Dye Again—U.S. District Judge Jose Linares has granted Clairol’s motion to dismiss a personal injury lawsuit lodged against it by a New Jersey salon owner and her customers, but is giving the plaintiffs through August to “correct the pleading deficiencies” in an amended complaint.

Linares ruled in the hair care product manufacturer’s favor July 30, citing lack of factual evidence, but only dismissed one of six counts—claims of emotional distress and mental anguish—with prejudice.

The suit was brought by Karen Batchelor, the owner of Eminence Hair Design in Englewood, N.J., and four of her customers, Victoria Jolley Bacchus, Denisa Wilson-Avery, Millicent Bailey and Donna Weeks, all of whom are seeking damages for problems allegedly stemming from the use of Clairol’s “crème demi permanente” hair color.

The women contend that the supposedly ammonia-free dye, which promised to leave hair “healthy and in good condition,” actually contained the chemical, and left the customers with “severe” scalp injuries, including balding and burns. The suit also alleges the dye left Batchelor economically impaired from “lost income, lost revenue, [and] lost clients.”

The group accuses Clairol and parent company Proctor & Gamble of failure to warn and design defect under the state’s Products Liability Act (PLA), violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and for breach of express warranty. The women also seek punitive damages under the PLA.

No attorney information was available for the plaintiffs. A representative for Clairol did not return an email seeking comment.


Ronald Riccio

Down the Shore— McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter is taking its talents and heading south on the Garden State Parkway.

The firm, which already has offices in Newark, Ridgewood, and Morristown, announced August 4 it plans to open a location in Tinton Falls, N.J., opening up potential business in the Central Jersey and shore markets.

Lawyers deployed to head up the four-attorney office include retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Thomas Cavanagh Jr., Seton Hall University School of Law’s former dean (and current professor) Ronald Riccio, and a rotating cast of lawyers from the other New Jersey locations.

Having a physical office to call home allows McElroy to “get a footprint in Monmouth and Ocean counties,” Riccio said. “The potential is there to grow the practice.”

Tinton Falls will have a focus on alternative dispute resolution matters, though Riccio doesn’t expect there to be much litigation regarding Superstorm Sandy, which hit the region hard in 2012.

McElroy looks to continue its successful boost in revenue after posting a 5.2 percent increase in 2013, despite losing 14 staff lawyers.

Managing partner Edward Deutsch told the Law Journal in February that the uptick came from the firm’s restructured practice groups, and from giving its leaders billable-hour incentives for mentoring, conducting lawyer assessments and other tasks.


Photo: headexplodie, via Wikimedia Commons

(No) Fun and Games—The company that manufactures Skee-Ball machines is embroiled in a trademark legal battle with the owners of a Brooklyn Skee-Ball-themed bar called Full Circle.

The bar’s owners founded a “Brewskee-Ball” League in 2005 as part of an effort to popularize the game and draw patrons. But in 2011, Skee-Ball Inc. sued Full Circle United LLC for trademark infringement. The name “Skee-Ball” is a registered trademark, and Full Circle has no right to use it, the company is arguing.

Full Circle filed a countersuit, claiming that Skee-Ball is a generic term for the game. The two cases were consolidated in the Eastern District of New York in 2012.

Despite a full docket of briefs, the case hasn’t progressed very far. But now Full Circle has called in the big guns: New York City’s Fish & Richardson is representing them.

In late July, Fish partners Kristen McCallion and John Johnson filed a petition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Skee-Ball Inc.’s trademark registration.

The trademark canceling process will stay the case, which is pending in district court, but the issue in both venues is the same: Is Skee-Ball a generic term that describes a sport or should it remain a protected mark?

“It’s not a protectable trademark because there’s no other word to describe Skee-Ball. [What] would be the generic term for Skee-Ball?” McCallion asked. “We’ve given it a lot of thought and there really isn’t one.”


Photo: Ford

Musically Inclined—A music industry group on July 25 sued Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and two electronics companies, demanding that the businesses pay artists and record labels royalties allegedly owed under U.S. copyright law.

In a class-action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District Columbia, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies claims Ford and GM, along with Clarion Corp. of America and DENSO International America Inc., failed to abide by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The law requires businesses that manufacture and sell certain audio recording electronics to pay music royalties.

At issue are Ford’s “Jukebox” from Clarion and GM’s “Hard Drive Device” from DENSO. Both of the devices in Ford and GM vehicles allow users to record songs from CDs.

The recording alliance, represented by Covington & Burling, is seeking $2,500 for each of the devices made since 2011.

“[The] defendants have refused to comply with the AHRA and refused to pay the royalties that Congress has determined they owe for the recording devices they manufacture, import and/or distribute,” the complaint says.

Representatives for Ford, GM, Clarion and DENSO didn’t respond to requests for comment.