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Did I really breach our contract?

Construction projects can be massive undertakings. This is particularly true when they involve commercial buildings, major renovations or any project involving several parties. Considering all these moving parts, it can be easy for disputes to arise regarding delays, materials or incomplete work.

Parties can avoid or at least minimize these disputes with a clear, enforceable contract. However, even with a contract in place, you can face claims of a contract breach and possible legal action. In many cases, parties disagree on whether the breach occurred in the first place, so following is some information to help you examine whether you (or someone else) actually breached a contract.

Corrupt landlord pleads guilty

Being a landlord should be simply a matter of supplying and maintaining a high-quality property that is leased to a tenant for a fair price. Unfortunately, some landlords cut corners and break laws in an effort to maximize their income, while minimizing their expenses, to the detriment of tenants. When that happens, the landlords may face litigation and charges.

A landlord in New York, New York, serves as a recent example of property management gone profoundly wrong. For years, he was one of New York's biggest multifamily landlords, yet the first week of June, he pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges. Those charges were tax fraud, grand larceny and fraud based on filing a false instrument.

Creditors have options when seeking to collect

A musician whose band had the good fortune to open for Chuck Berry decades ago remembers the guitar great befriending him between the opening band's set and Berry's performance. Upon discovering the opening act had not been paid before the show, Berry marched with the musician to the promoter's office and insisted the opening act get paid in cash immediately or he would not go on. Always get paid before you play, Berry advised.

Turns out, he knew what he was talking about. As this musician tells it, the show promoters were long gone before Berry finished playing, leaving security workers and others hired for the event wondering how to collect what they were due.

Why understanding noncompete contracts matters

Many business owners and employees have presumed that noncompete clauses affect only senior executives. However, noncompete clauses are now affecting employees at many levels, which is why it is important for both business owners and employees to learn about them.

A former factory manager is an example of the impact that noncompete clauses can have. Working for a textile company, he found that his pay was much less than he needed due to the 2008 financial crisis. He felt fortunate when a rival textile company talked with him about working for them, in a higher level position with a better rate of pay. He accepted their offer.

Construction Lien Law Changes in New Jersey

A recent ruling in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has significantly altered the legal landscape for filing Construction Liens in New Jersey.[1] The Court in Cooper Elec. Supply Co. v. Linear Elec. Co., affirmed a bankruptcy court's decision holding that a construction lien filed after a debtor had filed for bankruptcy was void ab initio because it violated the automatic stay provision of 11 U.S.C. § 362, which provides for a stay on any "act or to create, perfect, or enforce any lien against property of the [debtor's] estate." No. CV 15-06429 (SDW), 2016 WL 781770 (D.N.J. Feb. 29, 2016); 11 U.S.C. § 362. Central to the Court's reasoning was its expansive reading of the property of the debtor's "estate," as defined in 11 U.S.C. § 362, to include accounts receivable. This expansive reading made way for the Court to conclude that the accounts receivable underlying the "Appellants' construction liens were [property] of the estate" and thus fell "squarely within the broad prohibitions of the automatic stay provisions." Id. at *3. An appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was filed on March 8, 2016.

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