Jeffrey N. Rosenthal and Ethan M. Simon
To quote classicist author Edith Hamilton from her book The Roman Way to Western Civilization, “The comedy of each age holds up a mirror to the people of that age, a mirror that is unique.” Nowhere is that statement truer than when discussing the comedic genius of the hit animated television series South Park, now approaching its twenty-second season.
In its 2006 Primetime Emmy Award-winning episode “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” South Park delved into video gamers’ obsession with the wildly-popular PC game World of Warcraft. One of the show’s plotlines focused on a player whose in-game character had become so powerful the game’s developer had to devise a way to stop him. The developer’s solution: give another player the legendary “Sword of a Thousand Truths,” a unique item that might even the odds.
Eight years later, South Park lambasted so-called “freemium” games in its Primetime Emmy Award-nominated episode “Freemium Isn’t Free.” This episode, too, took a hard look at gaming culture, paying particular attention to “freemium games”—in which players can play a videogame for free, but to obtain certain desirable upgrades or items they must pay real-world money. In this episode, an eight-year-old character spent thousands of dollars on freemium upgrades, much to his father’s chagrin.
Not surprisingly, South Park’s observations about videogame culture were right: gamers will place a premium on certain virtual items, and are eager to spend big money to get them.
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“Loot Boxes in Videogames: Gambling by Any Other Name?” by Jeffrey N. Rosenthal and Ethan M. Simon was published in The Legal Intelligencer on April 24, 2018.
Adrienne C. Rogove
In a recent precedential opinion in City Select Auto Sales, Inc. v. David Randall Associates, Inc., 885 F.3d 154 (3d Cir. 2018), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a judgment by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey following a jury verdict dismissing a case brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227, against the president and co-owner of David Randall Associates, Inc. (“DRA”). DRA was a commercial roofing company. Raymond Miley (“Miley”) was its president and a majority shareholder. DRA hired Business to Business Solutions (“Business Solutions”) to fax unsolicited advertisements to thousands of fax numbers. City Select was the recipient of some of these faxes.
Under the TCPA, it is “unlawful for any person…to use any telephone facsimile machine…or other device to send, to a telephone facsimile machine, an unsolicited advertisement.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(C) (emphasis added). The Federal Communications Commission has defined “sender” as the person “on whose behalf [the faxes] are transmitted.” 10 FCC Rcd. 12391, 12407 (1995). Here, City Select argued that the “on whose behalf” language was meant to place liability on the author or originator of the relevant faxes, and therefore, Miley, as the author or originator of the faxes, was a “sender” under the TCPA. Continue reading “Third Circuit Restricts Corporate Officer Liability under Telephone Consumer Protection Act”
On his final day in office, Governor Christie signed into law a dramatic change in how judgments obtained in foreign countries are domesticated in New Jersey. First introduced in 2015, the Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act of 2015 (the “Act”) repeals the 1997 Act of the same name and fundamentally alters the process for recognizing foreign judgments in New Jersey. Continue reading “Governor Christie’s Final “Act””
Stephen M. Orlofsky and Deborah Greenspan
A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reminds us that when we want an arbitration clause to apply in certain situations or to certain parties, we have to build that intention into the plain terms of the contract. In White v. Sunoco, Inc., — F.3d —, No. 16-2808, 2017 WL 3864616 (3d Cir. Dec. 5, 2017), Sunoco promoted the “Sunoco Awards Program,” under which customers who used a Citibank-issued “Sunoco Rewards Card” credit card were supposed to receive a 5-cent per gallon discount on gasoline purchased at Sunoco gas stations. The promotional materials included a document entitled “Terms and Conditions of Offer,” which indicated that Citibank issued the Sunoco Rewards Card and applicants had to meet Citibank’s creditworthiness criteria to obtain the credit card. Continue reading “A Lesson from the Third Circuit on Arbitration Clauses: Say What You Mean”
Adrienne C. Rogove
On July 5, 2017, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, ruled in favor of our client WolfBlock LLP in the matter of Dutch Run-Mays Draft V. Wolf Block, making it the first published case in a New Jersey court to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest rulings on personal jurisdiction.
In 2004, Dutch Run, a West Virginia limited liability company having its place of business in Deerfield Beach, Florida, retained Pennsylvania attorney, Henry Miller, a partner with the law firm of WolfBlock LLP, a Pennsylvania limited liability partnership, in connection with Dutch Run’s acquisition of 5,000 acres of property in West Virginia. In March 2009, WolfBlock’s partners voted to dissolve the partnership, and all of its activities as a law firm ceased. At that time, WolfBlock shuttered all of its offices and its attorneys and staff were dismissed. Since that time, WolfBlock has been winding down its affairs. In 2014, Dutch Run filed suit against WolfBlock in the New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, for legal malpractice arising out of its representation of Dutch Run in 2004. In this regard, Dutch Run claimed that there were title defects that rendered the West Virginia property unfit for residential development. Continue reading “Blank Rome Secures Precedential Opinion on Personal Jurisdiction in Dutch Run-Mays Draft V. Wolf Block“
Jonathan M. Robbin and Kyle E. Vellutato
In a case of first impression in the Third Circuit, Vincent Carieri v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., No. 17-0009 (D.N.J. June 26, 2017), the District Court of New Jersey held that that a debt collector does not have a duty to notify a debtor of potential tax consequences for settling a debt at a discount under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”).
Continue reading “District Court of New Jersey Holds No Duty Under FDCPA to Warn of Tax Consequences for Debt Settlement”
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held in Conley v. Guerrero that the method of delivery requirements in the attorney review provision of a standard form real estate contract should not be strictly enforced. In what was an anticipated decision by lawyers and real estate professionals, the Court recognized that the delivery can be accomplished through email, facsimile and overnight delivery, in addition to the already sanctioned methods of certified mail, telegram (yes, telegram), and personal delivery. Continue reading “The Future Is Now—NJ Supreme Court Permits Notice by Email”
Michael A. Rowe
In Motorworld, Inc. v. William Benkendorf, et al. (A-64-15), the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that a corporation’s release of a debt constituted a fraudulent transfer under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“UFTA”), N.J.S.A. 25:2-20 to -34.
In 1998, Morton Salkind arranged for his wife, Carole Salkind, to become the sole shareholder of 19 closely held corporations, including: (i) plaintiff Motorwold, Inc. (“Motorworld”); (ii) Fox Development, Inc. (“Fox”); and (iii) Giant Association (“Giant”). Defendant William Benkendorf was the owner of defendant Benks Land Services, Inc. (“Benks”). In 2004, Morton retained Benks to provide landscaping services to some of the companies owned by Carole, including Fox and Giant, but not Motorworld. Over time, Fox and Giant accumulated a debt to Benks of more than $1 million. Later in 2004, Motorworld loaned Benkendorf and his wife, defendant Gundrun Benkendorf, $600,000 so that the Benkendorfs could resolve a tax issue. Carole transferred $499,999 from her personal account into Motorworld’s account and the Benkendorfs executed a Note, stating that they would pay the principal amount. The Benkendorfs also agreed not to use the Note to offset any monies owed to them by any company owned by Carole, including Fox and Giant. Continue reading “New Jersey Supreme Court Rules That Release of Debt of Closely-Held Corporation in Exchange for Release of Debt by Second Closely-Held Corporation Is a Fraudulent Transfer”
Bruce M. Gorman, Jr.
In Tahisha Roach v. BM Motoring, LLC (077125) (A-69-15), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a used car dealership’s knowing refusal to cooperate with plaintiffs’ arbitration demands, filed in reasonable compliance with the parties’ agreement, amounts to a material breach, barring the breaching party from later compelling arbitration.
The decision stemmed from two separate litigations involving a used car dealership’s dispute resolution agreement (“DRA”). Plaintiffs had separately purchased used cars from two used car dealerships (operating under the same name), which turned out to be lemons. Plaintiffs’ respective efforts to file an arbitration before the AAA were met by the dealer’s refusal to advance its arbitration fees, and the AAA’s subsequent dismissal of the petition. Efforts to file in court were met by motions to dismiss in favor of arbitration, which the lower courts granted. Ultimately, a joint action was filed, and the lower court directed the plaintiffs to attempt to refile before the AAA, and dismissed their complaint with prejudice. An appeal was taken, and the Appellate Division affirmed. Continue reading “Supreme Court Finds Waiver of Right to Arbitrate by Failure to Pay In Tahisha Roach v. BM Motoring, LLC”
New Jersey is home to numerous subsidiaries of foreign corporations, especially in the pharmaceutical and technology industries. In a decision, which will be welcomed by those corporations, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently reaffirmed that the foreign parent company of a wholly-owned New Jersey subsidiary is not subject to the general jurisdiction of New Jersey courts unless the plaintiff can meet the elements of piercing the corporate veil. FDASmart, Inc. v. Dishman Pharm. & Chems. Ltd., No. A-2800-15T3 (Dec. 29, 2016).
In FDASmart, the defendant Dishman Pharm. & Chems. Ltd (“DCPL”) was an Indian corporation with a principal place of business in India. In 2013, PKM, an Indian company, set up a meeting between FDASmart and DCPL to discuss the sale of a facility owned by a Chinese subsidiary of DCPL. A memorandum of understanding was entered into between PKM, FDASmart, and “Dishman Group” regarding the development of a sales strategy and ultimate sale of the facility. The name “Dishman Group” is a marketing term for DCPL and its subsidiaries. Eventually, the sale fell apart and FDASmart sued DCPL and DCPL’s wholly-owned New Jersey subsidiary, Dishman USA, in New Jersey state court. DCPL challenged that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it but FDASmart asserted that DCPL had sufficient contacts with New Jersey because Dishman USA was a New Jersey corporation. Continue reading “Appellate Division Denies Jurisdiction over Indian Corporation with New Jersey Subsidiary”