Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: (888) 497-3410
Phone: 516.791.5700
Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

New York Noncompete, Trade Secret & School Negligence Blog

This blog by the six-time published author Jonathan Cooper, is intended to educate the general public about issues of interest, particularly innovations and changes in the law, in the areas of non-compete agreements, breach of contract matters, school negligence (and/or negligent supervision), construction accidentsslip and/or trip and fall accidentsauto accidents, and, of course, defective or dangerous products

For additional information on any of these topics, readers are encouraged to download these FREE e-books:

 


Blog Category:
2/15/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
As noted in the News and Small Business sections of our site, a small construction materials supplier by the name of Screws and More has decided to go after one of the nation's largest construction materials manufacturers, Powers Fasteners, claiming that some of the parts Powers provided did not meet specs, and cost Screws a large line of business. Although the contracts between the manufacturers and suppliers are often slated in the manufacturers' favor, and expressly limit the manufacturers' liability, there are certain elementary steps that a small commercial supplier should take to assure that it does not lose any important jobs due to the failure of its manufacturer's products. To read more on this topic, click here.

Category: General

2/15/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
Last week, a California appellate court which sided with Costco in its bid to prevent disclosing the names of its clothing suppliers on the grounds that this information was deserving of judicial protection as a trade secret. As we have previously noted, it is incumbent on the party asserting that certain information, such as a supplier's identity, be protected from disclosure in in a commercial, small business litigation as privileged matter or a trade secret, to demonstrate that this information was not readily obtainable from another public source, as well as what concrete steps and expense the business took to develop and protect this proprietary list. Otherwise, under New York law, the Court is obliged to compel the disclosure of the list.

Consequently, I was hoping that the California appellate court would elaborate on what specific steps Costco took to convince the Court that their clothing suppliers'  identities were privileged matter worthy of protection from disclosure as a trade secret, if only to provide a measure of comparison to New York law. Unfortunately, after reading the opinion, the Court clearly glossed over this topic, stating in cursory fashion that Costco produced some evidence that its list of suppliers had monetary value, and that it made significant strides to make sure that the names and addresses of its suppliers did not become public.

Category: General

2/11/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
I just found a very interesting series of articles discussing how the new breed of cars that run on hybrid or electric technology are actually too quiet. Although, given the loud cacophany that usually bombards New Yorkers' senses, this contention would seem absurd, a recent scientific study confirmed complaints raised by the Federation for the Blind that unlike regular gasoline-consuming vehicles, these cars fail to adequately warn pedestrians or other oncoming vehicles of their speed and approach, and thereby pose a greater safety hazard and potential for bkie or car accidents or injury. To read our fuller discussion of this topic, please see our article here.

Category: Car Accidents

2/10/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
In an article that appears in today's New York Times, a few prominent venture capitalists are quoted as saying that in the midst of this economic recession, the best way to entice investment in a start-up or small business is by demonstrating how the company's mission is specifically geared to save their clients money; decreased revenue across the economic spectrum have mandated that it is no longer enough to put out a great product.

And how does a small business go about showing that? Some recommendations, culled from the hi-tech sector, include using renewable materials, or promoting new web-based applications that are designed to seamlessly integrate different software applications, thereby increasing productivity.

This rule applies to the law business as well. In order to effectively market a law practice to small businesses, attorneys should be able to demonstrate, in concrete terms, to prospective clients how their firm streamlines the legal process to assure peak efficiency, particularly, but not limited to the context of litigation. One way this can be done is by filing cases electronically; another is by storing documents electronically for easy reference and retrieval; a third way is communicating with clients, adversaries and experts via e-mail, which not only reduces significantly postage costs that would otherwise be incurred, but also eliminates the time lag caused by the back-and-forth of snail-mail.

Category: General

2/9/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
In an important ruling, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department recently held that, as a general rule, a trial court may not accept trial testimony that is conducted via video or teleconferencing because it violates the other party’s constitutional right to confront adverse witnesses. Although the Appellate Court acknowledged that there were limited exceptions to this rule, such as cases where testimony was sought from children that were victims of abuse, the majority of the split court still felt that a party’s right to confront adverse witnesses “face to face” outweighed other parties’ needs to adduce testimony from witnesses that could not appear in court either due to illness or inconvenience (such as where the complainants lived in Australia).

 

This ruling was rendered in the criminal law context, but apparently applies in the civil context as well, including cases dealing with small business or commercial litigation, personal injury or defective products lawsuits.  And this can have very real economic and other consequences, such as where one of the defendants to a defective products lawsuit is a foreign manufacturer or distributor, or where the “silent” partner of a small company is a venture capitalist who lives more than 6,000 miles away.

 

In the end, I am not convinced that face-to-face confrontation is uniquely able to reveal the truth, particularly given the technological advances that would render these witnesses in remote locations to view the entire courtroom – including their adversaries. To the contrary, I think that this ruling effectively dealt the search for truth a harsh blow, because it will prevent numerous important witnesses from telling their stories before juries.



Category: General

2/9/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)

Stars' Admissions of Drug Use And Lessons We Can Apply At Trial

New York Lawyer Jonathan Cooper looks at sports and drugs

Category: General

2/8/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
Last night, I came across this "How To" article that made 3 suggestions as to how to save money when hiring a lawyer for a personal injury case. While I do not fault anyone for trying to save a few dollars, particularly in this economic climate, I think the author is terribly misguided. Simply put, if a lawyer would actually agree to abide by any of the suggestions in that article, then you can be sure that is not the lawyer you want for your case, particularly if your case has to do with your small business or commercial litigation needs in New York.

Leaving aside the issue that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis rather than an hourly rate (which renders moot most of the article), the other suggestions suffer from serious flaws as well. Perhaps the best example is his notion that you can offer to file the necessary papers in Court in exchange for a reduction in fee. I cannot imagine any attorney agreeing to these terms for the very basic reason that if you (presumably a non-lawyer) make any mistake in filing the papers with the Court, the attorney has opened himself up to a legal malpractice claim.

Moreover, even assuming that the attorney were to ignore the malpractice possibility (which he clearly shouldn't), the author's thought that it would be worthwhile for the attorney to significantly reduce his fee for clerical tasks that would ordinarily cost under $100 is, for lack of a better term, absurd. (The following analogy comes to mind: you ask your doctor to reduce his fee in exchange for you beginning the medical procedure for him.

In addition, this suggestion also ignores the fact that some clerical tasks cannot be handled by the client as a matter of law, such as service of legal papers on the other parties to the litigation.

Instead, if you are interested in getting the best value for your money when hiring a lawyer, you should consider the suggestions listed here.



Category: General

2/8/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
Although the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, with its allowances for larger credits and write-offs for research-based expenditures, and reducing the amortization period for deducting the expense of rental space improvements are certainly welcome news for small business owners, these provisions, as correctly noted in yesterday’s New York Times article, do little, if any, good for many small companies that made little or no money against which these deductions would theoretically be applied.

Some small business owners are facing a different problem: those who made a moderate sum of money in 2008, but now, due to the recession, cannot afford to pay their taxes. While a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service stated publicly that the IRS was willing to work with small commercial business owners to ease the burden of paying their tax bills in full, little specifics on how the mechanics of this process will work have been provided.

One provision in the new proposed stimulus plan is somewhat promising: it permits businesses that lost money in 2008 to offset the loss against the surplus that the business had in the five previous years. In that fashion, these businesses could recover, in the form of a tax refund, some of the losses that they experienced in 2008.

While many pundits have postulated that additional help for small businesses are in the works, the proof will be in what makes it (and doesn’t make it) into the legislation that is due to be signed shortly. Time will tell.



Category: General

2/5/2009
Jonathan Cooper
Comments (0)
In a case from Orange County in California that was reported yesterday, a jury held the local municipality liable for causing the collision between a car and the teenage boy’s bike, as a result of which the boy sustained serious personal injuries, including the loss of one leg below the knee.  From the news report, it seems fairly clear that the government intends to appeal the jury’s $8 million plus verdict, because from their vantage point, it is manifestly unfair to cast the lion’s share of liability on the municipality when they had no direct role in the bike and car crash; they did not own or operate either the car or the bike.  While, at first blush, the municipality’s argument seems meritorious, if you think a bit more critically, you will realize that their argument contravenes what we know from our everyday, real-world experience.

There are some intersections and streets that have had such a disproportionately high number of tragic car accidents and fatalities over the last several years (such as Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and Rego Park in Queens County, New York, which the local papers have dubbed the “Boulevard of Death”) that it is clear to all that these roadways are defectively and dangerously designed.  Consequently, the better public policy is to hold the municipalities and states liable for these conditions; otherwise, these governmental entities will have far less incentive to assure the safety of their roads.

For additional information as to whether governmental or municipal authorities are liable for the dangerous conditions of intersections and roadways under New York law, you can read our article here.

Category: Car Accidents