In a prior post, I noted that if you want all disputes between contracting parties to be resolved in one and only one specific forum, it is imperative to expressly state this with great clarity in your agreement. In light of the Massachusetts Appeals Court’s recent decision in Try Switch, Ltd. v. Endurance International Group, a similar approach should be taken if a contracting party wants a non-party to be a bona fide “third-party beneficiary” who is legally permitted to enforce some right or obligation under that contract.
In Try Switch, the plaintiff sued Endurance International Group in the Massachusetts Superior Court for breach of contract, and Endurance moved to dismiss for improper venue. More specifically, Endurance argued that it was the third-party beneficiary of a contract between Try Switch and ValueClick International, and that contract included the following provision:
The exclusive forum for any actions related to this [a]greement shall be in the [c]ourts in Dublin, Ireland.
While the Superior Court agreed with Endurance and dismissed the case, the Appeals Court reversed. In doing so, the Appeals Court first acknowledged that even though no Massachusetts case addresses the issue as to whether a non-party to … Keep reading
In a June 13, 2013 decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court clarified that managers of Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) can be individually liable for violations of the Massachusetts Weekly Payment of Wages Act, and, thus, be personally responsible for treble damages and attorneys’ fees.
In Cook v. Patient Edu, LLC, the lower court had originally dismissed claims asserted against the two managers of the defendant LLC for failure to pay more than $68,000 in compensation owed to the plaintiff under an employment contract. In dismissing the claims, the lower court reasoned that because the Wage Act, by its plain language, only imposes liability upon the “president and treasurer of a corporation and any officer or agent having the management of the corporation or entity;” it does not impose liability on “managers of a limited liability company.” The SJC, taking the case from the Appeals Court on its own motion, reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling that “… a manager or other officer or agent of an LLC, limited liability partnership or other limited liability business entity may be a ‘person having employees in his service,’” and thus may be civilly or criminally liable for violations of the … Keep reading
As summer approaches, many companies will face the tempting invitation from students to work “for free” as interns. While some companies may consider jumping at the chance to enhance their workforce without incurring the costs of compensation, health insurance and other benefits of being an employee, as the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York just reminded the business community, having unpaid interns can be perilous if you don’t know – or if you ignore – the law.
Like many businesses, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. hires a number of unpaid interns every year. In 2011, however, several of their “interns” sued, claiming that they should have been paid for the hours they had worked performing routine tasks that would otherwise have been performed by regular employees in connection with the production of the film Black Swan. On June 11, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III issued a ruling in which he agreed that two interns, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, were “classified improperly as unpaid interns and are ‘employees’…” of Fox Searchlight. Judge Pauley went on to say that these putative interns:
…worked as paid employees work, providing an immediate advantage to
A client recently forwarded me an article about a lawsuit that Oakley brought against Nike and golf wonder-boy Rory McIlroy. In that suit, Oakley claims that as part of its endorsement agreement with McIlroy it had a right to match any new endorsement proposals made to McIlroy. Nevertheless, after Nike made a proposal to McIlroy, the golf star refused to consider Oakley’s tender of a match. While it appears that Oakley’s claims in that case will rise or fall based on whether McIlroy/Nike can prove that Oakley waived its right to match, the dispute reminded me that rights to match (sometimes denoted as “rights of first refusal”) can turn out to be extremely valuable assets in a host of contexts.
Perhaps the most common use of rights to match arises in the context of restrictions on the transfer of equity in a closely held business. Indeed, without such restrictions, a competitor might easily be able to buy out a minority equity holder and instantly gain access to key company data. Even if that is not a genuine concern, those involved in a closely held business generally do not want a stranger to suddenly … Keep reading