Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. Welcomes Experienced Litigation Attorney Georgianna Pennington Regnier to the Firm

Ventura County business law firm Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. welcomes attorney Georgianna Pennington Regnier to the firm. Georgianna practices in the areas of business and civil litigation, employment law in State and Federal courts and in administrative forums with an emphasis on Federal Civilian Employees. Georgianna will be joining Attorney Kathleen Smith at Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P., in the firm’s litigation practice. Kathi comments on the expansion of the firm’s litigation team, “I am enthusiastic about the new opportunity to work with Georgianna. Georgie is an outstanding attorney who is widely respected for practicing civil litigation in our courts for decades, and will enhance the firm’s exemplary complex litigation practice . The growth in our litigation department is an energizing increase in strength for our clients.”

Georgianna is experienced in dispute resolution and served as a court appointed arbitrator and as Pro Tem Mandatory Settlement Conference Judge for many years. She recently prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on appeal from a United States Federal Court of Claims judgment. Georgianna has prevailed on groundbreaking federal anti-discrimination cases and was awarded $2,200,000 in a sexual abuse trial.

Georgianna’s license to practice extends from all California courts to Washington, D.C.  She also advises non-profit charitable corporations and serves as general counsel on various local and international boards.

Georgianna also serves as general counsel for the family owned corporation she co-founded−managing trademarks, contracts and corporate matters and overseeing operations.

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is a multi service law firm successfully counseling individual and business clients in matters relating to business transactions, business litigation, employment law, estate planning, real estate law, bankruptcy, non-profit law, homeowners associations, family law, intellectual property, and land use and entitlements. For more information on Schneiders & Associates, LLP, please contact us through or call (805) 764-6370.


Common Lawsuits Brought Against Small Businesses

By Ted Schneider, Esq.

It is impossible to predict every lawsuit that a small business might possibly face. There is nothing to prevent angry vendors, entitled customers, or disgruntled employees from filing a lawsuit, even if there is no legitimate basis for it. The more a business owner delegates responsibilities to employees, the greater the risk that an employee makes a mistake and exposes the business to a lawsuit. Even the most vigilant, hands on business owner could make a mistake that can lead to a complaint filed against the business.

The most common lawsuits brought against businesses are brought by employees – typically discrimination, wrongful termination suits or claims for wage and hour violation. The impetus for such a suit can be anything from a fired employee feeling slighted to an employee being demoted or passed over for an advancement opportunity. If the employee or candidate believes that the action was taken for a reason related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or another protected classification, that employee might file a lawsuit. It is important to document any sort of negative or positive behaviors at work, so that if an employee does complain of discrimination, the court can see the employee’s work history and the real reason why he or she may have been terminated or passed over for a promotion. Disparaging remarks made about any of these protected classes have no business in a work place as they can create a hostile work environment and lead to lawsuits as well. In the event that an employer is faced with a lawsuit, or threat of a lawsuit by an employee or former employee, it is advisable that the employer seek counsel immediately from a knowledgeable attorney experienced in employment law and employment litigation.

Other common lawsuits brought against businesses concern overtime pay. Many employers deny their employees overtime pay in the interest of saving money, often through misclassifying the employee as “exempt” and paying the employee on a salary basis. This can be significantly more expensive in the long run because, if an employee sues, he or she may be entitled to back pay (potentially up to four years), penalties, and applicable attorneys’ fees. It is a good idea to discuss the new federal overtime rules with an experienced employment law attorney and to have contracts or offer letters clearly establishing the relationship between an employer and an employee to minimize confusion. Working with an experienced attorney is the best solution for drafting these agreements and avoiding these types of lawsuits.

It also makes sense to put agreements with vendors and customers in writing. The contracts should include a general description of the work to be performed, a list of any items to be delivered, a project schedule with deadlines, the fee, and the circumstances under which additional fees might be charged, warranties included with the work, indemnification, how long the contract lasts, how it can be terminated, and how disputes will be resolved.

Personal injury lawsuits against businesses are also common. In addition to keeping a place of business in safe condition, it is important that employees are properly classified as employees or independent contractors, and that the business carries the correct worker’s compensation insurance. Most states require employers to carry insurance in case of a workplace injury. Additionally, employees who are injured at work are usually precluded from suing their employer and are instead referred to worker’s compensation courts; however, an employer may be responsible for an injury and associated damages of an employee that has been misclassified as an independent contractor, and therefore no workers’ compensation insurance coverage was in place for the employee.

The attorneys at Schneiders & Associates L.L.P. are well versed in the areas of employment law, contracts, and litigation. For more information on any of the above, please contact us at,, or 805-764-6370.

Mediation, Litigation and Arbitration

By Kathleen J. Smith

Arbitration is Alternative Dispute Resolution, “ADR”. It is similar to Mediation, except Arbitration results in an award imposed by a neutral decider, whereas Mediation results in an agreed-to settlement often designed by the neutral but thoroughly adopted by the disputing parties. Both ADR methods work because they are based on agreement of the disputants: Arbitration starts because the parties made an agreement to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator after many hours or days of hearing; Mediation ends because the parties agree to be bound by their settlement after many hours of negotiations.

Arbitration is conducted in an informal conference room, often by a retired judge. Witnesses and exhibits are used just like in court, but all the rules of motion practice and evidence are relaxed to make arbitration a more informal process. The hearing itself can seem like an executive board meeting, with the arbitrator as the CEO. The agenda is set by the plaintiff—“Claimant” and defendant—“Respondent”. Each side submits their witness list and exhibit notebooks to the arbitrator, along with an arbitration brief explaining their story and why they should win.

You may find yourself going to arbitration even if you start out in court. If there is a statute requiring that you arbitrate your dispute, you will be ordered to arbitration. If you have agreed to an arbitration clause–often found in consumer purchase contracts and employee handbooks—you will probably be ordered to arbitrate your dispute.

Arbitration saves money. Even though the parties will pay the arbitrator to hear and decide their case, and the judge in court is not paid by the litigants, the parties usually spend less on attorney’s fees because the informality of arbitration means the lawyers don’t spend as much time adhering to legalities and red tape. 

Typically, both sides have to share equally in the cost of arbitration. But employment arbitration must usually be paid for entirely by the employer. Even if your dispute is based on a contract that allows the prevailing party to recover attorney’s fees and costs, you will not be reimbursed for the costs paid to the arbitrator unless your arbitration agreement includes a term to pay the other side’s arbitration fees. 

The arbitrator’s award is usually final. You will not be allowed to appeal. You can go to court and ask to have the arbitrator’s award vacated, but the grounds for doing so are strictly limited. So there are two big protections you give up when you agree to arbitrate a dispute: there is no jury of your peers, and there is no appeal. However, if your arbitration is handled by competent legal counsel, you can expect a swift resolution that you may find just as fair as the courtroom litigation experience.

To find out which dispute resolution method is right for you or your business, please feel free to contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Schneiders & Associates, LLP. We will be pleased to review your case, answer any questions you may have, and make sure you are comfortable with our law firm. For more information please call or email our Oxnard office.

Choosing a Litigation Attorney

By Kathi J. Smith, Esq.

If circumstances have required you to get involved in litigation, you may find the process of selecting an attorney to be overwhelming. There are, however, some steps you can take to make the selection process a bit easier.

First, you should consider hiring someone with significant experience in your type of case. If you have a real estate dispute, consider hiring an attorney who has knowledge and experience in real estate law. If you were sued by a former employee for wrongful termination, discrimination or wage and hour issues, hire a litigator with extensive experience in employment law.

Since you and the attorney you choose will be working very closely together, it’s important to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable. How long has the attorney been practicing law? Has the attorney ever handled a case like yours before?  What was the outcome?  How much are fees and how are they paid? Does the attorney seem like he or she is concerned about your case? Does the attorney seem knowledgeable about the area of law? Does the attorney articulate himself or herself clearly and effectively? Does he or she have a credible and trustworthy demeanor? Remember, a judge or jury may be making the same assessments down the line.

With respect to fees, most attorneys charge on an hourly basis. You will want to understand the fee structure and for which services the attorney will charge or not charge. For example, some attorneys charge for every phone call, while others do not charge for routine or quick calls. You should inquire as to the different rates charged by attorneys and ask if other attorneys in the office will also be working on the matter. Some matters are handled on a contingency fee basis which means the attorney will not charge you hourly for the work, but will charge a negotiated percentage of the recovery. In addition to the hourly or contingency fee structure, you should also be aware that many attorneys will bill for “out of pocket expenses” such as photocopies, court filing fees and cost of hiring experts and consultants. Again, depending on the strength of your case, you may be able to negotiate these terms. It’s also a good idea to find out how long the attorney believes the case will take.  Obviously, many factors are beyond your attorney’s control, but you should be able to determine a general timeline and what type of resources the attorney will commit to your case.  It’s also important to know how you will be kept updated throughout the proceeding. It can be very frustrating if your attorney does not keep you informed on the status of your case. Ask the attorney how he or she plans to communicate with you and how often you can expect a status report.

Choosing an attorney is a big decision. Before you decide to choose one based on the number of television commercials he or she runs, or the size of the yellow pages ad the firm maintains, it’s important to sit down with the attorney to make sure the relationship is the right fit for your case. The litigation attorneys at Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P., will be pleased to meet with you for a no charge initial consultation so that you can explain your case, ask your questions and make sure you are comfortable with our law firm.  For more information, please call our Oxnard or Westlake Village office.

Protecting Your Business through Tactical Electronic Evidence Management

By Kathi J. Smith, Esq.

Email, intra-office messaging and digital image transference are hardly new concepts. Do you realize the long-term implications of this style of free-flowing communication, particularly in light of litigation and e-discovery requests? If you are a business owner either engaged in litigation or preparing for possible conflict in the future, one of the best strategies for your company is to implement and maintain an electronic evidence policy for employees. Too often, damaging information, accidental concessions or discriminatory language is casually exchanged between two employees — believing to be engaged in a private chat — only to be uncovered by a sweeping e-discovery request from opposing counsel. To avoid this result and protect your business from unnecessary exposure to liability, consider meeting with a business litigation lawyer about your company’s electronic information policies.

Electronically Stored Information and Litigation Holds

Once a civil complaint is filed, both parties are entitled to request and receive evidence from the opponent in a process known as discovery. Even if the information is not necessarily admissible in a court of law, any non-privileged information that may be relevant to a party’s claim or defense is discoverable. In the context of electronic discovery, it is considered routine discovery practice to require opponents to place a “litigation hold” on electronically stored information, thereby preventing companies from destroying or erasing data. These holds generally include all emails, voicemails or electronically stored documents. In fact, various software companies have developed products to help organizations manage and store data pursuant to a litigation hold.

Disastrous Consequences for Employers

In preparation for possible litigation, it is vital for your employees to carefully consider all electronic communication, as one pejorative email could bring your case to a screeching halt. In the context of employment litigation, a plaintiff claiming workplace discrimination could prevail, thereby costing your company thousands of dollars, all due to the discovery of derogatory jokes uncovered by electronic discovery. The same is true in the context of any other area of business law wherein one employee admits wrongdoing, breach or fraud in a casual email to a colleague. Once the litigation hold is in place, there is no telling what the opponent could uncover, thereby placing your business at an increased risk of liability.

Speak with a Reputable Business Litigation Attorney Today

E-discovery is a complex area of the law. However, with the proper workplace policies, businesses like yours can work to minimize the potential consequences of the vast, boundless litigation hold and can rest assured that office emails do not contain inadvertent confessions, admissions or disclosures. If you are facing upcoming litigation and are seeking counsel on these issues, it’s important that you contact an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge on electronic evidence and information policies. Please feel free to contact us to arrange a meeting with a Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. litigation attorney. 

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is a multi-service law firm located in Oxnard, California with a focus in civil litigation matters. 

Deposition Do’s and Don’ts

By Kathi J. Smith, Esq.

Matters that are subject of litigation are ultimately decided on facts and the applicable law. We uncover those facts by “discovery.”  There are many tools in the discovery toolbox. A deposition (questioning of a party or witness under oath, often referred to as a “depo”) is one of the most powerful tools.

At the start of the proceeding, the judge sets a date by which depositions are to be completed. Attorneys issue subpoenas requiring a party or witness to appear at a certain place on a certain date and time (production of documents or other evidence may also be requested). A court reporter is present to create a record of the questions and answers. Depositions are usually video-recorded.

At the deposition, both parties should have their attorneys present. A witness can have his/her own attorney present if he/she so desires. Those testifying are placed under oath, and the attorney issuing the subpoena then starts the questioning. Next, the opposing attorney has a turn to ask follow up questions. This normally goes back and forth until the attorneys are done.

Depositions aren’t just about questions and answers. Just as critical as what was said can be how it was said.  Was the person evasive? Uncomfortable? Credible? Nervous? Sure of the facts? Would the person damage or help the case if testifying in court? These issues can be critical when deciding whether to settle a case or proceed further. If one party’s witnesses are much weaker than those of the opposition, it may make that party much more willing to settle.

If you’re going to be deposed, you should keep the following in mind:

Tell the truth.  If you knowingly make a false statement while you’re under oath, you may be charged with perjury.  In addition, you will lose credibility, and weaken, your case.

If you honestly don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know. A deposition isn’t a contest and you won’t lose points by truthfully admitting you don’t know something. Don’t try to help the questioner by answering what you think they really wanted to know, rather than what they actually asked. The questioner will fine tune his/her questions as the deposition progresses.

Stick to the point and answer the questions as asked.  Needlessly stating information not requested may damage your case.

If you don’t understand a question, ask that it be repeated or re-phrased. After you have clearly understood the question, answer it. Your attorney may object to a question, but you may have to answer it anyway. Prior to trial, your attorney may ask the judge not to use the response as evidence, as the question was improper.

You are entitled to consult your attorney during the deposition. If you feel unsure or uneasy about the line of questioning, consult with your attorney. You can even leave the room for a short while if you let your attorney know that you need a break.

Though depositions can be stressful, they are not to be feared. They are opportunities for all parties involved in a legal matter to tell their side of the story.

Should you find yourself being served with a subpoena or other demand for your deposition, either as a party to a lawsuit or as a witness, it is very important that you are adequately prepared in advance by a knowledgeable litigation attorney. What you say in a deposition can, and often does, come back to haunt you later. Please feel free to call us to arrange a meeting with a Schneiders & Associates litigation attorney before you have to face your deposition. 

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is a multi-service law firm located in Oxnard, California with a focus in civil litigation matters.

A Stitch in Time … Strategies to Prevent Business Litigation

By Roy Schneider, Esq.

A lawsuit can damage more than just the bottom line of your business. In addition to costing money that could be put to better use, a lawsuit is also an unwelcome distraction for the owner, managers and employees. It can also do irreparable damage to business relationships and reputation.

It may not be possible to avoid any and all legal conflict during the life of your business, but by considering the following advice, you should be able to minimize the resources you have to devote to litigation – which means more time and money available for your business operations and investments.

1.  Don’t rely on a handshake. Reduce all business agreements to writing, even if they are with your oldest and dearest friend. Be clear about terms and expectations.

2.  Keep a written record of all communications.

3.  Keep the lines of communication open, especially when a business relationship starts to sour.  Aggressive communication may be able to cure the damage before a lawsuit becomes necessary.

4.  Don’t put your head in the sand. If a threat appears that could lead to litigation, respond quickly, thoughtfully and thoroughly.

5.  Check your compliance with relevant government regulations. Import/export? Check the laws.  Using hazardous materials? Check the regulations. Don’t allow shortcuts.

6.  Create a business culture that rewards employees for reporting violations of any laws or government regulations. Your employees on the ground can be your best resource for uncovering potential hazards that could lead to litigation.

7.  Put cure provisions and mediation provisions into your contracts with vendors.

8.  Complete a business succession plan to minimize or eliminate disputes over exit strategies.

9.  Conduct regular safety checks of the physical premises, including vehicles used for company business.

10. Conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees that comply with the law.

11. Provide regular health and safety training for employees.

12. Provide ongoing training for human resources personnel.

13. Review whether your employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt workers to comply with California’s Wage and Hour Laws.

14. Review whether any independent contractors should be reclassified as employees to comply with the State and Federal classification and payment requirements.

15. Respond promptly and thoroughly to complaints from employees, customers or vendors.

16. Use email, the internet, your company website and social networking media with caution.  Assume that any information shared via these platforms will be publicly accessible until the end of time.

17. Seek outside advice when necessary. Don’t let your ego be your downfall. If you don’t understand your legal obligations and rights in a particular circumstance, consult a qualified commercial law attorney.

You company needs a solid team made up of an attorney, CPA and insurance broker to keep it out of trouble and make sure it is kept abreast of the law and other matters that carry substantial risk if there is inattention or misinformation. 

Please contact Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P., for a review of your contracts, leases, OSHA compliance and employment arrangements.  A stitch in time will definitely work toward preventing lawsuits. 

How are Damages Calculated in Personal Injury Cases?

By Rennee R. Dehesa, Esq.

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent conduct, you may be considering a lawsuit to recover compensation. The compensation awarded to you, called “damages,” falls within two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff for actual losses sustained, and are further divided into “special damages” and “general damages.”

Special damages are those fixed amounts relating to your actual losses, such as medical expenses, lost income or costs to repair your property. General damages, on the other hand, include non-monetary losses, such as “pain and suffering”, your decreased ability to perform certain functions, or the loss of a loved one. Punitive damages, sometimes called exemplary damages, are designed to punish a defendant or deter similar conduct in the future.

The damages to which you are entitled are typically calculated based on the severity of your injuries, the underlying circumstances of the incident in question, and whether the case settles or proceeds to a trial. The following factors are typically considered:

  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Estimated costs of future medical treatment or therapy
  • Past lost wages or income
  • Future lost wages or income
  • Costs to repair or replace damaged property
  • Your out-of-pocket expenses, such as insurance deductibles or copayments
  • Rental car expenses
  • Funeral expenses, in wrongful death cases
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, if the underlying act was particularly egregious or intentional

In the American legal system, damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff sufficiently to make him or her “whole,” i.e. restore the plaintiff to the same position he or she was in prior to the accident or injury. If you mediate your dispute or otherwise settle it out of court, the parties and lawyers will negotiate each item and come to an agreement. If your case is tried in a court, the judge or jury will calculate how much you are entitled to receive, based on the evidence presented at trial.