Business Briefs

IBR Staff//February 20, 2013//

Business Briefs

IBR Staff//February 20, 2013//

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2013 litigation forecast released for in-house counsel

A 2013 litigation forecast for in-house counsel predicts “no end in sight” for wage and hour litigation, a growing sophistication in trade secret theft and new spoliation challenges in e-discovery.

The report, “Litigation Forecast 2013: What Corporate Counsel Need to Know for the Coming Year,” was produced by the Washington, D.C. law firm Crowell & Moring.

It identifies 10 trending areas of litigation: antitrust, government contracts, labor and employment, patents, torts and environment, trade secrets, white collar crime, class actions, international trade and e-discovery.

Other matters that in-house counsel should expect to see include toxic tort and environmental litigation, whistleblower suits under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act and lawsuits over government contracts.

While the forecast predicts stepped-up regulation and litigation in several areas, in the area of class action litigation it says that courts are scrutinizing more closely the terms of class action settlements before approving them.

Dolan Media Newswires

U of I provost is finalist for Wyoming job

Douglas Baker, the provost and executive vice president at the University of Idaho, is a finalist for the top job at the University of Wyoming.

The UW Board of Trustees released Baker’s name and three others on February 22.

The university said the finalists had agreed to allow their names to be made public.

Baker; Warwick M. Bayly, provost and executive vice president at Washington State University; Robert Sternberg, provost at Oklahoma State University; and Kim Wilcox, former provost and executive vice president at Michigan State University.

The trustees will interview each candidate before choosing a successor to Tom Buchanan, who is retiring.

UW received more than 80 applications for the job.

The Associated Press

Idaho Falls software firm partners with Japanese printer company

Brooks Internet Software Inc. based in Idaho Falls announced a co-marketing agreement with Oki Data Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Oki Data Corp. in Tokyo.

The Idaho company allows computers running the Windows operating system to print to and receive data from non-Windows computers, including mainframes and those running Unix. The agreement allows Oki Data customers to use Brooks software for their printing systems.

Brooks got its start in the mid-90s when Unix systems were more widespread and these users wanted to print to a Windows environment.

David Brooks, president of the company, said, “We can also interface with the document management system, archive into folders, convert documents into PDFs, and send out emails,” across different operating systems.

Brooks Internet has ten employees and satellite offices in Dallas and Denver. The company will remain in Idaho Falls, but David Brooks is in the process of moving to Denver. He said he’s moving because Denver has more convenient and affordable flight connections.

By Scott Ki

Hecla buys exploratory mining company

Mining company Hecla has bought a 20 percent stake in Brixton Metals Corporation, an exploratory mining venture.

Hecla, which just reopened its Lucky Friday mine in northern Idaho, bought about 17 million shares of the publicly traded company for a little more than $2.5 million, according to a company news release.

Brixton is a Canadian company that has been looking for resources in northern British Columbia, according to the release.

The purchase price was 15 cents a share.

Hecla CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. said in a statement that recent discoveries by Brixton show a potential for finding large mineral deposits at the Thorn Project in British Columbia.

Sean Olson

Idaho Power reports $168.2 million profit in 2012

Boise-based Idaho Power reported a 2-percent increase in profit in 2012, from $164.8 million in 2011 to $168.2 million.

Higher rates and irrigation use during a warmer, drier spring contributed to this uptick.

Rates tied to Idaho Power’s new Langley Gulch facility, general rate increases, and other rate adjustments added $65.2 million to the company’s operating income in 2012 compared to 2011.

Also, Idaho Power’s business customers increased energy use by 2.6 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. The company attributes this rise to warm and dry weather conditions from April through June that required irrigation customers to use more electricity to operate their pumps.

Last year, the company’s return on year-end equity triggered a profit sharing mechanism, requiring a $21.8 million reduction to operating income. This amount will eventually be shared with Idaho customers via reduced rates and expenses.

By Scott Ki

ITC Software Alliance has new chairman

The Idaho Technology Council has a new chairman for its Software Alliance. Jim Gasaway, vice president at Kount Inc. and parent company Keynetics Inc., has taken on the role.

According to a company bio, Gasaway joined Boise-based Keynetics in 2006. Prior to Keynetics he worked for two business units with Credit Recovery Services, a division of Capital One Financial Services.

Gasaway said he looks at Salt Lake City as a model of how Boise and Idaho can promote technology and support the development of software companies.

He succeeds Matt Rissell, CEO of Eagle-based TSheets.com LLC. Rissell said the Alliance has grown from six people to more than 500 individual members since he helped start the group three years ago.

Rissell hopes to spend more time on his cloud-based software company as well as pursue other interests like flying planes. He will retain his membership on the ITC executive and other committees.

The ITC is an industry advocacy group based in Boise.

By Scott Ki

New BSU football complex will be named after Bleymaier

Boise State University’s new football complex, still under construction north of Bronco Stadium, will be named after former longtime athletic director Gene Bleymaier. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the name Feb. 21.

The 68,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open this summer, will include coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, recruiting and players’ lounges, an academic center, weight and training rooms, an equipment room and a locker room.

Bleymaier was the Broncos’ athletic director from 1982 to 2011, during which time the school’s football team rose to national prominence. He was instrumental in installing the blue turf at Bronco Stadium. His tenure at BSU ended as the school faced sanctions from the NCAA in football and other sports. He is now the athletic director at San Jose State University, which will join BSU in the Mountain West Conference for athletics this summer.

Two couples were lead donors to the $22 million football complex, Larry and Marianne Williams and Jerry and Muriel Caven. They said they made the naming request when making their donation in late 2010.

“Under Gene’s leadership Bronco football became a household name throughout the country,” the donors’ statement said. “He displayed remarkable vision, the highest integrity, passion for helping others, astute business sense and unwavering loyalty to the University and Boise community.”

By Brad Iverson-Long

IDPR launches ‘Parks Perks’ program

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has created a partnership with businesses.

The Parks Perks program allows businesses to sign up as Parks Perks providers and offer a discount to Idaho State Parks Passport holders.

The program is intended to prompt sales of the passports, said parks spokeswoman Jennifer Okerlund.

Okerlund said a similar program was successful in Michigan. Eric Thornbury, with Michigan State Parks, said the program helps convince people who are on the fence about buying a passport to make the purchase. About a third of Michigan’s 7 million residents have a state parks passport.

Michigan’s program has nearly 1,200 perks providers, and it took the state about six months to recruit 500 perks providers, Thornbury said. The Idaho program seeks to recruit at least 100 perks providers by the end of March.

Participating businesses will be listed on IDPR’s website. So far, only one business is listed: Dog Bark Park, a bed-and-breakfast inside a beagle-shaped building, which will give a free postcard to Idaho State Parks Passport holders.

The discounts or perks are up to participating vendors.

IDPR’s general fund support was reduced by 80 percent in 2008. Legislation creating the $10-per-year State Parks Passports was passed in 2012. Idaho’s 30 state parks waive their $5 per-vehicle, per-day use fees for passport holders.

Cady McGovern

Coeur d’Alene Mines recorded lower profit and metal sales for 2012.

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. based in North Idaho reported full year 2012 results Feb. 21.

The gold and silver mining company had less profit in 2012 than in 2011. Last year, Coeur made $48.7 million compared to $93.5 million in 2011. According to a news release, reduced metal sales and fair value adjustments were responsible for the decrease.

Net metal sales dropped from $1 billion in 2011 to $895.5 million in 2011, down 12 percent. The company attributes this decline to lower second half production at its Palmarejo, Mexico and San Bartolome, Bolivia projects, closure of its Martha mine in Argentina, and lower average realized prices for silver.

Fair value adjustments depend on the price of gold, which affect the company’s estimated future liabilities related to royalties at its project in Palmarejo. In 2012, the company’s fair value adjustment reduced profit by $23.5 million. In 2011, profit decreased by $52.1 million as a result of this adjustment.

Coeur has projects in Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico in Latin America as well as Alaska and Nevada in the United States.

IBR Staff

Land design and civil engineering firms merge

Eagle-based The Land Group Inc. purchased Engineering NorthWest LLC of Boise. The merged companies provide land planning, civil engineering, landscape architecture and land surveying services.

Engineering NorthWest has helped design commercial, residential, and public facilities in the Treasure Valley. The company worked on River Heights and the Mill District subdivisions in Boise as well as the Paramount in Meridian.

The Land Group’s portfolio includes the Village at Meridian shopping complex, Marianne Williams Park in Boise, and developments at Boise State University.

David Koga, a Land Group partner, said the new company will two or three more employees who specialize in civil engineering and surveying to meet project demand.

The combined company employs 30 people, nearly all of them at its Eagle headquarters. The Land Group also has offices in Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene.

By Scott Ki

U.S. Bank to appeal ‘No Lawyers’ verdict

U.S. Bank will appeal a jury verdict that gave more than $130,000 to the Crescent “No Lawyers” Bar and Grill in Boise in January.

According to records filed in federal court, the bank will be asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to look at the case before the Crescent can be paid out.

A jury had ruled that U.S. Bank was liable for more than $85,000 after a former Crescent employee continuously cashed checks at the bank that were labeled “deposit only.” Since the verdict, the Crescent has asked for an additional roughly $150,000 for attorney fees in the case.

The former employee is serving jail time for embezzling the restaurant’s cash, but is eligible for possible parole in May.

U.S. Bank had argued that standard contract language had immunized the bank from the lawsuit, among other contentions.

By Sean Olson

Restaurant sued over pay-per-view violation

A Mexican restaurant in Idaho Falls is facing a $150,000 lawsuit after one of its employees screened an Ultimate Fighting Championship Pay-Per-View event without getting a license to do so, according to federal court records.

Puerto Vallarta, along with four co-owners, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed by UFC promoter Joe Hand Promotions. The complaint stems from a March 2011 fight.

Bars, restaurants and other public venues can screen pay-per-view events like the UFC, but must have a “sub-license” to broadcast it to a crowd. Those licenses cost considerably more than the standard $40 to $100 it takes to watch a similar event at home.

A Puerto Vallarta official, who did not give his name, said in a telephone interview that an employee had decided to screen the fight without permission. He said the employee no longer works for the restaurant.

Joe Hand Productions is asking for $150,000, plus punitive damages and attorney fees.

By Sean Olson

What constitutes ‘changing clothes’ under FLSA? U.S. Supreme Court to decide

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide what constitutes “changing clothes” for purposes of determining a worker’s compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Court will review a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that hourly employees for U.S. Steel were not entitled to compensation for time spent changing clothes at their lockers or for “travel” time to and from their work stations.

he FLSA provides that an employer doesn’t need to pay a worker for time spent “changing clothes,” if that time is expressly excluded from compensable time under a collective bargaining agreement.

The plaintiffs in this case are 800 current and former U.S. Steel hourly workers. They argued that U.S. Steel violated the FLSA by failing to compensate them for the time they spent in putting on and taking off their work clothes in the locker room at their plant. In addition, the plaintiffs sought compensation for time spent walking from their lockers to their work stations at the beginning of their shifts, and back again at the end of their shifts.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the case next term.

Dolan Media Newswires