THE LAW OFFICES OF ROBERT W. COHEN

A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION

WHAT WE DO

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW

We represent both workers and employers in the prosecution and defense of wage & hour claims, wrongful discharge, and overtime mis-classification cases; harassment, discrimination, and hostile environment claims.

 

APPELLATE LAW

A large portion of our practice is centered upon appellate law matters and we handle all manner of civil writs and appeals throughout the state and federal court systems. Apart from handling appeals on behalf of our own clients, we are often called upon to assist other lawyers in perfecting, briefing, and arguing post-trial motions and appeals. Robert Cohen is certified as a specialist in appellate law by the State Bar of California, Board of Specialization.

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW & JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT

With our language abilities and close working relationships with prominent law firms in Japan, we have special expertise in handling cases for and against foreign nationals and businesses, cross-border family law matters, and international judgment enforcement.

 

GENERAL CIVIL LITIGATION

We are active trial lawyers and regularly litigate a wide variety of business, contract, property, and insurance coverage disputes from pre-filing negotiations through jury verdicts and beyond.

 

CORPORATE COUNSEL

The firm provides a wide variety of corporate counseling services and business maintenance assistance, from initial business formation onward, including the negotiation and crafting of shareholder and employment contracts, lease review and assistance, and business sale agreements. We also counsel employers in lawsuit avoidance and human resource management, including international personnel placement and immigration law compliance.

 

SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY

We have a long history of success vindicating negligence and product defect claims on behalf of clients with serious or debilitating injuries and obtaining meaningful compensation by settlement or verdict. We try to avoid the “personal injury mill” or “paper shuffling” style of case processing practiced by so many other law firms pursuing only a quick settlement. We are interested instead in taking on projects we really care about and that deserve our full dedication.

 

FAMILY LAW

We have long experience in family and marriage law matters, and we frequently counsel clients both domestically and internationally in marriage planning and asset protection (“prenuptial agreements”), and, where necessary, in the negotiation and litigation of separations and dissolutions, property and debt distributions, support and alimony, and child custody and visitation issues.

Merchant Actions Against Credit Card Companies

Our merchant clients pay an enormous share of their profits to the big credit card networks as “swipe fees.”  These fees, however, are not the result of a competitive market; they are instead the result of raw market power and abusive practices of the credit card companies. For American Express, for example, our typical restaurant clients have to fork over more than  3% of the cost of every single transaction.  For other retailers the fees are similar – and for clients with thin profit margins, these “swipe fees” can mean the difference between success and failure.

 

That is why, beginning in 2003, the Law Offices Of Robert W. Cohen joined with a small group of attorneys to initiate an antitrust class action lawsuit on behalf of a nationwide class of merchants against American Express – a historic suit that set off a tidal wave of activity in the industry. When we commenced our suit, all the major networks had rules against merchants “steering” and “surcharging” – the merchant could not tell the consumer how much it cost to use an Amex card or a MasterCard, and was prohibited from even suggesting that the consumer might wish to switch to a less costly form of payment. And 10 states had laws against surcharges.

 

Now, thanks to the litigation efforts that started with our suit:

  • Visa and MasterCard have rescinded their rules against surcharging and steering;
  • Discover altered its rules to make them more liberal for merchants;
  • Three federal district and appellate courts have found state statutes banning surcharges unconstitutional, and the issue appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court; and
  • The U.S. Department of Justice sued Amex (at the urging of our group) and won a liability finding and an injunction against certain anti-steering practices.

 

Also, as our merchant clients understand, Visa and MasterCard have agreed to pay $6 billion in damages to merchants. But Amex has not been forced to pay anything to merchants or change its surcharging rules.  Why not?  Because Amex inserts language in its card acceptance agreement that prohibits merchants from suing it in court  – whether individually or on a class basis. To seek relief, any merchant must bring a 1-on-1 arbitration against Amex.

 

The Law Offices Of Robert W. Cohen is actively working to make these 1-on-1 arbitrations a viable and stress-free option for our small business clients.  We are preparing merchants to vindicate their rights and seek very substantial damages compensation from Amex in arbitrations.

 

The Law Offices Of Robert W. Cohen is uniquely situated to help small merchants in Amex arbitrations.  We have been in the inner circle of the complex antitrust case that spawned a record of more than 150 depositions and many millions of pages of Amex documents – a record with which we and our co-counsel are intimately familiar.  Our team of trial lawyers, consultants and expert economists takes a back seat to no other group.

 

 

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