News

Anxiety and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are making headlines all over the country this year. In Arkansas, Crain Automotive Holdings, LLC terminated Judith Vaughan, an employee, after she began to suffer panic attacks at work. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a suit against the company, Crain disputed Vaughan’s disability and the company’s knowledge of her disability at the time of her termination. The court sided with Vaughan.
Armslist is a website which allows buyers to find private sellers of firearms and contact those sellers. These private transactions do not require background checks. When an estranged husband purchased a gun from a private seller he found on Armslist and used the weapon to kill his wife and others, his wife’s estate sued Armslist for designing and operating a website to facilitate unlawful transactions in firearms.
Alta Devices, Inc. learned the hard way that trade secret misappropriation claims have a statute of limitations. The company’s 2011 non-disclosure agreement with LG Electronics, Inc. ended in June 2012, but LG failed to return Alta’s confidential information at that time. Four years later Alta learned LG might be developing similar solar film technology as Alta. They requested their confidential information back and eventually sued LG.
The Tennessee Supreme Court became the latest state court to rule on whether or not the labor component of the actual cash value (ACV) amount of property damage can be depreciated. According to the Court, the term “depreciation” is ambiguous and the policy language holds that labor cannot be depreciated. Tennessee joins Kentucky in not allowing labor to be depreciated. Other states such as Nebraska and Kansas have ruled labor can be depreciated.
Employers are most familiar with disability accommodation requests for time off or “light duty” assignments. Not every disability request falls into those two categories though. A Pennsylvania jury award recently awarded a former billing assistant $285,000 in damages after her employer refused to allow her extra breaks to address her anxiety. A request for a “less stressful” environment can be vague but employers could avoid a similar ADA suit simply by discussing what accommodations the employee needs.
On April 3, 2019, Governor Phil Bryan approved House Bill 444 amending The Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Law, more commonly referred to as the “Wind Pool” law. The Wind Pool provides windstorm and hail coverage in certain coastal counties to those who cannot find coverage in the private market. Prior to the current amendments, policies issued under the Wind Pool were limited to coverage for the actual cash value of the insured structure and contents.
Brown Sims, a Houston law firm, successfully represented Adam Joseph Resources (AJR) in a complaint against CNA Metals which was arbitrated for two years. After AJR was awarded almost $504,000, AJR colluded with CNA to create a settlement between the two entities which cut Brown Sims out of the deal entirely, reduced CNA’s overall costs and resulted in an increased recovery for AJR. Neither Brown Sims nor the district court was aware of the settlement.
First Acceptance Insurance Company of Georgia insured the at-fault party in a serious automobile accident involving multiple claimants with significant injuries. The policy limits of First Acceptance’s policy was $50,000. Two of the many claimants made demands on First Acceptance to tender limits and settle their claims. First Acceptance failed to respond to this correspondence, and instead, attempted to reach a global resolution with all claimants.
Landowners received some extra protections during the Mississippi Legislature’s 2019 session. The Landowner Protection Act, SB2901, limits the ability of an injured party to bring suit against a landowner or a manager/ operator of property for injuries caused by a third party unless the landowner or manager/operator of the property was actively engaged in activity which allowed the conduct of the third party to occur.
Sheaneter Bogan worked at MTD Customer Group for about 20 years. During her employment, she completed community college coursework that allowed MTD to promote her to a machinist position. She also took classes to earn a degree in social work. Human resources notified her they would only allow her a flexible schedule for work-related schooling. She was later terminated for returning from lunch late after a class. She filed a suit alleging race and sex discrimination.
Andrew Yanez’s Texas property sustained flood damage during a storm in 2016. He filed a claim with his insurance company, American Strategic Insurance Corporation, through which he had a Standard Flood Insurance Policy. He’d also filed a prior flood loss claim on the property in 2014. After an adjuster evaluated the property, ASIC paid Yanez $1,315.20, which was less than what Yanez believed was due. Yanez lost an administrative appeal because he failed to provide evidence that he made repairs required after the 2014 flood and before the 2016 flood.
In Washington State, an Allstate customer claims both the insurance company and their adjuster acted in bad faith when it attempted to settle his underinsured motorist claim for less than the policy limit following an accident. The adjuster assigned to the claim reportedly determined that the insured was partially at fault for the accident because he was on his phone and ran a stop sign. The evidence, however, showed that both the police and Allstate’s own accident reconstructionist determined that the insured was not on his phone and had stopped at the stop sign in question.
Our primary mission at Webb Sanders & Williams is to provide the best representation possible for our clients. When the cases we were involved in are cited in arguments of other cases, it’s icing on the cake. Earlier this month two of our previous cases  Rhoden v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 32 F. Supp. 2d 907, 913 (S.D. Miss. 1998) and Boteler v. State Farm, 876 So. 2d 1067 (Miss. Ct. App.
When a Richard Ruth’s Bar & Grill customer, Emmanuel Kehagias, was assaulted at the bar, owners Richard and Jane Ruth failed to notify their commercial general liability insurer, Founders, of the incident. When Kehagias’s attorney sent a letter of representation, the Ruths forwarded the letter to their agent’s wholesaler Hull & Company.
The U.S. Department of Labor has again addressed changes to the salary threshold for overtime pay exemptions. The proposed amendment to the rule raises the minimum annual salary requirement for the white-collar exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,600 to $35,308. DOL attempted to amend the rule in 2016, but a federal court in Texas blocked enforcement of the rule shortly before it took effect.
Denny Rice succeeded in his wrongful termination suit against Merchants Foodservice to a tune of $1.25 million in lost future earnings. On appeal Merchants Foodservice argued Rice wasn’t due to collect lost future earnings because his new job paid more than he earned as a truck driver with Merchants. The appeals court denied the appeal calling their reasoning faulty logic.
To raise capital toward the development of a prototype aircraft and to purchase a competing aircraft manufacturer, Kestral Aircraft Co. (Kestral) entered into an agreement with Living Benefits Asset Management, LLC, (Living Benefits) to purchase and sell life settlements. Kestral never raised the funds he’d hoped to raise and never purchased any life settlements.
Does an insurance policy’s Cooperation Clause require the insured to follow the insurance company’s recommendation regarding settlements? Petroleum Solutions, Incorporated (PSI) faced a suit from Bill Head Enterprises (Head) because a fuel tank systems constructed and installed by PSI on Head’s property leaked. PSI brought claims against Titeflex Corporation, the manufacturer of the flex connector responsible for the lead. Titeflex countersued.
Premier Directional Drilling, L.P., utilizes directional-driller-consultants (DD) and measurement-while-drilling-consultants (MWD) in its oil drilling operation. Some DDs are classified as employees; others, independent contractors (IC). Five ICs filed suits against Premier alleging they were inaccurately classified as ICs and not employees. The district court awarded damages in favor of the plaintiffs.
The case of a Chicago salesman accused of selling trade secrets to a Chinese company caught the eye of attorneys last month when it went to trial. Robert O’Rourke, who spend 30 years in sales for cast iron products manufacturer Dura-Bar, accepted employment with Dura’s Chinese competitor. Before he left, however, O’Rourke downloaded 1,900 files containing Dura trade secrets. O’Rourke does not deny downloading the files. His defense team denies the files were trade secrets because he claims Dura did not take “reasonable measure” to protect the information.

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