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Reason to Deny Class Certification: Lack of Common Injury

In a recent case against Home Depot (Berger v. Home Depot USA, Inc.,), the plaintiff alleged that Home Depot had violated various state laws relating to unfair competition and the like and sought to bring a class action to recover damages. In a class action lawsuit, the proposed class must consist of a group of individuals or business entities that have suffered a common injury or injuries. After the complaint is filed, the plaintiff must file a motion to have the class certified. This is where the plaintiff lost his case, as the court denied class certification.

According to the plaintiff, the Home Depot offers tool rental customers a “damage waiver” which, in exchange for a fee, relieves the customer’s liability if he or she returns the tool damaged. Home Depot does not deny this, nor the fact that its system defaults to adding the fee to the rental price.

At issue were the plaintiff’s allegations that he was misled into purchasing the damage waiver because the Home Depot failed to inform him he could decline it. In response, the Home Depot stated that it does notify customers of their opportunity to decline the waiver in one of three ways: 1) verbally at checkout, 2) via signs near checkout, and 3) on the receipt.

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What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit permits one or more plaintiffs (victims) to file and prosecute a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group, or “class” and can be a powerful tool for recovering damages for injuries suffered. Class actions can be brought in state or federal court. The general belief is that state court is more favorable for plaintiffs than federal court.

Where do I file a class action lawsuit?

Typically, federal courts are thought to be more favorable for defendants, and state courts more favorable for plaintiffs. Many class actions are filed initially in state court. A defendant will frequently try to remove the case to federal court, a process that was made easier with the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, which gives federal courts original jurisdiction for all class actions with damages exceeding $5,000,000 (exclusive of interest and costs). California has a civil procedure systems that deviates significantly from the federal rules, the details of which you can discuss with your class action lawyer.

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Privacy Issues a Business Must Consider

Privacy, both at the professional and personal level, is an increasingly hot topic. In this article, we will focus on privacy issues that a business owner must consider and leave the more personal privacy related questions (should I password protect my computer in case it is stolen?) to the individual.

What are the most critical areas relating to privacy that an Orange County business owner should consider in 2014? It seems as though the answers are endless, but if you are interested in learning the most pressing employee privacy-related issues, keep reading… For a more in-depth, customized answer, contact an experienced Orange County business attorney.

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6 Tips for Developing a Strong Trademark

A trademark is a symbol, word, or words that can be established by use as representing a company or product or, for stronger protection, legally registered with the USPTO. Developing a trademark for your new business can a challenging exercise, but one that can also help propel your business to the next level.

While each Orange County business is unique, and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach for maximizing your intellectual property, it is wise for a business to ask these six basic questions before settling on a trademark…

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How Can Employers Avoid Liability for Monitoring Their Employees’ E-mails and Internet Usage?

The (digital) age-old question: Does an employee have a right to privacy in his/her electronic communications when using an employer’s computer or e-mail systems?

Generally speaking, Orange County employees do not have a legal right to privacy when using an employer’s electronic equipment and systems.  However, as with most employment-related issues, there are exceptions to this rule. Therefore, employers need to tread carefully in order to protect themselves from invasion of privacy claims.

What must an employee show to succeed on an invasion of privacy claim?

There is no fine line to determine if an employee’s privacy has been violated. For an employee to succeed on an invasion of privacy claim, the employee must generally show that he/she had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his/her electronic communications and Internet usage and that this privacy interest outweighs the employer’s articulated legitimate business interest in monitoring or accessing the information.

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