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Puffery or False Employment Promises

I like to think that I’m one of those jumpers into Monday!

 

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Which brings me to the blog topic of marketing versus puffery. I remember the first time that I heard the word puffery in law school. I thought that the law professor was kidding.

I soon learned it was a real legal concept. That it’s really a promotional claim that no reasonable person would consider the advertising statements literally. I guess it’s perfect for sales. Like the salesman who always claims that I have “lots of things in the pipeline”, when his manager questions his lack of sales.

How about those horrible commercials for Chevrolet, with the people so amazed at the cars and trucks that all they can do is jump around and say wow. I have never seen “not actors real people” seem so excited about car seats and looking at the half of a car. That’s not puffery in marketing. That’s just nonsense.

A better example is the advertising of Papa Johns Pizza. It’s puffery because no one really believes that they have better ingredients and therefore better pizza. Someone could potentially like the taste of their sauce or think that Peyton Manning is funny in the ads. However, no reasonable person would think they have better ingredients, since all pizzas basically have the same ingredients. But that is acceptable puffery advertising.

Unfortunately for Uber Technologies, they crossed the line from puffery, into a claim of misrepresentation. Now Uber  is paying a 20 million dollar settlement for claims of driver deception. (CNBC)

The agreement was made with the Federal Trade Commission relating to statements that Uber had made regarding claims of income that their drivers could make. Between the years of 2013-2015, while they were trying to recruit drivers to their service rather than competitor Lyft, the advertised potential driver earnings far exceeded what drivers really were earning. Plus, drivers were paying substantially more for leased cars than advertised.

The attached article provides a great discussion of earnings in the major cities. It also provides a reminder that companies just can’t get away with misrepresenting benefits, just to assist their growth. Meanwhile, Uber says that they are glad to settle this dispute.

Still, I am glad that Uber is doing well. At least that’s good for us when we want to catch a ride. Right?

And for pic o’ day, it’s really a thought that was sent to me about the progress of New Year’s resolutions:

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Police Officer Lawsuits

On Sunday afternoon I received an alert from my Baltimore Sun subscription that advised that Freddie Gray, injured during arrest, has died.(story) I previously didn’t know anything about this story until I read about this young man who was arrested by Baltimore police last week. According to their report, he was arrested, placed into a van and was transported to the district station.

During the arrest, the police report indicates that he suffered trauma injuries that included a broken neck and that he lapsed into a coma. Seven days later he died. The family does not yet know what happened.

Unfortunately, It seems that we are regularly seeing news stories like this. Are police officers overracting? Are they doing their job correctly and just protecting themselves. Well, we know on a few occassions that there has been questionable conduct that erodes public confidence. That includes the recent police officer in South Carolina who shot and killed an unarmed man.

This leads me to the following two news stories about lawsuits that have been recently filed against law enforcement. When I see these, I think that it would probably be difficult to empanel a jury without bias or prejudice.

From The Cinninnati Enquirer,  a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of a girl who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy as she was leaving a party in Boone County, Ohio. The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in federal court in Covington by the girl’s parents. It names a deputy from Boone County and a Boone County sheriff as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, the 19-year-old girl was leaving a field party in her car when the deputy jumped on to the hood of her car.Without warning the Deputy jumped on her hood and demanded that she stop the car. “As she was stopping the car, the Defendant Brockman fired his weapon four times through the windshield”. He killed driver Samantha Ramsey and “terrorized her three passengers”. For this lawsuit, we now know that there are at least 3 witnesses that don’t sound favorable for the Deputy.

From the Indianapolis Star, a story of a lawsuit being brought against an Indiana police officer. This Indiana resident  claims he was harassed and threatened by police officers. The lawsuit describes events that occurred in January at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Three officers have admitted to harrassing and threatening plaintiff  Timothy Vander Plaat after he texted the fiance of one of the officers and asked for her phone number. According to the lawsuit as well as information that has been received by the investigation of the officers’ internal affairs department, they wanted to send the message about what happens when you mess with an officer’s family.

The officer left the message for the plaintiff and on the recording , the officer states, “I’m going to (curse word) kill you. And it’s not going to be awesome. I mean, it’s going to be like little body parts in a fireplace kind of death”.

Yes…. probably not a good lawsuit ending for these officers.

We live in difficult days for law enforcement.

And for pic o’ day…. the line is testing this lady’s patience because it does not seem to be moving!

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Utah Attorney General v. BCS

“And in this corner” is one of those famous boxing lines that usually was followed with some fancy nickname like “The Irish Butcher” or “The Marshmallow Masher”.  OK, maybe not those nicknames, but it meant that they were about to “get ready to rumble”.

By the way, did you know that  Michael Buffer trademarked “let’s get ready to rumble” and has generated an estimated 400 million in revenue by doing that.  How can I make “read Joel Bieber’s blog” into a video game to generate revenue too? But, I digress.

This time of year brings out the complainers and lawsuits over the college football Bowl Championship Series. (BCS). The BCS determines the system and teams in major bowl games. Plus, this system also picks a national college champion.

In 2010, President took a detour from a President’s job of  job creation/tax fights/judge appointments/ political speeches….  and came out with a statement that he was “going to throw his weight around to get a playoff system”.  Well, apparently, the President didn’t eat enough at Thanksgiving because the BCS still stands.

This computer system/organization will determine the teams playing in the major bowl games over the holidays. That really means that it determines how to divide up about $158.2  and 28.4 million for four football games; while the other conferences not in those 4 BCS games, will be dividing up $13.2 million among their non-qualifying conferences.

I could get more detailed, but the weight of those big dollar numbers is persuasive enough to understand why the Utah Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the BCS.

The impetus for the suit is because Boise State got left out.  Based on their record, Utah AG Mark Shurtleff believes that  “there was some kind of mischief going on”. Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, does not agree with Shurtleff’s assertions that there is some conspiracy slanted toward big football conferences.

This is one of those blogs that I’ll just put out there for you. If you want to think conspiracy then maybe you should consider whether any Presidential candidates are getting involved on this one.

Before doing that, you might take a shortcut to the answer by checking on how many electoral college votes that UTAH brings to the upcoming Presidential election. Things that make you go hmmm.

And now pic o’ day. Wait a second. Where did this manger scene extra come from?

The Stands of Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli  probably has made both sides of the aisle a bit unhappy. He expressed his personal opinions regarding Federal  tort reform, and applied his same reasoning to restricting the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).

Now, I know that politics can be some pretty boring stuff. I’ll bet that a few have already scrolled to pic o’ day. So, I’ll try to be quick.

Big Business and The Chamber of Commerce decided a long time ago that it’s cheaper to influence Congress and the US Senate,  rather than spending money in every state, trying to influence each legislator. So, if you can get favorable laws enacted Federally that override states’ rights, then you’ve done it in one vote; controlling 50 states.

Ken Cuccinelli has taken the position that the Federal Government should not be involved in the business of what individual states do; particularly Virginia.  He wrote an editorial piece in the Washington Post on Sunday, expressing this very point that would keep the federal government from restricting lawsuits, or enacting lawsuit caps, or requiring states to ignore their own laws, in favor of the Federal Government.

Here’s a short version of what he said about such Federal action. Specifically, he was also addressing Senate Bill 197 that attempts to cap damages in medical malpractice cases. “This legislation expands federal power, tramples states’ rights and violates the Constitution. If it were ever signed into law, by a Republican or Democratic president, I would file suit against it just as fast as I filed suit when the federal health-care bill was signed into law.”

Such expressed opinion goes against many in the Republican Party. In keeping with that thought, he disagrees with Democrats because he blasted the EPA, in testimony before a US  House Committee. He believes that upcoming air quality regulations would have a devastating impact on Virginia.

The EPA has regulations in effect to take place soon, that would require coal-fired plants to make equipment changes and retrofitting of their facilities,  to decrease  pollution. He believes that such restrictions will put such burdens on the coal companies that it will cause business closings and cost jobs.

OK, I know I’m getting carried away with politics. The quick point is that, even though there may be evidence that the EPA is trying to restrict mercury, arsenic, dioxin and other pollutants, Cuccinelli is again saying, “Federal Government… Stay out, let’s States take care of this”.  Just something to think about.

Now, if you’ve made it to the bottom, here is pic o’ day… Feeling left out:

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