Articles Tagged with “sacramento business law lawyer”

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A recent federal court ruling offers a good reminder of the many unique claims that may be made against employers by their unhappy employees. All Sacramento business owners–from established enterprises to start ups–should be familiar with their risks before trouble arises.

The Situation

Shaw Rahman was employed by Crystal Equation, a staffing company that assigned him to a job with AT&T. Rahman signed more than one document that specifically described his employment as “at-will,” and stated his employment could be terminated at any time.

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A typical commercial lease in California requires a commercial tenant to maintain and repair the leased property and not commit “waste.” For legal purposes, waste is defined as permanent harm done to real property by a person or persons in legal possession of that property, such that the property’s value is diminished. If the tenant breaches the maintenance requirement, the landlord may provide a notice of default. If the tenant does not cure the breach, the landlord may terminate the lease and sue to recover the cost of repairs for damage to the property. But, what happens if the tenant does not cure the breach, and the landlord does not terminate the lease or the lease has not expired? Can the landlord sue to collect the cost of repairs for damage to the property? A recent decision by the California Court of Appeals for the Fourth District answers this question.

In Avalon Pacific-Santa Ana v. HD Supply Repair & Remodel, 192 Cal. App. 4th 1183 (2011), the Appeals Court held that a commercial landlord could not recover from a tenant the cost of repairs for damages where the parties continued to perform under their lease agreement, which had neither expired nor been terminated. The facts of the case are instructive.

HD Supply Repair & Remodel leased vacant warehouse and office space from Avalon Pacific-Santa Ana, intending to convert the space into a retail facility. The 10-year lease was set to expire in 2017, but included an option to extend. After demolishing the office space, HD Supply stopped renovations because of the economic downturn. HD Supply unsuccessfully attempted to sublease the property. The property eventually fell into disrepair, was vandalized, burglarized, and became home to vagrants. Avalon sued HD Supply for breach of the maintenance and repair obligations of the lease and for waste; however, Avalon never terminated the lease and HD Supply continued to pay rent of $50,000 per month. The case proceeded to trial, where a jury found in favor of Avalon, awarding $677,000 in damages for breach of the lease and $561,000 in damages for waste.

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The startup community has been hearing a lot lately about net neutrality. What is net neutrality? Why is it making headlines? Why should should startups be worried? In the following paragraphs, we will address these questions.

Net neutrality, also known as network neutrality or Internet neutrality, is the principle claiming that Internet service providers (ISPs) and government should treat all data on the Internet equally, meaning that Internet users should be able to access any web content they choose and use any applications they want, without their ISP imposing limitations or restrictions. Net neutrality regulations were first approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December 2010. In January 2011, telecommunications giant Verizon filed suit against the FCC, challenging the net neutrality rules. In particular, Verizon argued that the FCC does not have enforcement authority.

Net neutrality is making headlines because, last month, in Verizon v. FCC, No. 11-1355 (D.C. Cir.), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit finally issued a ruling in the case, striking down the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The court ruled that because ISPs are not classified as traditional telecommunications services, or “common carriers,” the FCC cannot impose on them its anti-discriminatory regulations. The FCC has decided not to appeal the ruling; instead, the agency will examine the possibility of drafting new net neutrality rules. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the FCC already has unveiled a new proposal that would “discourage Internet service providers from charging companies to stream their movies, music and other content through a faster express lane.” Although the FCC has not written the formal rules, it has begun accepting public comments on its newest proposal.