BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
BridgehouseLaw LLP - Your Business Law Firm

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Does a revocation upon divorce statute violate the US constitution’s contractual clause?

In 1997 the plaintiff, Mr. Sveen, acquired a life insurance and married his wife later that year. Only a year later he named her the beneficiary of the insurance, as well as his two adult children as the contingent beneficiaries.

In 2002 Minnesota changed its probate code on life insurances, making it the rule that a benefitting spouse automatically lost his or her claim to the insurance upon divorce.

In 2007 the couple got a divorce, but Sveen never changed the beneficiaries of the life insurance, so his ex-wife remained as such.

Upon the death of Mr. Sveen the life insurance company filed an interpleader, to get clarity as to who to pay out the life insurance’s money.

The issue of applying the statue derives from the constitutional Contract Clause. The Clause prohibits the states from passing laws that retroactively (after entering into the contract) impairs contract rights. Only the states are bound by the clause. Historically this Clause was passed to stop legislation from implementing rules that would relief (especially rich and well connected) parties from their contractual duties.

The district court decided to apply the revocation-upon-divorce statute, and therefore ruled that the payout would go to Sveen’s children.

The Eighth Circuit Court as the higher court ruled that applying the revocation-upon-divorce statute would lead to a breach of the Constitutional Contract Clause, as Sveen’s expectations of the contract were disrupted. With this ruling, the money had to be paid out to his former wife.

The Supreme Court will now have to decide whether the application of the revocation-upon-divorce statute violates the Constitutional Contract Clause.

Sveen’s children argue that the statue is simply a default rule, which can be amended by the life insurance holder himself, simply by filing an additional document stating that he or she wishes that their spouse remains and therefore the statue does not violate the contractual clause.

As 28 other states have also implemented a similar revocation-upon-divorce rule, the decision of this case will have an impact on many contracts throughout the United States.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Google and the “Right to be Forgotten”

The “Right to be Forgotten” (RTBF) is a landmark European ruling that establishes a right to privacy that governs and regulates how one can delist their personal information from online search results. Individuals can request that search engines, such as Google, delist URLS from across the Internet which contain “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” information. What makes this ruling unique and challenging is that it requires search engines to decide whether an individual’s right to privacy outweighs the public’s right to access lawful information when delisting URLs.
Since the inception of the RTBF ruling in May 2014, Google has received 2,436,905 requests from Europeans for delisting URLs from Google Search. Approximately 43% of those requests have been delisted. In Germany alone, Google has received 413,824 requests to delist a URL, of which, about 48% requests have been granted. Each delisting decision requires careful consideration in order to achieve the right balance between respecting user privacy and ensuring open access to information via Google Search. In cases where delisting was denied, Google cites common factors in their decisions such as the existence of alternative solutions, technical reasons, or duplicate URLs. They may also determine whether a webpage contains information which is strongly in the public interest.
89% of requesters were private individuals, the default label when no other special category applies. Of the remaining 11%, minors accounted for 40%, corporate entities and government officials made up 21% each. 14% of the requests originated from non-governmental personalities, such as celebrities, leaving the remaining 4% representing miscellaneous persons. The top 1,000 requesters (0.25% of individuals with RTBF requests) are responsible for about 15% of the requests. Many of these frequent requesters are not individuals themselves, but law firms and reputation management services representing individuals.
The two dominant intents behind th RTBF delisting requests are removing personal information and removing legal history. Breaking down removal request by site type revealed that 31% of the requested URLs related to social media and directory services containing personal information, while 21% of the URLs requested related to news outlets and government websites that in a majority of cases cover the requester’s legal history. The remaining 48% of requested URLs cover a broad diversity of content on the Internet. While content related to personal information makes up the largest demographic of requests only 16.7% of those requests are granted. Many of these requests pertained to information that was directly relevant or connected to the requester’s current profession and therefore was therefore in the public interest to be indexed by Google Search.
The way the RTBF is exercised through Europe varies by country depending on regional attitudes toward privacy, local laws and media norms. Notably citizens of France and Germany frequently requested delisting of social media and directory pages, whereas requesters from Italy and the UK were three times more likely to target news sites. For all European counties the most targeted website for delisting was Facebook. In Germany, other top websites requested for delisting include,,,, and YouTube.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Germans vs. Americans: Battle of the Euphemisms

Germany and America have experienced great economic prosperity that has led to inevitable business encounters of all kinds. When both sides meet, there is great chance for miscommunication beyond a potential language barrier.Germans are known for saying what they mean and meaning what they say, which can lead Americans to think their counterparts are off-putting. Americans cautiously tap dancearound difficult or awkward topics often utilizing euphemismsthat open a confusing Pandora's box for others.
The negotiating and presentation methods of both Germans and Americans could not be more different if they tried. Germans are quick to say no, whereas Americans actively try to say no as little as possible. Americans view saying no as not being flexible, open, for helpful. Germans, on the other hand, only say yes when they know they can deliver without fail. Lastly, Americans tend to communicate rejection under the shroud of positivity, which is not easily understood by their German partners. These differing communication methods label Americans as being unzuverlässig, while Germans are re-named Dr. No. When it comes to presenting information, the methods of these two nations follows the same path. Germans are direct, factual, objective, and allow their arguments to present themselves. This back-seat presenting style is opposite the American style of being personal, anecdotal, and putting on a show.
With all these differences in mind, how should German-American business proceed? Both sides will need to prove a level of leniency for the other. Germans should use a softer vocabulary and establish rapport that would be received readily by their American counterparts. Americans should embrace German directness while actively trying to keep their meanings unambiguous.