Category: Employment Law

ATTORNEY PETER MAVRICK DEFENDED COMPANY IN TRADE SECRET CASE

Peter Mavrick, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, successfully defended a professional recruiting business for alleged theft of trade secrets. The case was venued in Circuit Court, and followed departure of certain key employees from a company who then started their own business.

Before hiring attorney Peter Mavrick, the client corporation tried to show the plaintiff corporation that no trade secrets were stolen and that there was no breach of Florida law. However, the plaintiff demanded that Mr. Mavrick’s client close its business entirely and pay thousands of dollars.

After court argument and several depositions, the evidence showed that there were no trade secrets because nothing was kept secret. The plaintiff never treated any of its alleged secrets as a “secret” until after it decided to sue its former employees’ corporation. For example, the alleged trade secrets were kept in the open for everyone to view, there were no protective measures to safeguard the alleged secrets, and the plaintiff never even told its employees the alleged trade secrets were even “secrets” that were required to be kept confidential. Attorney Peter Mavrick argued that the there could be no theft of trade secrets under Florida law when no measures existed to ensure secrecy ever existed before the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed. In addition, Peter Mavrick argued that the alleged secrets would not qualify as trade secrets that meet the requirements of Florida law.

Eventually, the case settled whereby attorney Peter Mavrick’s client recovered payment from the plaintiff based on his client’s counterclaim.

Attorney Peter Mavrick practices in the field of business and labor/employment litigation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His law office phone number is (954) 564-2246. Information contained in this article is accurate as of September 2008. This article is for general information use only, and does not substitute for specifically tailored legal advice.

ATTORNEY PETER MAVRICK RECENTLY SUCCESSFULLY REPRESENTED A MIAMI CORPORATION

EMPLOYER PREVAILS IN OVERTIME CASE BASED ON MOTOR CARRIER EXEMPTION

Attorney Peter Mavrick recently successfully represented a Miami corporation, FLX of Miami, Inc. (“FLX”), that prevailed in an overtime wage case filed by a
former employee. FLX transports freight in local, national, and international commerce. The case was venued in federal court in Miami, Florida.

The employee had filed a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against his former employer, FLX, alleging that FLX failed to pay him for the
hours he worked overtime. FLX contended that it did not violate the overtime wage law and that it is exempt from any overtime requirements relating to the
plaintiff pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act. FLX contended that the FLSA exemption applied because FLX is a “motor carrier” engaged in interstate
commerce, and that the former employee’s dispatcher duties directly affected the safety and operation of FLX’s motor vehicles. The parties agreed that the plaintiff was a truck dispatcher for FLX.

One of the most important points of the federal court’s decision was its interpretation of whether the former employee sufficiently “affected the safety and
operation of motor vehicles,” which is necessary for applying the FLSA exemption under the Motor Carrier Act. Attorney Peter Mavrick argued that a
truck dispatcher necessarily affects the safety and operation of vehicles because the sending of trucks on routes or the issues involved when a truck is distressed, fall on the shoulders of the dispatcher to resolve the safety related issues.

The court agreed. The court’s opinion explained that the former employee’s job duties were analogous to cases applying the Motor Carrier Exemption to drivers, mechanics, loaders and helpers. The court cited, for example, that it was not disputed that the plaintiff’s job duties as truck dispatcher for FLX included calling mobile mechanics for stranded FLX truckers when mechanical breakdowns and flat tires stranded the drivers’ vehicles or impeded their safe operation; the plaintiff had the duty to assign particular drivers to particular trucks based on his assessment of the vehicle and the appropriateness for the vehicle for the task; and the plaintiff’s responsibilities also included checking the vehicles for tire safety, adequate oil, and verifying the vehicle was in safe operation before the driver left FLX’s facilities for deliveries. All are safety-related duties. The court concluded that the plaintiff was engaged in safety-affecting activities in his position as truck dispatcher for FLX. In reaching its conclusion, the court relied on Wirtz v. Robinson & Stephens, Inc., 1972 WL 852 *5 (N.D. Ga. 1972) (applying the Motor Carrier Act exemption and finding mechanics, wrecker and truck drivers, drivers’ helpers, loaders, yardmen and dispatchers for the defendant employer were exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA).

Attorney Peter Mavrick practices in the field of business and labor/employment litigation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His law office phone number is (954) 564-2246. Information contained in this article is accurate as of September 2008. This article is for general information use only, and does not substitute for specifically tailored legal advice.

FOURTH DCA OVERRULES WORK PRODUCT OBJECTIONS TO CONTENTION INTERROGATORIES

FOURTH DCA OVERRULES WORK PRODUCT OBJECTIONS TO CONTENTION INTERROGATORIES

Compelling meaningful responses to contention interrogatories seeking the basis for a party’s contentions in its complaint or affirmative defenses often meets mixed success. Until the Fourth DCA’s decision in Grinnell Corporation v. The Palms 2100 Ocean Boulevard, Ltd., 924 So.2d 887 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006), trial court decisions were hampered by conflicting case law interpreting the reach of the work-product doctrine. Grinnell held that a litigant may be required in an interrogatory to specify the facts supporting a claim or defense. For example, where an interrogatory asks for “all facts supporting” a denial or affirmative defense, a litigant may not refuse to answer on the grounds that the interrogatory seeks disclosure of the attorney’s mental processes and is protected work-product beyond the scope of permissible discovery.

The Grinnell decision is important, especially because it overruled, en banc, an important aspect of prior Fourth DCA precedent in Gabriel v. Northern Trust Bank of Florida, 890 So.2d 517 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005). Gabriel had allowed a work product objection where a discovery request asked for documents that “relate or otherwise support” the “essential” allegations of the complaint, unless the attorney expects or intends to use the documents at trial. Grinnell overruled this point of law, commenting that such a broad construction of the work product doctrine “interferes with the essential function of the discovery process of narrowing issues for trial.”
Grinnell explained that the “work product doctrine” is designed to guard against divulging an attorney’s strategies and legal impressions, but it does not protect facts concerning the creation of work product or facts contained within work product. Thus, a party may properly inquire into the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts. In addition, facts gathered from documents by a party’s representative are not protected as “fact work product.” Expanding that line of analysis, Grinnell clarified that the facts underlying a party’s litigation contentions are not shielded from discovery by the work product doctrine.

In sum, Grinnell makes the discovery process more simple by eliminating a recurrent source of litigation over whether work product can shield production of basic discovery seeking a the facts forming the basis for a party’s contentions in its pleadings.

Attorney Peter Mavrick practices in the field of business and labor/employment litigation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His law office phone number is (954) 564-2246. Information contained in this article is accurate as of September 2008. This article is for general information use only, and does not substitute for specifically tailored legal advice.