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7 posts from March 2012

March 24, 2012

Falsely Arrested For Shoplifting

Mike Ross Headshot
Michael Ross, Attorney at Law

Have you or a loved one been falsely arrested for shoplifting?

  Handcuffs 002 Vectorportal

Everyday, innocent people who have not stolen anything are falsely arrested for shoplifting by store security or even sales staff.  Such action is usually the result of over-zealous or poorly trained security hired by the stores for the purpose of so-called “loss prevention.” 

Although many people are falsely arrested everyday, they may be unaware that they have a right to compensated with money damages for false arrest, civil assault & battery, and intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In all too many cases, the store personnel misinterpret the innocent activities of a legitimate shopper as that of a thief.  Security or store clerks might then execute what is commonly known as a “citizen’s arrest” on the unfortunate shopper, setting in motion a series of traumatic events calculated to humiliate and intimidate the shopper.

Do Not Sign Anything!

Confession 001 seriykotik1970  Shut up 001 oriolsalvador
Do Not Admit Anything!

If you are arrested then above all, do not sign any sort of document for the store that has arrested you, and do not admit or plead guilty to anything.  Neither should you enter a guilty or no contest plea in criminal court, because this will almost certainly preclude you from successfully claiming and recovering money damages from the store.

What Is Theft Anyway?

“Theft” is defined as the taking away of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. 

Can Store Personnel Actually Arrest You?

Yes, but...

Shopkeepers privilege 001In California, as in most states, there is what is known as a “shopkeeper’s privilege” for storeowners or their agents to perform a citizen’s arrest on a shoplifter.  However, this justification of using this privilege is conditioned on the arrested person actually having committed a theft.  If the arrested person has not committed a theft but is arrested, the store is civilly liable to the arrestee for money damages, and possibly for criminal false imprisonment.

Inspector clouseau 001 txmx2In many cases, an innocent shopper has examined an item of merchandise, somehow arousing the suspicions of security people who end up arresting the shopper, but the shopper had not stolen the item.

Another scenario is when a shopper takes a bag or shopping cart outside of the store – sometimes just a matter of inches and for only a moment – simply to hail a friend or relative.  Cases like these and many others occur ending with false arrests every day.

False arrest victim 002 the GOnce the innocent shopper is arrested, the person is usually handcuffed (although this raises the issue of excessive force, which is impermissible in any arrest) and taken to some windowless office in the back of the store.  There, it is common for security people to use intimidating tactics to force the arrest person into signing a confession. 

Often the arrested person is kept for hours before police are summoned, and preventing the arrested person from communicating with friends, relatives or their attorney.  In extreme cases, children are also “arrested” by security and not allowed to call relatives.  Obviously, this sort of treatment can result in mental, emotional, and occasionally physical trauma that can affect a person for years.

Not guilty
Many people who have been falsely arrested have never been in trouble with the law in their lives.  This makes the experience of being arrested even more traumatic.  They are treated like common criminals throughout the entire arrest process, and this affects the innocent arrestee terribly.  Often the person cannot go out into a public place for a very long time.  Relationships are strained, their work suffers, and the person may feel – correctly so – that his or her very health has been severely affected.

You Can Sue The Store For False Arrest!

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What can be done if this happens to you or a loved one?  The remedy for such outrageous behavior lies with the courts and finding the right lawyer to bring the offending store to account for their wrongdoing.  This means to make a claim for money to compensate you for the store’s wrongdoing, or to file an actual lawsuit for money damages. 

The Law Office of Michael Ross has been successful in recovering compensation for victims of false imprisonment for nearly twenty years in the courts of Northern California.

Mr. Ross may be contacted at:

The Law Offices of Michael Ross

473 Jackson Street, 2nd Floor

San Francisco, CA 94111-1607

(415) 345-1335

Email:  [email protected]


March 17, 2012

Top 10 Stunts That Could Result in Personal Injury

This, my dear readers, is a video not for the faint-of-heart.  Don't try these stunts at home! (or anywhere else). You're going to see a variety of crazy stunts such as being stung by bees, climbing a 450+ foot building without a rope, flying through the air at 11,000 feet with party balloons, diving into the ocean from 125 feet, eating 22 scorpions and more. 

Would any of these daredevils be able to make a claim for personal injuries that arise out of these stunts? The answer is a resounding NO because they would have assumed the risk (a very strong and valid legal defense).

However, if you or someone you love gets injured in one of the usual ways, please contact me by e-mail or phone.  I'm here to help.


Attorney to Attorney Referrals: It's Good For The Client!

When a client calls me with a legal issue that I cannot handle, I try to refer them to an attorney who is better able to represent them.  In this lively video, the attorney-to-attorney referral process is discussed with colorful examples and experiences!  California Attorney Mitch Jackson of Jackson & Wilson and I frankly discuss our views on this topic.

Bottom Line: Call me with all of your legal questions.  I have a very strong network of attorneys to that I trust to zealously represent your interests and to whom I can refer you.

Trouble viewing video? Click here



March 14, 2012

Injured at Work? Worker's Compensation Sites for All 50 States!

Work_risks Injured at work? An interesting, informative site will give you a good start.  All 50 States' and D.C.'s Home Pages and Workers' Compensation Agencies.  This site has Workers' Compensation Sites for every state in the union as well as related state specific links. 

Additionally, there is a great website for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (powered by the CDC) which provides a wealth of information for the prevention of illness and injuries at work.  Literally a ton of very valuable and potentially life saving information.

[email protected]


March 10, 2012

Mario Batali Tip Scamming Lawsuit: What Are The Rules?

Photo Mar 10, 1 03 41 PM
    Wow, that's a lotta pasta! Yep, how many plates of his world famous delectable delights will Mario Batali have to sell to pay the $5.25 Million settlement? (read entire settlement agreement here - courtesy of Huffington Post).  Plenty.

What's It All About?

Flsa 001    Well, the lawsuit alleges that Batali, and his partner Joseph Bastianich, violated the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act by (1) pocketing tips owed to the staff that were equal to as much as 5 percent of nightly wine sales, (2) not paying the federal minimum wage, and (3) failing to pay overtime

Did Mario Break The Rules?

Tips 002    If the allegations are true, then, yes. Employers are not allowed to take their employee's tips for any reason.  Tips are the property of the employee.  There are certain states that allow employers to get a credit against wages owed for tips received but this is not what happened here.

Minimum wage 001    Not paying the Federal Minimum Wage?  What was he thinking?  An employer, famous or otherwise, has to pay his or her employees at least the minimum wage. It's the law!

Overtme 001    Failing to pay overtime?  This is illegal in all 50 states!

This Happened in New York

What If It Happened in California?

California labor code 001    If these things happened in California, there'd be hell to pay.  Here, employers are prohibited from crediting any portion of a tip received by an employee against the wages owed to that employee. (Labor Code Section 351).  Your boss could be on the hook for penalties, interest, attorney's fees and all sorts of grief (maybe eve punitive damages!). Don't let your boss cheat you out of what's yours!

    If you're entitled to overtime but didn't get paid overtime then, again, your boss would be in for some well-deserved grief. Take a look at Department of Industrial Relations on Overtime

    If you're in California and don't get paid minimum wage, you've been illegally taken advantage of and need to speak with a lawyer.  Period.  Here, take a look at the United States Department of Labor's Discussion on Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws

Questions About Your Overtime, Meal Breaks, Tips, Minimum Wages?

Call California Attorney Lowell Steiger Directly

(877) 487-8221 or (323) 852-1100

Your Consultation is Free


March 05, 2012

Law Talk With Lowell Steiger

With guests criminal defense attorney Jennifer Gardner, Esq. and mediator/attorney Alec Wisner.  Interesting discussions about criminal matters, whether victim's families should influence sentencing in criminal matters, mediation, OJ, Johnny Cochran, Casey Anthony, Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke.  With guest participation via text. Please watch and enjoy.

Click here to watch the video if you can't access it from the player below


March 03, 2012

Are You Getting An Itemized Wage Statement?

Time clock 001 old shoe woman    You have to follow rules at work, right?  Well your boss has to follow rules, too.  This post is all about the itemized statement that you are legally entitled to get with your payroll check (or cash payment) and the penalties that your boss may have to pay to you for failure to follow these rules.   

    California Law Code Section 226 requires your boss (and by “boss” I mean an individual employer or a huge company) to give you an itemized written statement every two months or at the time of each wage payment.  This applies whether you’re being paid by check OR cash!

Here's A List Of What MUST Be On Your Wage Statement

Pay stub 001

  1. Gross wages earned
  2. Total hours worked (unless you're a salaried employee who is exempt from state overtime rules)
  3. Number of piece-rate units earned and the applicable piece rate(s) if you are paid on a piece-rate basis
  4. All deductions
  5. Net wages earned
  6. Dates for which you are being paid ("beginning" and "ending" dates)
  7. Your name and the last for digits of your Social Security number OR your employee ID number
  8. Name and address of the legal entity that is your employer
  9. All applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate

Payments in Cash Are Okay But...

Cash 001
    Yes, it is legal for your boss to pay you in cash.  However, your boss still must you with an itemized statement (as described above).

    Not only that, your boss must keep the records of those deductions, IN INK (or some other indelible form) for a minimum of three (3) years!  These records have to be dated (month, day, year) and be kept at your boss's location or some central location within the Great State of California and must be made available to you upon reasonable request (but beware! they can actually charge you the copying costs).

Residential Dwelling Exception

    If you're working for someone in their home performing things like child-care services or personal duties unrelated to your boss's business, trade, profession or occupation, then they do not have to give you an itemized wage statement.

Government Employees

Government 001 radio rover    If you work for the government (state, city, county, city and county, district) your governmental boss can provide you with an itemized statement either in writing or electronically.


Union Employees

    Don't let anyone tell you that just because you're in a union you're not entitled to get an itemized wage statement.  Au contraire mon ami.  Union and nonunion employers alike must provide you with an itemized statement.  This rule is NOT waivable even under collective bargaining agreements.

Up To $4,000 In Penalties (plus Attorney's Fees)

If Your Boss Breaks the Rules

   If your boss knowingly and intentionally fails to follow these rules, then he or she or it may be liable to pay a penalty to you (minimum $50 per violation but it could go much, much higher -- up to $4,000).  They may also have to pay your costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

Boss 001 proyecto garaje  Penalty 002 Gwensel Piaser

      In addition to what your boss might owe you, they may also be assessed an additional civil penalty of $250 per employee for the each violation in the first citation and up to $1,000 per employee for each violation in subsequent violations.  Labor Code Section 226.3

If you, or someone you know, have been a victim (or suspect you have been a victim) of

Wage & Hour Abuse

Please call or e-mail me immediately at

(323) 852-1100 or [email protected]

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