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Lawsuit against University Of California and Others Alleges Online Libraries Violate Copyrights

- stevehorn

Authors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against four universities, including the University of California, alleging that that these universities are infringing on copyrights by developing digital libraries of scanned books.

The lawsuit is filed by the Authors Guild, the Union es Ecrivaines et des Ecrivains Quebecois and the Australian Society of Authors as well as 4 individual authors in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit names the University of California, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University. The lawsuit has been triggered by the University of Michigan’s action in creating a repository where students can access unlimited downloads of certain books, including out-of-print books whose authors have not been located. According to the authors, these scans include at least 7 million books. All these universities have pooled unauthorized scans of books at the University of Michigan.

The authors say they also have also have a problem with the way these universities have hijacked so-called “orphaned” books, or books whose authors cannot be located. They deny that these are orphaned books, and that these books are protected under copyright laws.

University of Michigan representatives say that they have been planning to make scanned copies of books available to university students by October. According to them, the authors have always been aware of these plans, and the university is not certain what the basis of the lawsuit is. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages as well as impoundment of the digital scanned copies of the book.

This lawsuit reminds California copyright infringement lawyers of a similar lawsuit that is currently pending against Google. That lawsuit is based on Google’s efforts to create a massive online library of digitized copies of books. Later this year, a judge expects Google and authors in that lawsuit to reach a settlement.

American Canyon Lawsuit Alleges Construction Defects

- stevehorn

A group of homeowners has filed a construction defect lawsuit in Napa County Superior Court alleging defective design, construction, and poor workmanship. The homeowners own more than 460 homes that were built by Shea Homes Ltd. There are currently about two dozen homeowners who are part of the lawsuit. However, attorneys who represent the owners expect more owners to join the lawsuit.

According to some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, they have noticed signs of poor and defective construction in the homes that they purchased from Shea Homes. Some plaintiffs have noticed cracks in the ceiling and on the stucco walls. In some cases, the front door, gate and sliding doors have shifted position. Other homeowners have been forced to replace the windows of the house, and suffered through window leakages and mold growth. The homes are located in one of American Canyon’s newer neighborhoods.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount for compensatory damages and attorney fees. This is the first time that Shea Homes has been the target of a construction defect lawsuit. Back in 2007, dozens of other homeowners at LaVigne sued Shea Homes. That particular lawsuit remains in litigation.

When you pay money for a home, you don’t expect to find defective construction and design. Unfortunately, for many California homeowners, their new dream house may be the stuff of nightmares. Construction defects can be seen in the growth of mold inside the home, cracks in the walls and ceiling, broken window titles, windows leaks, water intrusion, improper drainage and several other signs of construction defects.

If you have purchased a home and have noticed construction defects, you may have legal remedies. A California construction defect attorney can help you obtain compensation for the reasonable cost of repairing the defect, relocation expenses and storage expenses during the period of repair, expenses involved in hiring experts to investigate the defects, the cost of repairing other property damage caused by the defects and other costs.

New York Tenants Sue Landlord over Bat Invasion

- stevehorn

Two New York tenants are suing their landlord for $1 million after their home was invaded by bats.

According to the tenants, they moved into their new apartment on July 25, but had to vacate in a hurry after a couple of bats invaded the premises. The first encounter occurred on July 31 when one of the tenants ran into a bat flying around the apartment. In that incident, the tenants were able to get a building superintendent to capture the bat and place it in a plastic bag. Just a few days later, the other tenant had a similar experience, when a bat flew out from behind the curtains, and towards her.

After the second bat encounter, the tenants complained to the landlord. According to them, he did not seem to be too concerned about the situation, and said that he would call them back soon. He never did. To make matters worse, one of the tenants noticed strange puncture wounds on her skin one morning, and both tenants needed to have rabies shots as a precaution. Since then, the two have moved out of the apartment, and have been forced to live in a friend’s house.

Their lawsuit against the landlord claims that they have suffered severe anxiety since these encounters with the bats, and have had trouble sleeping. Other tenants in the building have not had any similar experience with bats, however.

Landlord-tenant disputes in California can arise over a number of issues. Often, Los Angeles real estate lawyers are called in to settle disputes arising when landlords have not made necessary repairs to a property, or have not maintained a safe property. There are other reasons why you may need an Encino landlord dispute lawyer, if or instance, if your landlord implements an inappropriate rent increase or an eviction notice.

AIG Files Mortgage Securities Fraud Lawsuit against Bank of America

- stevehorn

American International Group has filed a lawsuit against Bank of America, claiming that the bank sold billions of dollars in fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit has been filed in the New York Supreme Court and comes after an investigation into the manner in which several large banks sold mortgage loans. The AIG lawsuit claims more than $10 billion in losses, and is believed to be the single largest mortgage securities-related lawsuit by a single investor.

According to the lawsuit, Bank of America and its Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial units sold mortgage securities that were flawed by fraudulent actions and misrepresentations. Among other things, Bank of America misrepresented the quality of the mortgages it was selling. Bank of America with Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial sold mortgages to borrowers who were clearly unable to repay the loans. These loans were then repackaged into supposedly low-risk securities, and sold to investors like AIG.

This lawsuit is one among several lawsuits that are being filed by private investors who believe that banks misrepresented facts, luring customers into buying high-risk securities during the housing boom. There are already 90 mortgage fraud lawsuits demanding $197 billion. AIG is already in the process of preparing similar lawsuits against other banks and financial institutions including J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. For AIG, which would’ve gone bankrupt had it not been for the $180 billion government bailout in 2008, these lawsuits are aimed towards recovering some of its losses during the financial crisis that year.

To Los Angeles securities fraud lawyers, the increasing numbers of lawsuits against banks and large financial institutions stand in sharp contrast to the action by the U.S. Justice Department. The agency has not taken action against any of the major banks, and in fact, is currently in the process of wrapping up many of its investigations without pressing charges.

Lawsuit Accuses Wyeth of Monopoly through Illegal Patents

- stevehorn

A New York-based retail pharmacy has filed a federal lawsuit that alleges pharmaceutical company Wyeth profited immensely by misrepresenting clinical data to retain monopoly over a highly popular drug used to treat psychiatric conditions.

The lawsuit has been filed by Uniondale Chemists Inc. in the U.S. District Court in Mississippi. The lawsuit claims that Wyeth, which is now part of Pfizer, fraudulently obtained three patents on extended release versions of its highly-popular Effexor drug. Effexor is used to treat depression and anxiety, and contains the drug venlafaxine hydrochloride.

According to the lawsuit, Wyeth’s patent on Effexor expired in 2008. However, the company used fraudulent means to capture the Effexor market after those original patents had expired. The lawsuit alleges that Wyeth misrepresented facts when it claimed that it unexpectedly came across the extended-release formula to secure additional patents.

The lawsuit claims that as a result of the company’s exclusionary tactics, generic forms of Effexor XR were blocked from the marketplace between June 2008 and June 2010. According to the lawsuit, Uniondale Chemists paid artificially inflated prices for the extended-release venlafaxine hydrochloride. During this period of time, sales of Effexor in the American market reached $4.5 billion. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status for companies like Uniondale Chemists that suffered losses due to Wyeth’s alleged illegal and unethical conduct.

Pfizer has denied any wrongdoing. According to a statement by the company, it denies all claims related to the Effexor XR patents.

The lawsuit also has some tough words for the Food and Drug Administration which, as California business dispute lawyers know, depends heavily on a brand-name manufacturer’s account to verify the validity of patents. The agency does not have the authority to independently check the manufacturer’s data and verify its accuracy.

Tom Hanks Loses Construction Defect Dispute with Contractor

- stevehorn

Actor Tom Hanks has lost his dispute based on construction defects in a house that he had purchased. An arbitration panel has turned down a bid by Hanks and his wife for financial compensation.

According to Hanks, he and his wife had purchased a $10 million home in Sun Valley, Idaho. Soon after, they found that the home contained a number of construction flaws of the kind that Encino construction defect attorneys often see. These included a heavily leaking roof, and severe drainage problems. The damage was so bad that the roof nearly collapsed after the house was completed in 2002. The couple claimed $3 million in damages for these construction defects.

An arbitration panel has now cleared the contractor of liability. The construction defects in the house were acknowledged by the panel which found leaking roofs, drainage problems, poor venting in the fireplaces as well as a shoddy ventilation system. The panel found enough evidence to indicate that most of the problems were caused because the architecture and structural plans were badly designed and poorly implemented.

According to the panel, however, the contractor, Storey Construction, was not responsible for the flaws. The construction defects were the result of inferior design, poor construction and engineering advice by the architects of the home. The Hanks have already settled with the architects, Lake|Flato Architects Inc. in Texas for more than $900,000.

However, the construction panel sided with Hanks in rejecting a counterclaim filed by Storey Construction. According to that claim, the star couple acted with malice in their lawsuit against Storey Construction.

In California, construction defect attorneys often come across cases where homeowners find defects because lots have not been properly compacted, leading to drainage problems. This problem is especially severe in Southern California which tends to have expansive soil. Apart from this, common construction defects include roofing leakages, bad implementation of architecture and structural plans, poor quality building materials, poor workmanship and finish, and electrical wiring problems.

Unreliable Building Inspectors Present Construction Safety Risk in California

- stevehorn

This month, California Watch focused on a serious construction defect and safety problem in California that has long gone under the radar. Unaware of the risks, school districts have hired unreliable building inspectors to supervise massive reconstruction and renovation work. These inspectors have overlooked construction defects, and in the absence of any strong laws that mandate punishment for errant inspectors, have been able to go scot free.

The California Watch report has a number of instances in which school districts have hired building inspectors with dubious records. For instance, the Rancho Santa Fe School District hired Richard Vale, a building inspector with a felony conviction in a construction safety case to his credit. The School District knew nothing thing about this conviction, and hired him to inspect the reconstruction of an elementary and middle school in the district. The Division of the State Architect, which should’ve known better, behaved even more recklessly, approving him to inspect public school and college projects without any background checks. In 2007, he was approved to inspect the construction of the gym, pool and other facilities at a Riverside County college. Besides this, he also supervised the construction of other school renovation projects across California, estimated at millions of dollars.

According to California Watch, there have been at least 300 building instructors in California who been cited for work-related efficiencies. However, Los Angeles construction defect lawyers have found it very mysterious that most of them have been allowed to continue monitoring school construction projects. The shoddiness of the work of these inspectors was extreme. Some of them have overlooked unsafe wiring and defective steel frames. Others missed out construction defects that only came to light later after inspections by state engineers.

Part of the problem has been that the Division of the State Architect has been unwilling to discipline errant inspectors. Inspectors face few penalties for their actions. Over the past three years, there’s been only one case in which a building inspector had his license revoked.

Resolution of Shareholder Disputes in California

- stevehorn

The role of a shareholder dispute lawyer in California may not just be to resolve business disputes among shareholders, but also to ultimately save your business. When shareholder disputes get out of control and cannot be resolved, it may be essential to liquidate the business. This makes the role of a shareholder dispute lawyer extremely vital to the survival of the business.

The best way to resolve shareholder disputes in California is to prevent them in the first place. Disputes have a much lower likelihood of cropping up, if, at the time of establishing the business, you have been careful to set up watertight partnership agreements, and other documentation that protect your interests. The documentation should provide for the inevitable emergence of conflict at some point in the future, and outline the steps that should be taken in case of conflict. Such documentation can be used to great effect during the time of the dispute to resolve contentious issues that typically cause friction among shareholders.

In case of a shareholder dispute however, most California shareholder dispute lawyers encourage mediation in order to resolve the dispute. Mediation can be used to resolve a vast variety of business disputes, including those related to property purchase and sale contracts, partnership dissolution, and other issues. With the help of a skilled mediator, partners can resolve a dispute that helps them avoid the need for long, expensive and tiring litigation. Besides, when you use a skilled mediator to resolve your dispute, you remain in control of decisions involving your partnership interests. Compare this to a trial, in which a judge or jury will make these crucial business decisions for you.

However, if mediation efforts fail too, it may be necessary to take your business dispute to trial.

Mattel-MGA Copyright Infringement Lawsuit is No Child’s Play

- stevehorn

A Los Angeles judge has thrown out a business litigation lawsuit filed by toymaker Mattel Inc. against rival MGA. It is the latest development in a complicated business dispute between the two toymakers that California business litigation lawyers have been closely following.

At the heart of all the litigation is MGA’s popular Bratz doll. The lawsuit was filed in September just as Mattel was getting ready for a corporate infringement and trade secrets trial against MGA. The lawsuit had alleged that MGA had transferred millions in funds in order to avoid payouts in litigation over the popular dolls.

The hip-hop inspired doll has quickly provided stiff competition to Mattel’s best-selling Barbie dolls. According to Mattel, the idea for the doll had been conceived while the designer Carter Bryant was working at Mattel. Mattel alleges that MGA and its owner stole the idea for the doll.

Jurors will also be asked to consider a counterclaim by MGA which alleges that Mattel hired corporate spies to get information about the company’s toy launches. For this, MGA is claiming damages of up to $200 million.

Mattel won the first round at a trial where it was awarded $100 million, but that verdict was overturned. The first trial did not include MGA’s claim. In the current trial, jurors are deliberating on claims from both companies.

Mattel is claiming that MGA transferred approximately $450 million in funds, including dividends and assets to MGA owner Isaac Larian and his family members in order to make the company appear bankrupt, and prevent the company’s creditors, including Mattel, from getting their hands on any payout.

All this commercial litigation has already hurt Mattel’s profits. The company posted higher revenues in the first quarter of 2011, but litigation-related expenses cost the company’s first quarter earnings to fall by proximity 30%.