Seth J. Smiley, partner at Wolfe Law Group, LLC and author of ConstructionLawMonitor.com is now a formally trained mediator. New Orleans just hosted the AAAU’s (American Arbitration Association University), Essential Skills for the New Mediator workshop in downtown, hosted by Neil Carmichael.
Why would parties want to mediate a dispute instead of going to court? That answer is easy, yet has many factors. The most important are that mediation is less expensive and much more efficient compared to litigation. But the most important factor is that the parties control their own outcome, rather than a group of strangers (jury).
So if you are in a dispute and are looking for an economical, logical and swift conclusion that is mutually agreeable between you and your adversary, then mediation may be just what you are looking for. Contact the Wolfe Law Group, LLC for more details.
As an attorney in multiple states (California and Louisiana) there are many overlapping rules and theory of law that are transferable from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, there are many local and state wide idiosyncrasies that are not necessarily taught in law school or not easily attainable for pro se or pro per litigants. This post has some helpful tips regarding filing a law suit.
California is a jurisdiction of forms. The State Bar has gone to great lengths to make a form for just about any situation. In that same light there are many that overlap and you nearly need a law degree just to navigate through the long list. The California Courts also have very helpful information regarding the legal process and all of the different procedural devices used by lawyers.
A typical checklist for items needed when you file your civil case are 1) Complaint, 2) Civil Cover Sheet, 3) Summons, and 4) Receipt and Acknowledgement. The complaint is your main document to be filed. This is where the Plaintiff lists out all of the facts and causes of action that related to the allegations being asserted in the suit. The complaint is the lawsuit itself and will be a part of the public record. The Civil Cover Sheet is a mandatory form that needs to accompany any new filing. This tells the clerk what type of case is being filed. Next is the Summons. This document tells the court and the opposition who is being sued and what that person/entity’s legal rights are with regard to an answer. Lastly is a handy little form that I like to include called Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. This form allows for you to mail serve the Summons and Complaint on your adversary saving time and money. If the defendant does not reply within 20 days, it will be obligated to pay for your service fees. The normal delay to respond to a suit is 30 days.
Once you get your complaint filed you will want to serve your adversary with the documents to complete the process. You can use the Notice form listed above but if that fails then you will have to hire a process server to get the suit to the defendant. Regardless of how you serve them the clerk of court requires proof of service. This too is another form, Proof of Service of Summons. This helpful form has a long check list of methods of possible service. You make sure you followed one of the statutory required methods, file your proof and then your law suit has formally begun. You then must wait for your adversary to answer.
This blog post is a part of the California Civil Procedure Series written by Wolfe Law Group. You should contact an attorney when dealing with procedure issues as there are strict time limitations which need to be followed.
Technology is everywhere. We use it constantly throughout every hour of each day. While it has made our lives easier and more convenient, is it better than a time when we didn’t rely on it so much? Most would agree that yes, it is better, and in many instances that may be true, but in some cases it seems that going back to the basics can be more effective.
A recent article from the American Express Open Forum expresses such an instance. According to the article, “Pen and Paper: Killer Productivity Apps,” studies show that hand-writing notes on paper helps with memory skills and can heighten brain activity. Physically writing things down actually helps us to remember things.
So how can this relate to the construction industry?
To be honest, these tips can be helpful in any industry. If you want to remember something, don’t simply store it in your smartphone or tablet. With the amount of apps and distractions that these devices can hold, your priorities can get cluttered. For contractors and construction workers, project checklists and dates involving project deadlines and lien deadlines are extremely important details that need to be remembered. Write these important notes and dates down, and save them somewhere in which you can be constantly reminded. Simply saving them in technological devices will not always suffice and can easily get overlooked. If deadlines aren’t met or checklists aren’t completed, numerous problems can arise. Stay organized, and write things down to help remember!
For those who must use technology like myself, there are programs like Evernote which allow for storage of all notes and even allow for writing on tablet devices. Evernote is great and I highly recommend and its Evernote Trunk list out all compatible apps where you can find writing applications.
According to a recent Press Release from Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management, construction firms across the U.S. will be facing new challenges in the upcoming year. Insurance rates have been declining for close to a decade, but rates are forecasted to increase between 8 and 10 percent. Firms with poor loss histories will receive higher rates, and some may not even be able to renew their policies.
This rise in rates is apparently the result of “soft market conditions” in recent years. Michael Anderson, Leader of Marsh’s U.S. Construction Practice, stated, “This comes against the backdrop of medical cost inflation and changes to some state statutes that have extended coverage beyond the insurers’ originally intended scope.” Mr. Anderson also goes on to explain that even with the increase in rates, the industry’s capital is still strong resulting in market conditions remaining competitive.
To read more about this Press Release and other interesting Construction Market Updates, click here.
Contractors need to be sure to stay current on all insurance so that the contractor will limit its exposure when occurrences happen. Being insured is a major expense in all construction companies. That expense will be justified when a claim is made. Insurers seek to exclude or deny coverage, therefore a good attorney will be needed to fight back. Here at Wolfe Law Group, LLC we handle situations where we work with insurers to aid our clients and other situations where we fight insurers to get them to pay our clients what they are owed under the policy.
Two weeks ago the New Orleans City Council passed and ordinance that is purported to beef up labor violations for city construction contracts. The council was sharply divided whereby the ordinance passed by a 4-3 final vote.
The ordinance is best described by the City Council’s own publication:
“The Council adopted Ordinance Cal. No. 28,899, authored by Council Vice President Granderson that requires that contractors and subcontractors with city construction contracts of more than $50,000 report to the City Attorney any current company violations of federal, state and municipal laws that govern labor and employment. Specifically, the contractor is required to give notice to the City Attorney within 90 days of the issuance of any labor violation determination. If the contractor fails to correct the violation within a 90 day period the City Attorney will issue a written notice to the contractor and take enforcement action including civil remedies.”
There are many supporters and critics of the new ordinance. Many of the opponents say that it will just create needless paper work for contractors and will not solve the root cause of the problem. Although, supports say that since Katrina undocumented workers have been hurting union workers doing it by the book. The New Orleans City Business and NOLA.com both have their takes on the issue with good write ups. Overall this sounds like it will create more paper work for contractors and subject them to vague and ambiguous labor laws (where they are already subject to them anyway).
Having dealt with the City Attorney’s office in the past, this seems like it will simply be a bullet in its gun when going after small businesses. The city claims that if contractors are obeying the law they have nothing to worry about, unfortunately based on past client experiences, that is not likely the case. Just what the construction industry needs right now, another law.