Tag Archives: lawsuit

Hotel Safety for the Weary Traveler and a Reminder for the Rest of Us

Hotel Safety for the Weary Traveler and a Reminder for the Rest of Us1“I’m sorry. We can’t tell you that”. Those seven words might have prevented TV personality Erin Andrews from the humiliation of nude videos going viral online.

Andrews, for anyone living under a rock, was the TV personality who gained fame and fortune when the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University failed to use those words, or common sense, when Michael David Barrett asked what room the celebrity was occupying.

The hotel failed to keep Andrews safe and has paid dearly.

But the videotaping, and subsequent lawsuit, has gotten others to thinking about the level of security hotels are required to have and what is a hotel’s obligation to its guest’s safety.

With the public fuss about “air travelers” rights, it is easy to overlook the fact that travelers face problems in places other than airlines.

Many travelers are wondering “What are my rights in a hotel?”

The short answer: There are no national standards, but a traveler does have the normal rights under general contract and tort law. Most states have “innkeepers” regulations that relate.

Legislation and Regulation

There are no federal hotel requirements, for hotels, as there are consumer protections on airlines. Also, there aren’t any federal consumer protection standards. Governing law is a mixture of general contract and tort law — and even some of that goes back to English Common Law and innkeeper rules.

The federal government has limited involvement in the relationships between hotels and guests.

Title 42 of the US Code makes prohibited discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applicable to any inn, hotel or motel.

Hotels are required to meet the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Hotel Fire Safety Act of 1990 imposes additional safety requirements upon hotels above and beyond what is found in local building codes.

New York, like most states, defers to the federal guidelines. New York General Business Law #202 lays out some of the slight differences between state and federal regulations.


Hotels are responsible for providing adequate standards of guest safety. In “legal terms”, that means a duty of care standard which translates into making sure doors are secure and monitored where appropriate.

The hotel is also required to keep the room number confidential and make sure that all window and door locks work properly.

Most hotels are now using full-time surveillance cameras throughout public areas, but the cameras are not mandated in many regions. If a lodge is in an acknowledged undesirable area, then the hotel administration has a responsibility to tell guests.

The overall idea of inadequate security is the hotel’s management failed to display a security awareness or an understanding. A hotel is in the business of providing a safe living environment for people; however, the hotel’s chief concern is usually protecting property, not people.

Personal Property

Hotels are responsible for damage, loss or theft of personal property in a guestroom. However, most hotels guarantee the safety only if it is left in a hotel’s safe which the hotel must produce to bypass in-room liability.

 Although many hotels post “not responsible for loss or damage to personal property” notices, those don’t reduce the hotel’s liability.

Harm or Damage Caused by Third Persons

Here’s the caveat which tripped up the hotel in Andrew’s case.

Hotels have a duty to exercise reasonable care fo the safety and security of their guests. The hotel must protect both guests and employees from the criminal acts of third parties. A greater burden of protection is placed upon hotels than upon landlords. However, the law varies from state to state. Most states have said that hotels are not liable for third-party crimes unless negligence in reasonably protecting guests from harm.

Today, people are traveling solo like never before. It doesn’t matter if the trip is for business or pleasure, accommodations must be chosen wisely. Hotels do (mostly) provide for their security and tend to do everything they can to keep guests safe.

It’s still up to the traveler to use common sense and take reasonable precautions.

Microsoft and Samsung Resolve Dispute over Android Devices

AndroidMicrosoft and Samsung have finally ended their dispute after six months. Microsoft had sued Samsung for violating terms of a patent licensing agreement. It claimed that Samsung had failed to make timely royalty payments related to their patent licensing deal and had withheld interest payments stemming from the delay.

For quite some time now, Microsoft has claimed that the Android operating system violates a number of its patents. According to Microsoft, Android infringes many Microsoft patents that were obtained by Microsoft in the US and elsewhere well before Google launched it. However, instead of exercising its legal right to stop Android -based devices from using that technology, Microsoft had decided to license its patent portfolio to companies that use the operating system.

Samsung is one of the largest companies that make mobile devices based on the Android software. In response, Samsung claimed that Microsoft’s acquisition of the mobile handset business of Nokia also violated the patent licensing agreement between the two companies.

Microsoft is a leader in the technology industry and spends billions of dollars on research and development each year. These efforts have enabled it to have one of the largest and most valuable patent portfolios. Between 2010 and 2013, Microsoft has invested nearly $29 billion in R&D. It has more than 73,000 issued and pending patents worldwide and has entered into more than 1100 license agreements. It continues to develop licensing programs allowing customers, partners and competitors to access it patent portfolio.

The two companies had made a patent agreement in 2011. The terms stated that Samsung would pay Microsoft royalties for each Android phone it sold. Microsoft claimed in the lawsuit that Samsung owned $6.9 million in interest. While it is not known how much Samsung was supposed to pay for each device sold, it is believed that the royalty payments totaled $1 billion in 2013.

Microsoft has similar patent agreements with other companies such as HTC. The Android operating system belongs to Google but the underlying technology uses Microsoft patents.

The court case had been filed in Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York and an arbitration case had been initiated at the International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

The case in the US court and the ICC arbitration is now resolved. Details of the terms of agreement between the two companies have not been revealed.

Google Strikes Back Against Attorney General Jim Hood

In the latest twist in the dispute between Google and Hollywood, Google has now sued Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and is seeking a court order to prevent him from enforcing a wide-ranging subpoena.

The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for Southern Mississippi. Google claims that Mr. Hood has been threatening to prosecute the company for the last eighteen months if the company did not block certain content on its websites. Since Google refused to be bogged down by Mr. Hood’s threat, he filed a burdensome subpoena seeking information about Internet activity that is related to drugs, human trafficking and copyrighted content.

Google’s position is that this subpoena is unconstitutional as it seeks information that is protected by the First Amendment and other federal laws. However, Mr. Hood is of the opinion that Google is trying to stop the state of Mississippi from asking a few questions.

This lawsuit is the latest in the war between Hollywood and Google over online piracy. Previously, the Stop Online Piracy Act had also made a legislative move against Google but had failed.

Google claims that movie studios are working behind the scenes with law-enforcement officials to discredit Google. In fact, according to Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is doing legal legwork for Mr. Hood.

Google has also launched evidentiary actions against the MPAA and its counsel Jenner & Block. Mr. Walker is of the opinion that the MPAA is doing nothing but attempting to censor the Internet. However, the MPAA is adamant in its views that Google is exploiting the freedom of speech and using it to shield unlawful activities and allowing the Internet to be used as a license to steal.

Google defends itself on the grounds that it has made significant effort to discourage piracy and had rolled out refinements to its search algorithm making it harder for people to find content that infringes copyrights.

With respect to the lawsuit, Google has said, “We regret having to take this matter to court,” Google said in a statement, “and we are doing so only after years of efforts to explain both the merits of our position and the extensive steps we’ve taken on our platforms.”

Google has fought legal actions before but this is the first time the search giant has gone on the offense and is striking back through the court.

Legal Immunity For Ebola Vaccine Makers

In order to encourage the development and availability of experimental Ebola vaccines, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has offered liability protection to drug makers who are currently developing Ebola vaccines.

The announcement was made as part of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The goal of this measure is to encourage the development and availability of Ebola vaccines.

As per this protection, companies will have immunity under the US law against any legal claims related to the manufacturing, testing, development, distribution and administration of these vaccines. However, they will not enjoy the same immunity for claims that are brought in courts outside the United States.

Similar protection has been offered previously to vaccine makers in the US with the same objective: to encourage the development of childhood vaccines. This particular announcement is part of an effort by the HHS to address issues in the US and in other countries with respect to the development and use of Ebola vaccines. The HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell has encouraged other countries to follow suit and to offer similar liability protections.

“As a global community, we must ensure that legitimate concerns about liability do not hold back the possibility of developing an Ebola vaccine, an essential strategy in our global response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa,” she said in a statement.

Thus, as per this law, anyone who is allegedly injured by a vaccine can only sue in federal court if the FDA or the Justice Department investigates and finds definite proof of misconduct by the drug company.

Also, this declaration will apply to three specific countermeasures. First, the liability immunity will protect manufacturers and distributors regardless of whether it’s administered and applied without geographic limitation. This protection will last until December 10, 2015. Any individual who sustains a serious physical injury as a result of the vaccine can seek compensation through a Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program but such a claim will have to be supported with reliable and valid evidence.

This measure is expected to encourage more companies to invest in research and development efforts for an Ebola vaccine without the fear that they may be subject to lawsuits and compensation claims in case the vaccine does not provide the necessary results.

Tareq Salahi loses $50 million lawsuit

Tareq Salahi’s $50 million lawsuit against a rock band guitarist and two affiliated entertainment companies ended in defeat in Warren County Circuit Court Monday under a ruling from Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp.

Hupp agreed with arguments by the defendants’ attorneys that Tareq Salahi’s claims would be more appropriately addressed in divorce proceedings with his estranged wife, Michaele Salahi, than in a suit involving accusations of unfair and devious business practices.

“I keep coming back to the same place in my thoughts, and that is the partnership these defendants are alleged to have interfered with is a marital partnership,” Hupp said after the attorneys had concluded their arguments.

The defendants in the case were Neal Schon of the rock band Journey and two California-based companies, DD Entertainment LLC and Nomata, Inc.

Salahi, who appeared in court with attorney Charles B. Roberts of Occoquan, said after the two-hour hearing that he intended to appeal the decision.

Salahi and Roberts did not mention losing the case in statements they issued a few hours later. Instead, both focused on their plans to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, which they hope will order a jury trial.

“Today’s decision to proceed to the Virginia Supreme Court is another step toward justice as a result of Neal Schon’s and Journey’s selfish and outrageous behavior and for their inexcusable acts which caused me extreme emotional distress,” Tareq Salahi said.

In the hearing, Roberts accused Schon and the two entertainment companies of scheming to break up his marriage to Michaele Salahi and engaging in “outrageous, intolerable conduct” afterward as a way of promoting their business interests.

It was the second time Hupp has ruled against Tareq Salahi’s claims in the lawsuit. The suit was on the brink of extinction after his last ruling in April, but the judge gave Tareq Salahi a chance to revive it with an amended complaint that was the basis of Monday’s hearing.

Michaele Salahi left the couple’s home at 4410 Scenic Overlook Drive in early September and within a few days began touring with Schon and Journey. They have remained together since. She and Tareq Salahi are also suing each other for divorce. She has accused him of making threats against her and of cruelty and constructive desertion.

Michaele Salahi also has an $850,000 countersuit pending against Tareq Salahi in which she accuses him of defaming her character by calling her a “groupie slut” during a TV interview in September.

Hupp said the central question in Tareq Salahi’s lawsuit was whether “a husband and wife can become so closely involved in a business relationship that the relationship becomes something separate from the marriage.”

Court documents and statements from the opposing attorneys made clear that the Salahis worked together in money-making ventures involving show business publicity, entertainment contracts and their now-defunct Oasis Winery. They first drew national media attention by slipping into a White House state dinner in November 2009 without an invitation.

Their exploits since then have included an appearance on the Bravo cable channel’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.”, a show that last aired in April 2011.

Roberts said Tareq Salahi was entitled to the same protections against predatory, unfair business practices by competitors that other Virginia business people receive.

“We cannot throw out all the business protections and common law protections for married people simply because they’re married,” Roberts said.

Bruce Blanchard, a Fairfax attorney who represented Schon and Journey at the hearing, and William B. Porter, who represented the entertainment firms, scorned Roberts’s claims as unreasonable.

Porter, referring to court documents in which Roberts refers to Michaele Salahi as “a valuable entertainment commodity” scoffed at Roberts’ and Tareq Salahi’s reasoning.

“The problem in their posture, judge, is it’s all based on the fact that Ms. Salahi has no free will,” Porter said, adding “this woman is not a piece of property, she’s not a book, she’s not an entertainment asset. She’s a person.”

“She has the right to do what she wants.”

After Hupp had ruled, Blanchard pleaded with him to “redact” from the court files a photo of a penis that Tareq Salahi said Schon had emailed to him as a taunt.

Earlier in the hearing, Blanchard had indignantly denounced Salahi and Roberts for inserting the photo into the public record.

“It’s a dirty picture and didn’t need to be submitted,” as evidence, Blanchard said. He also scoffed at what he called Roberts’ “feigned reluctance” to use the photo.

Hupp said he would allow the photo to remain intact and uncensored.

“It’s here,” Hupp said.

 Originally published on NV Daily

SkyRiver Tech and Innovative Interfaces Seeks Access to “OCLC’s Unlawfully Acquired Database” in Unfair Competition Complaint

In case you missed it and I certainly did until yesterday when I received this emailed statement from OCLC, SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces, Inc. filed suit against OCLC, alleging anticompetitive practices in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on July 29th (Docket No. 10-cv-03305-BZ) Download the Complaint here. According to the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, OCLC is “unlawfully monopolizing the bibliographic data, cataloging service and interlibrary lending markets and is attempting to monopolize the market for integrated library systems by anticompetitive and exclusionary agreements, policies and practice.”

Two more snips from the Complaint:

This case is about defendant OCLC’s exclusionary agreements, punitive pricing, unlawful tying arrangements and its refusal to deal with for-profit firms in violation of the antitrust laws in order to maintain its monopolies and to destroy a new entrant in the market for library cataloging services in competition with OCLC. This case is also about defendant OCLC’s entry into the integrated library systems market and its use of its monopoly power over its bibliographic database, cataloging service and worldwide interlibrary lending service to attempt to monopolize the integrated library systems market through unlawful, anticompetitive conduct and anticompetitive agreements that it imposes on its member libraries and its refusal to all for-profit firms to access its database for commercial purposes.
… This action is brought to obtain relief from the injuries suffered by plaintiffs, including access to OCLC’s unlawfully acquired database, and for the benefit of all libraries, their patrons and consumers by assuring that competition exists in all aspects of electronic bibliographic data compilation and library systems and service.

OCLC states in its announcement:

OCLC’s General Counsel, working with trial counsel, will respond to this regrettable action by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces following procedures and timetables dictated by the court. This process will likely take months or even years, not days.

In the meantime, we want to assure the OCLC membership and all 72,000 libraries that use one or more OCLC services that these spurious allegations will not divert us from our current plans and activities. These include maintaining and enhancing existing services, pursuing an ambitious agenda in library research and advocacy, and introducing new Web-scale (cloud) services. Indeed, OCLC has been a global leader in providing cloud-based services for libraries since 1971, and the next generation of these services holds great promise for reducing member library costs.

See also Marshall Breeding’s LJ report:

[The litigation] also represents the culmination of concerns expressed by some vendors and librarians that OCLC has used its tax-exempt status to behave not only as a giant library utility but a hard-nosed business.

OCLC Circa Mid-1970s.

Ah, to return to the good old days during the mid-1970s when I first saw OCLC’s cataloging module in action and, as a Serials Technical Assistant in an academic library, was eagerly waiting for Serials to come online. It was something to behold.

Of course, we were also producing printed catalog card records back then that had to be filed but, luckily, that wasn’t my job because I was too busy checking in serials the old school cardex way.