L+G Newsletter — March 2017
Wear Red Day
On February 3, L+G held its annual Wear Red Day fundraiser at Zeph's One Stop. The event benefitted the American Heart Association's efforts in promoting women's heart health. 

This year's event raised more than $3,900! Thank you to everyone who came out, and special thanks to our sponsors: Portobello's, Mann Packing, Roy's Swiss Sausage Factory, and Antle Wines. See you next year!
Welcome Nevin Miller!
Meet Nevin, the newest member of the L+G litigation team. Nevin has been practicing family law since 2005, handling hundreds of divorce, custody, visitation and child and spousal support cases.

He’s married with a daughter and when not practicing law, he participates in Iaido, the Japanese martial art of swordsmanship.  Please join us in welcoming him!

Nevin P. Miller's Bio
Do You Qualify For One Of California’s 'Secret Liens'?
By Paul Rovella

California laws provide “secret liens” for farmers that often times have priority over other types of commercial liens. These liens are “secret” because they are not usually evidenced in a public record. This article covers the basics of the agricultural producers lien.

Section 55631 of the California Food and Agriculture Code creates a producer’s lien and states the following:

"Every producer of any farm product who sells any product which is grown by him to any processor under contract, express or implied, in addition to all other rights and remedies which are provided for by law, has a lien upon such product and upon all processed and manufactured forms of such farm product, for his labor, care, and expense in growing and harvesting such product. The lien shall be to the extent of the agreed price, if any, for such product so sold. If there is no agreed price or a method for determining it which is agreed upon, the extent of the lien is the value of the farm product as of the date of delivery..."

Essentially, the lien protects producers from nonpayment by processors. The intent of the producer lien laws was to protect a farmer who sells his or her commodities to a processor under a promise of payment at a later date. The basis for the adoption of the producers lien law was that the “grower has the risk of producing the crop and it would be inequitable and contrary to the public interest in a viable agricultural industry to leave the grower vulnerable to insolvent processors.”

Read more at LG-Attorneys.com
Amending a Contract
By Patrick Casey

People and businesses enter into contracts every day.  These contracts reflect the parties’ intentions at the time they enter into the contract.  However, situations change over time and the parties may want to amend the contract to reflect new terms or conditions.  The parties will typically enter into a written amendment to a contract that is signed by both parties.  Any amendments should meet certain basic requirements.

It is good practice for all amendments to be in writing and signed by the parties.  If there is a written contract between the parties, then there should be a written amendment to it.  Even if there is a verbal contract between the parties, it would still be a good idea to have a written amendment.  Many written contracts require that any amendments must be in writing and signed by the parties to be enforceable.  Otherwise, any amendment (such as a verbal amendment) will not be binding on the parties.

Read more at LG-Attorneys.com
Restaurant Surcharges: The Right Way to Pass the Buck or Not?
By Sergio Parra

If you’ve eaten in San Francisco recently, odds are that your restaurant bill had a charge below the sales tax, charging you up to 4% of your bill to cover healthcare costs for its employees.  A recent trend in California and nationwide has seen the increasing use of surcharges, either in response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, living wage ordinances or statewide increases to the minimum wage.

Just last month, an investigation was launched by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office of local restaurants that had recently implemented 3% surcharges in response to minimum wage increases.  These restaurants are being investigated for violations under California’s Unfair Competition Laws, which are designed to protect consumers from unfair business practices and false advertising.   Because of these broad consumer protections, customers must be made fully informed about these surcharges as soon as possible, not after they’ve eaten their food and received the bill, or worse yet, on the way home. 

On the back end, restaurants must also be taken to ensure that the monies are separately accounted for and actually expended as charged.  There is also specific guidance from the State Board of Equalization and the IRS on how these monies should be treated.  Moreover, individual restaurants should be careful in pursuing these surcharges in concert with other business owners to avoid any antitrust allegations. 

The bottom line is that although restaurant surcharges are not per se illegal in California, the legality of such surcharges are currently under scrutiny and thus, will require the attention of attorney to minimize the risks associated with their introduction.    
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