Monday, February 27, 2012

Facebook: A New Way to Be Served?

A high court judge in England ruled last week that Facebook could be used to serve legal claims. 

“Justice Nigel Teare permitted the unconventional method of service during a pretrial hearing into a case which pits two investment managers against a brokerage firm they accuse of overcharging them.”  The Plaintiff’s attorneys were unable to locate either the home address or email address of one of the defendant brokers.  However, the Plaintiff’s law firm had been observing the Defendant broker’s Facebook and saw that the defendant continued to add new “friends.”  A fact which made the judge chuckle. 

Facebook has declined to comment on this most recent way in which Facebook can be an inconvenience.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lost in Translation – A Twitter Post Can Ruin A Vacation

By now it is becoming all too common that someone posts a joke or sarcastic remark on Twitter or Facebook and they immediately regret it when the post offends someone, reveals too much personal information, or draws the attention of law enforcement, which is increasingly monitoring social media networks for evidence of crimes, particularly terrorism.  A British couple flying from England to Los Angeles learned this lesson the hard.  Right before Leigh Bryan and Emily Banting left England to fly to the U.S., Leigh posted on Twitter “Free this week for a quick gossip/ prep before I go and destroy America?”  What he meant was that he and Emily were going to the U.S. and were going to “party hard,” as it is common slang in England to say something like “this last weekend we destroyed the club.”  This explanation, however, did not go over well with U.S. border patrol agents or the Department of Homeland Security, who had agents waiting at the gate to detain the couple and interrogate them about their intent to “destroy America.” 
Fortunately, the couple was not charged with any crimes. Unfortunately, following being held in detention, the couple was sent back to England on the next flight, their long sought after dream vacation to the U.S. ruined because of an errant tweet and the gap between American English and British English.  The lesson: be careful what you say, be conscious of who may read your public missives and consider whether what you say can be easily misunderstood, particularly by law enforcement.

Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.

Friday, February 17, 2012

National Foreclosure Settlement Reached

An historic settlement agreement has been reached between the federal government, 49 states, and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Ally/GMAC and Wells Fargo. The Settlement was entered into after investigations found that these servicers routinely signed foreclosure documents in violation of federal law. The settlement is intended to provide benefits to borrowers whose loans are or were owned or serviced by these banks. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that borrowers will get any immediate help from the agreement, which is to be executed over the next three years. Those borrowers who are eligible for assistance under the agreement are slated to receive written notice in the next six to nine months.  To find out more, visit the settlement website http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com/.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yelling Fire In a Crowded Theatre

…is still not allowed. A Fed Ex delivery driver found this out the hard way last month while delivering a package to the Camp Williams military base in Salt Lake City, Utah. When asked what was in the package, he replied that it was “probably a bomb.” Over 200 people were immediately evacuated after the comment and the driver was arrested and charged with third degree felony and threat of terrorism.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Breakthroughs In Same Sex Marriage Laws

Just days after the 9th Circuit repealedCalifornia’s “Prop-8” ban on same sex marriage, the Washington State House passed a same sex marriage bill by a vote of 55-43. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire in the coming weeks. After her signature, the law will go into effect in 90 days, meaning the first marriages can take place as early as May, 2012.   

In November 2008, Connecticut became the third state to legalize same sex marriage with the decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 289 Conn. 135 (2008).

New York, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia have also passed laws allowing same-sex marriages.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Practice Clearing Snow and Ice off Your Car – Before it Costs You

In response to public pressure following the winter of 2010, when several accidents resulted from snow and ice flying off of commercial trucks and striking the cars following behind them, the Connecticut legislature passed a law in June 2010 making it a motor vehicle violation for drivers of passenger and commercial motor vehicles to operate their vehicles on the state’s roads and highways without first clearing off any accumulated snow and ice from the trunk, hood and roof.  Public Act No. 10-182.  If you fail to do so, and if the accumulated snow and ice pose a “threat” to other drivers, people or property, the police can pull you over and write you a $75 ticket.  The law does not indicate when accumulated snow and ice pose a “threat” – that decision appears to be left to the discretion of the police.  See subsection (a).  What the law does make clear, however, is that you do not have to stop driving during a snow or ice storm to clear the snow or ice off your car, so long as the snow or ice storm began after you were already driving. See subsection (c).
More significantly, if, after failing to clear off any accumulated snow and ice, you drive your passenger vehicle and the accumulated snow and ice then fly off your car and injure a person or damage property, you can be fined between $200 and $1000.  If you are the operator of a commercial vehicle, the fines range between $500 and $1200.  Partly in response to the commercial trucking industry’s concern over imposing fines on commercial vehicles, the Connecticut legislature elected to create a three year period before the law went into effect, currently set for December 31, 2013, so that owners and operators of commercial vehicles could implement procedures to clear snow and ice off of large vehicles, such as tractor trailers.  Moreover, the three year window provides regular motorists ample notice that driving with accumulated snow and ice is a violation subject to relatively significant fines and, therefore, motorists should get into the habit of completely clearing snow and ice off of their cars before driving.
Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.