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June 2015




DOJ Issues Guidance for Best Practices Before, During, and After a Data Breach

By David Cole

In response to the increasing number of data breaches around the county, and the public attention being given to them, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a guidance document intended to help organizations prepare for and respond to data breaches. The document, titled “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting of Cyber Incidents,” is based on the DOJ’s experience investigating and prosecuting cybercriminals. The guidelines focus primarily on the proactive and reactive measures an organization should take with respect to data breaches.

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Homeowners Association Can Charge Fees For Short-Term Rentals

By: Nicholas A. Rogers

              While many localities throughout the nation struggle to regulate commercial short-term housing rentals through companies like Airbnb, a state appeals court recently upheld the authority of a California condominium association to charge fees to owners who rent their units for short-term occupancy.  In Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association, a California appellate court recently held that a common interest development, such as a homeowners association, is entitled to impose reasonable fees to cover the extra costs of vacationers and other short-term renters, who use common areas and other facilities more than residents as such users are “less careful…because they are not concerned with the long-term consequences of abuse.”  (Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 466.)

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The War Against Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses Rages On

By: John H. Goselin, II and Benjamin Keck

On March 10, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a 728-page “Arbitration Study.” According to the CFPB’s Arbitration Study, which primarily focused on credit card contracts, consumers are generally unaware of whether or not their credit card agreements include arbitration clauses. CFPB concluded that most consumers, subject to arbitration clauses, wrongly believe they can participate in class action lawsuits, despite the fact that nearly all arbitration clauses now include provisions prohibiting the consumer from participating in such actions.

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New York City Law Restricts Use of Credit Checks for Employment Purposes

By: Behnam Salehi

On May 6, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill restricting employers’ use of credit background checks for employment purposes. The law amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) making it an unlawful discriminatory practice, with certain exceptions, for an employer to request or use the consumer credit history of an applicant or employee for any employment purpose. The law will not be limited to an employer’s hiring or termination decisions, but also makes it unlawful to use the consumer credit history in making any other decisions related to the terms and conditions or privileges of employment.

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Firm and Attorney News 

 

FMG Has Two Successful Jury Verdicts in May

FMG partners led two successful trial teams in verdicts last month again showing that ‎juries still can be receptive to defense arguments in the face of plaintiffs‎ that jurors often find sympathetic.

FMG partner Phil Savrin and associate Abby Vineyard won a complete defense verdict verdict for Professional Boiler Services, Inc., in a case tried in the Superior Court of Richmond County (Augusta, Ga). The suit was brought by Augusta Select Tissue, LLC, and contended that PBS was negligent in connection with servicing of a gas boiler that exploded a few days later causing substantial property damage and business loss.‎  After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verduct in favor of FMG'ss client on all claims.  Moreover, because a settlement offer was made early on in the case, FMG's client will be able to recover attorney fees and litigation expenses under Georgia’s version of the federal Rule 68 offer of settlement statute.  

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FMG partner Marc Bardack also had a very successful result in a jury trial last week in the Superior Court of Fulton (Atlanta). FMG's client, the driver of aa transportation company, was blamed for negligence in a multi vehicle accident that caused significant personal injuries to one of drivers.

At trial, the Plaintiff claimed $228,000 in past medical expenses,  $400,000 in past lost wages and over $400,000 in future lost wages.  Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury in closing for over $3 million. Despite these  injuries and special damages, the jury awarded only $175,000, and under Georgia's apportionment statutute,  assessed only 5% fault ($8,750) to FMG's client.   The jury apportioned 90% fault to another party and 5% fault to the plaintiff. 

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 Jennifer L. Ward, a partner in the Philadelphia office, was admitted to the Supreme Court of U.S. last week

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Wayne Melnick, a partner in the Atlanta office was recently the attorney-presenter for the CLM Municipal Law national webinar The Effects of Plumhoff v. Richard on Qualified Immunity.

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Freeman Mathis &  Gary is pleased to announce that Bart Gary’s Georgia Construction Law  Handbook, 2015 edition is now available.

 

 

 

 

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About Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP

Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP is a leading national litigation firm, serving clients through its practice groups in CGL and Business Liability, Commercial and Complex Litigation, Construction and Design Law, Financial Services and Transactions, Government Law, Government Relations, Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith, Labor and Employment Law, and Professional Liability. With offices in Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Florida, FMG attorneys serve as trusted counsel to corporations and governments throughout the country, providing practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for legal issues. For more information about FMG, visit www.fmglaw.com.




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