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Ex-Novak Partners Ink Wage Deal, Eye Polsinelli To Collect

Ex-Novak Partners Ink Wage Deal, Eye Polsinelli To Collect

By Kat Greene

Law360, Los Angeles (July 11, 2017, 6:44 PM EDT) — Two former Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLPpartners have inked a $500,000 settlement in their wage dispute with the troubled firm, and their attorney told Law360 on Tuesday he may pursue their former partners or Polsinelli PC, where many moved, in order to collect.

Former non-equity partners Marcus Hall and Dean Morehous netted the deal with Novak Druce in their 2015 suit accusing the firm of failing to make 2014 holdback or bonus payments and then ceasing to pay the duo altogether after they complained, according to a June 30 judgment.

But just how to collect that judgment is its own problem, Hall and Morehous’ attorney Ara Jabagchourian told Law360 on Tuesday.

The leadership of Novak Druce, including name partners Gregory Novak and Tracy Druce, departed for Polsinelli in March 2016, leaving behind a shell of the former firm. So now Hall and Morehous — two of several former Novak Druce lawyers who’ve accused the firm of cheating them out of pay — are considering seeking payout on their judgment from Polsinelli, Jabagchourian said.

“They essentially took all the assets of [Novak Druce] … and left an empty shell behind,” Jabagchourian said of Polsinelli. “What astonishes me is that these guys left a lot of people high and dry and didn’t think twice about it.”

Hall and Morehous sued in San Francisco Superior Court in August 2015, alleging Novak Druce owed Hall $300,550 and Morehous $164,707.

The two former Novak Druce attorneys had been gearing up for trial when their former firm decided to settle with them, agreeing to pay Hall $250,000, Morehous $150,000, and $100,000 for their attorneys’ fees.

The pair are mulling whether to pursue Polsinelli for the funds, treating the mass lateral hire as a de facto merger, or to push all the former Novak Druce partners into involuntary bankruptcy to collect their judgment, according to their attorney.

Novak Druce’s website still exists but has been stripped bare, and an email to the address provided on site was returned as undeliverable.

A spokeswoman for Polsinelli and an attorney for Novak Druce didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Novak Druce struggled for years before the move to Polsinelli. The firm steadily lost partners since the merger between Novak Druce & Quigg LLP — founded by six former Howrey LLP attorneys in 2005 — and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP in January 2013. An ex-partner in Delaware sued the firm in April 2016, saying he was owed nearly $20,000 in back pay.

Then in March 2016, Polsinelli PC’s shareholders voted to approve the mass lateral acquisition of 44 of Novak Druce’s roughly 80 attorneys, including name partners Novak and Druce.

Hall and Morehous are represented by Ara Ray Jabagchourian of the Law Offices of Ara Jabagchourian.

Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP is represented by Diane B. Sherman of the Law Offices of Diane B. Sherman.

The case is Marcus T. Hall v. Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP, case number CGC-15-547383, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco.

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Firm Hosts Private Screening Of “The Promise”

Ara and Lori Jabagchourian proudly hosted a private screening of the movie “The Promise” a night before its general release.  Over 280 individuals, including members of the judiciary, local politicians, educators, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs attended this special event.  “The Promise” is the first major motion picture addressing the issues of the Armenian Genocide on the big screen.

Eric Esrailian, a co-producer of the film and San Mateo native, prepared a personalized video for the guests that played at the beginning of the movie.  Also, Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom also prepared a personalized video for the evening acknowledging the importance of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, especially given the current events.

Jabagchourian Interviewed Regarding The Supreme Court Possible Review of California Gun Rights Case

April 18, 2017

California concealed carry gun case could headtto Supreme Court

By Joshua Sebold

Daily Journal Staff Writer

A hotlycontested California gun control case has a chancetto be among thefifirst matters reviewed by tthe U.S. Supreme Court since Justice Neil Gorsuchttook his seatThe court, now at full strength, is expected to begin selecting cases for review later this week.

The case iinvolves a challenge totthe San Diego County Sheriff‘s Department‘s concealed carry licensing program and underlying laws that allow individual countiestto determine therrequirements for attaining allicensePeruta v.. County of San Diego, 824 F.3d 919 ((9th Cir., 2016).

Gun rights advocates contend those regulatory schemes, combined with a 2012 amendment to the California Penal Code that precludes people ffrom openlyccarrying firearms in public, combinetto violate the Second Amendment. Their Contention is that the Second Amendment provides an affirmative right to bear arms outside of the home for purposes of self-defense and that a combination  of outlawing open carry and putting limitations on concealed carry essentially violates that right by ensuring that certain individuals have no means to take a gun into public places.

A panel of three 9th Circuit judgesiinitially sided with the plaintiffs, ruling the combination of the two regulations violated the Second Amendment, but an en banc panel reversed that decision, giving its blessing to counties that want to enforce strict conceal carry licensing regimes.

The Supreme Court ttook up tthe Second Amendment argument in 2008,iin the D..C.. v.. Hellllerrccase,, but only ruled that tthe Constitution protected the right to bear arms intthe home, without addressing the question of carryingffirearms into public.

Commentators on all sides of the debate agree that the court taking up this case would provide a historic moment from both a policy and constitutional law perspective.  “It would be the biggest gun case since the Heller case, ” said UCLA School of Law Professor Adam Winkler.  

If the Supreme Court strikes down discretionary permitting, you’re going to see skyrocketing numbers of people carrying concealed weapons in cities like Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and San Francisco,” he said.  f

There isn’t currently a circuit split on this issue, but a case is awaiting oral argument in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, where a district judgerruled against that form of regulation, creating the possibility of a split.

Ara R. Jabagchourian, a San Mateo attorney who is not involved in the litigation but has been following it for years, said that if the Supreme Court does take up the case, the justices would probably take a very close look at the original 9th Circuit panel’s opinion about the potential Second Amendment ramifications of precluding many Californians from carrying their guns outside, in public.  

“You‘ve effectively eliminated the right to bear arms,” he said, “Theyre not there to make policy, they’re there to stay consistent with the Constitution.” 

Both attorneys agreed that the Supreme Court was relatively unlikely to take up the case because, as it currently stands, the litigation would only directly impact California, but Jabagchourian said the impact on gun owners in the state might be significant enough to warrant review. 

Winkler said he wouldntt be shocked iftthe case gets a review, but he wouldnt bet on it either.

“The Supreme Court has had the opportunity to take several concealed carry cases in the past and each time the justices have passed,” he said.  The law professor added that it takes four votes for justices to take up a case and only two of them, Justice Clarence Thomas and the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, voted to hear conceal carry cases in prior instances. 

“Even if Gorsuch is as strongly pro-gun as Justice Scalia, his vote might not be enough to convince the justices to take a case,” Winkler said.  “It would come down to Chief Justice Roberts and, as usual, the most powerful man in America, Anthony Kennedy.”

Court backs ‘concealed carry’ limits

Divided 9th Circuit likely tees up case for US Supreme Court

Daily Journal

June 10, 2016


California residents cannot carry a concealed weapon without showing “good cause” to do so, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The divided opinion of 11 judges yielded one concurrence and several dissents on a closely-followed case that started with a lawsuit by residents of Yolo and san Diego counties challenging concealed carry ordinances.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms of the U.S. Constitution does not extend to Californias who wish to carry ones that are hidden from view.

“As the uncontradicted historical evidence overwhelming shows, the Second Amendment does not protect, in any degree, the right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed weapon in public,” Fletcher wrote.

The 89-page opinion spent considerable time analyzing how bearing arms was defined historically in England from the 1300s onward and by the American colonies.  Peruta v. County of San Diego, 2016 DJDAR 5523.

This reasoning comes from a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the right to carry handguns, District of Columbia v. Heller, which held the Second Amendment was a “right inherited from our English ancestors.”

“By the end of the eighteenth century, when our Second Amendment was adopted, English law had for centuries consistently prohibited carrying concealed (and occasionally the even broader category of concealable) arms in public,” Fletcher wrote , adding that the panel found nothing “differed significantly” on the topic in American colonial history.

Circuit judges Consuelo M. Callahan, Barry G. Silverman, Carlos Bea and N. Randy Smith dissented.

Callahan, considered by the majority as writing the “principal dissent,” wrote that the 7-4 opinion ignores the big picture of the right to bear arms.

“The majority sets up and knocks down an elaborate straw argument by answering only a narrow question – whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry concealed firearms in public,” Callahan wrote.  “But this approach is contrary  . . .to the prescribed method for evaluating and protecting broad constitutional guarantees.”

Followers of the opinion said Thursday they were not surprised by the outcome, but some expressed disappointment, noting strict permit guidelines required in certain California cities and counties to obtain a weapon.

“This could effectively eliminate in California the right for some people to carry arms,” said Ara R. Jabagchourian, a San-Mateo based attorney and former partner with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP who is not involved on the case.

“I think there’s going to be trouble with the opinion,” he said, adding that he could see it appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because of the split among circuits on the issue.

A 7th Circuit opinion has rejected so-called “good cause” requirements to have a concealed weapon.  So has the District of Columbia Circuit.

Going the opposite way, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th circuits have affirmed good cause or special need rules.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, said the “court is clearly right” on Thursday’s opinion.  “Fletcher does a very good job showing why this is not a right protected by the Second Amendment,” Chemerinsky said.


Fresno County Supervisors Reject Pipeline Claims

The Fresno Bee

July 10, 2015

Eleven claims filed against Fresno County for its alleged involvement in the gas line explosion at the Fresno Sheriff’s Foundation will likely be rejected by supervisors when the board meets on Tuesday.

The claimants include injured inmates who were working at the site April 17 when a front loader driven by a county employee apparently struck a Pacific Gas & Electric gas line, causing an explosion that injured a dozen people and killed one inmate. The county employee was on a road formed over a berm that sat above the shooting range near Highway 99 and the San Joaquin River in northwest Fresno.

Four of the claims were filed on behalf of family members of the dead inmate, Jeremiah Espino. The claim filed for his three children and his wife seeks $25 million from the county. Two other victims, Rosario Lara and Victor Castaneda, also filed claims seeking $20 million. Both men were seriously burned in the explosion, said Ara Jabagchourian, lawyer for the two men and Espino’s family.

Jabagchourian said Thursday that both Lara and Castaneda suffered “substantial burns.”

He said their job that day was to pick up shell casings from the shooting range, and they weren’t assuming the same risk as the driver of the front loader, Ismael Arreazola. He said the men had finished their work and were lined up awaiting a ride back to the jail when the explosion occurred.

“This front loader caused something to happen,” he said.

A report released by Exponent, a firm hired by the California Public Utilities Commission, said the front loader struck the gas pipeline, causing it to explode.

Lawyers who have taken legal action against PG&E say they don’t believe the pipeline was properly covered by dirt, although a company hired by PG&E says the gas line was covered by 4.7 feet of dirt when it was struck.

Claims filed by lawyer Warren Paboojian on behalf of inmate Efrain Gutierrez and Christine Gutierrez, also will be considered by supervisors. Paboojian’s claim includes information that the county failed to call the toll-free 811 information line to find out if there was a pipeline in the area. Paboojian’s claims don’t specify an amount sought.

Butch Wagner, a lawyer who filed one claim and expects to file at least two more, said he also expects his claims to be rejected.

“In the 33 years I’ve been practicing, I’ve never seen Fresno County accept any claim ever,” Wagner said.

Arreazola’s lawyer, Amanda Riddle, said she hasn’t yet filed a claim on behalf of her client. She has two years from the date of the incident to file.

Arreazola is covered under the county’s workers compensation coverage. The county maintains the inmates are, too. Wagner said if it’s determined the inmates are covered, it would limit the county’s financial exposure.

Two other claims also are on the list for rejection, filed by Union Pacific Railroad and Travelers Insurance. Union Pacific is claiming $277,500 in damages to railroad tracks because of the explosion. Travelers Insurance, acting as an agent for Midstate Barrier, Inc., claim $29,006 in damage to a freight truck owned by one of the insurer’s clients.

Claims are filed to offer an opportunity for both sides to reach a settlement. When claims are rejected, lawyers can then file lawsuits based on the claims.

The investigation into the pipeline explosion continues, and the report by Exponent is not final, PUC officials said earlier this week.


Driver liability issues raise questions for car-sharing startups

FORTUNE — When is an Uber driver an Uber driver, and what happens when there’s an accident?

Million-dollar questions like these — and more — are being asked in the aftermath of Sofia Liu’s death. On New Year’s Eve, the 6-year-old was struck and killed by Syed Muzzafar in his gray Honda Pilot as she crossed an intersection in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Weeks later, Liu’s family filed a wrongful death suit against Muzzafar and Uber, alleging Uber was also responsible because Muzzafar was looking for passengers and had the Uber app open on his smartphone.

“Under the law, is the clock ever off? When are these guys deemed to be on?” wonders Ara Jabagchourian, a partner with the Los Angeles-based law firm, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP. (Jabagchourian is not involved with the case.)

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Uber argues its drivers can work whenever they please, a draw for some former cab drivers used to working regular shifts. But drivers — or at least Uber X drivers — should note the company’s insurance policy works similarly. Black car drivers, for instance, are required to have commercial insurance that covers them at all times, whether that insurance is covered by the driver or their employers. Likewise, Uber X drivers are contractors, not company employees, and what their coverage looks like can wildly vary: Some may be covered via commercial insurance because of another employer or because the driver opted for it, but by no means is it mandatory for an Uber X driver to have it.

Instead, Uber has a million-dollar insurance policy covering potential damages like those the Lui family is seeking, but that policy kicks in from the moment a passenger hails an Uber X driver with the Uber app until the moment the passenger is dropped off. And if an accident does happen, the policy either kicks in to make up the difference between what a driver’s personal insurance covers and damages sought, up to and including $1 million; or if the driver is for any reason uninsured or underinsured.

Uber’s competitor, Lyft, offered somewhat similar insurance coverage until this Wednesday when Lyft expanded its scope. The startup introduced collision coverage of up to $50,000, provided Lyft drivers already have personal collision coverage of their own. According to Lyft spokesperson Erin Simpson, several Lyft drivers have previously run into problems with their personal insurance providers regarding accidents once the provider realized they drove for a ride-sharing service. So Lyft’s collision coverage is intended as a guarantee for drivers when they’re on the clock — not a standalone plan. (In addition, Lyft’s new policies now offer coverage up to $1 million for uninsured or underinsured motorists.) Lyft also announced participation in the Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Insurance Coalition, a group of transportation companies — one that includes competitor Sidecar — as well as regulators, insurance providers, and other stakeholders trying to address insurance issues within the space.

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In Muzzafar’s case, Uber argues it isn’t liable because he was merely looking for passengers but hadn’t found one yet. If a user had already hailed Muzzafar and Muzzafar was en route to pick them up, or an Uber passenger was already in the car, Uber’s million-dollar policy would apply, but only then, if the driver’s personal insurance isn’t enough to cover all the damages.

The reality is less clear-cut. “The argument could be made they [drivers] are using the app while they’re driving, and obviously use of cell phone is illegal in California,” points out Jordanna Thigpen, a Los Angeles attorney with Westerman Law Corp. and former executive director of the San Francisco Taxi Commission. Currently, liability as it pertains to a company like Uber largely varies by city or state. And while there remains much to be sorted out, Thigpen argues for balanced legislation — neither lacking, nor stifling innovation — for the ride-sharing space. Says Thigpen: “There’s a reason transportation has been regulated for over 100 years. If you leave mass people to their own devices, well, it’s not a good idea.”

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Exposing The Patent Trolls

This segment originally aired on the August 18th, 2013 episode of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV. Innovation is what helps drive the US economy and keep American businesses competitive both at home, and on the global market. So what happens when patents for new products are snatched up by the patent trolls? Ring of Fire guest host Farron Cousins speaks with attorney Ara Jabagchourian to help answer that question.