Providing accurate, timely, and insightful legal commentary
Connectiuct Business Litigation Blog
Commentary on lawsuits and legal issues impacting Connecticut businesses. Authored by experienced business litigation attorney, Kane Bennett of Aeton Law Partners, LLP.
A whole series of new laws went into effect starting October 1, 2009. For a full list of the laws you can find a link on Dan Schwartz’s Employment Law Blog. For a humorous “quick and dirty” summary you can go to Ryan McKeen’s Connecticut Law Blog. If you want to know the new taxes and higher fees, read these articles by Susan Haigh of the Day and Christopher Keating of the Courant. If you just want to know the laws affecting business, the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research puts together a nice summary. From that summary, I offer a few highlights of the laws that went into effect October 1, 2009. BUSINESS CORPORATE ACT CHANGES– PA09-55 There are several changes to the Connecticut Business Corporation Act. To most significant change is on Dissolution and is summarized in section 23. Here are the highlights: eliminates requirement that court dissolve corporation in certain situations involving deadlock in management and elections permits, instead of requires, court to dissolve corporation in certain situations involving deadlock and irreparable injury is threatened because of the deadlock Safeguarding Personal Information– PA 09-71 This is an act concerning state chartered banks and requires safeguarding of personal information, which is information that can be associated with an individual through an identifier like a Social Security number. The act gives the Department of Banking authority to enforce the law against state chartered banks. Any bank that adopts the security and privacy provisions that comply with the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is in compliance with the state
I was tipped off by a reader that George Gombossy, the consumer columnist at Ctwatchdog, would be filing his wrongful termination suit against his former employer the Hartford Courant. Sure enough, the lawsuit now has been filed and made its way around cyberspace today. Hartford Attorney Mark Dumas posted a copy of the lawsuit on Twitter. You can read the lawsuit here (download). You can also read about the suit at the Laurel and in a post by Christine Stuart at CTnewsjunkie. Mr. Gombossy also posted the lawsuit on his new blog, ctwatchdog.com. You can read Mr. Gombossy’s comments on the suit here. He claims that "Courant management attempted to pressure [him] from writing negative columns about key advertisers." He claims that his termination followed after he wrote a column about Sleepy’s that the Courant never published. The Courant denied the allegations according to an article today by Kenneth Gosselin. The Courant also issued a statement calling Mr. Gombossy’s claims a "mischaracterization." The focus of relief for Mr. Gombossy’s lawsuit is Connecticut’s free speech statute, which provides for damages in the event of termination for exercise of certain first amendment rights. Dan Schwartz at the CT Employment Law Blog dissected the suit earlier today and provided a possible defense to the free speech claim. As noted by Dan Schwartz, nothing needs to happen in the lawsuit until November 13th, at the earliest, when the Courant has to file a response to the lawsuit. Based on its statement on the case, it appears that the Courant intends to vigorously defend the suit. We will have to
Will Connecticut’s Win In Second Round Of Public Nuisance Lawsuit Open Floodgates For Global Warming Claims?
Connecticut has taken center stage as lead plaintiff in round two against six power companies for public nuisance over global warming. In Connecticut v. American Electrical Power Co., eight States brought a lawsuit to stop ongoing contributions to global warming. The States brought the suit under a theory of common law nuisance. Although the case was dismissed at the trial level, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and held that the States can pursue their claims for federal common law nuisance. This case has been watched closely ever since it was filed in 2004 and argued in 2006. The court of appeals decision allowing the case to proceed now has caused some very different reactions amongst attorneys, environmentalists and business leaders. The Global Climate Law Blog offered its comments on the decision noting that the case is long from over and future battles in the case will likely involve causation. Hannah McCrea of The Grist noted in a very detailed review of the case that it was a historic ruling to "be celebrated and utilized by environmentalists." Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (representing 3 million businesses) issued this statement claiming the decision will "further line the pockets of trial lawyers." She opined that the decision to permit public nuisance claims to go forward could lead to mass tort claims against businesses for contributions to global warming. Seth Jaffe an environmental attorney with Foley Hoag offered a good legal review concluding that a number of defenses remain in the case for the power companies but environmental plaintiffs relying on
On Monday, I attended the Connecticut Privacy Forum hosted by Travelers. This Forum was a well attended inaugural meeting of privacy and data security professionals. I came away from the meeting very impressed with the panel of speakers and topics on the agenda. I also came away from the meeting as convinced as ever that data loss and security breaches pose a significant risk for nearly all businesses that use computers. In one of my earlier posts, I touched on some of the risks involved for businesses related to data loss and security breaches. I also offered some potential solutions. At the Privacy Forum, data loss statistics were presented by the speakers and confirmed that these risks are very real for businesses. Here is a sample of some of the statistics from 2008 alone: 80 million records were compromised 580 data loss or breach incidents were reported $202 per record was the average cost to business for loss or breach 47% of the incidents involved corporations or businesses 33% involved compromised social security numbers The speakers also offered some of the solutions for businesses in terms of risk management and planning. The seminar further included a detailed overview of federal and state laws covering privacy rights and data security. You can access the presentation materials at ctprivacy.com Overall, this was a great event concerning a topic that will continue to be relevant to business litigation in the coming years. Congratulations to the organizers, David Baker and Peter Bernstein, from Travelers on a well run event!
Here is a round up of a few interesting business lawsuits making news in Connecticut this past week: Smoking Gun "Crap" Email In Case Watched by Wall Street In Pursuit Partners, LLC v. UBS AG, et al., a 35 million dollar prejudgment remedy was awarded in favor of a Connecticut hedge fund against UBS. Judge Blawie issued the order in Stamford Superior Court after finding the bank was in possession of material non-public information regarding downgrades to financial products that UBS continued to sell. This case is getting a lot of attention on Wall Street and reported on by Matthew Goldstein at seekingalpha.com and Serena NG and Carrick Mollenkamp on WSJ.com. The UBS case will be interesting to watch and is another example of the increasing importance of discovering smoking gun emails. Preliminary discovery in the case turned up internal emails calling some of the financial products "crap." Here is a docket report on the case. (download). Fairfield Company Uncovers Fraud and Ejects Board Member Competitive Technologies (CTT), won a contested default judgment for more than $4 million dollars after discovering a former board member took company money and invested it in a fictitious South American company that did not exist. Read the report on the case by Michael Juliano of the Connecticut Post. You can also download here a copy of the judgment from Judge Dorsey who found that the defendants willfully disregarded court orders. The fraud was uncovered in part by the work of Breen & Associates. I have worked with Bill Breen before on several cases. He is an exceptional fraud investigator and expert. Looks like
Former Professional Wrestler Hulk Hogan has filed a lawsuit against his own attorneys for failing to advise him of the potential for insurance coverage for defense costs in an auto accident case. The case was reported on by Curtis Krueger of the St. Petersburg Times as well as several wrestling sites including tblwreslting.com and Shawn Moniz of wrestlingnewsarena.com. According to the reports, Hulk Hogan’s son, Nick Bollea, was in a car crash in 2007 that caused serious injuries to his friend, John Graziano. Hulk Hogan was sued along with his son for the damages. It appears that Hulk Hogan privately retained and paid his for private lawyers to defend him in the case. Hulk Hogan’s suit alleges that he could have received a qualified defense attorney for free because his insurance company would have paid the bill. As with most automobile insurance policies, unless there was some valid reason to deny Hulk Hogan a defense, his insurance company would have been obligated to provide a lawyer to be paid by the insurance company. If you are faced with a claim that is covered by an insurance policy, you must submit the claim to the insurance company if you want to get coverage or a defense. Once you submit the claim to your insurance company, the company would then either deny coverage, provide limited coverage, or provide a defense attorney and coverage. In insurance circles, it is called providing an insured with "defense and indemnity." This means, not only providing a lawyer at no cost,
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