Los Angeles Business Law Blog

Breach of contract claims often deal with oil and gas leases

Contract disputes in California over oil and gas leases are common. These types of disputes often concern the payment of royalties and claims of failure to pay the amounts due. There may be other types of breach of contract claims dealing with the terms and/or conditions involved in the leases. An example of this is taking place in another jurisdiction where two owners of land, in separate lawsuits, have sued the Stone Energy Corporation for failing to pay to them the royalties promised under alleged contracts.

The two landowners filed their suits in state court, claiming that the company contracted with each of them in 2009 to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale running on their land. The plaintiffs claim that the leases are vague on the terms of payment and do not describe how to compute the royalties after deduction of approved deductions. Despite the lack of details, the company withheld substantial sums from both landowners’ payments and labeled them for “post-production” costs.

Tags: Contract Disputes

Corporate dispute pits Netflix against 21st Century Fox

In an unusual legal dispute, two giants in the California entertainment industry are fighting over the recruitment of top executives. The corporate dispute pits industry veteran 21st Century Fox against plucky upstart Netflix. Fox claims that Netflix has effectively “poached” executives away from Fox. Fox has filed a lawsuit in the matter, and Netflix responded with a counterclaim. Both parties appear prepared to defend their position in court, if necessary.

Fox asserts that several executives have left the company to pursue opportunities at Netflix in recent months. Fox did not make waves over those changes, but when two more individuals left their positions at Fox, the company decided to take action. Fox asserts that those two individuals were working under strict fixed-term contracts and did not have the right to leave the company for greener pastures while the contract were in effect.

Tags: Business Litigation

Contract dispute interfering with the airing of show’s season 2

California tends to thrive on entertainment industry contract disputes. The laid-back slower pace of life here is just that: a perception, and probably a wrong one. In the entertainment industry, the stresses of business dealings, including when there is a contract dispute, are even more hectic than in other states because of the intense demands made on all the participants. In one current example, the production itself is taking place in another state, but at least one of the disputing entities is from this state.

The show is a reality presentation of the life of a family of seven achondroplastic dwarfs. The parent company putting on the production is Discovery Communications LLC. The producer of the show is the California-based LMNO Cable Group. The show had been approved for production of a second season when contract conflicts began to emerge in public.

Tags: Contract Disputes

Consult experienced counsel early in a contract dispute

In California and elsewhere, two business entities often find themselves in an agreed joint venture, a partnership or even a series of repeating business transactions that the companies find to be profitable. Generally, at the core of the relationship is a written contract or a series of writings constituting a legal contract. While the profitable transactions may continue for extended periods, there often comes a time where a twist or turn of events causes a problem for both businesses, leading to a contract dispute.

They turn to the contract and cannot find a resolution. What started out as a good working relationship, profitable to the business and perhaps even responsible for keeping several workers busy and employed, has now gotten mired in the quicksand of confusion and conflict. The best and most efficient way out of this wrong turn is to consult with an attorney experienced in handling contract disputes between businesses.

Tags: Business Litigation

Trademark dispute pits wine maker against state government

The business courts of California have their fair share of intellectual property disputes. These may concern issues over copyright infringement, a trademark dispute, patent infringement, trade secrets or other related matters. An unusual trademark battle is occurring in another state right now, and it may go down to the wire before it is settled or decided by way of a jury trial.

A winery produced a wine that is called “What Exit Wine,” which borrows from the idea of the state’s exit signs that appear on the state turnpike that runs the length of the state. It designed the logo to look just like the actual exit signs that appear on the turnpike. When contacted by the state agency, the business asserted that it had a right to use the design as its logo despite that the state already had obtained a trademark to it.

Tags: Intellectual Property

Producers of the Great Comet of 1812 settle contract litigation

Whenever business entities enter into contractual agreements, the initial hopes for the contracts are generally seen through rose-colored glasses. Usually, the parties who have signed a new agreement focus on high hopes for the project. That so-called honeymoon period, however, almost always ends, and a flow of contractual misinterpretations can often lead the parties into strong disagreements and, ultimately, into contract litigation, which is a common development for many contract disputes in California.

This process concerning contractual obligations comes up in all types of industries. One of those, the world of entertainment, has its share. This includes the worlds of both the Broadway productions and the off-Broadway performances. Both have a flow of new contracts arising each day and somewhat checkered records for making most of them work with no disputes along the way.

Tags: Contract Disputes

Contract dispute between oil barons goes up to $1 billion

Contract disputes in California and other states can be small incidental matters dealing with a small amount of damages or they can be massive battles between big-money companies that may involve up to a billion dollars or more in damages. A case involving the latter type of contract dispute is being set for a jury trial, with disputes over oil contract interests and revenue rights that is potentially worth up to $1 billion. The plaintiff is Mesa Petroleum, and the defendants are four exploration and production companies.

Two legendary oil names are involved, with Mesa Petroleum being owned by T. Boone Pickens and one of the four defendants being the J. Cleo Thompson oil conglomerate. The critical contractual terms were purportedly discussed and/or modified by T. Boone Pickens and J. Cleo Thompson personally, two oil industry pioneers. Mesa’s main claim is that the parties were signatories to an investment contract giving Mesa the right to invest in various acquisitions of the defendants on an ongoing basis over a five-year period.

Tags: Contract Disputes

Contract dispute halts health care service to 750,000 customers

When a hospital network and a major insurer of patients get into a contract dispute, it usually results in significant hardship to the patients who want to use health care facilities that are in the network. This type of contract dispute occurs periodically in California and other states. It is presently taking place in another state between Tenet Healthcare and Humana.

Tenet owns a network of hospitals and Humana insures about 750,000 customers in that state. The parties have a contract that is expiring and must be re-negotiated. However, they cannot agree on new terms for going forward. Tenet contends that Humana has obstructed negotiations and is placing its self-interest over the needs of its members. In fact, the large number of customers insured by Humana have been unable to get the benefits of their insurance coverage with respect to Tenet facilities and physicians since Oct. 1.  

Tags: Contract Disputes

Business disputes come from a variety of sources

Few California companies can keep their doors open without encountering issues with customers, vendors or other companies. Business disputes can come from a variety of sources. The question is whether they can be resolved amicably or if litigation will be required.

In either case, it would be beneficial to contact an attorney. Even if you have no intention of pursuing legal action in the beginning, matters can quickly degrade if the parties are not able to get on the same page and find an amicable resolution. If there is a contract involved, it might require either mediation or arbitration. Just because these alternative dispute resolution methods do not involve judges and courtrooms does not mean that you should go into them without an attorney to advocate on your behalf.

Tags: Business Litigation

Several solutions available in intellectual property litigation

If a person owns a copyright or trademark, other individuals, unfortunately, may use the copyright or trademark without permission. In some cases, they might use a similar mark. In this situation, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights can guide him or her on how to protect his or her trademark or copyright in California.

After a person finds out that his or her trademark or copyright has been used illegally, the individual can send out a cease and desist letter to the party committing the wrongdoing. In some cases, the person who has illegally used a trademark or copyright acknowledges this and agrees to quit doing it in the future. However, this is not enough in other cases, which means the intervention of a lawyer is necessary.

Tags: Intellectual Property

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