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Los Angeles Business & Commercial Law Blog

California landowners seek to stop state soil testing

Property owners are granted certain rights if the government seeks to take over their property. Knowing these rights may allow a landowner to protect their property from an improper taking.

A property dispute between the State of California and private landowners will be heard by the state Supreme Court. The state is proposing to build two water tunnels, both 40 feet in diameter, to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so it can be used by residents in the central and southern parts of the state. Prior to building the tunnels, however, the state must conduct testing to help determine whether the project will meet its needs.

California company sued over electric-car charging contract

Contracts are entered into by individuals and businesses to receive a bargained for benefit, while obligating them to the other party. A failure to perform as agreed may result in significant liability for either party, as can be seen by a recent case.

A company that provides electric car charging stations, and was originally based in California, is being sued by a convenience store chain. The action arises from a contract between the two companies in which the convenience store chain would pay the company $22,500 for placing a charging station at one of their convenience stores. The company agreed to provide five stations, for a total payment due of $112,500. Payment was not to be made for any station that was not usable by June 30, 2012 and any payments made for an unusable station were to be reimbursed. The convenience store chain paid the total amount in April of that year, but the company failed to provide the charging stations. Additionally, the company has not reimbursed the $112,500 payment, which resulted in the legal action.

California-based license plate reader company files patent suit

Corporations can take various steps to protect their confidential information and intellectual property. If this property is used without authorization, a company may pursue business litigation to protect their rights.

A California-based company that specializes in license plate reading technology is suing one of its smaller competitors for patent infringement. In conjunction with another company that has licensed its patents to them, they have brought the action against their competitor over three patents. The technology in question is used by law enforcement to compare vehicle license plates with lists of stolen vehicles. Additionally, license plate readers can be used by private companies for recovery purposes.

Malibu Village recently sold for reported $120 million

Commercial real estate can present exciting opportunities but should always be carefully considered. One of nearby Malibu's biggest shopping centers, Malibu Village, was recently sold. A real estate investment firm from out-of-state, with a presence elsewhere in California, recently purchased the 50,000 square foot outdoor mall from southern California investors. Although the sale price and other terms of the deal were not released, those familiar with the commercial property market valued the deal at $120 million. The COO for the purchasing company noted it is focused on growth and "looking for more opportunities for long-term investment in Southern California." The purchasing company plans to try to attract more local shops and restaurants as tenants but does not plan any other changes. The 50,000 square foot property is ninety percent leased.

When entering into a commercial real estate growth opportunity, it is important to understand the process of purchasing commercial real estate. The process requires a thorough understanding of everything from the real estate market to contract negotiations and drafting a purchase agreement. Depending on the nature of the commercial real estate transaction, other important considerations such as zoning laws, real estate land use and construction issues may also need to be resolved.

Vineyard owner sues consultant winemaker in California

Individuals and businesses in Thousand Oaks, California, enter into contracts with each other with the intent of receiving a benefit in exchange for some sort of consideration. When the benefit is not realized, issues with the contract need to be addressed accordingly.

The owner of a Napa Valley vineyard is suing a winemaker that he contracted with to assist in creating a wine for approximately $1.6 million. The consultant winemaker was to help him make a wine worth around $200 per bottle in exchange for $120,000. The consultant made the wine at one of his own vineyards, but while it was being made it allegedly contracted spoilage bacteria, causing the wine to essentially become vinegar. According to the vineyard owner, the consultant failed to respond to the issue appropriately. He also claims that the wine has been designated as unsellable. The consultant, however, maintains that he applied the appropriate care and that the wine can be used to make a blend. The suit by the vineyard owner is alleging negligence and breach of contract on the part of the winemaker.

California college shut down for failure to pay rent on property

Businesses seeking to retain more capital often seek to rent property rather than buy it. The renting of commercial real estate is governed by a commercial lease and both the business and the property manager must abide by the terms of the lease.

A vocational college located in San Jose, California, recently shut down for two days after the Sherriff's office placed eviction notices on the office and classrooms. According to the landlord, the school owed $82,000 in unpaid rent on their commercial property. The college supposedly has had financial issues for many years, including the assessment of multiple tax liens by federal and local agencies between 2005 and 2012. The landlord alleged in February that the college was overdue on its lease payments and the eviction notices were provided after numerous negotiations, but a repeated failure to pay by the college. The school expected to have the issue settled quickly, allowing it to reopen its doors to students.

Employee noncompete agreements prohibited in California

Noncompete agreements are a method for organizations to keep their talented employees and prevent other companies from gaining inside information on them. However, such agreements must be balanced with the freedom of employees to determine their own careers.

The hiring and recruiting strategies of EMC Corp., a data storage company, have highlighted the differences in how states, particularly California, treat noncompete clauses for employees. California does not allow noncompete agreements, meaning that employees can be hired away from rival organizations with no legal recourse.

Commercial developer pleads guilty to securities fraud

Developers of commercial real estate may at times seek multiple investors for a development project or series of projects. These investors will provide the developer with necessary cash flow for their projects, while the developer will agree to provide the investor with some type of asset or benefit in exchange. Developers in these situations must hold up their end of the agreement.

A commercial real estate developer in California recently pleaded guilty to securities fraud. The developer sought investors to purchase notes in what he called the "Trust Deed Investment Program." In exchange for their investment, he promised to provide investors with a lien on specific property that would have priority over all other liens on the property. However, he failed to provide such liens and instead gave the investors smaller interests that did not have priority or allow the investors to foreclose on the property. He also sold property that investors had an interest in without their knowledge. In total, he defrauded over 50 investors for around $50 million.

Author sues Warner Bros. for breach of production contract

Best-selling author Tess Gerritsen recently filed suit against Warner Bros. studio for an alleged breach of contract. Gerritsen wrote a book entitled "Gravity" and a unit of Warner Bros. bought the film rights to the book the same year it was published. The author is claiming that the studio breached the purchase agreement by not giving her a credit. She claims that she is entitled to a $500,000 bonus for the movie, as well as 2.5% of any resulting proceeds.

When parties agree to contract with each other, they assume certain obligations outlined in the contract. If they fail to fulfill any of these obligations, it is considered a breach of contract. A breach may consist of a failure to perform, a failure to perform on time or a failure to perform according to the terms of the contract.

Professional California sports team loses sponsorship support

Many college and professional sports teams throughout California operate with budgets partially funded by sponsorships. Sponsors are entities that provide organizations with financial support in exchange for advertising and other benefits. When a person sees a company's logo flashed up on a screen at an NBA basketball game it is a safe bet that the company is a team sponsor.

Most sponsorship relationships are governed by business contracts that establish at the very least the terms under which the sponsor will provide funding. While some sponsorship contracts only cover financial terms and advertising details, others delve into more intricate terms that can nullify a sponsorship if particular conditions are not met.

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