California marijuana retailer sued by former chief financial officer

Image: MedMen Chief Executive Adam Bierman as reported by Los Angeles Times. Photo Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

MedMen, a major marijuana industry operator in California with 1,243 employees, faces a lawsuit by its former chief financial officer, the L.A. Times reports.

“As California’s marijuana industry works to project an image of mainstream respectability, one of its best-known companies has come under attack by a former insider,” the newspaper reports.

MedMen Enterprises Inc. is trying to bring pot sales into the mainstream by providing sleek, comfortable stores in high-profile locations, and its strategy often is said to emulate the Apple store model.

The marijuana retailer is being sued by its former chief financial officer, James Parker, “who alleges the Culver City firm forced him out for objecting to a variety of alleged misdeeds at the company, whose stock became publicly traded last year.” A MedMen official denies the allegations.

Parker’s suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court following his departure from the firm on Nov. 5.

“After earlier rounds of private funding, MedMen went public last May through a reverse takeover — MedMen bought an existing Canadian public company — that enabled MedMen’s stock to be listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange,” the L.A. Times reports. “Although California and more than two dozen other states allow medicinal or adult recreational use of marijuana, cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law and thus the major U.S. stock exchanges will not list cannabis firms that operate in the United States.”

Pre-trial bail rejected by San Francisco judge

San Francisco’s money bail schedule deprives plaintiffs of their rights, a judge ruled while overturning the law, possibly creating an opening for additional challenges.

Findlaw.com reports that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the sheriff’s use of the bail schedule “has significantly deprived plaintiffs of their fundamental right to liberty by sole reason of their indigence.”

The concept of bail, Findlaw.com notes, “means that thousands of potentially innocent people are stuck in jail — often for minor offenses — simply because they can’t afford bail.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case decided by Judge Rogers lost her job while in custody, only to have the charges against her dropped.

The ruling is not an isolated rejection of money bail, the site notes. “Cities, states, courts, and the Department of Justice have come out against pre-trial money,” the site reports.

Testing the 1st Amendment: Journalism Becomes a Proving Ground for Anti-SLAPP Laws

by Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher
(Originally published in CityWatch LA on 3/14/19)

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 3/14/19.

On February 11, L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta based lawyer, filed a complaint in conjunction with Kentucky based lawyer, Todd McMurtry, in the Eastern District of Kentucky against the Washington Post (Wapo).

Kentucky does not have Anti-Slapp Laws — laws designed to allow for early dismissal of lawsuits related to Freedom of Speech. Mr. Wood is an experienced defamation litigator who has represented multiple high-profile clients, including accused Atlanta bomber Richard Jewell, former Congressman Gary Condit, and Burke Ramsey the brother of Jon Benet.

The complaint was filed on behalf is Mr. and Mrs. Sandmann, as guardians of. The Plaintiff seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages for the harm Nicholas allegedly suffered as a result of the negligent, reckless, and malicious attacks both digital and in print. Sandmann asserts that these events have caused permanent damage to his life and reputation and were directed by malice. It is the events of January 18, 2019 that occurred on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that serve as the basis for the civil complaint.  Read the full story

Arbitration gains currency after Supreme Court decision

Employees trying to take companies to court face more likelihood of arbitration based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, The Recorder at law.com reports.

A string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions favoring arbitration contracts, including the recent split decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, changed the landscape of workplace litigation, the site notes.

“Claims of persistent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, fast-food workers shorted on pay and gig economy contractors fighting for employee status have all been routed to arbitration in decisions citing Epic,” The Recorder notes.

“[Epic] changes the dynamics in a profound way,” Gerald Maatman, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago told The Recorder. “It’s one of the most important decisions from the Supreme Court that impacts workplace issues.”

“In collaboration with San Francisco-based legal research company Casetext, The Recorder affiliate The National Law Journal analyzed 92 decisions from U.S. courts of appeal and federal district courts that cited Epic in the seven months between when it was handed down last May and the end of 2018,” the article notes. “Among those cases, 10 circuit court and 49 district court decisions centered on arbitration and dealt with workplace claims — and the majority either compelled arbitration or revived it as a live issue.”

In California, new privacy, data protection rules could fuel lawsuits

California’s new privacy law could spur a rash of class action lawsuits against companies, officials warn.

The Recorder at law.com reports that the regulations, due to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, “will bear more than a passing resemblance to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, empowering Californians with more control over the way their data is collected, shared or viewed by companies on a daily basis.”

Reece Hirsch, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, says the privacy rights outlined in the California Consumer Privacy Act will empower the individual and possibly prompt litigation.

“A provision of the CCPA creates statutory damages for security breaches, and as a result, Hirsch expects to witness a spike in California security breach class action suits,” the site reports. “Lawyers may want to consider incorporating a review of a client’s incident response plan into their CCPA prep work, he says.”