Brewery Law CLE In Charlotte on June 9

If you find yourself in Charlotte, North Carolina this Thursday, June 9, please join the Mecklenburg County Bar for an upcoming brewery law seminar. The bar’s Continuing Legal Education Committee plans a number of very interesting events, including programs on the Salem witch trials (featuring colonial historian and novelist Katherine Howe), the fascinating tort of alienation of affection (for a Halloween event at which presenters also explored the legal implications of the Ashley Madison hack), and of course, the regulation of North Carolina breweries.

Its next program is the “What’s Brewing with Regional Alcohol Laws?” event, which takes place this coming Thursday, June 9 starting at 5:15 p.m. The program will explore the laws governing the interstate shipment of alcohol, trademark issues, and other craft brewery legislation in both North and South Carolina. The roster of speakers is impressive; it includes lawyer and South Carolina Brewers Guild executive director Brook Bristow of Bristow Beverage Law, Raleigh beverage industry attorney Laura Collier of Strike & Techel Beverage Law Group LLP, and Carrboro trademark law guru Ed Timberlake of Timberlake Law, PLLC. Both Laura Collier and Ed Timberlake have spoken at past brewery law events in North Carolina, and they are not to be missed. This event will be Brook Bristow’s first speaking event at a brewery law program in North Carolina. The event will be held at the Birdsong Brewing Company on North Davidson Street in Charlotte. Known for its famed Jalapeño Pale Ale, Birdsong also brews a seasonal wheat ale called Fake Plastic Trees, named for the sublime 1995 Radiohead single.

The general public is welcome to register for the event. If you’re an attorney desiring CLE credit, it can be yours, but if you’re not and/or you don’t, there are other pricing options (including a $25 general public rate). Registration information, speaker biographies, and more specific program information can be found here.

The event was planned by our editor, Jim Dedman.

First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Hits Marijuana Industry

Since its recent legalization in certain states, marijuana has found itself in the middle of several product liability lawsuits. A new lawsuit filed in Colorado has just upped the ante. According to a report from the L.A. Times, a new suit has been filed accusing marijuana of being the culprit for a homicide. In the first wrongful-death suit against a recreational marijuana company, the children of Kristine Kirk, murdered by her husband, Richard Kirk, back on April 14, 2014, have filed suit against Gaia’s Garden, LLC, claiming that the company’s Kandy Orange Ginger chew candy triggered the shooting. The plaintiffs allege that Gaia’s failed to warn customer that marijuana edibles could lead to paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations.

According to Kristine Kirk’s 911 call, the shooting happened after Richard burst into their home ranting about the end of the world. Thereafter, he laid on the floor and asked for someone to kill him. Richard then retrieved a pistol and shot Kristine. Richard has been charged with first-degree murder. He initially pleaded not guilty, but has since changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

We here at Abnormal Use will be interested to follow this suit as the facts develop. Reading the reports of the incident make it sound more like those involving bath salts than recreational marijuana. It is so outside-the-box that we almost wonder whether marijuana was the culprit at all. Interestingly, toxicology reports showed that the amount of THC in Richard’s blood was less than half the legal limit. Prosecutors actually contend that the murder is the result of increasing marital stress.

In any event, we see this as a case akin to suing Anheuser-Busch for a driving under the influence accident. Gaia’s apparently complied with all state labeling requirements regarding the potential adverse health effects. With legal marijuana being so new to the marketplace, we suppose this lawsuit is an attempt to test the waters with marijuana litigation. We assume that the same legal principles applied to similarly situated products will continue to apply.

Friday Links

cap

You may have heard the troubling news that Marvel Comics has unveiled a new storyline in which it is revealed that Captain America was a double agent, secretly serving Hydra all of these years. Outrage ensued. (We would direct your attention to “The Character Assassination of Captain America,” a post by Josh Gilliland of The Legal Geeks). We’re not quite certain what to think about this new narrative, but we thought it was a good opportunity to post the cover to What If #26, published way, way back in 1981. Back then, there was a storyline involving Captain America becoming president. In this issue of What If, the writers imagine what would have happened had Cap been elected. Interesting thoughts during this election year, no?

Not long ago, we once again stumbled across “Me and Chuck E. Cheese,” a 2009 blog post detailing the perils of working for the chain. To be certain, it’s worth your time to peruse.

You know, we still haven’t seen X-Men: Apocalypse. We’re working on it.

We here at Abnormal Use are pleased to announce that our firm, Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A., has been selected for inclusion in the 2016 edition of Chambers USA, Leading Lawyers for Business as a Leading Law Firm in Commercial Litigation. Additionally, firm attorneys Daniel B. White, Gray T. Culbreath, and John T. Lay, Jr. were chosen as leading business attorneys in the field of Commercial Litigation.

McDonald’s Accused Of Not Making Drive-Thrus Accessible to the Blind

Be it hot coffee or greasy french fries, McDonald’s often finds itself as a defendant in some intriguing litigation. A new lawsuit filed in an Illinois federal court against the fast food giant might just take the crown as the most interesting. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, a Louisiana man has sued McDonald’s because its drive-thrus are not accessible to the blind. Specifically, the man has challenged McDonald’s policy of not serving individuals who walk up to the drive-thru window without a car. During the normal operating hours, the prohibition is hardly a problem as customers without cars can simply walk inside the restaurant. However, after hours, the restaurant only serves customers through the drive-thru and, thus, people who do not have cars or otherwise cannot drive, such as blind persons, cannot order from McDonalds, the suit alleges. According to the suit, such failure to accommodate constitutes a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We here at Abnormal Use are not certain as to how this McDonald’s policy will be construed under the ADA. We do have some questions, however, as to certain statements the plaintiff’s lawyer made about the litigation. In commenting on the suit, attorney Roberto Luis Costales stated that the late-night snacks are a “quintessentially American activity that should not be denied to someone because of their disability.” Moreover, he indicated, “This is something simple that can cause a lot of hurt to disabled people, especially if, like [Plaintiff], they cannot cook for themselves.” We must admit that we, too, have been known to take a late night food run, particularly during our college days. But, we question whether it is a “quintessential American activity,” so ingrained in our nation’s DNA that it cannot be denied. Maybe if we were talking about a more critical issue like healthcare, we could take this rhetoric seriously.

Costales claims that McDonald’s could remedy the situation by installing a phone to allow customers to call in orders from outside and have the orders brought out to the customers. However, this proposal ignores the primary purpose of the late night drive-thru-only policy in the first place – security. If McDonald’s is going to be bringing orders out to customers, it might as well just open the restaurant in the first place. Or, maybe that is the end goal of the master plan and the lawsuit is just the mechanism of delivery.

 

Memorial Day

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We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope you had a safe and fine Memorial Day weekend. As we do each year, today, we pause to reflect upon all of the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women and all they have done for the country, both in present times and years past. Above, you’ll find the cover of War Comics #34, published way, way back in 1955.

We’ll resume with regular posting tomorrow.

Friday Links

We here at Abnormal Use had, of course, hoped to see X-Men: Apocalypse at the theatre late last night, but as it does, life got in the way. We plan to see it this weekend (or, if that plan fails, catch up on episodes of “The Americans.”) That sounds like a wonderfully lazy agenda. (And, no, we’re not planning on attending tonight’s Dave Matthews Band concert in Charlotte, North Carolina).

Friend of the blog Jeena Cho’s new book, The Anxious Lawyer, arrives in stores next week!

We hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day weekend! Try not to do any billable work this weekend, as you’ve earned a break.

Don’t forget that you can follow Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. on Twitter by visiting here!

What Are Smart Contracts?

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use find ourselves members of a number of legal groups, including the North Carolina Legal Geeks, which puts on several programs per year in the Charlotte area. If you find yourself in the Queen City tomorrow, Thursday, May 26, 2016, you might be interested in their latest program.

Called “What Are Smart Contracts?”, the program will feature local attorney and self professed legal hacker Tom Brooke will be speaking. Brooke is the founder of the North Carolina Legal Hackers, and as such, he knows a good bit about legal technology issues. He will be discussing how smart contracts will be used in the future as well as how they may affect the practice of law. As a refresher, our friends at Wikipedia have defined “smart contracts” as follows:

Smart contracts are computer protocols that facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract, or that make a contractual clause unnecessary. Smart contracts usually also have a user interface and often emulate the logic of contractual clauses. Proponents of smart contracts claim that many kinds of contractual clauses may thus be made partially or fully self-executing, self-enforcing, or both. Smart contracts aim to provide security superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting.

The event takes place Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at Kickstand Charlotte located at 1101 Central Avenue in Charlotte.

For more information, see the event’s Facebook page here.

Kanye West Accused Of Ripping Off 1969 Hungarian Pop Favorite

According to reports, Kanye West, rap star and most recent addition to the Kardashian clan, has been sued for ripping off the beats of a Hungarian composer. The complaint, filed by Hungarian composer Gabor Presser in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that West used a portion of his band Omega’s song “Gyöngyhajú lány” (recorded way, way back in 1969) in the song “New Slaves,” released in 2013 on the Yeezus album. The Omega song is allegedly “one of the most beloved pop songs ever in Hungary and across Eastern Europe.” In other words, Omega is basically the Beatles. Or, something like that.

Now, we understand if you have some doubts as to how a rap mogul the likes of Kanye West could come across a 1969 Hungarian pop tune. Whether it be through iTunes or an excursion into the darkest corners of the internet, West allegedly was aware of the song and even asked Presser for permission to use it. According to Presser, West’s lawyer emailed him soon after the marketing of New Slaves began, indicating that West “would like to work out a deal with you as soon as possible.” Presser allegedly was given 24 hours to respond. Presser agreed in principle to the use of the song on the condition that a formal deal follow. However, a formal agreement allegedly never came to fruition. West allegedly sent Prosser $10,000 as an advance for the audio track, but Prosser never cashed the check. Now, he is seeking $2.5 million in damages.

We here at Abnormal Use have no idea whether the allegations of the suit have any merit. We have listened to the two tracks (available here) and, admittedly, can at least hear some resemblance. West has apparently at least acknowledged some resemblance and copyright issues by virtue of the alleged offer to work out a deal. If true, what is curious is whether West intentionally borrowed from the 1969 Hungarian track or created “New Slaves” independently, discovered the resemblance, and tried to hedge off any issues, knowing that musicians are no strangers to copyright lawsuits. Presser apparently thinks it is the former more so than the latter. He alleges that West “knowingly and intentionally misappropriated plaintiff’s composition,” and “after his theft was discovered, [West] refused to deal fairly with plaintiff.”

Is this a case of coincidence or a musician digging through the depths of the music library of Eastern Europe to make music? Take a lesson to the songs, and we will let you be the judge.

Friday Links

xmen

Okay, so as you know, the new X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse, see its release next week. The film’s bad guy is, well, Apocalypse, who you can see depicted on the cover of X-Factor #19, published way, way back in 1987. As we like to say, those were the day. Oscar Isaac of Ex Machina and The Force Awakens fame plays the title villain, so we have some faith that the movie will be a good one. Yes, we do plan to at least try to see it at one of the sneak previews next Thursday night. What else would we do?

Um, did you see the new teaser trailer for the new “Star Trek” television series?

Has anyone registered for the North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting, which takes place in late June in Charlotte? As he does each year, our own editor, Jim Dedman, will be attending (something which will be made far easier since the event takes place in his home city). We hope to see you there!

Speaking of Charlotte events, if you’re interested in learning more about “smart contracts,” the North Carolina Legal Geeks are hosting a free event next Thursday, May 26, right here in the Queen City. Attorney and legal hacker Tom Brooke will be speaking. For more information, see the event’s Facebook page here. (Note: One great part about the event page is the usage of Willie Wonka’s contract as the header image.).

By the way, that three disc Grateful Dead tribute album is out today.

Trade Secrets Get Greater Protection – Benefit Business Owners

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use often direct your attention to the work of our writers and lawyers published elsewhere. Well, this week is no exception, as our own Zach Weaver has published a new piece about trade secrets entitled “Trade Secrets Get Greater Protection – Benefit Business Owners,” the first two paragraphs of which are:

Trade secrets are the lifeblood of a successful business. Be it the formula for Coke, a small business’s special manufacturing techniques, a corporate marketing strategy, or any other competitive business information that has value because it is not known to the public, trade secrets are what differentiate and give businesses an advantage over competitors. Congress has recently decided that such trade secrets and the businesses that hold them are deserving of greater protection. Last week, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (the “DTSA”) was signed by President Obama. Applicable immediately, the Act substantially amends Chapter 90 of Title 18 of the US Code and creates a federal cause of action for theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The law effectively federalizes a significant number of trade secret claims, adding to the federal jurisdiction over intellectual property matters that already includes patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

Previously, trade secret cases were brought in state court unless another claim involving federal law existed or the parties were from different states and a sufficient amount of money was involved. This was because the majority of states had adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in some shape or form, including South Carolina which has the South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, S.C. Code 39-8-10, et seq.  The likely result of the DTSA will be that the federal and state law claims will be brought simultaneously in federal court (as the DTSA does not replace any of the claims one has under state law).

You can read the full piece here.