LITIGATION UPDATES – OCTOBER 2015

Hannah Montana Creators Not Entitled to Profits

Two creators of the Walt Disney Co.’s hit kid's television show “Hannah Montana” lost their bid for a cut of the show’s merchandising profits when a California judge refused to vacate an arbitration ruling upholding Disney's interpretation of their profit-sharing deal. 

BMW Hit With Large Verdict Over Fake Car Sale

A California federal jury awarded $430,000 to a victim of identity theft finding that BMW Financial Services NA LLC violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by standing firm in its position that plaintiff Seungtae Kim had allowed someone else to purchase a car in his name.

After a four-day trial, the jury gave Kim $250,000 to cover the damage to his credit, with an additional $150,000 going to cover his emotional distress under California's Identity Theft Law, as well as a civil penalty in the maximum amount of $30,000 for BMW's violation of that statute.

Tesla Referral Program Slammed By Auto Dealers

Some California auto dealers have slammed a new referral program from Tesla Motors Inc. offering incentives to current and prospective owners of the company's electric cars, described by Tesla founder Elon Musk as a "guerilla tactic" to boost sales, telling the state Department of Motor Vehicles that the offer undermines state dealer licensing laws.

Tesla offers a $1,000 discount to new purchasers referred by a current Tesla owner and $1,000 toward other purchases for the referral.  The program includes larger offers to those who refer more Tesla buyers, from a free home wall battery to those who refer five new Tesla buyers, to a free Model X vehicle to the first person who refers 10 new buyers in several sales regions.  Opponents of the new marketing ploy argue that it disrupts the auto sales market and is prohibited outright under the California Vehicle Code.  Stay tuned.

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