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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Katy Perry wins latest round of copyright infringement battle

Six years after a copyright infringement lawsuit was filed against her, Katy Perry has won a victory thanks to a federal appeals court. However, this likely isn't the end of the saga.

Back in 2014, Christian rapper Marcus Gray, perhaps better known by his stage name Flame, alleged that Perry and her co-songwriters plagiarized a portion of his 2009 song "Joyful Noise" when they wrote her 2013 hit, Grammy-nominated song, "Dark Horse."

Bank accused of fraudulently opening customer accounts

Many of our readers remember the scandal involving Wells Fargo back in 2016. Employees were opening millions of fake accounts for real customers in an effort to meet sales goals, which are typically tied to compensation. That was just one of the allegations of fraud against the bank.

At the end of 2018, Wells agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement to resolve claims that it had violated consumer protection laws in every state and Washington, D.C. The Federal Reserve ordered it to make a number of reforms.

The consequences of terminating a franchise agreement

The benefits of buying into a franchise are numerous. You are a small business owner in Illinois with the support of a corporation behind you. Your chances of success are higher because you are working with a proven brand with well-established practices for success. The franchise you choose may offer you all the training you need, and you will likely have support and marketing help along the way.

Of course, even something as tried and true as a franchise can have its disadvantages, and one of them is the rigid contract you may have to sign. The agreement you make with the franchisor often leaves little room for your own creativity and places strict quotas on your production. Once you sign the franchise agreement, you may also have a difficult time getting out of it. It is important that you understand the ramifications of breaking your agreement and where you can turn for legal assistance.

Former tech exec files for bankruptcy after $179 million judgment

A former executive with Google who went on to work for Uber has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after he was ordered to pay Google $179 million for sharing trade secrets and other contract violations. An arbitration panel hearing the case had recommended an award of $127 million to Google. However, a court added legal fees and interest payments to that amount, increasing it by more than $50 million.

The executive was a leading developer of the technology behind Google's self-driving vehicles. That division of the company was known as Waymo. According to Google, before he left Waymo to start his own company that made self-driving trucks, he downloaded thousands of files in violation of his employment agreement. His company, named Otto, was purchased by Uber in 2016.

Illinois college student sues for excessive force, false arrest

It was just over a year ago when the swim team from East Illinois University (EIU) was returning to the Charleston campus after a championship tournament in South Dakota. The bus the team was riding on pulled off Interstate 80 near an East Moline rest stop.

When one swimmer got off the bus to take a selfie and stretch his legs, the 19-year-old freshman found himself surrounded by law enforcement officers, guns drawn. That's just the beginning of what happened, according to a federal lawsuit that has been filed by the young man, who was the only black team member on the bus.

Walking and cycling become increasingly dangerous activities

What's the best way to help control traffic congestion, pollution and weight gain? Get out there and use your own two feet or a bicycle to get around. These low-cost exercises have numerous health benefits, and many people, perhaps you included, are already taking advantage of them.

The problem is that walking and cycling continue to become more and more dangerous across the country, including here in Missouri. According to the federal government, over 6,200 pedestrians and approximately 857 bicyclists lost their lives in 2018, and the final numbers for 2019 could end up even higher. To put this in perspective, this is an approximately 53% increase for pedestrians and around a 36% increase for cyclists since 2009.

Not all crash injuries are immediately apparent

You were in a car crash a few days ago or maybe even a week or more ago. You thought you escaped uninjured -- aside from feeling shaken. Maybe you broke a bone or two, and you thought that was the extent of your injuries.

Now you're starting to experience some troubling symptoms. You wonder if they're related to the crash, but you figure they would have appeared immediately or at least within hours if they were.

Wells Fargo ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

One of the outgrowths of the #MeToo movement has been calls for employers to stop requiring alleged victims of sexual harassment and assault to take action via arbitration rather than in court and then to sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent them from speaking publicly about their experience or their settlement.

Among those speaking out about ending the use of mandatory arbitration and NDAs is Gretchen Carlson. She and other Fox News alum have started a group called Lift Our Voices with that goal.

Some drivers may be addicted to distractions

Car accidents happen every day. Most people hope to avoid this outcome, but more and more people put themselves and others at risk of serious injuries by using their cellphones or participating in other activities while driving that take their attention away from the road. You have undoubtedly witnessed your fair share of drivers who were not even looking at the road as their vehicles moved.

One of the truly unfortunate aspects of distracted driving is that most people who participate in distracting activities know that they are dangerous. Still, it does not stop them from trying to multitask while behind the wheel.

Did John Bolton steal Lin-Manuel Miranda's song title?

When former National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that his memoir would be published soon, the news was met with considerable media hoopla. The title alone -- The Room Where It Happened -- created a lot of buzz on Twitter.

People wondered how Bolton could use the title of the most popular song from the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. Celebrities and fans alike reached out to the show's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to find out what he was going to do. One theater critic wrote, "Wonder how @Lin_Manuel feels about Bolton borrowing from him?" Another tweeted, "Wow. Bolton calling his book The Room Where It Happened. An ideologue from an administration so dismissive of culture, appropriating the words of an artist."

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