02
Dec

Part Two (read Part One here) (This is the second of two articles based on David Bruce’s presentation to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the League of California Cities.  Mr. Bruce is the co-founding partner of Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP and served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Seattle.) As discussed in the prior post in this series, although Government entities generally have important legal defenses in cases involving natural disasters and disaster relief, the more ...

20
Nov

A handshake and a promise may be an amicable and honorable way to make an agreement, but is it legally binding? In Washington, the answer is:  sometimes.  Whether an oral contract is enforceable in Washington depends upon the circumstances surrounding the terms of the agreement—most notably, whether the agreement falls under the provisions of the so-called “Statute of Frauds,” requiring that certain types of contracts must always be in writing and signed by the parties to the agreement (or at least, ...

30
Oct

Part One (This is the first of two articles based on David Bruce’s presentation to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the League of California Cities.  Mr. Bruce is the co-founding partner of Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP and served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Seattle.) Landslides, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis.  Natural disasters happen—and by all accounts are occurring more frequently and causing devastation and the loss of human life and property. The National Oceanic ...

21
Oct

The attorney-client privilege protects communications sent between a lawyer and client.  But not all attorney-client communications are protected.  There are at least two common misunderstandings about when the privilege applies. First, the purpose of the communication must be to seek or obtain legal advice.  Thus, for example, an email is not privileged merely because counsel is copied on an email.  This is especially true when communicating with in-house counsel.  An email discussing a business decision may copy counsel to keep him ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

20
Feb

Recently the chief executive and controlling shareholder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, the novelist MacKenzie Bezos, announced that they will divorce.  Thus far at least the news has not had a lasting effect on Amazon’s stock price, even though investors do not know how the couple’s 16% controlling stake in the company will be affected by the divorce.  Some have suggested that investors accept the couple’s assurances that their split will be amicable.  But what if that changes?  ...