Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2019
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies

10. Commitments and Contingencies


Lease Obligations - The Company leases office space and equipment under various operating lease agreements, including an office for its headquarters, as well as office spaces for its events business, sales and administrative offices under non-cancelable lease arrangements that provide for payments on a graduated basis with various expiration dates.


The Company adopted Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification Topic 842, effective January 1, 2019. Under the new guidance, at the commencement date, lessees are required to recognize a lease liability, which is a lessee’s obligation to make lease payments arising from a lease, measured on a discounted basis; and a right-of-use asset, which is an asset that represents the lessee’s right to use, or control the use of, a specified asset for the lease term. The new guidance is not applicable for leases with a term of 12 months or less. ASC 842 was previously required to be adopted using the modified retrospective approach. However, in July 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-11, which allows for retrospective application with the recognition of a cumulative-effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings in the period of adoption. Under this option, entities would not need to apply ASC 842 (along with its disclosure requirements) to the comparative prior periods presented.


As of December 31, 2019, right of use assets were $93,251, and current lease obligations were $105,083.


Rent expense, amounting to $433,999 and $498,232 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively, is included in general and administrative expense in the consolidated statements of operations.


PDN China’s bank account with balance of approximately $2,987,939 was frozen by Guangzhou Police due to Gatewang Case.


Legal Proceedings


In a letter dated October 12, 2017, White Winston Select Asset Funds (“White Winston”) threatened to assert claims against the Company in excess of $2 million based on White Winston’s contention that the Company’s conduct delayed White Winston’s ability to sell shares in the Company during a period when the Company’s stock price was generally falling. On April 30, 2018, White Winston filed a lawsuit, entitled White Winston Select Asset Funds, LLC v. Professional Diversity Network, Inc., No. 18-cv-10844, (the “Federal Action”) in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, asserting federal jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. The four-count complaint in the Federal Action alleged that White Winston is entitled to recover compensatory damages of $1,708,233, plus attorneys’ fees, treble damages and other amounts. White Winston served the complaint on July 12, 2018, and the Company moved to dismiss the entire action for failure to state a claim. On October 15, 2018, prior to addressing the motion to dismiss, the Court issued an order noting that White Winston (which is a limited liability company) had failed to allege the citizenship of its members and ordered White Winston to show cause that complete diversity exists between the parties and that the Court had jurisdiction. On October 23, 2018, White Winston dismissed the Federal Action without prejudice. On December 18, 2018, White Winston filed a complaint in Massachusetts Superior Court in Suffolk County in Boston alleging the same claims and rights to relief as in the Federal Action. The Company has moved to once again to dismiss the complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim. The entire motion package, comprised of the Company’s motion to dismiss and accompanying memorandum, White Winston’s opposition, and the Company’s reply brief, were filed with the court on Monday, March 25, 2019. This motion was not granted. We have since then substantially completed all of the discovery process and will begin expert witness disclosures. The Company denies liability for all claims.


NAPW is a defendant in a Nassau County (NY) Supreme Court case, whereby TL Franklin Avenue Plaza LLC has sued NAPW Case index No. LT-000421/2018, with respect to NAPW’s former Garden City NY Premises. NAPW had surrendered the Premises to the Landlord, and the Landlord is suing NAPW for the balance of the rent due under the Lease Term. The case is currently being litigated, and we are currently in the fact damages phase of the litigation.


The Company is a party to a proceeding captioned Gerbie, et al. v. Professional Diversity Network, Inc. (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.), a putative class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. A settlement has been reached and case has been dismissed by the court. The Company believes that its practices and procedures were compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and admitted no fault.


The Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, NAPW, Inc., are parties to a proceeding captioned Deborah Bayne, et al. vs. NAPW, Inc. and Professional Diversity Network, Inc., No. 18-cv-3591 (E.D.N.Y.), filed on June 20, 2018 and alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and certain provisions of the New York Labor Law. The Company disputes that it or its subsidiary violated the applicable laws or that either entity has any liability and intends to vigorously defend against these claims. The matter is in the final stages of discovery and we have completed depositions of relevant witnesses. The potential financial impact on the Company is still uncertain at this point.


We are also generally subject to legal proceedings and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business.


General Legal Matters


From time to time, the Company is involved in legal matters arising in the ordinary course of business. While the Company believes that such matters are currently not material, there can be no assurance that matters arising in the ordinary course of business for which the Company is, or could be, involved in litigation, will not have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition or results of operations.