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October 2013 Archives

Venture mining operation triggers legal action

In 2004, a Colorado business owner began a gold mining operation that attracted investors with millions of dollars. Investors provided their funds for gold mining operations that involved drilling holes into Tenderfoot Hill in Colorado Springs. Investors are now concerned that the owner is not actually using investment funds for the operation of the gold mines but that he is instead using them for his personal gain.

Lawful Off-Duty Activity Statute

Ms. Charlotte Ruiz was employed as a Family Advocate for Hope for Children, Inc. The organization is a small nonprofit with three employees. Ms. Ruiz met Mr. Seledonio Rodriguez while he was a client with her organization after he was ordered by the District Court to attend a parenting class. To comply with the Court Order, Mr. Rodriguez completed a fatherhood program offered by Hope for Children. Ms. Ruiz was required to verify Mr. Rodriguez's participation in the program and to testify in court regarding the same. After Mr. Rodriguez completed the first program, he took a second parenting class with the organization. Several days later, the pair met at the Colorado State Fair and began a romantic relationship.

Nicollette Sheridan's firing case dismissed

The television show "Desperate Housewives" has many fans in the Denver, Colorado, area. Nicollette Sheridan, a star of the series, is involved in a long-running dispute with the show, its creator and the ABC Television Network. Sheridan's position is that she was fired from the show in retaliation for filing a claim against the show's creator. Last week, a Los Angeles judge dismissed the star's wrongful termination lawsuit.

Indemnification

Darrel Einsphar was a manager of the special finance department of Quality Mitsubishi, Inc.'s car dealership (hereinafter "Quality"). He and another employee in the department recommended high risk buyers to Premier Members Federal Credit Union (hereinafter "Premier") for car loans. Ms. Einsphar was sued by Premier for fraud for "power booking," a practice of artificially inflating the value of vehicles, thereby creating a better loan to value ratio to induce Premier to approve the car loans. Premier discovered the issue and sued Mr. Einsphar, the other employee, and Quality, their employer, for fraud.

Apple claims copyright infringement for publication of contract

Colorado residents might find it interesting to hear that Apple has demanded that the small online music site Digital Music News remove a copy it posted in June of an iTunes Radio contract that the company offered to small independent record labels. According to Apple, DMN violated its copyrights in posting a copy of the contract on its website. According to a law professor at Santa Clara University, contracts being copyrighted is rare but possible.

Online advertising and trademark disputes

A recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, outlines some factors that may be considered by courts in matters involving certainintellectual propertyrights. As internet advertising becomes more commonplace and competitive, courts are increasingly being asked to rule on trademark and service mark violations involving search engine and other advertising methods.

Unemployment Benefits

The Colorado Court of Appeals in Yotes, Inc. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 2013 COA 124 (Co.App.2013) recently heard an appeal from the Industrial Claims Appeals Office regarding unemployment benefits. While rare, unemployment cases do sometimes achieve this final level of review. In Colorado, unemployment benefit insurance is handled through the Department of Labor and Employment. Unemployment Insurance provides temporary and partial wage replacement to workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. The newly unemployed worker, also called the claimant, can file a claim for unemployment by either calling the Department of Labor directly or through visiting its website. A hearing officer will review the claim and either grant or deny benefits. Once a decision has been rendered, the employee or employer can appeal the officer's decision and a hearing will be held on the issue. Both employee and employer have the right to be represented at the hearing. The employee or employer can appeal the hearing officer's decision to the Industrial Claims Appeals Office where a panel of three administrative law judges will review the transcript of the original hearing and make a determination. Finally, the employee or employer can appeal the decision of the Industrial Claims Appeals Office to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Patent laws in the U.S. and abroad

In 2008, the U.S. began negotiating with 11 other countries with the goal of producing a free trade agreement. The 12-party discussion regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement recently entered its 19th round. According to one source, the U.S. should push to include intellectual property rights on the agenda of the meetings.

Planning for the future in family businesses

Colorado owners of family-run businesses need to consider how the operations of their companies will continue when they are no longer able to lead. Legal concerns with a growing business include what happens in the event of the death or retirement of the owner. It is important to take steps to help in the eventual transition of leadership.

Terminated for Fiancée's behavior

In January of 2011, the US Supreme Court in Thompson v. N.Am. Stainless, LP, 131 S.Ct. 863 (2011), held that a terminated employee, who was fired three weeks after his fiancé filed a sexual harassment claim against the employer, had standing to bring a Title VII retaliation action against the employer.

Workplace 'bullying'

Two former New Hampshire state employees have filed a lawsuit claiming they were bullied by a supervisor after reporting that she regularly took paid two-hour lunch breaks. The employees complained to the Department of Health and Human Services about their supervisor's behavior but nothing was done. The supervisor learned that women had made the report and called a mandatory meeting where she threatened to punish her subordinates for being even a minute late for their shifts. Following the meeting, the supervisor began to accuse them of insubordination and failure to do their job, she sent them threatening emails and piled unreasonable amount of work on them to set them up for failure.