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Huntington Beach Law Blog

San Francisco considers buying PG&E

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is being held responsible for the California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, which has led to the utility giant to declare bankruptcy. In light of this development, San Francisco city officials are the option of taking over PG&E or parts of it. The city believes this would reduce the cost of power delivery, improve reliability and continue the sustainability goals it has set for itself. It would also avoid reliance upon the embattled utility whose future is far from certain.

Three options for moving forward

Avoiding the runaway jury

Not a week seems to pass without news of a giant settlement against negligent businesses. Whether it is the utilities of California being blamed for fires in the last three years with $30 billion in liability to the utilities, or the recent billion award against Roundup, the cost to insurance companies is steep, with the California Camp wildfire threatening to put at least one insurance company out of business.

Industry experts believe the main reason for these large payouts is that plaintiff attorneys have learned how to manipulate juries. As the attorneys defending the companies downplay or deny fault, the plaintiff attorneys explain to the jury how many millions that should be paid and to whom. This often guts the company or passes the losses along to customers with a hike in premiums.

Department of Labor rules on gig employees

The Department of Labor under President Trump overturned some Obama-era rules regarding companies’ use of contractors or freelancers by tech-based companies. There is now a recent clarification from the DOL’s Wage and Hourly Division reiterates earlier language about the Fair Standards and Labor Act (FLSA) in response to workers at a specific virtual marketplace company, but could also apply to the current issues involving Lyft or Uber as well as other digital platform marketplaces.

Businesses get a break

Protecting your company from wrongful termination claims

Like other California businesses, your company gains significant advantages from its workers, but it could also incur significant disadvantages as well. Not every employee will work out as you hoped when you hired him or her.

Sometimes, people look better on paper than they do in reality. Others may go through circumstances that cause a decline in their work performance. Still others may never live up to your expectations no matter how hard they try. At some point, you may consider terminating such an employee, but before you do, take steps to protect your company from a wrongful termination claim.

Rideshare drivers announce one-day strike

It is hard to remember life before ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft arrived, but it was practically impossible to hail a cab outside of major metropolitan areas. Now the presence of these app-based services is a given, with nearly 4 million drivers in 700 towns and cities around the world. There is, however, ongoing tension between the contract employee drivers and the companies they work for.

May 8 Strike

New strategy for saving sagebrush habitats

Federal officials at the Bureau of Land Management and the Forestry Service announced that they had come up with a plan to save sagebrush habitats in Western states. The 248-page report balances the needs of cattle ranchers, recreation usage as well as 350 species of animals. The document also reputes to be a paradigm shift in reducing invasive species of plants and brush fires in the Sagebrush Steppe throughout the west, which includes Eastern California.

Categorizing sagebrush

The #MeToo movement and severance packages

The #MeToo movement has undoubtedly impacted the lives of celebrities and athletes or those that work with them, but it also affects business culture in other fields as well. This means that codes of conduct at restaurants and manufacturing facilities have changed (or need to). It can also mean changes for executives who are used to large severance packages when they leave. Severance agreements should now have much more detailed language based on those codes of conduct.

More teeth needed

The twists and turns of State Farm's $250 million class action

State Farm Insurance settled a class action lawsuit brought by 4.7 million customers. The plaintiffs alleged that the carrier, which is the largest property casualty insurance company in the country, cheated its customers by using substandard motor vehicle replacement parts. In a years-long case that seemed more like a fictional legal thriller instead of real life, State Farm opted to settle outside of court for a total of $250 million.

According to the original suit, State Farm Auto Insurance policies guaranteed that customers would get original manufacturer replacement parts, but instead, the customers got generic parts of lower quality that cost much less. When customers realized what was happening, they protested and asked for the parts promised as part of the contract; nevertheless, the carrier denied these subsequent claims.

CorePower Yoga faces more labor issues

Yoga studios use a variety of business models. Typically, these vary between a teacher renting a room somewhere to a small business partnership to a non-profit. Generally, the vibe is a crunchy mix of positivity, community, exercise and spiritual growth. Called the Starbucks’s of yoga with over 200 studios across the U.S., CorePower Yoga is a different model altogether. It has also faced three federal lawsuits in recent years with over $3 million in settlements without admitting liability.

The previous suits involved using students to clean the studio or man the desk in return for free classes in what was called a yoga for trade arrangement, which still amounted to underpaying student workers. There were also two cases alleging that teachers were required to do off-the-clock tasks like creating new music playlists or yoga sequences for class, which also brought the pay for work below the minimum wage.

Business formation is a journey that goes beyond having an idea

Starting a business and being your own boss may seem like a dream come true. However, it is important to remember that you will have a lot of work ahead of you, with much taking place before you even get your business up and running. Your big idea may act as a motivating factor, but you need more than just an idea in order to succeed in the business world.

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