The information contained on this blog is provided as a public service for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law. The reader is advised to check for changes to current law and to consult with a qualified attorney on any legal issue before taking action of any kind. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or to create or imply the formation of a lawyer-client relationship between the reader and this firm.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

School Interns Slaves No More: Harassment and Rights of an Unpaid Internship


            In 1865 the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution outlawed slavery.  In 1938   the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act set a minimum wage for all employees.  In 1964 Title VII and New York’s Human Rights Law protected paid employees from   harassment and discrimination based on age, religion, sex, among others and with the passage of ADA law from discrimination based on disabilities including pregnancies.  Employers were cautious about blatantly violating these laws and lawsuits abound where discrimination is discovered.  That is except for student interns.

            Student interns have been unable to seek any such protection since they are not technically employees because they work for free.  Many college masters programs in speech, PT or social work require their students to participate in internships.  These are our children who believed they are so lucky to get unpaid internships in their fields of employment.  Yet at times, those internships are not so ideal.  When an unpaid intern in New York sued a Chinese news company, Phoenix Satellite Television, because, she said, a supervisor had groped and assaulted her; a federal judge dismissed her case.  Since she was not paid for her work, the law did not view her as an employee under Title VII.  The same thing happened in 1997, when an intern at a psychiatric hospital claimed that she was urged to join an orgy and to strip naked before meeting with a doctor.  The courts threw out her sexual harassment claim because she was not paid.  The same was true for minimum wage rules; students were not deemed employees in the eyes of the law.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baseball: Suing For Getting Hit by a Foul Ball

            Spring is here bringing with it the thoughts of another baseball season.  It can also bring with it thoughts of death and severe injuries. While there have been only two fans so far killed at professional league ballparks, at least 49 fans have died at amateur games and countless others have been severely injured in the stands by foul balls. Strangely enough, if you are injured or killed in the stands by a foul ball, you generally have no legal remedy.
Almost all states, including New York and New Jersey follow what is called the limited liability rule.  This is set forth in the 1981 New York Court of Appeals case of Akins v. Glens Falls City School District.  In that case, plaintiff attended a high school baseball game. The field was equipped with a 24-foot tall and 50-foot wide backstop behind home plate but only a three-foot high fence along the baselines.  She decided to watch the game standing behind the three-foot fence and was struck in the eye by a sharply hit foul ball, causing her serious and permanent injury.  The plaintiff sued the school district.

Friday, March 20, 2015

International Sale Of Goods Not Governed by the UCC

   Robert in New York receives a telephone call requesting he deliver a container of his pickles to Toronto from a buyer he never dealt with. Robert agrees and delivers the pickles. Shortly thereafter, the customer complains that the type of pickles he ordered was not delivered.  Robert wants to sue.  What law governs?
   While many businessmen (and a lot of lawyers) would say New York’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) governs, but they would be wrong.  Since 1988, sale of goods between the U.S. and most other countries have been governed by a treaty called the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Since it is a treaty, it overrides the law of all 50 states including the UCC. It has been acceded to by 83 countries including Canada, Mexico, Israel and most of Europe except for the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Novak Juhase & Stern, To Present CLE Lecture (Lakewood, NJ)

CLE Lecture for Continued Legal Education

Two of the partners at Novak Juhase & Stern will be presenting a lecture on The Mortgage Contingency Clause and Ethical Issues in Residential and Commercial Real Estate Contracts.

It will be presented by Alexander Novak and Kim Juhase. A 2-hour lecture to cover the following:

Ø  May the Buyer Apply to a Mortgage Broker?
Ø  How Soon Does the Buyer Need to Apply?
Ø  What if the Buyer Obtains a Commitment in a Different Amount than Provided in the  Contract?
Ø  Conditional Commitments: Do they satisfy the contract?
Ø  Commitments Given, then Revoked by Lender
Ø  Ethical Issues Regarding the Mortgage Commitment Contingency Clause
Ø Ethical Issues in Residential and Commercial Real Estate Contracts: Duty to Communicate,   Retainers, Dealing with Opposing Counsel, and Truthfulness.

Location: 1125 Ocean Ave # 1, Lakewood, NJ 08701
Date:       May 15, 2015
Time:      Breakfast starts at 8:30 (2-hour lecture)
               Kosher Food will be served

For reservations contact: 

Lainie Goldberg
Director of Education
Madison Commercial Real Estate Services

(732) 333-2783 - Direct
(732) 996-6768 - Cell

Hey Get Your Fence Off My Land

     Sometimes it happens when you buy land, you get a new survey taken of the property, and it shows that a neighbor’s fence or hedges encroaches on your land.  You want that fence or hedge removed and set on the property line.  You go to the neighbor and ask real politely, and it is like talking to the wall (pun intended).  Hopefully your first reaction is to call Alexander Novak, your lawyer, to start a lawsuit, but that is not such great advice.  Here is why:
   Old encroachments on your land call into play the law of adverse possession.  If the adverse possession lasted 10 years, you lose your land.  However, in 2008 the New York Legislature changed that law to make it much easier for you, the landowner, to win and get that fence taken down. The new legislation changed the common law rule of adverse possession. Under common law, things like erecting a shed, digging a trench, mowing, planting and raking grass, constructing underground dog wire fence, installing post for birdhouse, cultivating garden, and erecting fences were all winning arguments for adverse possession, but not any more. These actions are now called “permissive and non-adverse” actions. 
   But do not run to court so fast!  If your neighbor had already done those things for 10 years before the new 2008 law came into effect, she or he could still win despite the new law.  The courts in New York have ruled that the neighbor is entitled to the application of the old version in effect when her claim to the disputed property allegedly ripened into title.  The NY Court of Appeals said, “although a statute is not invalid merely because it reaches back to establish the legal significance of events occurring before its enactment, . . . the Legislature is not free to impair vested or property rights.” So if the neighbor could have won in 2008, then she or he could still win today.  This lawsuit will be very fact oriented.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Are Beth Din Arbitration Clauses Invalid?

      Under Orthodox Jewish practice, a Jew is not supposed to sue another Jew in secular courts. Instead, they are to arbitrate their disputes before a Beth Din, which is an arbitration panel of rabbis. In order ensure that the parties will follow this rule an arbitration clause is included in a contract. Most of these are extremely basic. The Beth Din of America, in its sample arbitration provision simply states that any controversy arising out of the contract shall be settled before the Beth Din of America in accordance with their rules and that any award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. Apparently the assumption is that anyone entering into this agreement knows what a Beth Din is. At least in New Jersey, this clause and others like it is invalid and unenforceable.