While arbitration clauses are often a topic of concern in the consumer context, they can also be a major issue in sophisticated party transactions as well—the agreements where the arbitration clause is the least of everyone’s worries. In these transactions, whether they be in the employment context or otherwise, arbitration clauses are often treated as a throwaway for which a simple copy-and-paste will do. At that forward-looking time, arbitration seems like a sensible method of dispute resolution between two like-minded people, and it is given little emphasis. When the relationships break down later, as they often do, arbitration clauses become a major issue. Too often, one side wants to be in court while the other does not. They argue whether their dispute is subject to arbitration.
In the June 21, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “Self-Authentication of ESI Under Federal Rule of Evidence 902.”
In a recent annual Federal Bench Bar Conference in Philadelphia, a U.S. District Court judge warned of the perils of allowing clients to perform their own data and document collection.
In a recent annual Federal Bench Bar Conference in Philadelphia, a U.S. District Court judge warned of the perils of allowing clients to perform their own data and document collection. As the judge wisely pointed out, this can be problematic as the lawyers owe a duty to the court to represent truthfully and accurately. If, for example, a client performed the data collection without proper supervision, the lawyer could not accurately represent that all responsive documents have been collected and produced. The 2015 amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provide dire consequences for failing to preserve electronically stored information (ESI), including monetary sanctions, dismissal of a claim, judgment in favor of the prejudiced party, suppression of evidence and adverse inference instructions. The recent changes to Federal Rule of Evidence 902, which addresses self-authenticating evidence, and is routinely relied on by civil trial lawyers, raises additional concerns with clients performing their own data collection.
Self-authenticating evidence under Rule 902 is evidence that requires no extrinsic evidence to prove that it is what it purports to be. Common examples of self-authenticating evidence include newspapers, periodicals, signed and sealed public documents, and official publications. While the amendments to Rule 902 were created to address the unnecessary expense and inconvenience associated with having live testimony from multiple witnesses solely to authenticate electronic evidence, they also provide guidance on ESI collection and resolving authentication issues relating to ESI before trial.
Law Day, as officially recognized by the President of the United States on the first of May each year, is a day to reflect on the importance of law in our society and its role in our country’s foundation. In particular, it is a celebration of the rights and benefits afforded to United States citizens under the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution sets out a system of government with distinct and independent branches—Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court. It also defines legislative, executive, and judicial powers and outlines how they interact. These three separate branches share power, and each branch serves as a check on the power of the others. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” James Madison explained in Federalist 51. Why? Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.
The Philadelphia Bar Association extends the celebration of Law Day to encompass an entire week. The Young Lawyers Division coordinates programs throughout the city with various schools and communities. These programs include Lawyer for a Day, Fairy-tale Mock Trials, Legal Advice Live, and Lawyers in the Classroom. Continue reading →
In the May 17, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, writes Key Points in Negotiating and Preparing Settlement Agreements and Releases.
With fewer and fewer cases going to trial, lawyers must be competent in settling claims and preparing settlement documents that accurately capture the terms of the settlement. While settlements often bring a sigh of relief from lawyers and their clients, getting from the point of settlement to execution and payment—this article is written from mostly the plaintiff’s perspective—can take months, and sometimes requires court-intervention. This usually happens, as stated in more detail below, when one side wants to renegotiate the material terms of a settlement agreement; and the main reason for seeking to renegotiate is often the other side was not adequately prepared going into and during settlement negotiations. This is particularly true in complicated cases involving multiple parties and claims.
Most litigators, if not all, have negotiated settlements and prepared many settlement documents. And there are many articles written about the “dos and don’ts” of negotiating a settlement or preparing a settlement document. This article focuses on a few additional points for practitioners to consider when negotiating a settlement or preparing a settlement document. Continue reading →
On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Real Estate affinity group (JFRE) hosted Mayor Kenney and Seth Shapiro, COO of The Goldenberg Group and Chairman of the Board of Philadelphia Gas Works, to discuss the City of Philadelphia’s 2019 fiscal Budget and its impacts on the City’s businesses and real estate industry. The event took place at the brand new luxury apartment building located at 1213 Walnut Street. Shapiro and Kenney discussed the following:
- Improving educational outcomes and workforce readiness
- Improving the Philadelphia school system and increasing wages
- Increasing Philadelphia property taxes
- Increasing Philadelphia’s realty transfer tax
My last article, dated Jan. 25, visited the RICO pleadings requirement in light of the class action RICO lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein. The Weinstein RICO action is brought under the most popular section—Section 1962(c). In the article, I discussed the stringent requirements of pleading and proving civil RICO claims and outlined some of the obstacles for plaintiffs.
The complexity with RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), however, does not end there. Almost all RICO lawsuits filed are brought under Section 1962(c) (note: violation under Section 1962(d) relating to conspiracy to violate a substantive section is routinely asserted whenever there is a violation of a substantive section). But, what about Sections (a) and (b)? Why are these sections rarely used? Is it because these sections are generally inapplicable? While the specificity of Sections 1962(a) and (b) compared to the breadth of Section 1962(c) is a reason these sections are not commonly used, it is also because they are more difficult to understand, and often misunderstood. In effect, these sections have become virtually forgotten. While many lawyers have an understanding—ranging from basic to advance—of Section (c), far fewer understand (a) and (b).
Pleading and Proving a RICO Violation Under Section 1962(a)— Investment of Income
Section 1962(a) is primarily concerned with money laundering activity. This section makes it unlawful for “any person who has received any income derived … from a pattern of racketeering activity … to use or invest … any part of such income … in acquisition of an interest in … any enterprise ….” Here, the RICO enterprise is the “prize” of the racketeers whereas the RICO enterprise is the “instrument” of the racketeers under Section 1962(c).
Section 1962(a) prohibits investing any income derived from a pattern of racketeering activity to acquire any interest in an enterprise. The section prohibits a person from using “dirty money,” for instance, to buy a membership interest in a legitimate business. As stated above, money laundering is typically the most common goal of the racketeers under this section. By investing dirty money into a legitimate business and, in turn, using the business to write checks to themselves (or affiliates), the racketeers complete the money laundering cycle.
On February 20, 2018 Kang Haggerty and Fetbroyt LLC published a memorandum on the New Municipal Land Use Law.
On January 15, 2018, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law Senate Bill No. 3233, effective immediately, which reforms requirements under N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq., also referred to as the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). The amendments under the MLUL modify the requirements for performance and maintenance guarantees required for developers. Under the new, more developer-friendly law, “the developer shall furnish a performance guarantee in favor of the municipality in an amount not to exceed 120% of the cost of installation of only those improvements required by an approval or developer’s agreement, ordinance, or regulation to be dedicated to a public entity, and that have not yet been installed.”
In the past, the municipality had expansive authority to require performance guarantees for improvements deemed “necessary or appropriate.” N.J.S.A. 40:55D-53. Additionally, the list of improvements subject to performance guarantees from developers (and in favor of the municipality) are now limited to the following: streets, pavement, gutters, curbs, sidewalks, street lighting, street trees, surveyor’s monuments, water mains, community septic systems, drainage structures, public improvements of open space, and any grading necessitated by the preceding improvements.
In the January 25, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, writes on How RICO Plays a Role in the World of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo.
Who in civil litigation does not love a good RICO claim? Its boundaries are seemingly endless, and in the case of Harvey Weinstein—perhaps one of the most vilified defendants on the planet right now—there is the possibility of catastrophic implications, as if being the face of an entire movement (#MeToo) is not bad enough.
Civil claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. Sections 1961-1968 (RICO Act), are highly desirable for plaintiffs and their attorneys because, if successful, they provide for treble damages, plus attorney fees and costs of litigation. Very few plaintiffs succeed on a RICO claim, however, so the decision to file one should not be made lightly. Many plaintiffs fail during the pleadings stage, and their claims are dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). For defendants, like Weinstein, the possible implications of RICO can be disastrous. This potential implication is why defendants of civil RICO claims are eager to settle if the claim survives a motion to dismiss and shows a strong likelihood of surviving a motion for summary judgment. For example, in 2016, Trump University did just that—it settled a civil RICO suit for $25 million, which paled compared to its potential exposure of $170 million.
The RICO Act was passed in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 to combat large organized crime operations led by the American Mafia and their growing infiltration of legitimate businesses and organizations. Although the RICO Act was drafted to bring down gangsters, it is certainly not limited to that purpose and has evolved into a mechanism to confront business fraud and corruption over the last half-century. This is evidenced by the recent high-profile civil RICO lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein.
In the January 5, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF, writes A Primer on International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration for Litigators.
Arbitration, whether compulsory or voluntary, is commonplace these days as a less expensive and more efficient resolution to litigation than trial. Litigators in Pennsylvania are familiar with the Court of Common Pleas Compulsory Arbitration Program for cases with an amount in controversy of $50,000 or less. For cases with a larger amount in controversy, parties will often agree to arbitrate with a company offering a private arbitrator, such as AAA, JAMS and ADR Options.
In cases involving international disputes, the arbitration venues commonly found in contract include, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), Swiss Chamber’s Arbitration Institution (SCAI), Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), German Institution of Arbitration (DIS), Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), Vienna International Arbitration Center (VIAC), International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and the International Court of Arbitration for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
The number of international arbitrations has been increasing due largely to the growing number of courts in foreign countries recognizing and enforcing foreign arbitral awards. An ICC arbitral award, for instance, can now be enforced in China, where its courts refused to recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards against its citizens on many occasions. It is becoming increasingly likely for practitioners to face a dispute over a contract providing for arbitration before one of these international forums. This is true even with smaller cases involving an amount in controversy under $50,000.