Myles M. Mattenson
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
Watch What You Say!

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.

Watch What You Say!

Competition in the marketplace can sometimes create an atmosphere
in   which  one  momentarily  feels  the  urge  to  utter  a  few
inappropriate remarks about a competitor.

In  those moments, you would do well to remember that courts have
held  that "the reputation of a tradesman in the sphere in  which
he  earns his living is a valuable asset and is entitled  to  the
protection  of  the  law."  Translation: You might  shortly  find
yourself looking down the barrel of a lawsuit for defamation.

Defamation  is considered to be an invasion of one's interest  in
reputation.   Defamation  can  be accomplished  by  either  libel
(generally, a writing) or slander (generally, an oral statement).

In one situation, an organization published a magazine article in
which  the  plaintiff was characterized as  a  "racketeer".   The
Court  of  Appeal  held that such an allegation could  constitute

In  another  matter,  a  male  defendant  was  warned  by  female
plaintiffs  to stop illegally parking his car in front  of  their
business  establishment.  The defendant hung a sign  on  his  car
"Nuts  To You -- You Old Witch".  The words were held to be  used
in  a  derogatory sense with the intent to expose  plaintiffs  to
contempt and ridicule.

A  department store made comparisons between its garments and the
garments of a department store competitor across the street.  The
offending  store placed placards in its window stating  that  the
competing   department  store  "was  selling   as   first   grade
merchandise, garments which were shoddy, poorly made seconds, and
prison  made merchandise, which were being offered to the  public
as  first grade merchandise.  It also charged that these garments
.  .  . were so defective and contained so much starch and filler
that  they  lost  25% of weight after laundering,  and  that  its
customers   had  been  defrauded  by  purchasing  as   pre-shrunk
garments,  those which were not pre-shrunk, and  that  the  seams
were  crooked; that they had long stitches and were slovenly made
.  .  .  ."   The court determined that the competing  department
store was being accused of fraud and deception and unfair dealing
with their customers and that these charges were libelous.

At trial, the offending department store attempted to introduce a
"policy  book"  in  which  their  managers  were  admonished   to
"maintain  a  spirit  of friendliness and courtesy  toward  their
competitors.   The  court noted, however, that the  employer  was
nonetheless  liable for the conduct of the employee manager  "if,
acting  in the scope of his authority, he makes a mistake  as  to
truth  or acts with a bad motive."  The court also noted that  at
the  time  of trial, the manager was still in the employ  of  the
department  store, acting as manager, which the court  considered
as "some evidence of ratification to be considered with the other
facts in the case."

Other  situations  in  which  the courts  have  held  remarks  to
constitute  defamatory statements include  calling  a  jeweler  a
"crook"  and  that  he "got away" with a ring entrusted  to  him,
accusing  a  car  dealer of having "hot" title,  and  calling  an
attorney a "crook".

Bottom  line?   When  the  urge strikes to  improperly  attack  a
competitor,  take a deep breath, and let the feeling  pass!   The
alternative may be to explain your comments in the presence of  a
court reporter.

[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]

Reprinted from New Era Magazine
Myles M. Mattenson  1995-2002