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Business Litigation: April 2013 Archives

UCC Article 9 Damages Provisions Displace Common Law

In a case handed down just last month, the Supreme Judicial Court reinforced the long-standing rule that provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code (the "UCC") displace common law principles that would otherwise apply in contexts not governed by the UCC.

How Long Will My Appeal Take?

A party must act quickly to appeal an adverse judgment.  Rule 3(a) of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that a Notice of Appeal be filed within 30 days with the clerk of the lower court.  This is the most important deadline of the appellate process; an untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal is subject to dismissal.

When Must An Employer Make A Reasonable Accommodation For An Employee's Disability?

Most employers know that they have a duty to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disability or job restriction, but what that actually means in practice can be confusing.  Statutes that require such accommodation are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 12101 et seq., and, in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Law, General Laws Ch. 151B.  To fall under the protection of either statute, the employee must have a physical or mental disability (or handicap) that substantially limits one or more of his or her major life activities.  The statutory definitions of major life activity are quite broad and can range from bodily functions to cognitive activities.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a contract!

Following an appellate mandate, a federal judge in California granted summary judgment to Warner Bros. in late March, all but ending almost a decade of copyright litigation between the entertainment conglomerate and Laura Siegel Larson, heir of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. See Larson v. Warner Bros. Entm't, Inc., 2013 WL 1164434 at * 9 (C.D. Cal. March 20, 2013). In a counterclaim, Warner Bros. sought (and was granted) a declaratory judgment that an October 2001 letter from Larson's then-attorney to Warner Bros.'s then-general counsel constituted a binding contract regarding the rights to the Man of Steel, even though subsequent negotiations to formalize the agreement fell apart. In January, the Ninth Circuit considered the letter kryptonite to Larson's claims under California law because it "constituted an acceptance of terms negotiated between the parties," specifically and accurately reflecting "the material terms [counsel for both parties] had orally agreed to" during a conversation three days earlier, in which they "had resolved the last outstanding point in the deal" following "years of negotiations." See Larson v. Warner Bros. Entm't, Inc., --- F.App'x. ---, 2013 WL 1113259 at *1 (9th Cir. 2013).

International Arbitration: Hearing Testimony by Videoconference

Testimony by videoconference in international arbitration offers the disputants both a fair means for assuring that relevant evidence is heard and an effective tool for cost reduction.

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