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32891617344_251b416fd3_o-1024x512Social media continues to grow as the powerhouse of information flow in modern times, and while it often seems no one is policing the content and fact and fiction are often indistinguishable, the SEC is policing the statements of at least one social media influencer, Elon Musk.  After Musk tweeted in August of 2018 that he had secured financing to take Tesla private at $420 per share, the SEC filed a complaint alleging that his tweets comprised a series of “false and misleading statements” to his millions of followers. The resulting court-approved settlement, reached in October, stipulated that Musk had to seek pre-approval of any written communications – including social media posts – that contained or reasonably could contain information material to Tesla or its shareholders.  In connection with the settlement, Tesla and Musk were each required to pay $20 million to the SEC.

Just days ago, Musk was back under scrutiny, having tweeted, “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019” without pre-approval from his counsel and for that, the SEC filed an enforcement motion seeking to have Musk held in contempt.  Continue reading →

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In the January 24, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF wrote “US Supreme Court Settles the ‘Wholly Groundless’ Exception. Or Has It?

In a recent article I co-authored, I discussed the “wholly groundless” exception to delegation clauses under the Federal Arbitration Act, “Should an Arbitrator Determine Arbitrability Where a Claim Is ‘Wholly Groundless’?” The Legal Intelligencer (July 26, 2018). There, I discussed the circuit split on this issue and that the U.S. Supreme Court would soon decide this issue for good. And the court has.

On Jan. 8, writing for a unanimous court in his first written opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh held that the wholly groundless exception to arbitrability is inconsistent with the FAA and, therefore, no such exception exists, see Henry Schein v. Archer & White Sales, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2019 WL 122164 (Jan. 8, 2019). The court held “when the parties’ contract delegates the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, a court may not override the contract, even if the court thinks that the arbitrability claim is wholly groundless.” In concluding this, the court stated, “the act contains no ‘wholly groundless’ exception, and we may not engraft our own exceptions onto the statutory text.”

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In the January 3, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF wrote “Defending Officers and Directors From a Lawsuit by the Company.

When a corporate director or officer is sued by a third party for alleged misconduct carried out in her capacity as director/officer, the company generally indemnifies the director/officer by defending her against the lawsuit. The company’s duty of indemnification arises from both the law and governing corporate documents (e.g., articles of incorporation, bylaws or employment agreement). While there are limited exceptions to the company’s duty of indemnification—e.g., the director/officer acted in her personal capacity or that she acted in bad faith against the interest of the company—the duty of indemnification is broad. The company must defend the director/officer, at least until the court determines otherwise. What protection does a corporate director/officer have, however, if the person suing her is the company itself?

A company sues its officer or director more frequently than many people think. The company could bring a direct lawsuit against an officer or director for a breach of fiduciary duty (e.g., alleged self-dealing). Sometimes, a shareholder could bring a derivative lawsuit under the company’s name against the officer or director. Continue reading →

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Emoji overload? Billions of emojis are sent each day by family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and companies. With nearly 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard, it is difficult to stay fluent in emoji, which some experts have described as “the birth of a new language.” Edward T. Kang, Managing Member of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC (“KHF”) and Kandis L. Kovalsky, Associate at KHF are working to shed light on the significance of emojis in business and in law.

At the end of September, Edward, Kandis and Jacklyn Fetbroyt, Member of KHF, joined hundreds of other lawyers at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (“NAMWOLF”) to promote diversity in the legal profession through meetings, sessions and CLEs.  KHF presented a hit CLE to a full room titled “Emojis Speaking Louder Than Words? The Import of Emojis, Emoticons and Hashtags as Evidence at Trial and Beyond #😊.” Joined by five other panelists and a moderator, Edward discussed evidentiary and ethical issues involving emojis, social media and technology and why lawyers should care about emojis and hashtags.

By explaining how emojis can be used as critical evidence at trial, Edward and the other panelists helped practicing lawyers from all over the country understand that emojis are in more than a millennial’s social media feed. Emojis have found their way into courts through a variety of suits. Continue reading →

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In the December 11, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Tianna K. Kalogerakis, Associate of KHF authored “Pa. Law Firms Must Learn From the Past to Improve Diversity in the Future.”

A mere four years after The Legal Intelligencer’s founding in 1843, the story of blacks seeking admission to the legal profession in Pennsylvania began. Despite nearly 175 years of black Pennsylvania lawyers overcoming obstacles to entry of the legal profession, institutional barriers persist, leaving blacks and other minorities in the state still in search of meaningful access in the legal profession. In 2018, law firms that are not intentional about cultivating diversity may be unintentionally discriminating against diverse candidates.

To tell the story of diversity in the legal profession—specifically when discussing the black lawyer—one must first acknowledge the role of slavery in America. People of color were held in bondage for decades against their will and the ownership of humans by other humans was sanctioned by the laws of this country. Enslavement and discrimination of individuals based on their skin color was codified into our federal and state systems of government and dictated the daily interactions of individuals. These codifications and the resulting caste system became the foundations of the institutional barriers minorities continue to face today. Continue reading →

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In the November 29, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Have the Courts Made Room for Inevitability Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act?

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), 18 U.S.C. Section 1836, et seq., which was enacted on May 11, 2016, after a Senate vote of 87-0, is the first federal law to protect trade secrets. The rare unanimous vote was unsurprising given the stunning report by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property that outlined how theft of intellectual property costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year.

The DTSA highlighted Congress’ goal of aligning the federal law closely with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which has been adopted in some form in almost every state. Just as the Lanham Act, which coexists with state trademark law, the DTSA coexists with state trade secret law. As such, it is important to understand this interplay and what it is likely to look like going forward. Continue reading →

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In the November 8, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward T. Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “When Noncompete Agreements Involve Competing Laws.”

In situations where employers also make their employees, or certain employees, agree to restrictive covenants, particularly noncompetes, companies expect the same uniformity and predictability regarding their enforceability as to each employee, regardless of where the employee works or lives. Employees, on the other hand, often expect (as we learned through a recent case) that even with another state’s choice of law provision, they will still be afforded the protection of the laws of their own state. This disconnect is no clearer than where non-California headquartered companies hire California residents as employees and require them to sign noncompetes governed by another state’s law. In California, noncompete agreements are generally unenforceable (with some limited exceptions). This is well-known, particularly by California residents. So, what happens in this situation if the California employee violates their noncompete? Continue reading →

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In the October 18, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored, “Why Lawyers Should Care About Emojis.

Although emojis have been included in smartphone operating systems for more than a decade, they are just starting to make their way into the world of litigation. While Apple’s emoji debut consisted of 54 emojis, made up primarily of different yellow smiley faces, iPhone now offers its users a broad range of hundreds of emojis, representative of different races, genders, cultures and religions. Today, there are close to 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard. As such, people can communicate a lot more through emojis, if they choose. And, the data shows this is what people are choosing. Over 10 billion emojis are sent each day throughout the world. Approximately 92 percent of all people who communicate online or through text messages on a smartphone use emojis, with more than one-third of them using emojis daily. Analysts have referred to the uptick in emoji use as “watching the birth of a new language.”

In 2015, emojis were mentioned in 14 federal and state court opinions. This number increased to 25 in 2016 and 33 in 2017. With the rules of the profession (Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules of Evidence) changing—slowly, albeit surely—to address the advent of social media and electronic communications, it is important to understand how emojis fit into the current legal landscape.

 

Continue reading →

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In the September 2018 edition of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (“NAMWOLF”) Newsletter, Jacklyn Fetbroyt,  Member of KHF, writes Firm FinCEN’s Customer Due Diligence Rule and Implementation.

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In 2016, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its final rule on customer due diligence and beneficial ownership requirements (the “CDD Rule,” 31 CFR Parts 1010, 1020, 1023, et al.), promulgated under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and other legislation, which legislative framework is commonly referred to as the ‘‘Bank Secrecy Act.” Notably, the Bank Secrecy Act lacks a requirement that financial institutions know the identity of the beneficial owners of their accounts – i.e., the individuals who control legal entity customers – which therefore allow a shield of anonymity for the beneficial owners. To address this perceived weakness and the limit the money laundering that it enabled, FinCEN issued the CDD Rule on May 11, 2016, and it became effective on July 11, 2016; however, covered financial institutions—including federally regulated banks, federally insured credit unions, mutual funds, brokers and dealers in securities, futures commission merchants, and introducing brokers in commodities—had until May 11, 2018, to come into full compliance with the CDD Rule. Continue reading →

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In the September 6, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, and Tianna Kalogerakis, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Borrowing Statute: NY’s Bar to the Unsuspecting, Out-of-State Investor.”

Despite the plaintiff-friendly pleading standards for securities fraud outlined by the Supreme Court in Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 130 S. Ct. 1784 (2010), out-of-state investors need to be particularly vigilant in pursuing fraud-related common law claims in New York, being careful not to become blocked by the borrowing statute.

New York City is home to the world’s largest stock exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and is host to financial service providers. This concentration of wealth and financial expertise has enticed many out-of-state investors to place their money in securities with New York-based financial institutions in the prospect of riches; however, coupled with the influx of these out-of-state investments is the potential for legal action by each dissatisfied or defrauded investor.  New York developed the “borrowing statute” to protect its residents and deter actions by nonresidents including out-of-state investors in securities and commodities. Despite the plaintiff-friendly pleading standards for securities fraud outlined by the Supreme Court in Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 130 S. Ct. 1784 (2010), out-of-state investors need to be particularly vigilant in pursuing fraud-related common law claims in New York, being careful not to become blocked by the borrowing statute.