Lesser Law Group

San Rafael California Insurance Law Firm

Walmart takes Tesla to court over faulty solar panels

Those who shop at Walmart in California or elsewhere throughout the country may have heard about the partnership between the company and Tesla. However, Walmart has filed a lawsuit in the state of New York against Tesla saying that solar panels placed on top of seven different stores caught on fire. According to the lawsuit, the solar panels were not installed properly and were inspected by employees who were not properly trained to do so.

The lawsuit further claims that there were multiple physical defects with the solar panels. Therefore, Walmart asserts that Tesla's actions represented a breach of contract and negligence. Walmart is seeking reimbursement for damages caused by the fires that include lost inventory as well as damage to other company property. In addition, the retailer wants Tesla to remove solar panels from another 240 Walmart locations.

Unfair competition is a business tort

Unfair competition is essentially a business tort. This makes it a civil wrong, not a criminal violation. However, unfair competition standards are established under both federal law and California state law, both of which allow an aggrieved business to sue the offending business for monetary damages and injunctive relief to halt the illegal behavior. The relevant federal laws are found under copyright laws, trademark laws and the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1125.) Unfair competition does not refer to monopolies or antitrust violations.

In general, what constitutes unfair competition varies with the type of business involved, the specific action being considered and the individual facts of the case. Legal commentators cite the following types of unfair competition most commonly reported -- trademark infringement, misappropriation, unauthorized substitution of one brand of goods for another, false representation of products or services, false advertising, use of confidential information by a former employee to solicit customers, trade libel, theft of trade secrets and breach of a restrictive covenant.

Ethereum co-founder's suit underscores importance of pre-contract legal review

California blockchain investors may be interested to learn that Harrison Hines, the founder of the Token Foundry, is suing a former business partner for breach of contract. His lawsuit was filed in the New York County branch of the Supreme Court of the State of New York on June 5.

According to court documents, Hines is seeking over $13 million in damages from Joseph Lubin, the co-founder of the Ethereum cryptocurrency project and also the co-founder of the ConsenSys project, which helped provide funding for Hines' Token Foundry. The Token Foundry, which specialized in helping new blockchain companies issue and market tokens, had to lay off most of its employees, including Hines, during the crypto market crash of 2018. However, the lawsuit contends that ConsenSys lied about the amount of equity available to employees when Token closed down and cheated them out of their rightful disbursement percentages.

Holding Your Insurer To Its Promises When Making a Claim

As a California business owner, you undoubtedly know the importance of having various types of insurance for your company. You likely have general liability insurance, property insurance and maybe even business income insurance.  Many companies need errors and omissions, directors and officers and cyber coverages as well.  Though you likely hoped to never need to file a claim, you knew that having this coverage was an important safeguard.

Now, you may find yourself feeling differently about your insurance coverage because of difficulties you face with the insurer after having to file a claim. In fact, you may worry that you will not obtain the payout you need even though your policy covers the claim. What are your remedies for the carrier's conduct?

About accountant malpractice

Many people in California do not feel comfortable handling their own accounting. They may opt to use an accountant who can assume the responsibility of ensuring that their taxes and other financial matters are in good standing. However, if the accountant does not properly manage their accounts, they may be the victim of accounting malpractice.

The Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are protocols by which accountants are bound to abide by. GAAS pertains to when accountants provide an objective and transparent auditing of their clients' accounts. GAAP applies when accountants prepare financial statements on the behalf of clients. There are various forms of accountant malpractice that could take place when accountants stray from the standards and principles established by GAAS and GAAP.

$1 million punitive damages award upheld against insurer

A California court of appeals has upheld a judgment against a major insurance company for dealing with one of its insureds in bad faith. In August 2008, a 24-year-old man was in a serious car accident on a California highway. He was traveling at around 45 or 50 miles per hour when he crashed head-on with a vehicle that had crossed into his lane traveling approximately the same speed. The at-fault driver, who had crossed into the wrong lane, was killed in the crash.

The insurance carrier for the at-fault driver paid out the policy maximum, $50,000, and the 24-year-old man's attorney sought further recovery from GEICO, which was his insurer. In December 2009, the attorney filed a claim under the man's underinsured motorist coverage. The claim included medical records and other documentation, and it demanded $50,000, which represented the man's $100,000 underinsured motorist policy limit minus the $50,000 that had already been paid by the at-fault insurer.

Understanding professional malpractice and filing a claim

When Californians hear the term "malpractice," they will automatically think of a medical mistake that leads to illness or injury to themselves or death of a loved one. However, malpractice is not limited to medical professionals. If other professionals who agree to provide various services make mistakes through intent or incompetence, there is recourse to address it and be financially compensated. When errors are made by an accountant, an attorney, a financial professional or anyone else, it can warrant a professional malpractice legal filing.

Professional malpractice occurs if there are egregious errors related to failing to adhere to the requirements for professionalism, the professional does not live up to the appropriate standard of care, shows negligence, commits fraud or other acts that harm the client. To recover damages in these circumstances, it is important to know what to do to pursue compensation and hold the professional accountable.

Depp professional malpractice trial set to begin on Dec. 2

A California judge has agreed to delay the trial that will decide Johnny Depp's $50 million malpractice lawsuit against his former attorneys until Dec. 2. The trial date had already been postponed several times when attorneys representing the actor and his former law firm appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 29. Depp is said to be eager to put the matter to rest. However, the defendants successfully argued that they require more time because important information has not been handed over to them in a timely manner.

The case has sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Oral contingency agreements are common in Hollywood, but their validity was cast into doubt in August 2018 when a judge ruled that such an agreement between Depp and his longtime attorneys was invalid. Depp's lawsuit has also drawn in some of the industry's biggest names. In April, attorneys representing the defendants sent deposition notices to studio heads, prominent attorneys and Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard.

Does your business have a disaster plan?

You have poured your time, efforts and money into your business, and its success rests squarely on your shoulders. While you may have control of the day-to-day operations, you cannot control every factor that can affect your business. For that reason, it is wise to have a plan in place in case the unthinkable happens.

While California is familiar with natural disasters, it does not take a catastrophic event to cause the kind of damage that could bring your company to the brink of bankruptcy. Having a disaster plan in place can help you get back in business as soon as possible, as well as facilitate your dealings with your business' insurance company.

California lawsuits accuse online tax preparers of fraud

Lawsuits filed in California on May 6 allege that two of the nation's largest tax preparation companies defrauded low-income filers by using deceptive and misleading practices. The companies supposedly made it difficult for taxpayers to access the Internal Revenue Service's Free File program. In the lawsuits, the Los Angeles City Attorney accuses H&R Block and Inuit of violating California's unfair competition law. The litigation asks for injunctions to put an end to the alleged deceptive practices and seeks restitution for filers who paid for tax preparation services even though they qualified for the Free File program.

Free File is a program created by the IRS in partnership with online tax preparation companies that allows individuals with an annual income of $66,000 or less to complete and submit their tax returns for free. According to the lawsuits, H&R Block and Inuit made finding information about their free options extremely difficult and instead tried to upsell low-income filers with costly services.

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