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Read the latest news from Scali Rasmussen, including legal alerts and event listings.

Data security dos and don’ts

How to make a strong password

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Passwords are ubiquitous. We use them to access everything from our bank accounts and sensitive business documents, to our social media and online memberships. The most secure passwords are a series of random numbers, letters, and characters. Using these types of passwords can present practical challenges, though, because they are easily forgotten and difficult to enter correctly. Further, because passwords are such a common part of our lives, we can too easily fall into bad habits that put business or personal information at risk.

California 998 settlement offers

Recent case law & how to make sure your offer will be upheld in court

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California law provides parties with the opportunity to make a settlement offer without fear of incurring additional fees and costs if the case goes to trial and a less favorable judgment is awarded. That opportunity is found in Code of Civil Procedure section 998. While 998 offers are common in litigation, different issues periodically arise that require judicial review. Two recent appellate decisions provide insight into how to ensure the court will uphold your 998 offer, while also reminding us that 998 offers have very specific requirements to be valid.

Lemon lawsuits and joint defense agreements

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

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The last ten years have seen a steep upward trend in the number of lemon lawsuits filed in California. In Los Angeles County alone, the number of lemon lawsuits doubled between 2015 and 2019 and are currently estimated to compromise 10% of the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s civil litigation docket. These numbers are particularly troubling when you consider that over the same period, the reliability of new cars increased substantially. According to Consumer Reports, between 2013 and 2018 new cars saw a 2% decrease in both major and minor engine problems and similar decreases for problems with transmissions, fuel systems, climate systems, suspension and brakes. One notable exception to this downward trend in reported problems with new car systems is in-car electronics, for which problem issues have remained largely flat. When taking into consideration the rapid deployment of new technology for in-car electronics over the same time period, even the outlier flat trend line for problems with in-car electronics issues is demonstrative of an across the board increase in car manufacturing standards and reliability.

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In today’s unique market, many dealers are considering their buy-sell options. Getting a sense of the value of the business is the typical starting point. Brokers and investment bankers who focus on dealership transactions are quick to point to rules of thumb, especially the earnings multiplied by a multiple, where the multiple is based entirely on the franchise represented by the dealer. But this approach alone does not account for the wide variety of variables that are involved, nor does it deal with dealership real estate. While the earnings-times-multiple approach provides a quick gauge of value, both sides of this mathematical equation deserve some further attention.

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The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is in a state of flux, with a new Attorney General enforcing its provisions and a new agency created by proposition, the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) setting up to take over and implement substantive changes also passed by proposition. With these circumstances, observers may see 2020, the first year of CCPA enforcement as relatively unimportant. However, the new California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, held a press conference in July to tout the effectiveness of the law and unveil a reporting tool for consumers. This article looks at some of his more important comments and predicts what this could mean for the future of consumer privacy in California.

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In an unsurprising decision that is yet another blow to employers, the California Supreme Court clarified in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel LLC that one-hour premiums for missed or noncompliant meal and rest breaks must be paid at the same regular rate used to calculate overtime. In so deciding, it overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision that had previously held that such premiums could be paid at the employee’s base hourly wage, even if the employee also received additional compensation in the form of bonuses, commissions, or piece rate earnings.

Specific performance

Enforcement of real property purchase agreements

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“Specific Performance” is a powerful legal remedy afforded to parties to certain contracts where there has been a failure of performance on one side. In California, the remedy is established by statute in the California Civil Code at Sections 3384 to 3395. Most commonly, a court action for specific performance is used to compel performance of either the buyer or the seller of real property, enforcing the specific terms of the real estate purchase agreement. This remedy is often pursued regardless of whether other monetary remedies may be available to the party not in breach.

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Acrylamide is a chemical that results, inter alia, when foods are browned in cooking, such as when foods are baked, fried, or roasted. The State of California has determined that consuming acrylamide increases the risk of cancer. That finding has resulted in the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) requiring warnings, pursuant to Proposition 65, of that hazard (although the amounts that trigger the warnings are somewhat in flux).