New York Legal Blog

Business owners must play fair

Some call New York, New York, the business capital of the world. Deals are made every day, from small projects with construction subcontractors to multibillion-dollar deals that affect countries across the world. Naturally, with that many deals happening, there is often commercial litigation. One of the things addressed by commercial litigation is unfair competition.

Unfair competition is defined as a wrongful or deceptive business practice that results in economic harm to business entities or consumers. Federal laws and state laws exist to guard against unfair competition by actively protecting the creative, intellectual and economic investments that businesses make in order to distinguish their products and services.

Learn about local zoning

New York, New York, is one of the biggest areas for new construction in the entire country. It is also an area that is rife with construction litigation. One of the ways to avoid construction litigation is understanding and following zoning regulations.

Zoning divides a municipality, such as a city or a county, into industrial, commercial and residential zones, with each being distinct from the others and having its own distinct purpose. Zoning regulations include a lot of rules imposed upon those who live, work and build in a particular zone. Those rules cover the types of buildings that can be built, and the modifications that can be made to those buildings. Everything including the height and width of buildings and the number of rooms that they have is covered, as are the number of buildings on a particular lot, and when buildings are residential, whether they need to be single-family or can be multi-family.

Why should construction contracts always be in writing?

In many cases, your contract will not be considered binding unless you write it on paper and both parties sign it. This makes perfect sense because without the contract written down, there can be disagreements between the parties, and no third party -- such as a judge or arbitrator -- will be able to make a call on which side is correct.

While it's true that most contractors and businesses never have to look at their contracts again after signing, it's essential to have the document on hand and available in the case of a serious disagreement. In fact, numerous New York contractors and/or businesses have lost millions of dollars and even gone bankrupt over an unexpected disagreement that could have been avoided if they had signed and dated a physical contract.

Businesses must act ethically

The city of New York, New York, is viewed by many as a key business capitol. There are commercial transactions that take place every day there. Some involve small amounts, and others involve millions of dollars. When those transactions go awry, those involved may pursue commercial litigation. One of the reasons they may do so is when they feel that the other party engaged in deceptive practices.

Most retailers and manufacturers make very strong claims about why their product is the best, because they need to maximize the value of their limited advertising dollars and garner the most significant share of their market possible. Their claims can be hyperbolic, such as a statement by a restaurant that they sell the best seafood ever, but they can't be flat-out false.

Construction lawsuit filed against condo tower

Many buildings are built in New York, New York, each year, and many of those have people who object to them. The reasons for those objections vary greatly. They include worries about added traffic and competition for parking places, to concern that the area is becoming too congested, to complaints that views are being obscured. All of those objections, and others, can lead to construction litigation.

A recent example of that is a lawsuit which seeks to stop the building of an Upper East Side condominium tower which is already in progress. The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of elected officials and community groups, alleges that the tower's developer exploited a loophole, resulting in a height and configuration for the tower that local residents had not expected and are not comfortable with.

Construction projects often result in litigation

New York, New York, may be more well-known for construction projects than anywhere else on Earth. Some of the most famous buildings of this century have been in New York. Each product includes an array of interested parties, from buyers and funders on one side to architects, construction contractors and subcontractors on the other side. From time to time, one of those parties proves to be unhappy with how things are being done by another of those parties. Those things may include payment, timetables, quality issues or any number of other factors. When that happens, the result is often construction litigation.

Sometimes construction projects face objections from those who have businesses and residences in the area that the construction project is to be done in. This can be frustrating for developers, as those who object to the projects contact government officials to get the projects stopped. Objectors and developers want their positions to prevail, and the conflict between them can drag out for years.

What are Shareholders' Agreements?

Throughout New York, NY, there are businesses of all sizes. Many of those begin as partnerships, as people with skills, plans and resources combine what they have to offer in the hope of securing greater success together than they would have alone. Many of those partnerships work out well.

Others, however, do not. If there isn't a plan in place to deal with ending the partnership, contentious and expensive commercial litigation may follow, damaging the business. For that reason, it is a good idea to have a shareholders' agreement in place.

It is important to understand construction defects

There is construction in progress every day of every year in New York, New York. New skyscrapers and small offices are built to suit a wide range of businesses, each with their own needs. Of course, there are times when construction does not go according to plan, resulting in construction defects and corresponding construction litigation.

Construction defects can occur at any stage of the construction process, including when the construction project is being designed, planned, supervised, inspected or built. Deficiencies that arise at any of those stages are construction defects if they are indicative of a failure to do the construction in a "reasonably workmanlike manner" or if the structure built fails to meet the performance specifications that are reasonably expected by the buyer.

New York laws protect consumers

New York, New York, is known as one of the busiest centers of commerce on Earth. Business people from the full spectrum of professions come to New York to ply their trade. Of course, the sheer volume of deals made inevitably means that a significant number of them will wind up being contentious between the parties involved and may result in commercial litigation.

The problems leading to that point may be because of deceptive trade practices, which are defined as practices that include false claims, disinformation and other misleading tactics that are employed with the specific purpose of getting people to pay for a service or product, resulting in sellers profiting from deceiving buyers. An example of that is car dealers who set the mileage on a car's odometer to much lower than it actually is, in order to convey the inaccurate impression that the car has been driven less to a potential customer. Another example, which many retail stores use, is bait and switch, which involves drawing potential customers to their store by promising the availability of an item that they don't actually carry in the hopes that, once at the store, customers will buy other products.

Know the ultimate goal of plaintiffs in construction litigation

Construction law is multifaceted and often very complex. Whether your case involves contract negotiations with federal agencies that must follow very strict guidelines or deals with materialmen's liens or even a wrongful death claim, you want your client to emerge victorious.

Realistically speaking, however, you know that will not always be possible in all cases. Still, your goal is to leave your client in the best shape possible, or at the very least, not to take too big of a hit.

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