Employer Awarded Attorneys Fees in FEHA Suit

In cases involving claims brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers may only recover attorneys fees where the plaintiff’s lawsuit is deemed unreasonable, frivolous, meritless, or vexatious.  The courts are still determining what conduct is frivolous, and when an award of attorneys fees to a defendant is appropriate. The concern over awarding defendant-employer attorneys fees stems from the fear of staunching employee suits due to the possibility of an employee earning minimum wage getting stuck footing the attorney bill. A recent opinion by the California Court of Appeals awarding attorneys fees to the employer demonstrates under what circumstances the courts are willing to permit this to happen.

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Attorneys Accepting Gifts From Clients Violate Rules of Conduct

When does an attorney violate the Rules of Professional Conduct by accepting a gift from a client? Under what circumstances is it acceptable for an attorney to accept a gift? This was the issue recently addressed by the State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct.

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Are You Permitting the Unauthorized Practice of Law?

The State Bar Court of California Review Department recently reviewed a case of an attorney who was, among other things, charged with aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of law. The case serves as an important reminder to all attorneys who employ non-attorneys that their work must be closely supervised to avoid the unauthorized practice of law. Continue reading

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Drafting the Employee Handbook

Are you an employer? Then you should have an employee handbook. If you don’t have one, now is the time to procure one. If you do have one, then now is the time to review your handbook to ensure it is up to date with the ever changing employment laws. While the state of California does not require an employer to maintain an employee handbook, a well drafted handbook helps to avoid lawsuits, offers an affirmative defense to litigation, and ensures compliance with complex state and federal regulations.

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Employer Can’t Avoid California Kin Care Law Through ERISA

The California Court of Appeals recently held in Airline Pilots Association International v. United Airlines, Inc. that employer United Airlines could not escape compliance with California’s “Kin Care” Law by creating an employee sick leave plan and trust and claiming it to be subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Continue reading

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Iowa Prohibits Fee Set-Off for Successful Plaintiffs in Legal Malpractice Actions

by Steven Markowitz

Iowa Joins Majority of Jurisdictions Prohibiting Fee Set-Off for Successful Plaintiffs in Legal Malpractice Actions

Recently the Iowa Supreme Court in Hook v. Trevino (2013) 839 N.W.2d 434 (“Hook”) held that a defendant attorney in a legal malpractice action cannot reduce the award to a successful plaintiff by the contingent fee the defendant would have been paid if the underlying action had been successful. The defendant in Hook argued that in the event he had been successful in the underlying matter, the plaintiff would have been contractually obligated to pay 40% of the award to him as part of a contingency fee and any award given to the plaintiff should be reduced by that amount. Continue reading

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Coverage for Acts of the Dishonest Services Contractor

With the 2007 financial crisis and bursting of the housing bubble came increased scrutiny of lender practices. Third parties to real estate loans, such as brokers, packagers, resellers, and servicing contractors, also have found themselves under increased watch. With lending institutions finding themselves in hot water due to their lax lending practices and seeking to shift the blame to others, coverage offered by fidelity bonds for losses caused by third parties has become an increasingly important subject for fidelity bond insurers.

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