Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux’s favorite old, majestic cypress tree “Cyrus” has a wide draping canopy near his property line adjoining his neighbor Sonny Gap. Gap recently complained that the roots and the canopy are growing into his property; that the roots have grown into his foundation and around the gas meter and pipes; and that some of the roots are growing into knees above-ground making walking in this area tricky. Plus, his wife thinks the tree is hideous. Can Gap make Big Daddy cut down the tree? Can Gap hire someone to cut it down? If not, can Gap just poison the roots on his property? Continue Reading When Can You Cut Down Your Neighbor’s Messy, Root-Invasive Tree?

Last month I talked about how litigation “wins” don’t always require a jury finding in your favor.  This month we continue talking about reaching litigation “wins” through early communication and objectivity. If I got $100 for every time a client told me during an initial consultation that they wanted to extract a pound of flesh from the other side, I’d probably living the island life right now.  These clients aren’t individuals looking to sue some international conglomerate; most are entrepreneurs or business executives.  And I guarantee you that I am not alone.  Most lawyers would tell you they hear the same thing from clients during their initial consultation.  Sometimes clients continue that mantra for several months.  Some even go so far as to say something like, “I don’t care what it costs.  I want justice!”  I get it too.  When a client first contacts a lawyer about litigation, it’s because the client believes: (1) somebody did something that hurt the client (physically, emotionally or economically); or (2) somebody brought a bogus lawsuit against them.  Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation: Flexible Goals and Open Communication Establish a Solid Foundation

Last month, a gunman entered an El Paso Walmart, shot and killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others. A local El Paso attorney filed suit against Walmart claiming that store had insufficient security. Besides the shooter “Malo,” is the retailer Walmart responsible? What about the property manager? The property owner? The architect who designed the retail store? Continue Reading Mass Shootings – Who’s Responsible?

Days ago, engineer Anthony Levandowski was indicted on criminal charges accusing him of stealing information from Google-owned Waymo and taking it to Uber. While the indictment alleges he downloaded 14,000 documents containing trade secrets before he left Google, Levandowski insists the downloads were his. An arbitration panel ordered Levandowski to pay Google $127 million. After firing Levandowski – who repeatedly asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination before the trial – his new employer, Uber, paid $245 million to settle its own civil lawsuit with Google.  The sitting federal judge recommended a criminal probe into a possible theft – now an indictment. Everybody does it, right? Who pays the $372 million? Does Uber have to protect Levandowski? Can Levandowski claim ownership of his ideas? Can Levandowski go to jail? Continue Reading Who Pays When Your New Employee Brings Your Competitor’s Trade Secrets?

Does a “win” in litigation require a final judgment in your favor?  Not necessarily.  Litigation “wins” are defined by the circumstances facing a party at the outset of litigation, and how those circumstances change as litigation progresses.  Over the next few months we will dive deeper into this topic, and talk about issues such as:

Continue Reading Defining a Win in Litigation

Grant Bux, Big Daddy Bux’s nephew, owns Sparkle-Plenty Electrical Manufacturing in Dallas, and has a branch office in San Antonio. The Dallas office employs 13 family members and four non-family employees. San Antonio has 16 non-family employees. Grant learned that both the Cities of Dallas and San Antonio have mandatory sick leave ordinances becoming effective on August 1st. As a family business, will they impact Grant and Sparkle-Plenty?

Continue Reading Do the Mandatory Sick Leave Ordinances in Dallas and San Antonio Affect Your Family Business?

My last article pointed out a situation where parties conflate contractual indemnity and damages clauses.  The standard language in Dunce’s Caps’ contract provided for an indemnification of “any and all losses arising from any breach of any representation or warranty in the agreement” and capped those losses at the price of the order. When Dunce’s failed to deliver the promised 100,000 hats, Flat Backs filed an arbitration action seeking recovery of an alleged $4 million in damages, even though the purchase order price was only $500,000. Ignoring Dunce’s damages cap argument, the arbitrator Terry B.L. Judge awarded Flat Backs the full $4 million. Arguing that Judge was not permitted to award Flat Backs more than $500,000, Dunce’s appealed to the state court seeking to overturn the arbitration award because Judge exceeded his jurisdictional limits. Did Dunce’s contractual indemnification provision operate as a cap on the damages that Flat Backs could recover for Dunce’s breach of contract? Continue Reading The Case of Mistaken Indemnity, Part 2

Struggling these last several months with the family dynamics and dilemmas of transitioning his family business to the next generation, Big Daddy Ernest Bux, 65, now turns to ordinary, practical considerations. What are Big Daddy’s businesses worth, and do they have sufficient value/cash flow to accomplish his plans? Will Big Daddy’s estate planning cover the estate taxes and transfer estate assets consistent with his plans and goals?
Continue Reading Family Matters: Can a Family Business Succeed Without Maximum Valuation and Sound Estate Planning?

Continuing to struggle with transitioning his family business to the next generation, Big Daddy Ernest Bux, 65, considers perhaps the most difficult task on his checklist: Ensuring that both his management succession decision makers and all of his ownership succession members are good communicators of both business and family issues. A couple of months ago, Big Daddy Bux addressed the family factor and its two components – the management succession process and the ownership succession process. Now that the management successors (the business decision makers) and the ownership successors are identified, how can Big Daddy equip them both to be good communicators? Continue Reading Family Matters: Can a Family Business Succeed Without Addressing Overlapping Business AND Family Issues?