Tag Archives: lawsuit

Former Sugar Land mayor files for bankruptcy, sued by city of Joplin

Joplin tornado damage

The tornado in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011 was a category EF-5 and caused 158 deaths. It resulted in 61,000 insurance claims and $2.16 billion in total insurance payout. The city hired Wallace Bajjali Development Partners as master developer to lead rebuilding efforts.

Olivia Pulsinelli
Web producer- Houston Business Journal


A former Sugar Land mayor has filed for bankruptcy, and the city of Joplin, Missouri, has sued his Sugar Land-based development firm, according to reports.

David Gordon Wallace Jr. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 24 in U.S. District Court in Houston.

According to the filing, Wallace lists estimated debt of $10 million to $50 million and estimated assets of $500,000 to $1 million. He also estimates his number of creditors at 200 to 999. The filing includes 46 pages of creditors, including the city of Joplin and approximately six companies and individuals with Joplin addresses.

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On March 25, the city of Joplin sued Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, along with Wallace and his ex-partner, Costa Bajjali, for $1.5 million, the Joplin Globe reports. The lawsuit, which was filed in Jasper County Circuit Court in Missouri, alleges fraud, the Globe reports.

After an EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin on May 22, 2011, the city hired Wallace Bajjali as master developer for the town’s redevelopment. In January, reports indicated the company had vacated its office in Joplin and in Sugar Land.

Also that month, both Bajjali and Wallace resigned from the firm and sent separate letters of resignation to several parties, Houston Public Media reports. The radio station posted both letters on its website.

Joplin terminated its contract with the company after receiving those letters, the Globe reports. Joplin could ask the bankruptcy court to not discharge Wallace’s debts to the city because of the alleged fraud, the city’s attorney told the Globe. However, the attorney did not know whether Joplin would seek to do so.

Olivia Pulsinelli is the web producer for the Houston Business Journal’s award-winning website. Follow her on Twitter for more.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/7uzMA3a4ug0/former-sugar-land-mayor-files-for-bankruptcy-sued.html

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Proposed payday lending rules don’t go far enough, consumer advocates say

Columbus Buisness First

More regulations are in the works to protect consumers who borrow from payday lenders.

Evan Weese
Staff reporter- Columbus Business First


Americans borrowing from short-term payday lenders could soon have protections in place to prevent endless cycles of high-interest loans, but consumer advocates say preliminary rules put forth Thursday by federal regulators don’t go far enough.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued much-anticipated proposals, suggesting lenders must either “prevent” debt traps by verifying a borrower’s income, or “protect” consumers by limiting to two the number of loans that could be taken out in a row and implementing “cooling off” periods in which more loans are unavailable.

The bureau’s rules now must go before a small business review panel before they are redrawn and submitted for public comment.

“What I have concern about is having an either-or approach,” Linda Cook, a senior attorney with the Ohio Poverty Law Center, told me. “We need prevention and protection, not lenders choose this or this.”

Alex Horowitz, research manager at Pew Charitable Trusts, says the initial rules don’t prevent balloon payments, in which the entire loan balance is due in one lump sum.

“Broadly, this proposal will move the market toward affordable installment payments and that’s the right direction,” Horowitz told me. “(But,) there’s a sizeable loophole. The CFPB is a research-based organization and ultimately the research indicates the importance of eliminating balloon payments.”

Anthony Sharett, a Columbus attorney with BakerHostetler who defends financial institutions in consumer-initiated lawsuits, says the compliance burden for lenders will be significant under the proposals.

“Lenders will need to ensure consumers can repay the entire debt in one schedule,” he said. “(Underwriting systems) are of course going to cost quite a bit. Particularly for the lenders that are not as large.”

Evan Weese covers funding and capital for Columbus Business First.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/1wIBtjQcs2A/proposed-payday-lending-rules-don-t-go-far-enough.html

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Twitter case may have bigger impact than Kleiner sexism lawsuit

Ellen Pao

Attention is focused today on how the jury decides in Ellen Pao’s gender bias lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. But two other lawsuits filed in the past week could have a broader impact on how Silicon Valley, lawyers say.

Cromwell Schubarth
Senior Technology Reporter- Silicon Valley Business Journal


The media camped out at a San Francisco courtoom on Thursday in case there was a quick jury decision in Ellen Pao’s multimillion-dollar sexism lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

But a lawsuit filed in the past week against Twitter could have a bigger impact on Silicon Valley tech employers, lawyers say.

Pao could win as much as $140 million if the jury decides that she was discriminated against because of her gender and retaliated against for complaining.

A decision against Kleiner Perkins could also encourage others to file similar suits, like the complaints filed in the past week against Twitter and another against Facebook.

If Kleiner Perkins wins, on the other hand, it could discourage women from putting themselves under the kind of public scrutiny that Pao has.

But in the end, the Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins suit is specifically one person against one firm.

Lawyers in the Twitter lawsuit filed for software engineer Tina Huang are seeking class-action status for their complaint, which could have a broader impact on the company and the male-dominated industry.

The Pao case “is more culturally significant than legally significant,” Reuel Schiller, a professor at U.C. Hastings School of Law and an expert on labor and employment law, told the San Francisco Chronicle this week.

The Twitter suit, which accuses the company of having a “secretive” promotion system that favors men, “could be a much bigger deal … and a potentially broad claim,” Schiller told the Chronicle.

Twitter denied that it discriminated against Huang, saying it treated her fairly and she left the company despite its attempts to persuade her to stay.

Cromwell Schubarth is the Senior Technology Reporter at the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/eIyueLJiDLM/twitter-case-may-have-bigger-impact-than-kleiner.html

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Intellectual Ventures counts third patent litigation win, this time against Motorola

JACOB   myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold is CEO of Intellectual Ventures, which won a patent-infringement lawsuit Thursday against Motorola.

Jacob Demmitt
Staff Writer- Puget Sound Business Journal


Bellevue’s Intellectual Ventures announced its third patent litigation win on Thursday, bringing its jury success rate back up to 50 percent.

The courts found that Motorola Mobility infringed on one of IV’s patents related to text messaging. The amount of money the company owes IV will be decided by a later trial.

IV is a controversial company that survives mostly off buying patents and then using them to collect licensing fees from manufacturers who actually build the technology.

In 2010, the company started suing manufacturers who didn’t pay up.

IV has now sued more than 30 companies — some multiple times. The cases tend to be long and drawn out so many of those cases are just now reaching juries.

At least seven companies have settled with IV before the trial was over.

Of the six that have reached a verdict, the defending company has been found to have infringed on IV’s patents three times, including a $17 million win over Symantec last month.

Another trial against Motorola is supposed to begin today and Trend Micro Incorporated has one scheduled for May.

About 26 other cases will be decided somewhere down the road.

Click here for a complete list of companies Intellectual Ventures has sued.

Jacob Demmitt covers technology companies for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/Zi8YE7Caybg/intellectual-ventures-counts-third-patent.html

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3 reasons why the Young v. UPS case matters

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday in Young v. UPS, could be a landmark case for pregnancy-related workplace discrimination, experts say. And it should definitely prompt companies to reconsider their own policies.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick breakdown of the case: ( Click here for a more detailed primer.)

In 2006, UPS driver Peggy Young became pregnant with her third child and, with a note from her doctor in hand, requested lighter-duty work. Instead of giving it to her, UPS put her on unpaid leave. Young contends the company discriminated against her because she was pregnant, pointing out that UPS offered accommodations to some non-pregnant employees, such as workers who were injured on the job.

Two lower courts disagreed, arguing that the delivery company shouldn’t have to defend its actions in front of a jury. The Supreme Court felt differently, and in a 6-3 decision, the court reversed a lower court ruling that blocked Young’s lawsuit.

To get some perspective, Bizwomen spoke with two experts on Thursday: Katherine Kimpel, managing partner of Washington D.C.-based firm Sanford Heisler Kimpel, who served as lead counsel for Velez v. Novartis, one of the largest gender and pregnancy discrimination verdicts in U.S. history; and Deborah Widiss, an associate professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and an expert in employment discrimination law.

Here are three of the most important things to come of the Supreme Court decision:

1. Young will get her day in court — and likely a sympathetic jury:

The Supreme Court didn’t rule on whether or not UPS’ treatment of Young constituted discrimination. But the majority opinion does give Young a chance to prove her case — and force UPS to defend itself — in front of a jury. And, according to Kimpel, there’s a good chance the jury won’t be sympathetic to the $87 billion company.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/L3OfdGOar5Q/3-reasons-why-the-young-vcase-matters.html

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Sorry, the SEC’s latest JOBS Act regulations ‘not the crowdfunding that was promised years ago’

Butterworth, Mark Innovation Forward

The greatest impact of the new rules could be felt by companies that are slightly beyond the startup phase, Mark Butterworth says.

Carrie Ghose
Staff reporter- Columbus Business First


Three years after passage of the federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, there’s still little in the way of helping startups find new ways to raise capital.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been slow to adopt rules implementing the 2012 law commonly called the JOBS Act, issued a set of rules Wednesday that crowdfunding advocates at first praised as helping widen the investor pool for small businesses while allowing small rounds of public fundraising.

“This is truly a step toward actual securities-based crowdfunding for small businesses,” said Kim Wales, a board member for a crowdfunding regulatory trade group, told the website Crowdfunding Insider.

OK, zero in on that “toward.”

Columbus investors and securities attorneys told me the 453-page rule, which takes effect in late May, actually applies to only a narrow class of mature companies willing to jump significant regulatory hurdles.

“It’s still not the crowdfunding that was promised years ago,” said Mark Stansbury, Columbus attorney who specializes in private financing for startups. “It’s not everyone on Main Street chipping in $1,000 to get a company off the ground.”

The rules apply to little-used Regulation A of the Securities Act of 1933 that until now allowed unregistered public offerings of stock for $5 million or less in a year.

“It was more like a novelty,” Stansbury said.

The new rule raises the limit to $50 million in a year. However, it creates a new category for companies raising less than $20 million, and still requires them to raise only from accredited investors and register the offering in every state where an investor comes from. That makes it practical only for companies raising $20 million to $50 million.

Carrie Ghose covers health care, startups and technology for Columbus Business First.

Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/ma6lwLCvosU/sorry-the-sec-s-latest-jobs-act-regulations-not.html

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BLJ Editor’s Notebook: Taking a look at Scaffold Law, slip & falls

BLJ EditorsNotebook

95 acres, 8,000 sq ft 30 minutes to the city!15 photos

Michael Petro
Editor/Reporter Buffalo Law Journal- Buffalo Business First


The growth of the local economy has brought with it more opportunities for construction work.However, development can also lead to accidents and incidents of trauma for these workers, according to Buffalo personal injury attorney Fran Letro.

What worries him is the lobbying going on to get rid of or change the Scaffold Law, which was intended to protect people working at elevated heights.

The law puts the onus of safety on the project owner and general contractor rather than the worker, who simply does what he or she is instructed to do.

The law makes it mandatory that the owner or general contractor put in place provisions to make sure that job sites are safe.

“It’s all about gravity,” said Letro, noting that the law has been unchanged since it was written a century ago.

He added: “It’s a shame that as we’re becoming a booming economy, they’re trying to do away with an important law.”

Working at elevated heights can be dangerous; indeed, it’s considered “ultra-hazardous,” so construction workers and others were given special protections, says Harry Forrest, an attorney with Gross Shuman Brizdle Gilfillan.

The Scaffold Law holds the owner or general contractor absolutely liable for the site’s safety. He said it is necessary to have that type of oversight.

Forrest added that it’s a hot-button issue right now because there is political jockeying going on to get the law overturned, which would make it more of a general negligence on the part of the owner.

Insurance companies are especially pushing for this to be redacted, he said.

Forrest handled a case in which a worker fell from a frosty roof on a project that was being fast-tracked as the weather turned cold, snowy and icy, which put safety on the back burner.

Michael Petro is editor and reporter for the Buffalo Law Journal

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Article source: http://feeds.bizjournals.com/~r/industry_14/~3/mkHPSNNSZRU/blj-editor-s-notebook-taking-a-look-at-scaffold.html

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