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BAKER, KEENER & NAHRA, LLP

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Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Publications |

The California Supreme Court Addresses the Gig Economy in Dynamex Decision: Independent Contractors, Not Employees

The California Supreme Court Addresses the Gig Economy in Dynamex Decision: Independent Contractors, Not Employees

Almost three years ago, an article was posted on this site discussing the potentially rocky road ahead for the sharing economy, now more commonly known as the “gig economy,” in view of the uncertainty as to whether participants in the gig economy were independent contractors or employees of the services which they used to find work – e.g. Uber and Lyft– and the ramifications when the courts finally addressed the issue. This uncertainty was directly and recently addressed by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operation West, Inc. v. Superior Court (S222732) Much will be written about the legal intricacies, policies, and consequences associated with this eighty-two page decision, so there’s no need to do so here at length. The core decision was effectively that all workers are considered employees unless the company proves they are independent contractors. In order to prove this, the company must establish that (a) the worker is free from the control and direction of the company, (b) that the worker performs work outside the...

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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Publications |

Causation Must Be Foreseeable To Create Liability

Causation Must Be Foreseeable To Create Liability

Many of you may be familiar with an old board game called “Mouse Trap.” As you probably recall, the basic premise of this game was to string together a chain of contraptions that, when triggered together, would catch the mouse. It was, in effect, an attempt to turn a Rube Goldberg machine into a board game – after all, why simply use a boring old mouse trap when you could build one involvinga net triggered by a boot attached to a stick! A decision by the Court of Appeals earlier this year on March 20, 2018 is a good reminder that while creating a complex chain of events to cause a mouse trap to fall is all good and well for purposes of board games, the California courts are much less apt to entertain such convoluted chains for purposes of liability. In that case, Paula J. Novak v. Continental Tire North America, the decedent’s daughter sued Continental Tire for her father’s death. She alleged that Continental Tire had failed...

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Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Publications |

Perils For The Good Samaritan

Perils For The Good Samaritan

At some point in most of our lives we were taught the “golden rule” – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, put less archaically, treat others as you want to be treated. Generally speaking, many of us try to live by a version of this concept, including helping those around us when we seem them in need. Whether it’s as simple as holding the door open for a total stranger or the more onerous driving three hours into the middle of nowhere to help out a friend whose car broke down, I would venture that almost everyone, at least once in their life, has helped another human being in need. A Court of Appeals decision from earlier this year is a good reminder, however, that not all good deeds go unpunished. In Priscilla O’Malley v. Hospitality Staffing Solutions, an opinion issued on January 31, 2018, the Court of Appeals upheld the long-standing rule in California with respect to the legal duty to assist...

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Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in Publications |

Another Year Closer to Autonomous Vehicles, Another Year With Inadequate Law To Guide Us

Another Year Closer to Autonomous Vehicles, Another Year With Inadequate Law To Guide Us

Human drivers get a reprieve for another year at least It’s only been about a month since ringing in the start of 2018 and we’re yet another another step closer to one of the most significant technological shifts in recent history and a past favorite topic of discussion – i.e. autonomous vehicles. Let’s be clear about one thing, though: 2018 is not the year of the autonomous vehicle. A Tesla car slamming into a parked fire truck at full speed is plenty of evidence of that. Turns out, the dark little secret about current autonomous technology is that the cars basically ignore all non-moving objects because the systems are so limited that they can’t meaningfully distinguish between, say, a bright red stop sign and a bright red fire truck in the middle of the road. To put this in perspective, while my phone is smart enough to be able to distinguish between my face and my dad’s face, the top-of-the-line, $100,000+ autonomous vehicles can’t tell the difference between a...

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Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Publications |

“The Lawyer Dwells On Small Details”

“The Lawyer Dwells On Small Details”

The California Court of Appeals published an interesting case a couple years ago in 2015 called Womack v. Lovell that started out with a rather unique introduction that is the subject of this particular post: “In his rock and roll standard, ‘End of the Innocence,’ Bruce Hornsby notes that ‘The lawyers dwell on small details.’ That’s true. We have to. The devil isn’t the only resident in the details; sometimes truth and fairness lodge there as well. In this case, we address a ‘detail’ that was lost or hidden and resulted in what we consider an injustice. Fortunately, as is usually the case, painstaking attention to other small details enables us to correct this injustice. If you dwell on small details with an eye to fairness, the law works well.” In Womack , the issue was a failure by a plaintiff contractor to produce a verified certificate of license, which was required under a somewhat obscure statute in the Business and Professions Code in order to bring a lawsuit...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Publications |

Top Ten (Eight) Lessons To Be Learned From The 2014 Sony Hack

Top Ten (Eight) Lessons To Be Learned From The 2014 Sony Hack

It’s approaching three years since the November 2014 hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment grabbed headlines and since then, stories of information theft, computers being held hostage by malware, data leaks and the like seem as though they are becoming more of a part of the everyday fabric of our digital life, not less. For this reason, it seems prudent to embrace the time honored “top ten” list tradition and provide you with ten (okay, only eight) considerations to keep in mind for the health and welfare of your digital life, whether at home or at work. Here they are, in no particular order: 1. If You Don’t Want It Leaked, Don’t Write It Your mom was right when she said not to say anything if you have nothing nice to say. No matter what the marketing materials may say, there really is no such thing as a perfectly secure communication. Even your million-bit encrypted, billion dollar secure e-mail system is vulnerable to the Mark 1 eyeball if you forget...

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