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  • Can I Get My Fees, Please?

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says the answer may be up to the trial judge.  In  a Fair Housing Act suit, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly relied on its own knowledge of customary rates charged by attorneys and its own experience concerning reasonable and proper fees in making an award of attorney fees.

    After the plaintiff won a similar state case, the parties settled their federal dispute.  The plaintiff asked the court to grant its motion for attorneys’ fees.  The court awarded fees, but substantially less than the amount sought.  The trial judge believed the plaintiff should have settled the case earlier and wasted time and money with unnecessary arguments.  The plaintiff appealed.

    The Ninth Circuit concluded that under Lohman v. Duryea Borough, 574 F.3d 163 (3d Cir. 2009), the district court properly considered settlement discussions for the purpose of deciding a litigant’s “success,” and therefore what would constitute a reasonable award.  The Ninth Circuit believed the trial court was in the best position to discern what work was unnecessary and could not find any abuse of discretion in deducting the hours spent on unnecessary motions and arguments.

    Many lawyers and clients want to make every conceivable argument to increase the chance of prevailing.  This is often a wise decision, but lawyers need to be mindful that if a court determines a particular argument or motion was unnecessary or a waste of time, the client may end up footing the bill without hope of recouping those costs from the other side.  I’m a firm believer in ensuring my clients are an integral part of putting together the strategy for the case.  Ingram v. Oroudjian is a good reminder that attorneys and clients need to pick their battles carefully, or at least be mindful of the resources that are being spent.

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     
    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.
     
    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

  • 2009 IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rate: 55 Cents

    Effective Jan. 1, 2009, the standard mileage reimbursement rates for car be reduced from the current 58.5 cents to 55 cents per mile for business miles driven. Recent DLSE and court decisions make it clear that employers can comply with their expense reimbursement requirements (see Labor Code Section 2802) by following the IRS guidelines.

    Employer’s policies can be updated when the IRS updates its regulations, or the employer can simply say they will reimburse mileage at the current IRS rates.  Reimbursing employees at a lower rate can subject the employer to a claim that the employer did not fully reimburse the employee for expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties.  Failing to fully reimburse employees for work-related expenses may require the employer to pay interest and attorneys’ fees incurred in recovering the underpaid expense.

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     

    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

    Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

  • Release of Claims Does Not Encompass Non-Waivable Claims and Narrow-Restraint Exception to Non-Compete Agreements is Rejected

    The California Supreme Court issued a decision today wherein it held that a general release of claims does not encompass non-waivable statutory protections under Labor Code Section 2802.

    Raymond Edwards II was hired as a tax manager by Arthur Andersen LLP. After some problems with the government, Andersen started selling off its practice groups to various entities. Edwards’ group was scheduled to be purchased by HSBC USA, Inc.

    In order to accept employment with the new company, Edwards was asked to execute a Termination of Non-Compete Agreement (“TONC”). The TONC contained a fairly typical clause releasing Anderson from any liability related to Edwards’ employment. Edwards refused to sign the release. As a result, Andersen terminated Edwards.

    Edwards filed suit claiming the original non-compete agreement violated Business and Professions Code Section 16600. Edwards also claimed that the TONC’s release of “any and all” claims violated Labor Code Sections 2802 and 2804. Labor Code Section 2802 requires an employer to indemnify its employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer. Labor Code Section 2804 voids any agreement to waive the protections of Labor Code Section 2802 as against public policy.

    Although the release did not specifically mention Edwards’ rights to indemnification under Labor Code Section 2802, the lower appellate court found that the broad general release unlawfully release claims under Labor Code section 2802. The Supreme Court reverse that portion of the appellate court’s decision because (1) the release did not expressly reference indemnity rights and courts should not read language into a contract that does not exist; and (2) a contract provision “releasing ‘any and all’ claims . . . does not encompass nonwaivable statutory protections, such as thje employee indemnity protection of section [sic] Labor Code 2802.”

    The Supreme Court also held that Andersen’s original non-compete agreement was invalid. The original non-compete agreement prohibited Edwards from “performing professional services of the type he had provided while at Andersen, for any client on whose account he had worked during 18 months prior to his termination.” The non-compete agreement also prohibited Edwards from providing professional services to any client of Andersen’s Los Angeles office. The Supreme Court found that the non-compete agreement “restricted Edwards from performing work for Andersen’s Los Angeles clients and therefore restricted his ability to practice his accounting profession,” and was therefore invalid.

    In doing so, the Supreme Court refused to adopt a “narrow-restraint exception” to Business and Professions Code Section 16600. Several Ninth Circuit cases adopted a narrow-restraint exception to uphold non-compete agreements that barred one party from courting a specific named customer or a limited number of customers. Today’s Supreme Court decision rejected any such exception, finding the language of Business and Professions Code 16600 unambiguous.

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     

    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

    Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.