Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ticketmaster Joins Live Nation, and an Industry Quakes -
Crouching Tiger: Franchise Regulators Pounce on Franchisors : Hospitality Law Blog
A Dripping Red Wax Seal on a Bottle is a Protectable Trademark : Hospitality Law Blog
Do you bring your own pillow with you when checking into hotels? - Hotel Check-in @

Friday, April 23, 2010

Via National Retail Federation: GameStop LP exec talks crowd control, ORC and keeping staff focused on the big picture

State Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws

Often, when I'm on the road and once I've landed and gotten a rental car, I realize I don't know the law of the jurisdiction I'm in re: cell phone use. I'm attaching this link as a resource for me (and you) to access via mobile web at the airport to figure out what the law is before I get to the rental car.

McDonald's reboots successful "I'm lovin' it" campaign:
Restaurant Chains See Customers Returning -
From "Abnormal Use" Blog: What In The Name Of Subrogation, Equitable Indemnification and Contribution Is Going On Here?
From "Leadership" Blog | Retail Shrink Means Morale Problem
New York Country Inns, a World Apart -

Via Restaurant Lawyer Stephen Barth: Restaurant Law: Size Really Does Matter - Alcohol Server Training and Policies - Blog

Compelling blog entry from Attorney (and friend) Stephen Barth at regarding the necessity for alcohol beverage permit holders to ensure the enforcement of responsible beverage policies that focus both on: (1) the number of drinks a customer has consumed; and (2) the amount of alcohol that is consumed. Barth asserts that far too often, permit holders overlooks the size of alcoholic drinks they are serving to patrons - with detrimental results.

Via @StephenBarth on Twitter --- Hotel Rates: A High Price to Pay for Little in the Way of Customer Service or a Fair Deal? :: Hotel News Resource

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Video Surveillance Evidence - Observations (and a Request) from a Retail Liability Attorney

More times than not, in cases involving retailers - whether the claim relates to alleged non-productive stops, purported premises defect, third party tort, etc. - video surveillance evidence becomes central to discovery. This evidence can often (very often) times be exculpatory. We recently dug a retail client out of an enormous potential exposure because the LPM on duty, working with corporate risk management, had the sense to:

(1) recognize the patron's injury was serious and could give rise to a claim at the time the loss occurred;

(2) preserve the evidence - including the footage from minutes (not seconds) leading up to the loss; and

(3) insure that corporate RM got the video - along with the complete incident report package this retailer uses - ASAP.

Though suit was filed, the matter was dismissed post haste once we produced the video depicting the claimant was completely and unquestionably responsible for the loss. Thus, a lot of time, effort, and costs (operational, defense, and indemnity) were saved/preserved in the process.

Working as a partnership between the store, corporate RM, and counsel, video surveillance can be powerful evidence to help save the day. However, the location where the loss occurred has to give RM and counsel a fighting chance by using common sense and adhering to corporate protocols regarding the securing of video evidence in a prompt, complete, and competent manner. Therefore, my simple request of retailers is this: when a loss occurs that arguably could give rise to a claim, preserve and protect the footage, and get it to risk management ASAP. A lot of heartache, frustration, finger pointing, etc. can be saved by following this simple step.
On 40th Anniversary, Earth Day Is Big Business -

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From USA Today: Retailers, restaurants offer deals as more consumers who are pinching pennies -

Welcome to the Legal Blogosphere: SC Business Law Blog

My friend Jack Pringle and his crew over at Ellis Lawhorne have started the SC Business Law Blog ( This new blog is a welcome addition to the SC legal internet landscape.

I have gotten to know Jack over the last year as we have compared notes about integrating social media into our respective practices. I've been impressed with his diligence and great ideas. Social media, blogging, microblogging, etc is the next frontier for serious lawyers, and he really gets it.

I look forward to reading Jack's and his partners' entries re: all things business law in South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wow: Japanese retailer sets record with $300 million/15 year lease for space on 5th Ave NYC

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This just in from Rock Hill - - - Hotel guest assaults another with snake:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Via @StephenBarth: RT @ArtieBeavis : Restaurant chains step up social media strategies

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

McDonald's remake: Consultant suggests McDonald's wants to be more like Starbucks
Marketing: McDonald's Names First Social-Media Chief - Advertising Age
Positive Outlook Pushes Restaurant Performance Index To Highest Level in More Than Two Years
Report: Consumers ready to dine out again - Nation's Restaurant News
Food safety proctor accused of letting students cheat - Nation's Restaurant News
Restaurant chains step up social media strategies - Nation's Restaurant News

Why some hotels resist AEDs

We recently wrote about AEDs in the hospitality sector. See In short, we observed that as AED technology becomes cheaper and easier to use, and as what constitutes "reasonable" with regard to standard of care in the hospitality sector expands, it is not altogether inconceivable that AEDs in hotels, restaurants, etcs. will soon become a mandate rather than a choice.

While perusing the internet re: hospitality liability issues, we came upon this entry from the WSJ's Middle Seat blog, which outlined the basis for resistance by some hoteliers to acquiring and using AEDs. See attached for this blog entry to read the opposing viewpoint:
Via @StephenBarth: Hotels follow the airline industry into the 'fee era'
Some discontent found in the blogs re: McDonald's new effort to promote its image via social media.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Via @StephenBarth: Should hotel guests have to pay for the internet?
Radisson moves to block access to web child pornography in rooms
Marriott Courtyard taps into Apple iPad buzz; sponsors USA TODAY's app launch - Hotel Check-in
The Secret to Five Guys' Success: A sit-down with founder Jerry Murrell:
The 5 Essential Components of Defense Attorney Reports That Can Improve Claims Costs & Outcomes

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Incentives & Disincentives in LP: Will They Affect Performance?
Starbucks fans: Does Starbucks availability influence your hotel choice? Hotel Check-in:
Hotel Check-In: Business Hotel & Travel Blog -
Will you spend 2009's tax return on a vacation this year? Most say no - Hotel Check-in: A road warrior's guide to the lodging landscape -
Why ordering room-service breakfast in hotels can be dangerous - Hotel Check-in: A road warrior's guide to the lodging landscape -
Dates Set for 2011 Hospitality Law Conference in Houston - - A must do event.
Hotel Lawyer Stephen Barth Questions Safety of Room Service for Breakfast Door Hangers - Blog

SC Supreme Court Reverses $18 million Products Liability Verdict; Enunciates Standard for Admission of Expert Witness Testimony

Within the last several weeks, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed a substantial personal injury verdict in the case of Watson v. Ford Motor Company. Though we don't typically profile products liability cases in this blog, we wanted to write about it because of the Court's holding, which turned on the admissibility of expert witness testimony. In many cases we defend for our hoteliers, restaurants, retailers, and live music promoters/presenters, there exists the testimony of expert witnesses. As a result, we wanted to give you a brief overview about Watson.

Following a single vehicle accident, Respondents Sonya L. Watson and the Estate of Patricia Carter filed a products liability suit against, inter alia, Appellant Ford Motor Company. A jury found against Ford and awarded Respondents $18 million in compensatory damages.

On appeal, Ford argued the trial court erred in several respects. Following briefing and oral argument, the South Carolina Supreme Court held the trial court erred in qualifying a purported cruise control expert, in admitting certain testimony, and in admitting evidence of similar incidents. Accordingly, the Court reversed the jury’s verdict against Ford.

This opinion is informative for us with regard to the admissibility of expert witness testimony. While the Court did not adopt Daubert, it nevertheless enunciated a clear requirement that requires the trial court make certain preliminary findings regarding admissibility requirements, such as qualification of experts, reliability of the substance of the testimony, and substantial similarity of alleged similar incidents, before a jury may hear the evidence. If these preliminary requirements are not met, as a matter of law, the trial court may not permit the jury to consider the evidence. Specifically, the Court wrote:

[I]n executing its gatekeeping duties, the trial court must make three key preliminary findings which are fundamental to Rule 702 before the jury may consider expert testimony. First, the trial court must find that the subject matter is beyond the ordinary knowledge of the jury, thus requiring an expert to explain the matter to the jury. See State v. Douglas, 380 S.C. 499, 671 S.E.2d 606 (2009) (holding that the witness was improperly qualified as a forensic interviewing expert where the nature of her testimony was based on personal observations and discussions with the child victim). Next, while the expert need not be a specialist in the particular branch of the field, the trial court must find that the proffered expert has indeed acquired the requisite knowledge and skill to qualify as an expert in the particular subject matter. See Gooding v. St. Francis Xavier Hosp., 326 S.C. 248, 252-53, 487 S.E.2d 596, 598 (1997) (observing that to be competent to testify as an expert, a witness must have acquired by reason of study or experience such knowledge and skill in a profession or science that he is better qualified than the jury to form an opinion on the particular subject of his testimony). Finally, the trial court must evaluate the substance of the testimony and determine whether it is reliable. See State v. Council, 335 S.C. 1, 20, 515 S.E.2d 515, 518 (evaluating whether expert testimony on DNA analysis met the reliability requirements).
In Watson, the Court held one of plaintiff's key liability expert's testimony did not meet this standard. As a result, the Court determined the expert's testimony was inadmissible. Consequently, the Court reversed and remanded the matter for a new trial. The $18 million verdict was erased.

For greater detail about the significance of this verdict, please click onto an article about Watson in South Carolina Products Liability Blog, which is run by my friend and fellow Collins & Lacy attorney, Brian Comer:

Text of Supreme Court opinion in Watson v. Ford Motor Company:
The good and bad uses of social media. Where will you be? : Real Lawyers Have Blogs
Shoppers come alive: March retail reports are encouraging:

What truly drives me as a lawyer ...

I love practicing law. I love getting great outcomes; however, my true passion comes from counseling our clients - before there is litigation. I love researching and writing about liability issues affecting retail/hospitality/entertainment entities. I especially love getting out on the road and meeting with clients and sharing with them strategies to avoid litigation, as well as effectively handling what litigation they do have. That face-to-face time is priceless.

Download the free report "The Safe Path to Success" from the National Restaurant Association

Poor personal hygiene is a leading cause of food-borne illness. That's why every food handler on every shift needs to understand the importance of proper personal hygiene practices. Download the free report "The Safe Path to Success" from the National Restaurant Association today, because it can help every operation recognize and avoid common barriers to food safety. Download here:
Analyst: Grocers aim to capture restaurants' customers - Related Stories - National Restaurant Association SmartBrief
Took my first Blackberry free vacation this week. It was an accident (I left it in the car at the airport). Nevertheless, it was a blessing in disguise.
Stegmaier quoted in recent article in SC Lawyers Weekly re: AEDs in the Hospitality Sector
Analysts see start of restaurant recovery - Nation's Restaurant News

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Was on airplane today w/ med emergency. Working on blog entry for later re Good Samaritan Law in air. 49 USC 44701 appears to be the key.