May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - It's pretty exciting to get into Vegas and see your billboards up over the strip.
Do Billboards Have A Right To Be Seen?
Do you want to see billboards? Do billboard owners and advertisers want you to see their billboards? Do counties, cities and towns want beautiful roadscapes?
How do you balance those three wants and needs when they collide?
Back in 2000 just before the Democratic National Convention, the City of Los Angeles decided that it needed to sprucify its streets, especially around LAX, and in particular, Century Boulevard. I've been on that road, and it needs more than trees to spruce it up. My opinion aside, however, the City planted the trees, which grew and grew and grew.
So much so that they started blocking Regency Outdoor Advertising billboards at LAX, which caused Regency to lose a lot of revenue. The trees were initially vandalized, resulting in better visibility of the billboards, but they still grew back, blocking the billboards again. Regency then sued the City for inverse condemnation.
Regency argued that its billboards had a right to be seen.
That's the exact opposite of the typical argument about view. Most plaintiffs sue to preserve their view of the ocean, mountains or city lights, not the other way around.
Regency lost its argument in the trial court, the court of appeals and finally two days ago in the California Supreme Court. The courts each determined that the City had a right to plant the trees, and that Regency had no Constitutional right to have its billboards be seen. The Supreme Court conducted an exhaustive examination of Regency's arguments, which include abutter's rights and the right of businesses to have their storefront signs seen from the roadway.
The court concluded that the City had a right to plant trees to beautify the street and enhance commerce, but that Regency did not have a right to have its billboards be seen that would justify any eminent domain or inverse condemnation payment.
Unfortunately, we still have to see Century Boulevard, even after the Democrats left.
Watch Out: New Wave Of Lawsuits At The Courthouse To Help Businesses
It certainly doesn't sound intuitive, but an Orange County attorney plans to file a group of lawsuits designed to help businesses fight competitors who hire illegal aliens to undercut their competitor's pricing. Attorney David Klehm founded a website entitled illegalemployers.org, according to this article.
First reported widely by Kimberly Kralowec, other articles have also appeared in the Cal Law Recorder. Among others, Kim points out that one major hurdle to these actions is a 1970 case entitled Diaz v. Kay-Dix Ranch that bars just this type of action where the remedy lies with another branch of government - the legislative branch, where the job falls to control immigration or not. The Courts call it the "economic abstention doctrine," and it means they won't interfere when it's not their place to do so.
MIPTC is not aware of any suits filed by Mr. Klehm yet, but will report on them when they become available, and the court's decisions.
Tech Tip Of The Day: A Laser Turntable
MIPTC is stuck in the 70s. That's right. Classic rock. You can say I'm showing my age, and you'd be right.
For me, eight-track tape players and records contain some of the best - and some of the worst - music. It's fun to listen to my old LPs, but the crackling and the popping can get annoying.
Never fear, through. ELP Corporation* has put our a Laser Turntable to cure those evils. The needle never touches the LP. It may melt it, but it doesn't touch it. Just kidding about the melting part. Reviews of the product are absolutely glowing.
There's only one problem with the turntable, according to the reviews. A $15,000 price tag.
I'll stick with my XM Radio for now.
*MIPTC has no interest in ELP Corporation, and would decline it if offered. Moreover, the company is not a sponsor of this blog. But if they offered me one of those turntables, you can bet I'll take one.
Toxic Superfund Site Turns Out Cancer-fighting Organisms
You've likely heard from any number of environmental organizations that we need to save the rain forest because there are so many life-saving compounds in it that have yet to be discovered.
You may not have heard about the same reasoning applied to a Superfund site.
That's right. According to this Business Week article, a 30 billion (yes, with a "b") gallon toxic lake in Butte, Montana, known as the Berkeley Pit Lake, produces not just one, but three helpful biological goodies.
First are two cancer-fighting organisms. The first is known as an extremophile (what else?) and it fights cells that can cause ovarian cancer. The second is a microbial substance that fights lung cancer. There's a third substance, too, and this one blocks nerve cell receptors and calms migraine headaches.
Beware California Lawyers: The State Bar Is Selling Your Email Address
If you're a California lawyer and wondering why all those emails from legal vendors keep showing up in your inbox, then look no further. It's the State Bar selling your email address to make money.
But never fear, you can opt out of the State Bar's money-making program and save your inbox from a few more emails. You can opt-out two ways. First, send an email to email@example.com, and be sure to include your bar number. Otherwise, you can go to this page on the State Bar website, then "Account Information" and select "Update my mailing preferences (opt out)." It's slightly complicated, but you're sure to appreciate the reduction in spam.
*At Will* In An Employment Contract Means Termination Without Cause
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled in the Dore v. Arnold Worldwide, Inc. case that an employment contract containing an "at will" clause and without a definite term for employment means that either an employer or an employee can terminate that contract without cause and without explanation. The particular contract in issue in this case included a provision that the termination could occur "at any time."
Previously, the courts of appeal in California were split whether that additional term should be interpreted to mean the contract required 'cause' before an employee could be terminated. Disagreement existed whether 'at any time" meant that there was some undefined length of employment, requiring notice and good reason before terminating an employee.
Those disagreements exist no longer. The Supreme Court overruled (they used the term 'disapproved")* the several cases that required an explanation before firing an employee where the contract included "at any time" language, even though the employment contract didn't actually include "cause" language.
Now, California employers can terminate California employees at any time for any reason, without cause as long as the employment contract specifies the employment is "at will" and does not contain any language about how long the employment will last (even if it contains "at any time" language). The split between the courts of appeal has been resolved in favor of California employers.
The three disapproved cases are: Seubert v. McKesson Corp. (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 1514; Wallis v. Farmers Group (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 718; and, Bert G. Gianelli Distributing Co. v. Beck & Co. (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 1020. The Court tossed out precedent over 20 years old to reach this decision.
Tech Tip Of The Day And Blog Update; Request for Updated Links
By now, even the Luddites among us have at least seen memory sticks that allow easy transport of data between computers. MIPTC has a freebie 64k stick from a Saturn test drive at BloGher, which is now attached to my car keys for everyday use. I also carry a big 8 meg stick for those larger files.
It flashed into my head recently that it might be a good idea to include some identifying information on the sticks, but rather than attach a return address label to the outside, I downloaded my Outlook .vcf card to it. If I lose it, then the finder will know how to return it to me. For security purposes, I've included only my business contact information.
MIPTC is also going through an overhaul of its blogroll (over there on the left navigation bar), removing broken links and referrals to blogs that haven't seen a post in awhile. I've also updated a significant number of links to note moves from standard blogging platforms like Typepad and Wordpress to stand-alone sites. If you notice that you're blog has been removed and want it returned to the list, then send an email* to me at jcraigwms (at) wlf-law (dot) com. Likewise, if your blog is not on the blogroll and you'd like to be, I'll be happy to take a look at your blog and add it. Just keep those cards and letters coming.
* In order to prevent comment spam, MIPTC's comment box will not allow you to post a URL there, so you will have to send an email to me to get listed.
Coast to Coast Internet Radio Talks Blawgging At Big FirmsBlogging has become a very popular way to share facts and opinions on any topic that you could imagine. The majority of legal bloggers are attorneys from small and individually owned firms, while lawyers at large firms have, for the most part, stayed away from it. Join me and my co-host and fellow Law.com blogger Bob Ambrogi as we speak to three top blawggers and attorneys, Denise Howell, who writes the blawg "Bag and Baggage," Ernie Svenson, who writes "Ernie the Attorney" and Howard Bashman, who writes "How Appealing." Give a listen.