A federal court in California agreed to remove the two songwriters of the Disney animated film Frozen from a copyright infringement lawsuit, for now. The lawsuit claims that the hit song “Let It Go” was copied from a Chilean song called “Volar,” and that the two songs are so strikingly similar that Disney could not claim its song was independently created.

The plaintiff, Jamie Ciero, originally filed the lawsuit in November 2017 wherein he alleged that the songwriters, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, copied “quantitatively and qualitatively distinct, important, and recognizable portions of his song.” This included note combinations, hooks, and melodies that are, according to Ciero, almost identical to those in his song.

Continue Reading <i>Frozen</i> Songwriters Removed from Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., ruling that states can require retailers to collect sales taxes on their online transactions regardless of whether the retailer has a physical presence in that state. The Court’s ruling overturns decades-old precedent that has allowed internet retailers to be largely exempt from the collection of out-of-state sales taxes.

As a result of the ruling, physical presence is no longer a prerequisite for states to require retailers to collect sales taxes. A retailer may now be required to collect out-of-state sales taxes based solely on the amount of its economic activity within a particular state. Although the Court’s ruling addressed the enforceability of the South Dakota law, it did not expressly address the enforceability of any other state’s sales tax legislation. However, a number of states have already enacted laws or regulations similar to that of South Dakota and it is expected that all other states that administer sales tax will follow suit. Whether Congress will intervene to establish uniform national sales tax requirements remains to be seen.

If you are transacting business online, we recommend that you consult your tax adviser to discuss your sales tax collection obligations in light of the Court’s decision.

In this blog we will explore the scope of permissible back charges that an upper tier contractor can levy against a lower tier contractor pursuant to a subcontract. The basic tenement of contract law is that the non-breaching party is entitled to be put into the position as if the contract had been properly performed by all parties. In other words, the damages are limited to what the parties would have received had the contract been fully and properly performed.

Continue Reading Scope of Permissible Backcharges on a Construction Contract

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has affirmed a Domestic Violence Restraining Order which had been levied against a husband in the midst of a divorce. The decision, captioned, E.D.B. v. D.S. for privacy reasons, came about when the wife discovered the husband had placed an iPad in their shared home office and an iPhone under his bed in order to monitor his wife’s activities when he was not home. The couple was in the process of a divorce prior to this discovery, but was still living together in the same house with their children.

Continue Reading Appellate Division Affirms Stalking with iPad in Restraining Order

Last week, the NFL sought to end the political controversy surrounding some players kneeling during the national anthem by enacting a policy fining teams if players kneeled during the Star-Spangled Banner.

Under the new policy, players could stay in the locker room while the national anthem of the United States is played. Shortly, thereafter, players wrongfully asserted that the new policy violates their First Amendment protection of “freedom of speech.”

The problem with the players’ constitutional argument is that the Constitution only applies to “State actors.” The state action requirement stems from the fact that the constitutional amendments protecting individual rights are mostly phrased as prohibitions against government action. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution sets forth, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, made most of the liberties set forth in the Bill of Rights applicable to the States.

Continue Reading NFL’s Anti-Kneeling Policy Does Not Violate Players’ Constitutional or Employment Rights

When a project involves the construction of public works, or other improvements to a municipal, county, or a state property, a payment bond is typically posted by the general contractor for the project. This is required as lien claims are typically disallowed whenever project involves a state, county or a municipal property.

Continue Reading Beneficiaries Under A Payment Bond

Stark and Stark, along with its co-counsel Barry, Corrado, Grassi & Gillin-Schwartz, have filed a class action on behalf of thousands of potential female class members against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”), over the intolerable conditions at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (“EMCFW”).

NJDOC is a public entity that maintains an annual budget of roughly $1 billion; approximately 8,000 employees; 13 correctional institutions; and nearly 23,000 state-sentenced offenders housed in prisons, county jails, and community halfway houses. NJDOC is responsible for the day-to-day operations, supervision, and management of EMCFW. In 2017, EMCFW had an operational capacity of 846 persons and an average daily population of 659. The daily expense per inmate was $202.15, and the yearly per capita was $73,785.00.[1]

EMCFW, formerly known as the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women, is located at 30 Route 513, in Clinton, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Opened in 1913, EMCFW was named after one of the first female correctional superintendents in the United States. According to the official NJDOC website description, EMCFW “houses state-sentenced female offenders. The prison provides a campus-like setting with housing units and various support buildings. In terms of security designation, there are two compounds – minimum and maximum/medium. There is a third housing compound for inmates with varying classifications of special mental health needs. Programming includes counseling as well as education and vocational opportunities.”[2] EMCFW is the only women’s correctional facility in New Jersey, providing custody and treatment programs for female offenders 16 years of age and older.

For decades, there has been a recognized and documented environment of rampant and unchecked sexual assault and harassment of female inmates by prison employees, agents and administrators, as well as other inmates, throughout state and federal corrections systems. Continue Reading Stark & Stark is Once Again at the Forefront of Protecting Women at Risk in Sexually Abusive Environments

The termination of a shareholder’s employment may constitute oppression under N.J.S.A. 14A:12-7(b)(1)(c). That is because a person who holds a share in a closely held corporation often does so “for the assurance of employment in a closely-held corporation in the business.” Muellenberg v. Bilkon Corp., 143 N.J. 168, 180-181 (1996). That is because, a shareholder may have a “reasonable expectation” of continued employment. See, Brenner v. Berkowitz, 134 N.J. 488, 508 (1993).

When representing the minority, it is important to develop why the employee/shareholder had a reasonable expectation of continued employment. Of course, when representing the corporation or majority, counsel should present evidence that the employee/shareholder did not have a reasonable expectation of continued employment.

Continue Reading Can the Termination of a Shareholder’s Employment be Oppression?

In State, County, or Municipal projects, payment bonds are typically required of the general contractor, as the commercial Construction Lien Law is inapplicable to these projects. Copies of the payment bond are always provided to the relevant government agency, as well as to all direct subcontractors or suppliers with whom the general contractor has directly contracted.

Continue Reading Required Notification to Be Beneficiary Under a Payment Bond

This blog will explore the possibility of probating a copy of a Decedent’s Will if the original document cannot be located. Typically, the County Surrogate will only accept for Probate an original of a Decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If for some reason an original of a Decedent’s Will cannot be located, a party may apply to the Court to Probate a copy of the Decedent’s Will.

Continue Reading Attempting to Probate a Copy of a Will