It is standard practice in M&A transactions for the acquired business to assign all if its contractual rights to the purchaser. While that may sound good in theory, depending upon how the underlying contracts are drafted, they could have little or no value to the purchaser. Indeed, as the Massachusetts Superior Court’s decision in NetScout, Inc. v. Hohenstein confirms, this warning can be particularly important when the underlying contract involves an employee non-compete.

Carl Hohenstein was employed by a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation, and in 2011 he and Danaher entered into a contract that included a non-compete agreement. Four years later, NetScout acquired Danaher and its subsidiaries, and as part of that transaction (i) Hohenstein became a NetScout employee; and (ii) Danaher assigned its rights under the 2011 contract with Hohenstein to NetScout. Six years after that, Hohenstein left NetScout and began working for one of its competitors.

NetScout sued Hohenstein and moved for a preliminary injunction, asking the Court to bar him from competing against the company. While the Superior Court found that the non-compete agreement in the 2011 contract between Hohenstein and Danaher was enforceable, and that NetScout was entitled to enforce that contract as Danaher’s assignee, … Keep reading

Next to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, the attorney-client privilege is probably the most well recognized legal doctrine out there. Nevertheless, there are many nuances surrounding the privilege about which even seasoned lawyers are not very familiar. One of these deals with the fact that not all private communication between an attorney and client are privileged – even when the communications involve the most confidential and sensitive information.

In order to understand why and how to handle situations where an attorney-client communication may not be privileged, let’s first look at the basics: the attorney-client privilege is a rule of law that protects from disclosure private communications between an attorney and client that are for the purpose of giving or receiving legal advice. As such, communications with an attorney that seek business advice are not privileged. Further, because so many in-house attorneys routinely provide both business and legal advice, it is critically important that they educate their business colleagues about this, or problems can arise.

Take this example, which really happened to one of my in-house clients a few years ago. As a meeting amongst a group of business executives was about to begin, the CEO

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When Massachusetts voters legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes four years ago, the impact on most employers was limited to clarifying that “legal” marijuana use was still generally prohibited in the workplace. Now, Massachusetts has legalized limited use of recreational marijuana. Although the recreational marijuana use law also provides that employers may prohibit employees from reporting to work or performing work under the influence of marijuana, the new law is raising practical challenges for employers. Here are three ways that employers may consider changing what they have been doing:

1. Pre-employment Drug Testing

Many employers require job candidates to successfully pass a drug test as a condition to receiving a job offer. Prior to the legalization of marijuana, a positive test for marijuana use by a job candidate was an indication of illegal drug use and clear grounds for rescinding an offer of employment. Since legalization of medical and recreational use, from a legal standpoint, rescinding a job offer based on testing positive for marijuana use is still generally permitted. From a practical standpoint, however, the rationale that marijuana use is illegal no longer exists and brings into question the rationale for drug testing for marijuana at … Keep reading

When entering into a new venture, it is not uncommon for a new legal entity to be formed in order to insulate an existing company from the liabilities associated with the new business. While the law absolutely permits this, a recent case in the Bankruptcy Court, In Re Cameron Construction & Roofing, is a good reminder that achieving true insulation requires more than simply filing another set of Articles of Incorporation.In 2000, Cameron Construction & Roofing, Inc. (“Inc.”) was formed by Wilfred Cameron, who was the corporation’s President, Treasurer, Clerk and sole Director. Two years later, Mr. Cameron formed Cameron Construction LLC (“LLC”), and he was named its Managing Member. Further, Mr. Cameron owned 99.9% of the equity in LLC, with the remaining 0.1% being held by Inc.By 2014, Inc. had become insolvent, and it filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. A Trustee was appointed to marshal and distribute Inc.’s assets, and LLC was joined as a defendant in the bankruptcy proceeding. Specifically, the Trustee sought to have the Court rule that assets of LLC could be used to satisfy the debts of Inc. LLC objected to this, arguing, that it was undisputed that the two … Keep reading

It generally is a defense to a breach of contract claim if the defendant proves that the plaintiff was the first one to materially breach the parties’ agreement. As a recent case from the Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court confirms, however, a plaintiff seeking to enforce a post-employment restrictive covenant can avoid falling victim to such a defense – if, that is, the company has a carefully crafted agreement is in place.… Keep reading

While companies, like people, are entitled to protect privileged communications with their counsel, companies only can act through individuals. So what happens when the former CEO wants to disclose a privileged communication he had with his company’s corporate counsel? As SEC v. Present highlights, if the company does not want that communication disclosed, the former CEO may be barred from making such a disclosure.… Keep reading

On November 22, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted the request of 21 states to temporarily halt the effective date the U.S. Department of Labor’s Final Rule (“Final Rule”) raising the salary threshold to qualify for the white collar exemptions from minimum wage and overtime requirements from taking effect. Accordingly, the Final Rule will not take effect on December 1, 2016.… Keep reading

It’s human nature to engage in an emotional exhale after reaching an agreement in principle to settle a long-standing or hard-fought dispute. While doing so is all well and good, it is critical that you don’t let that deter you from exercising extreme focus on documenting that settlement in a carefully crafted agreement. Indeed, as the plaintiff in Zvi Construction v. Levy found out a few weeks ago, failing to do so can leave your client in a position where it is unable to obtain the fruits that it rightfully deserves.… Keep reading

So your company is considering getting into a new area of business, and to do so, it will have to hire a variety of talent. While the launch of the new venture is not a certainty, the prospects of it are enticing, and time is of the essence. Thus, when talking to potential new hires, you want to focus on the positives and the possibilities. As a recent decision from the federal District Court, Bhammer v. Loomis Sayles and Company, Inc., makes clear, however, failing to disclose factors that may affect the viability of the new opportunity can be fraught with peril.… Keep reading