05
Sep

You just received a summons and complaint filed against your company by an employee, vendor or supplier, client, or customer.   What you do in immediate response may have a profound effect on what follows.  To position your company for the best possible outcome, here are five things to keep in mind in every case. 1.  Do Not Communicate or Reach Out in Your Own Your first instinct may be to try to communicate with the plaintiff—the person who brought the suit.  You ...

25
Jul

This is the third post in a series examining Washington law on noncompete agreements. In the first, we provided an overview of the major changes to Washington law regarding noncompete agreements under new legislation that Governor Inslee signed into law on May 8, 2019. In the second, we discussed how Washington courts evaluate the reasonableness of a noncompete agreement to determine its enforceability. In this post, we take a closer look at the key elements of the new statutory scheme ...

25
Jun

In this era of tightening federal budgets and periodic government shutdowns, there can be no guarantee that any particular federal courthouse will be open for business—or even in existence—at the time an agreement spawns litigation. Under a recent Ninth Circuit decision, such a closure could be more than inconvenient: it could cut off a party’s bargained-for access to federal court. In a matter of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that a venue-selection clause ...

20
May

When a company hires senior employees, it may invest a great deal of time and money training them.  Employees also may receive access to confidential client lists, relationships with customers and vendors, or proprietary business information.  So what happens when employees move on, taking that training and knowledge with them?  Ex-employees sometimes are uniquely positioned to open up a competing business; as a practical matter, a company is often training its future competition.  The potential damage could be even greater ...

09
May

Will banning certain non-compete agreements protect employees and foster competition?  Washington state legislators and Governor Inslee think so. Non-compete agreements raise policy issues regarding the balancing of legitimate business interests with a worker’s right to freely seek employment—a right that some argue is increasingly important in the growing gig economy.  Like many states, Washington courts have stricken that balance by enforcing non-compete agreements that are “reasonable.”[1] Courts determine whether an agreement is “reasonable” by considering: (1) whether the restraint is ...

22
Apr

“Now this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” —Winston Churchill, 1942 The inherited wisdom about wage-and-hour class actions is that they settle after certification.  The assumption is that certification in wage-and-hour class actions is the decisive battle in the war; if lost, the only question is how big the price tag is going to be—the sooner it settles the less it costs.  Certification is ...

09
Apr

On February 20, 2019 we posted about whether the Bezos’ divorce would impact SEC disclosure requirements for public companies.  In this regard, Amazon’s recent filing may offer additional support to those who wish to argue that personal matters impacting management, or a shareholder who owns a controlling stake in the company, should be disclosed. On April 4, 2019, Amazon announced via a Form 8-K filing that MacKenzie Bezos will receive as part of ...

20
Mar

The Rights of Minority Shareholders in Washington Minority shareholders—those who don’t own a controlling interest in a corporation—frequently do not have a say in corporate financial or management decisions.  And in closely held corporations, such shareholders also may not be able to easily sell their stock.  But the law provides certain protections.  Among other things, Washington law gives minority shareholders the right to inspect certain corporate records.  Minority shareholders also have the right to bring a suit on behalf of the ...

27
Feb

When used effectively, Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure gives defendants a powerful and often underestimated tool.  Rule 68 allows “a party defending against a claim” to serve an offer of judgment with “the costs then accrued.”[1]  The offeree then has 14 days to accept the offer, or the offer is considered withdrawn.  If the offer of judgment is not accepted and the judgment that the claimant eventually obtains “is not more favorable than the ...

13
Sep

Disputes often arise in the middle of a deposition—such as how to allocate the time available for deposing a third-party witness, the scope of a 30(b)(6) deposition, or simply the permissibility of a line of questioning or an objection.  Although these are opportune times to call the judge for an immediate and timely ruling, parties often are reluctant to do this. Courts would obviously prefer that parties resolve discovery disputes without the court’s intervention.  Calling the judge’s chambers in the middle ...