The Case of the Too Hot Tea

Starbucks Cup spilled

In the case of Tina Shih v. Starbucks Corporation (8/18/20), the California Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s granting of StarbucksMotion for Summary Judgment finding that Ms. Shih could not prevail on her causes of action for products liability (for “failing to provide adequate warnings”) or negligence (for providing a “defective cup”) because, among other things, any alleged defect in the cup did not cause Ms. Shih’s injuries.

Shih filed this action on a form complaint, alleging Starbucks “provided a defective coffee cup and sleeve that caused the spillage of boiling hot coffee onto [her] thighs.” At her
deposition Shih testified she went to a Starbucks store with her friend, and each of them ordered a cup of hot tea. When the two drinks were ready, Shih retrieved them from the store’s pick-up counter. Each drink had a lid and was “double-cupped,” meaning
the cup containing the hot tea was inserted into a second empty cup. Neither drink, however, had a sleeve around the outer cup. Continue reading

San Francisco Court Grants Injunction denying Uber and Lyft from Classifying Drivers as Independent Contractors

In People of the State of California v. Uber Technologies, Inc and Lyft, Inc. we continue to explore the boundaries between what is an employee verses an independent contractor.  With the California Supreme Court ruling in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court (Lee) (April, 2018) and, later, the passage of AB5, California joined the majority of states that have adopted the “ABC” standard as follows: Continue reading

Liability Waiver Saves Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort from Injured Snowboarder

mammoth mountain groomerKATHLEEN WILLHIDE-MICHIULIS v. MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN SKI AREA, LLC

Plaintiff Kathleen Willhide-Michiulis was involved in a tragic snowboarding accident at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. On her last run of the day, she collided with a snowcat pulling a snow-grooming tiller and got caught in the tiller. The accident resulted in the amputation of her left leg, several skull fractures and facial lacerations, among other serious injuries. Continue reading

Carmax's "Limitation of Warranties" in Contract Fails to Get Case Tossed

Carmax paper license plateTAMMY GUTIERREZ v. CARMAX AUTO SUPERSTORES
CALIFORNIA

In this case, Plaintiff Tammy Gutierrez sued defendant CarMax Auto Superstores California,
LLC (CarMax) alleging breaches of express and implied warranties, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, unfair competition under Business and Professions Code section 17200 (UCL), and a violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA; Civ. Code, § 1750 et seq.). CarMax demurred to Gutierrez’s third amended complaint and the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend. Gutierrez appealed, contending her allegations about an undisclosed safety recall adequately stated causes of action for breach of an implied warranty of merchantability and violations of the UCL and CLRA. Continue reading

Employee Not Bound by Employer's Arbitration Agreement with U-Haul

u-haul truckIn VIRGIL JENSEN v. U-HAUL CO. OF CALIFORNIA, the Appellate Court upheld the Trial Court’s denial of U-Haul’s motion to compel arbitration with the Plaintiff, Jensen.

In Jensen, it was undisputed that Jensen’s boss (who was also the owner, CEO, CFO, Secretary and sole director of the company that employed Jensen) rented the U-Haul truck in question and signed the rental contract that contained the arbitration agreement.  It was also undisputed that Jensen was driving the U-Haul truck in the course and scope of his duties as an employee when a tire blew and Jensen was injured.  Continue reading

The "Black Box" in your car

The "Black Box" in your car. The Event data Recorder (EDR) If you have been in a car accident, be aware that there is a little known or utilized piece of evidence in later model cars, a “black box.” Technically, it is called the Event Data Recorder (EDR). While it doesn’t necessarily record everything, it may record such things as acceleration, deceleration, impacts, braking, if seat belts were used, speed at the time of the crash, steering angle and if the airbags were deployed. This “objective” data, might help to clarify witness statements. However, be aware that in some instances the data can be overwritten. So you might have to move quickly to preserve it.

Eric Papp, Esq.

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How "Secret" is Secret for a Trade Secret?

Top SecretReasonable Efforts to Maintain Secrecy is a Question of Fact
Whether reasonable secrecy efforts were made is a question of fact. (San Jose Const., Inc., 155 Cal.App.4th at 1543 (“[W]hether SJC made adequate attempts to keep its prospective project information secret is for the jury to measure.”); In re Providian Credit Card Cases (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 292, 306 (“[W]hether a party claiming a trade secret undertook reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy is a question of fact….”); Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., 782 F.Supp.2d 911, 960 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 5, 2001) (“The determination of whether information is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy is fact specific.”). Here, for example, is the office or location in question; is office is “off limits;” do the computers have a password; is access restricted to certain people; are there non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, even oral ones, in place? Importantly, secrecy efforts need only be reasonable under the particular circumstances involving a specific party, industry and situation. (DVD Copy Control Assn., Inc. v. Bunner (2003) 31 Cal.4th 864, 881(“The secrecy requirement is generally treated as a relative concept and requires a fact intensive analysis.”); see generally CACI No. 4404.) Here, the trade secret plaintiff may not be in the aerospace industry or computer software engineering firm. In this case, we may be talking about small, mom and pop operations. In such a circumstance, whether the security which was implemented by the trade secret Plaintiff was reasonable is a question of fact for the jury.

Eric Papp, Esq. займ онлайн

Can Information That is "Generally Known" Be a Trade Secret?

uniqueWhether Information is Generally Known is a Question of Fact

Whether the subject information is generally known to the public or competitors is a question of fact. (Thompson v. Impaxx, Inc. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 1425, 1430 (“The issue of whether information constitutes a trade secret is a question of fact.”).) Again, as the Altavion court held, “…even if some or all of the elements of Altavion’s design were in the public domain and thus unprotectable, the combination was a protectable trade secret if it was secret and had independent economic value.” (Emphasis original) (Altavion, Inc. v. Konica Minolta Systems Laboratory Inc. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 26, 47.)

So, the first inquiry is whether or not the information is “generally known” to the public or competitors.  However, even if some aspect is “generally known,” a novel or unique combination of the information may remove it from the “generally known” into a trade secret.

Eric Papp, Esq. срочный займ на карту

Trade Secrets Do Not Need to Be in Writing

Legal Pad, pen and law book5. Trade Secrets do Not Need to be in Writing

Trade secrets need not be in writing. (Morlife, Inc, 56 Cal.App.4th at 1522 (“to afford protection to the employer, the information need not be in writing but may be in the employee’s memory”); Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. v. A10 Networks, Inc., 873 F.Supp.2d 1192, 1215 (N.D. Cal. June 12, 2012) (“It is this combination of elements that makes the information valuable and not generally known to the public. Moreover, the mere fact that the information is not in a written list is not dispositive of sufficient particularity.”) Here, many trade secret Defendants attempt to make much of the fact that some of the information in contention was in the Defendant’s “head.” However, as cited above, this is not dispositive and, at best, raises an issue of material fact as to what exactly was in the Defendant’s head and what combination of facts, whether in his head or not, fall under the Trade Secret claim.

What if the information is “generally known,” can that still be a trade secret? The next post will cover this question.

Eric Papp, Esq. быстрые займы онлайн