During trial, lawyers make many strategic decisions to try to appeal to a jury. For example, they consider not only the substance of the evidence they present, but also the emotional impact of that evidence. But the impact of a witness’ testimony can be blunted if your jury is not following the testimony, so the use of demonstrative exhibits can be a useful tool to ensure the jury remains focused on the testimony.
Arbitration provisions are common features of commercial agreements. Arbitration is often touted as a cost-effective alternative to litigation that provides contract parties the freedom to decide everything from what law the arbitrator should apply, to what issues the arbitrator should resolve. The parties can even delegate to the arbitrator the issue of what should and should not be arbitrated (also known as arbitrability issues) by incorporating a delegation clause in their arbitration agreement.
Effective as of January 1, 2020, all civil litigants in California will have additional discovery burdens. The California Code of Civil Procedure now requires “[a]ny documents or category of documents produced in response to a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling shall be identified with the specific request number to which the documents respond.” Cal. Civ. Pro. § 2031.280(a). This is a major departure from the prior rule. Responsive documents can no longer be produced as they were “kept in the usual course of business.” This new requirement applies to all pending cases in California, regardless of whether a case commenced prior to the amendment’s effective date of January 1, 2020.
Settlement agreements often include broad general releases covering claims existing from the “beginning of the world” to the settlement date – whether the claims are known or unknown to the releasing party. And in many states, such broad releases are valid and enforceable. Indeed, it is the peace provided by such releases that often makes settlement possible.
A judge in the Northern District Court of California ruled that a virtual reality firm’s “right to veto” provision in its partnership agreement prevented the company from bringing suit against Oculus VR, LLC (“Oculus”), a company that created a popular line of 3-D virtual reality headsets. Total Recall Technologies (“TRT”), a general partnership also in the business of virtual reality headsets, sued Oculus and its founder, Palmer Luckey, claiming that Luckey and Oculus breached a contract to develop headsets for TRT. In his Order, Judge Alsup examined how a general partnership gets authority to bring suit and the subsequent result if that suit was brought without the requisite authority. Judge Alsup granted summary judgment subject to certain conditions in favor of Oculus, finding that TRT lacked the authority to bring suit due to the partnership agreement’s “right to veto” clause. This ruling highlights the critical nature of partnership agreements for technology-based startup companies (and, indeed, all partnerships), particularly in regard to “right to veto” clauses. While veto rights can enforce compromise and cooperation between partners, such a right may prove frustrating if the relationship between partners grows irreconcilably sour.