Decisions: December 13, 2007

Appeals court upholds 'Price Is Right' discrimination arbitration

Case: Riegert v. Barker
Court: Calif. 2nd District Ct. of Appeal
Date: Nov. 29 (unpublished)

Facts: Linda Riegert, a former production assistant on "The Price is Right," alleged she was wrongfully terminated in 2000 because of her age and gender and because she testified truthfully in a defamation suit filed against host Bob Barker. She had signed a general release and separation agreement which provided that employees would be "laid off" when Pearson Television took over ownership of the show, but argued that the agreement was unenforceable. An arbitrator found Riegert was not fired for protected conduct and the agreement had not been obtained by fraud.

Holding: The trial court properly compelled arbitration of Riegert's claims and she "has made no showing" that the release and separation agreement is "substantively unconscionable" even though it did not include an express waiver of a jury trial. On the merits of the claims of fraudulent inducement, the arbitrator's rejection of Riegert's testimony and "her version of events preceding execution of the separation agreement ... is not subject to judicial review."

Attorneys of Record: Nick Alden of Beverly Hills for Riegert; Patricia Glaser and Sean Riley of Christensen Glaser in Century City for Barker.

To read the full opinion, click here.

Case: Estate of Elkan v. Hasbro
Court: 9th Circuit
Date: Dec. 5 (unpublished)

Facts: Gunther Elkan, a Holocaust survivor who escaped to Canada, copyrighted a board game called "Strategy" in 1948. Hasbro began producing a battlefield strategy game under the name "Stratego" in 1961. The U.S. copyright on "Strategy" expired in 1976 -- three years after Elkan's death -- but his heirs alleged the Canadian copyright provides independent protection under the Copyright Act and Hasbro therefore was still liable for infringement.

Holding: "In order for a foreign copyright to restore an expired United States
copyright, a published work must have been published first in the foreign country
and 'not published in the United States during the 30-day period following
publication in such eligible country.'" Since the Canadian copyright and United States copyright each lists the initial publication date for Strategy in its respective country as May 25, 1948, "Plaintiff does not have a valid, enforceable copyright under the Copyright Act."

Attorneys of Record: Roy Thompson of Thompson & Bogran in Lake Oswego, Ore., for the Elkan estate; Kieran Curley and Suzanne Lacampagne of Miller Nash in Portland, Ore., for Hasbro.

To read the full opinion, click here.