Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


This Oreo Lawsuit Might Have Huge Implications for Cyber Insurance

Lawyers love to haggle over definitions, and insurance companies love to get out of paying out policies. So imagine the conversations brewing over the Oreo-NotPetya lawsuit.

NotPetya is ransomeware that infected millions of computers in 2017, causing $10 billion dollars in damage to companies worldwide. Though the Russian government vehemently denies it, most believe it was the culprit behind creating and disseminating the ransomeware.

Mondelez, the parent company of such delicious brands as Oreo, Nabisco, and Toblerone, was one of the affected companies. Mondelez claimed it suffered $100 million in damages to its hardware and operational software systems, property, commercial supply and distribution disruptions, unfulfilled customer orders, reduced margins, and other losses. These damages were presumably covered by its insurance policy with Zurich American Insurance Company, so Mondelez submitted a claim. But that claim still has not been paid out because, according to the insurance company, the cyberattack was an act of war.

Chicago Airbnb Hosts Lack Standing in Class Action, Court Rules

In 2016, the Chicago City Council passed a very lengthy ordinance that governs home-sharing agreements, placing certain requirements on the host and host-sharing platform. A group of individual Chicago residents and a home-sharing advocacy group joined together to file a class action lawsuit against the city, claiming this ordinance violated their First Amendment rights and placed "impossible burdens on hosts." Plaintiffs were unable to find any sympathy, or standing, for their cause. The amendment will remain wholly intact, at least for now.

3 Tax Tips for Business Partnerships

If you are involved in a business partnership, you already know that the business itself doesn't pay taxes. Rather, in a partnership, tax liabilities flow directly on to the individual tax return of each partner, based on the partnership agreement. Now that the 2018 books are closed, here are a few tax tips specifically designed for business partnerships.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and longtime wife MacKenzie just announced they are divorcing. MacKenzie actually did the accounting for the fledgling online bookstore back in its first year in 1994. And while the split shouldn't affect Amazon's day-to-day operations, Bezos's bank account could definitely take a hit.

Amazon is now a trillion-dollar company and Bezos' net worth is estimated around $150 billion, so a few hundred million shouldn't hurt too bad. But what about smaller businesses and their owners, who might not separate business and personal assets so easily? Here are some legal tips on making sure your small business doesn't break down just because your marriage is breaking up.

California's MeToo Laws: Here's What Your Business Should Know

California passed more than a dozen measures to bolster the #MeToo laws in 2018, many dealing with public entities and private citizens. However, there are two notable laws that businesses should keep in mind moving forward into 2019. Violations of these could result in fines and potentially a lot of bad press.

With so many cars on the road, and so many ridesharing apps around, many drivers use colorful lights to both attract new users and alert clients to their arrival. The lights are also useful to users to avoid getting into the wrong car. But are they legal?

That might depend on where you're driving.

As you are (hopefully) aware, federal law prohibits hiring undocumented workers. In addition, many state laws can punish employers for not complying with verification requirements. But many unscrupulous employers disregard these strictures and flip immigration law against their employees.

One company, which actually went through the legal process to hire an immigrant employee, allegedly turned around and forced the employee to pay his own salary, and threatened him with deportation if he didn't comply, violating federal human trafficking laws.

And you (hopefully) know enough to never, ever do that.

Resolutions aren't just for those who want to read a few more books or lose a few more pounds. Having an idea or two about what your small business can do differently this year can get 2019 off on the right foot.

And while "sell more products" and "make more money" are fine New Year's resolutions to jot down, having a more specific plan of action, especially when it comes to the legal issues your business might face this year is essential. So, here are seven legal resolutions for 2019.

Ohio Beer Tap Cleaners Don't Have to Pay Taxes, Court Rules

Just in time for New Year's Eve! Great Lakes Bar Control, a Toledo, Ohio beer tap cleaner, won a major victory in avoiding corporate sales taxes. The ruling will surely be applied to similar companies in the jurisdiction, and that is the plan, according to plaintiff's attorney, who also represents others fighting this tax. That law firm should buy a round of drinks on the house at its next partner outing, at the very least for good mojo.

San Antonio Trade Groups Sue for Raising Smoking Age to 21

Retailers in San Antonio, Texas are crying foul, claiming they are being made the scapegoats when the real criminals are the underaged smokers. The city council passed an ordinance set to go into effect January 1, 2019, which raises the age of selling tobacco products to customers that are 21 years of age and older.

But the trade groups representing convenience stores, gas stations and small grocers have a host of legal issues with this new rule, and filed a federal lawsuit claiming, among other things, that the ordinance unfairly targets them because, in an interesting twist, only the retailer would be cited, and forced to pay a $500 fine. The underaged buyer walks away scot-free.