federal judge dismissed the case before Yahoo incurred the expense of discovery, mediation, arbitration, or settlement negotiations.

Fotolia_92329578_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x213Despite the fact that everyone is entitled to their day in the court, the reality is that most cases do not make it to trial.  Many clients will approach their lawyers with the hope that they will be able to quickly get in front of a judge and explain their story—a vision of American justice that is reinforced in popular media and Court TV.  However, the reality is that it takes a long time to get to the point when a party can tell its story directly to a Judge.  In most situations, the cases take earlier exit ramps, such as informal out-of-court settlement, non-binding mediation, binding arbitration, or a ruling by the Court before trial.  If a case does make it to trial, the parties often settle on its eve.  Often, the cheapest and most efficient way for a dispute to get resolved is for attorneys to work on an out-of-court settlement.  This can occur at any point either before or after a lawsuit has been filed.  Under this track, attorneys informally negotiate a resolution.  If the parties agree to it, the attorneys will memorialize the resolution in a settlement agreement.  This is often the quickest way to resolve a case, as it does not require any third-party intervention—it only requires parties who are willing to work together to settle their differences and capable counsel to guide the parties through the process.

In addition to out-of-court settlements, cases often get resolved with the help of a third-party neutral.  The decision of this third-party may be binding depending on the posture of each case.  For instance, cases often go to non-binding mediation before they move on to trial.  Indeed, more and more courts are requiring this step before allowing the case to move to trial.  With a non-binding mediation, the parties all present their cases to a neutral, who tries to facilitate a settlement agreement.  In short, non-binding mediation is like the informal out-of-court settlement discussed in the previous paragraph, with the addition of a third-party neutral who helps ease things along. Sometimes, cases may end up in front of a third-party neutral who has the authority to make a binding decision.  For instance, if the parties previously signed an agreement for binding arbitration, the case may end up in front of a private judge whose decision is final.  In other instances, the parties decide to submit their case to binding arbitration at the time of the lawsuit for a variety of reasons, such as cost and efficiency. If the case does actually end up in court, it is still unlikely to reach trial.  The purpose of trial is to get to the truth of what actually happened in a conflict, so if there is no dispute about what actually happened, a judge might rule on the case early based on a dispositive motion like a summary judgment motion.  With a summary judgment motion, the moving party argues that there is no dispute of fact in the case, so the judge has no finding of fact to make in a trial and can proceed to a ruling earlier. If a party brings a summary judgment motion, it has the burden of providing evidence that there is not any dispute of fact in the case.  This evidence may come in a variety of forms, including affidavits, declarations, and discovery responses.  If a judge is persuaded, it may decide to rule on the case right there. As you can see, getting to trial is an involved and lengthy process with the potential for a lot of different early exit ramps.  If a case does make it all the way through the end of trial, it may take a long while to do so.  For instance, a timeline of one year would be a relatively quick timeline in most cases, and it is not uncommon for cases to take several years to make it from beginning to end.

Contact the Experienced California Business Litigation Attorneys at Structure Law Group

Contract-Signing-300x199Contractual disputes can be a costly problem for California business owners. When disagreements arise over each party’s rights and responsibilities under the written agreement, a skilled California business litigation attorney can help negotiate the dispute in order to avoid costly litigation.

What is an “As Is” Contract?

An “as is” contract provides that a particular produce is being sold in its present condition. The seller makes no promises or guarantees with regard to the product’s performance, and the buyer agrees that he or she will accept the product without such promises. “As is” contracts have a common problem known as mutual mistake. Because neither party inspects nor warrants the condition of the product, the product can sometimes turn out to be significantly more (or less) valuable than either party anticipated.

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Employment law is a constantly changing landscape of regulations promulgated on a national state, and even local level. Wages, gender discrimination, hours, working conditions, safety precautions, and many other aspects of the employee-employer relationship are regulated by federal, state and local employment laws. A San Jose employment law attorney can help protect employers’ rights while also helping to ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations.  Following are California laws which have been recently updated to provide employees with more legal protections.

Situations in Which Employees Have the Legal Right to Take Time off Work

Sections 230 and 230.1 of the California Labor Code provide specific rights to workers who have been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. In general, these laws protect an employee’s right to take time off work to attend to matters related to the crime they have suffered. These matters include: obtaining a restraining order or other legal protection, seeking medical attention, obtaining services from domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers, participating in psychological counseling, and creating a safety plan to prevent the recurrence of the crime. Employers are prohibited from terminating, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who exercises these rights.

Many Los Angeles business owners find themselves forced into litigation in order to enforce their legal rights as creditors. There are many legal tools available to enforce these rights: liens, levies, garnishments, and charging orders are just a few of many examples. These and other tools can be used to allow a creditor access to a debtor’s assets in order to satisfy debts that have been recognized by a court. An experienced Los Angeles corporate attorney can help you determine which tools will best enforce your company’s legal rights against its debtors.Asset-Protection-300x200

A writ of attachment is a particular tool which is used to protect specific assets from being disposed of before a judgment is reached. The writ of attachment is a legal order issued by a court to a law enforcement agent. A writ of attachment is typically requested soon after a case is filed (in order to freeze the defendant’s assets while the case is pending).  A writ of execution is issued at the end of a case after the judgment is reached, in order to enforce a judgment debt that has been awarded to the creditor. The California Code of Civil Procedure establishes the procedures for obtaining a writ of attachment. Section 487.010 specifies the property which is subject to a writ of attachment, including interests in real property, accounts receivable, equipment, farm products, inventory, final money judgments, money on the premises of the debtor’s business, negotiable documents of title, instruments; securities, and natural resources (such as minerals, oils, or gases) on the debtor’s property.

How a Writ of Attachment Can Help Your Business

Fotolia_148839470_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Risk management is an important strategy for any business. Silicon Valley businesses can protect themselves from liability with effective indemnification provisions – These provisions can be instrumental to easing the financial burden of a lawsuit against your company.  Rather than your company paying for the legal costs of a lawsuit due to one of your business partners, you can obligate your business partners to pay for the legal costs through an indemnification provision. Learn more about the terms and conditions of indemnification and how to protect your business from future legal liability.

How Do I Indemnify My Business?

The first step to drafting an effective legal indemnification is identifying the specific types of liability your business needs to be indemnified from. For example, some businesses, such as theme parks, are based around services which are potentially dangerous to consumers. It is important that these businesses appropriately indemnify themselves against claims by those who use their business facilities. Specifically, theme parks may want to consider obtaining an indemnification in any contract with repair or technician companies providing repair and maintenance to their theme park rides. Professionals with high rates of malpractice claims (such as obstetricians) must also consider the appropriate means for indemnifying themselves against legal claims by patients.