Parker & Associates, P.A.
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Orlando Business & Commercial Law Blog

Legal concerns to consider for your start-up

Starting a new business in Florida can be both exciting and overwhelming. When deciding to move forward with a new business venture, there are many things to consider outside of the initial business plan, and it never hurts to get some legal advice along the way.

As KnowTechie explains, giving the correct structure to a business can set it up for success. Although a business may begin small, planning for growth and understanding the different types of liability involved in various types of formation is important. This can also be a time to ensure that the financial aspects of employees are handled properly so costly mistakes regarding taxes are not made. While hiring employees may not be an immediate concern, it is important to keep in mind the rules governing these new hires--especially if they are not U.S. citizens. If any workers need visas, following the letter of the law is of the utmost importance.

Florida foreclosures: a positive outlook

Real estate foreclosure is a process that occurs more often than many would assume. While the details of foreclosure may seem apparent, the steps are often complex and can take years to process. Each state enforces its own laws on foreclosure, with Florida standing as the state with the highest number of foreclosures in the country. Florida foreclosures are judicial and must involve a lawsuit on behalf of the lender. From there, homeowners may face a series of complex circumstances, including those pertaining to forebearance and payment plans. But why, many Floridians may ask, are forclosures in the state more frequent than any other state in the country?

In October 2016, the Jackson Business Journal revealed that Florida was still the leading state in the U.S. in the number of foreclosures. The article also shows that Florida's 55,000 foreclosures during a 12-month stretch ending August 2016 topped all other states, yet the overall housing market appears to have been running smoothly. Statistics showed a decreasing trend in August 2016, as real estate markets have shown strong demand growth and rising prices. Officials predict that the need for single-family housing stocks through new construction will become more acute in the near future.

Can you be sued for posting an online review?

Florida defamation law provides a cause of action for the publication of a false statement about a business. The question for some Floridians may be: Do online statements fall within the realm of published statements contemplated by Florida courts?

According to the Florida Supreme Court Civil Jury Instructions, issues regarding the various categories of defamation are “debatable and in flux.” This is so simply because Florida constitutional law and U.S. constitutional law have intertwining precedents for the scope and parameters of defamation law, which is a subset of free speech law. However, the jury instructions pertaining to private plaintiffs indicate that if a statement was (1) published (i.e. communicated to a third party) (2) by a “non-media defendant” (3) in a manner that “tended” to injure the plaintiff’s “business, reputation, or occupation,” then the defendant may be liable for damages.

Beware of illegal robocalls

Many Florida residents, like those across the nation, have long been victims of con artists and scams. Modern technologies, including those involving telephone calls, have aided unscrupulous enterprises in developing large scale schemes to increase sales with the help of deception upon unsuspecting residents.

Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is the enforcer of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices ­Act. Among other practices, automated phone calling, also known as robocalling, may fall under one of the prohibited forms of business development used by aggressive and often illegal businesses. Recently, Florida and several other states succeeded in closing down an illegal calling scheme run by Caribbean Cruise Line that was promoting the sale of Florida cruises and vacations. Among the complaints was the contention that the company was using political surveys in its phone calls as a pretense for pitching its sales copy promoting Bahama vacation packages. It was also accused of using do-not-call lists as a source of recipient numbers for its robocalls.

Give a thorough exam to the non-compete clauses in your contract

If you are like numerous other physicians here in Florida, you want to work in a practice where you can build a patient base or in a hospital where you can have a steady stream of patients. You may have particular ideas of how you want to interact with your patients and the services you want to provide them. When you find a place that appears to meet your goals, you will more than likely begin discussing your employment contract.

As part of your employment agreement, you may be restricted in where you may practice if you leave. These non-compete clauses require a thorough examination to ensure that they don't place unreasonable restrictions on you.

Woman seeks class action lawsuit over non-compete agreement

Some in Orlando may dismiss a single compliant made a former employee against a company which forced him or her to sign a non-compete agreement as an isolated case of frustration over one not being able to find a new job. However, if hundreds of others are making the same claim, suddenly that person’s position has newfound merit. Complaints over a company restrictive non-compete clauses that reach the level of class-action status inevitably may cause many to take moment and consider the class members’ arguments.

That is the hope of an Illinois woman who recently filed a lawsuit against the retailer she once worked for. She says that she left the company earlier this year after corporate devaluation by its parent company caused her to have concerns about its future. Issues over the non-compete agreement she signed with the company arose when another retailer that wanted to recruit her voiced concerns about the matter. A subsequent request by the woman to her former employer to allow her to pursue this new opportunity was denied. Now, she attempting to get the agreement invalidated, saying that its mandate to refrain from working for competitors without providing guarantees of continued employment violates state law. She claims to have hundreds of others in similar situations in her class.

Handling uninsured motorist claim denials

The waking nightmare of almost any Orlando resident may be to be involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Such a scenario is not out of the realm of possibility. After all, even though the Insurance Information Institute reports that as of 2012, only 12.6 percent of American drivers were uninsured, it also listed Florida’s uninsured drivers rate at 23.8 percent. Several past clients have come us here at Parker and Associates, P.A. having expected the uninsured provisions of their auto insurance policies to cover them in such cases. Only to later be denied. If this has happened to you, it is important to understand why, and what you may be able to do about it.  

The first thing to ascertain are you coverage limits. A review of your policy may reveal gaps in coverage that fail to cover certain scenarios. If you cannot see anything in the terms of your policy that explains the denial, review the denial letter provided by your insurance company. It is required to provide a reason as to why coverage was not extended. Common reasons for uninsured motorist denials include:

  •          The at-fault driver did indeed have insurance
  •          Disputes over whether the at-fault driver was indeed responsible
  •          Failure to recognize that the injuries listed were caused by the accident
  •          Recognition that the seriousness of your injuries warrants you seeking compensation

Foreclosure defense strategies

The extremities of the Great Recession in 2008 are still affecting countless Florida homeowners. Many of these residents are facing issues regarding home foreclosure, and are seeking ways to fight against foreclosure actions. 

America's Debt Help Organization works to assist those struggling with home ownership. The organization points out that an average of 4.2 million people have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007, and the numbers are only climbing. Unfortunately for homeowners, foreclosure has gradually landed in the hands of banks and lenders, who better understand the details of the legal process and therefore have advantage to win such cases. Tactics to avoid foreclosure lie on the basis that banks do not have the right to foreclose.

Enforcing non-compete agreements in Florida

As a business manager or executive in Orlando, you and your colleagues put a great deal of time and effort into establishing effective policies, procedures and practices that help support your operations and give you an advantage over your competition. Such proprietary information can easily be at risk of being revealed by an outgoing employee. You may try to protect your company by having incoming employees sign non-compete agreements prior to leaving your organization. However, many of the business owners and executives that we here at Parker & Associates, P.A. have worked with in the past have encountered obstacles in enforcing such contracts.

In fact, Section 542.335 of the Florida state statues clearly says that any restrictive covenants meant to prohibit competition that do support specific business interests are said to be unlawful. Fortunately, the law is also clear on what qualifies as “legitimate” business interests. These include:

  •          Trade secrets
  •          Information regarding relationships with both existing and potential customers or clients
  •          Specialized training techniques
  •          Business or professional information not qualifying as a trade secret that is still considered to be valuable and confidential

An appropriate response to a construction defect

Construction projects are vast, complex and they can take an exorbitant amount of time to complete. Despite seeking bids with various construction companies and doing your homework regarding the right choice of the company to complete your project, things can go wrong. Defects and other problems with the quality of the work are not only unacceptable, they are costly and result in further delays. 

Construction defects could be grounds to initiate legal action against a Florida construction company for poor quality work or the use of bad materials. You need a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing and can effectively advocate for a fast and appropriate resolution to your legal concerns. 

Contact

Parker & Associates, P.A.
108 Hillcrest Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: 407-287-5127
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