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March 2017 Archives

Tampa General Hospital reaches settlement in data breach lawsuit

Tampa General Hospital has reached a settlement in a breach of contract lawsuit in which it was alleged that at least one if not several of its employees were responsible for unauthorized access of patient records. In settling the case, the hospital will not only contribute $10,000 to a settlement fund, but will also cover the costs of one year's worth of credit monitoring among the group's members as well.

The commercial real estate closing process in Florida

Investing in commercial real estate is not an easy decision to make and should be done so seriously. The process can be lengthy at times and does not happen quickly. You will want to know what to expect along the way, which is why we have put together this little guide about the closing process for commercial real estate.

Construction defect lawsuits on the rise in South Florida

At a time when construction work itself is trending flat or down in the area, construction law suits seem to be on the rise. The increase in lawsuits are related to a range of issues, one being that numerous condos and residential high-rise buildings erected a decade or more ago seem to have suffered from numerous defects. Residences in these areas allegedly have not had any luck getting contractors or landlords to foot the bill for correcting the defects.

3 questions people ask when giving to charities

In the past, estate planning wasn't much more complicated than leaving all of your belongings to your kids. In today's world, though, experts note that people are giving to charities more and more often. Three questions you may want to ask if you're considering this are:

Building your savings to buy a home

The idea that you need a substantial cash reserve to be able to make a big purchase like a new home is fairly obvious, but for all the advice out there about getting ready for that first home purchase, there is not a lot of discussion about exactly how to do that. Should you pay off existing debts first? Do you need to raise your credit rating? It can be tough to tell what the best options are going to be. Here are some tips to get you started.

What's the process for closing on a home?

When you're ready to purchase a home, you should understand the homebuying and closing process. This process is similar in most states in that your attorney, an escrow agent or another person representing a title company prepares the closing documents and assists throughout the purchasing arrangements. It's traditional for a buyer and seller to be present at the same time when closing a home purchase. Additionally, because of the environment in Florida, there may be special inspections that have to be performed before a closing is permitted. For example, you may be asked to get a termite or roach inspection.

Options for resolving disputes with your general contractor

Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into vetting the general contractor your hire to work on your home, it's not enough and a dispute ensues. While some contracts might require you and your contractor to sit down in front of a mediator or arbitrator to attempt to work out your issues, others may not. Filing a case with the court system may appear to be the only resolution in sight.

Get help if you miss the signs of a bad home owners association

Bad home owners associations or HOA management can lead to problems for you down the road. It's probably best to steer clear of residences where you can tell HOA management isn't up to snuff, but if you end up in a dispute with your HOA, having a legal professional on your side can help protect your interests and make it more likely the issue is resolved to your benefit.

Can you set-up a trust for your pet?

The short answer is yes. Many states, including Florida, have adopted "pet trust statutes" which specifically allow people to name their pets as the beneficiaries of a trust. Prior to these lawsuits, there was some question on whether a pet could even be the beneficiary of a trust. The beneficiary of a trust owns an interest in the trust and animals cannot own "things." Thus, prior to these statutes, people had to leave a power of attorney with a person they trust to care for their pets but that person could do whatever the wanted because no term naming the pets as the beneficiary were valid or binding.

What are your rights if you live in manufactured housing?

Before the term "manufactured housing" these homes were called mobile homes or trailers. The defining characteristic of a manufactured home is that it can be picked up and moved somewhere else. Most disputes are defined by the property involved, which is either personal or real property. Personal property are things you can move or pick up. Real property are things you can't, like land and buildings. Manufactured homes straddle both definitions, thus, how are they treated? This post will go over the rules that developed around manufactured homes.

How to recover for a construction defect claim, Part 2

Construction defect claims arise when a party purchases real property, such as a building, that contains inherit defects that undermine or invalidate the intended purpose for its use. If a construction defect arises, the buyer is permitted to pursue litigation against the general contractor, seller, and subcontractor responsible for the defect. A previous post discussed how a plaintiff might win a negligence suit. This post will discuss how a construction defect could give rise to a breach of contract claim.

A review of important lease terms, Part 3

The lease is the primary document that defines the relationship between the property owner and lessor. It serves as the primary body of language for which either party can seek redress for harms. It is thus crucial that both parties understand what they are signing and how those terms operate. As discussed previously, even describing the property is critical. This post will continue discussing crucial lease terms that should be included in every post.

Common issues in real estate transactions, Part 1

You might hope that the transfer of real estate is a simple transaction, like fulfilling an eBay order or placing an order for pizza. But, unfortunately, it is not. The exchange of real estate is a complicated dance because of the issues inherent in transferring assets as complicated as real estate. This post will go over some of the typical issues that can torpedo a real estate transaction.

Florida prosecutors win case against construction company

Prosecutors in Florida have secured a victory in a tax-scam case against a construction company. The two sides reached a settlement worth $5.2 million. In the case, five partners backed a firm that inflated tax credits by inflating the costs of projects. Those five partners were uncharged in the scam.

Tips to select a lawyer for construction litigation

If you have never been involved in litigation, then you may not know the best way to go about hiring a competent attorney who is experienced in your particular issues. You likely see numerous T.V., bus, and billboard ads for a variety of attorneys who promise you'll pay "cents on the dollar" or open with "if you were injured in a car accident." While those attorneys are experienced in personal injury and tax litigation, how does that help you through your construction dispute?

Understanding how non-compete agreements work

We live in an era in which entrepreneurial insight and technology are ever-evolving. As a result, companies rush to be the first to introduce their products to the market and more employees are coming into trade secrets than ever before. Because of this, more and more employers are asking their employees to sign non-competition agreements before they are hired to start working for them.

The bidding process: government vs. private contracts

Real estate and commercial property contracts involve both private and public interests. This post will discuss the differences in the bidding process between a public and private contract. If you are a contractor that operates primarily with private companies and you are considering a bid for a government contract, you will want to modify your approach to ensure that you comply with all the prescribed rules. Conversely, if you are accustomed to working with government entities, you will want to relax your bid process because you are likely providing more information that necessary spending more money on the bid than your competitors.

Why homebuyers need a home inspection

When you are buying a home, there are a lot of mandatory expenses. A home inspection is not required for the sale to go through, so you might think you can just skip over it. Consider the cost of a home inspection, the time involved and the information you learn. The master bedroom might be beautifully decorated, there might be gorgeous tile in the kitchen and an exquisite fireplace, but can you see what is lurking in the walls? Do you know how to inspect the wiring and plumbing? A home inspector knows what you do not.

Should you set-up a trust for your social media accounts and websites?

When you die, what happens to your social media accounts? Are they deactivated? Are they turned into "memorials?" Are they turned over to your family? The answer is, yes. Due to inconsistent policies, some of your social media accounts might be deactivated, others may be turned over to family, and some may be indexed and altered into a memorial. If you want to control your digital presence after death, you may want to consider a trust to control your online presence. This post will go over the issues inherent in social media accounts and how you can address them with a trust.

Zoning rules and areas explained

Zoning rules are among the most influential ways that government influences business, everyday life, and the economy. Zoning rules organize how a city is developed, to ensure that residences are not built next to factories or waste disposal sites. The goal of zoning rules is to create an orderly division of property parcels to maximize the economic potential and habitability of the city. The reality is that zoning rules are complex, often inscrutable, and can sink a business if not fully understood.

What damages can you seek for a breach of contract?

Contracts keep the business world together. They ensure that each party holds up its end of the bargain and that transactions go smoothly. But what happens when a party on one side of the agreement decides to not to live up to the guidelines set forth in the contract? In legal terms, that's what's called a breach of contract. When that occurs, there are several ways in which the injured party can be made whole again.

How do indemnification clauses work?

Indemnification clauses are common in many leases. Indemnification clauses act as "poison pill" provisions to discourage unscrupulous property owners from shirking their obligations under the lease. Since they are such a prolific part of lease agreements, this pot will go over how indemnification clauses work and what they may mean for your leases.

A review of Florida’s construction defect law

Construction defects are the bread and butter of lawsuits against developers, general contractors, and subcontractors. Construction defect is the body of law that enables end-users of buildings (commonly homeowners) to sue the original parties that built the house in which the homeowner now resides. This post will go over construction defect and how it operates in Florida.

How to prepare for property inspections

Construction defect claims arise when there is an inherent defect in the original construction of the home. There is a fine line between issues that stem from construction and those that arise from use after-the-fact. In Florida, the most common construction defect claim is of mold. Florida’s very humid climate almost guarantees that mold is a constant threat to homes and thus properly executed construction is a necessity.

How to avoid commercial lease audits and litigation

Many commercial tenants are resorting to leasing audits to leverage lower rent rates with property owners. It is thus imperative that you prepare for these audits and the role they may play in future negotiations. This post will go over how you can minimize your exposure to these audits.

How are trusts created?

Trusts are a type of testamentary instrument that allows a grantor (the person who gives the stuff) to have some control over the disbursement and management of the assets. Trusts are separate legal entities, which means they can own property, sue, and be sued. Trusts are administered by Trustees, who are usually personal representatives appointed by the grantor, but many people also default to allow banks be their Trustee.

Basics of breach of contract claim, Part 2

Contracts are the bread and butter of the business. They enable companies to cooperate, exchange goods and services, and make a profit. That means, when a breach of contract occurs, the core building block of business has broken down. As discussed in a previous post, a breach of contract occurs when one party refuses to fulfill their reciprocal obligations under the contract. This post will go over alternative solutions once a breach occurs.

Gabrielle Union settles breach of contract suit against BET

You may know her as the newscaster in "Being Mary Jane," or the DEA agent from "Bad Boys II." For many of us Floridians, she's the wife of Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade. However you know her, she's been in the news lately because of a very public contract dispute with the BET television network.

Four reasons to never breach a contract

Contracts are an indispensable part of doing business. Yes, handshakes and verbal agreements will work in some rare instances, but having a written contract is the best way to protect your business from potentially unscrupulous companies and people. If a contract dispute does come up and your contract is sound, you'll have nothing to worry about.

Is it time to buy a house?

Buying a house is a huge decision and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. In most cases, it will be the biggest financial decision of your life, so carefully weighing your options before pulling the trigger is a good idea. But buying a home can be overwhelming; you've got to find a home in your price range, there's a whole new set of terminology to learn, there are loans to consider and there is a complicated legal world to navigate.

Leaser vs. Buy of commercial property, Part 1

The age-old question, what is a better investment, leasing or buying property? At first blush, you might think purchasing property is the best investment. You secure long-term control, and your business gains an asset. But, leasing a property allows you to deduct the lease payments and greater flexibility in case you need to relocate operations. This post will go over the pros and cons of leasing and buying.

Don't get these contract terms confused

Contracts are the glue that hold business together in this country. A handshake and a verbal agreement may work in some rare cases, but a written contract can delve into details that no friendly arrangement can cover. In fact, those little details can mean the difference between a smooth working relationship and total disaster.

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