Eminent domain is one of the harshest tools government can assert to curtail property rights. Zoning regulates how a property owner may use their property, but eminent domain goes to their right to own the property itself. Traditionally victorious, the government occasionally is overzealous in its application of the doctrine against property owners. Recently, the Chicago Tribune wrote about a victory for property owners against a forfeiture action brought by the US government. The case involves a family owned motel in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
JC Penney, Macy's, and Martha Stewart are embroiled in a large commercial breach of contract case revolving around JC Penney's capture of Martha Stewart and her Martha Stewart collection housewares. The Chicago Tribune explains that Martha Stewart signed a contract with Macy's which obligated her to create and market a line of products in Macy's. Macy's got Stewart, who should be very used to court proceedings, to admit in depositions that the contract also was an exclusivity contract as well as a contract for her name, fame, expertise, and line of products.
This case illustrates precisely why depositions are critical to trial and provide a clear roadmap for trial strategy for both sides.
The ABA Journal is reporting about Virginia's discriminatory application of its FOIA laws where out of state residents are unable to use the law to obtain public records. Apparently 2 separate cases have been brought, one in which a father lived in Virginia but subsequently moved and wanted paperwork related to this divorce, child custody, and child support payments. The other is a real estate data aggregator that requested public real estate data and was denied because he was an out of state petitioner.
The Chicago Tribune report on a fire-breathing actor who was injured during his routine provides a model lesson for employers on worker safety and potential administrative action for failing to adhere to OSHA regulations for employee safety.
Here, the employee was an actor who happened to very publicly injure himself when his face and throat caught on fire while attempting a fire breathing routine.
The media firestorm, however, quickly engulfed reality and blew the matter out of proportion. It was so widely reported that an OSHA investigator reportedly showed up at the Civic Opera House to speak to officials and investigate their compliance with OSHA regulations.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Kraft Foods, Inc. has sued casual dining chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and its potential retail distributor the John Morrell Food Group to enjoin and nullify their contractual attempt to licensed the trademark "Cracker Barrel" to the distributor for retail distribution. Kraft trademarked "Cracker Barrel" in 1954 and sees Cracker Barrel Old Country Store's attempts to expand the use of their mark from their restaurant chains to retail grocers as infringing their mark.
As usual, the Chicago Tribune reports about a peculiar zoning issue with a famous rock star's tea shop in Highland Park, IL. Smashing Pumpkins lead Billy Corgan, recently installed a 4 foot neon sign of the name of his tea shop, Zuzu's. The famous tea shop owner decided to fight for his right to have an uncharacteristically large neon sign in the affluent suburb. Corgan also fought with the zoning commission in Highland Park about his desire to paint the exterior all black. Zoning disputes are common business and personal legal issues that face property owners in all areas. This simple case study can reveal useful steps property owners of all types can explore to enhance the ways they can use their property.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Pella Corp., of Iowa, manufacturer of self-branded windows, has reached a settlement with a Lake Forest doctor who sued Pella over issues with his ProLine series of windows in his home. The doctor brought a class action against Pella Corp. in the name of all owners of ProLine series windows and Pella has agreed to pay those owners between $750 and $6,000 as well as warranty against wood rot.
ESPN reports that the NFL has pressured a fan who clairvoyantly predicted this year's Superbowl matchup to give up his application for "Harbowl." The NFL asserted that Harbowl and Superbowl are so similar as to create a likelihood of confusion among consumers.
ESPN, of all sources, is reporting about an irate attorney who purchased a ticket to see the San Antonio Spurs play against the Miami Heat in Miami is suing the Spurs under Texas' Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The attorney purchased a ticket for himself and his son. Shortly before the game, the coach of the Spurs, Greg Popovich, sent their best players back to San Antonio to rest rather than play their fourth game in five nights. The attorney is suing because he feels he was deceived into purchasing tickets and paying a premium for two teams loaded with star players. Instead, he watched the B and C squad Spurs take the Heat to the brink in a 100-105 loss.
As the calendar year turned, many new local, state, and federal laws came into effect. One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is also called "Obamacare", has raised the hackles of a pair of privately held corporations. These corporations are religiously objecting to complying with PPACA's birth control access requirements, because as we know, corporations are people except for the purposes of carpooling, but they must have religious beliefs, right? As it turns out, (surprise!) not many courts are buying the argument that closely held private corporations have religious beliefs. Clearly these Court have not run into the cultish Apple devotees.
Weak jokes aside, Hobby Lobby's attempt to escape the regulatory clutches of PPACA is a novel attempt at imputing further First Amendment rights on corporations. It is a bold strike at enlarging recent caselaw and enhancing their position as a corporation.
Rishi Nair owns Nair Law LLC and practices as Of Counsel at Keener and Associates, P.C.