The Lillian Corporation purchases a vacant and dilapidated office building with plans to demolish it and build luxury condos. Only one thing stands in the way: a mural on the side of the building painted years earlier by a well-known local artist, Phillip Semenko. The mural is renowned and become a popular destination for tourists. After learning of the Lillian Corporation’s plans, Semenko threatens to sue to stop the development. Will Semenko succeed or is this just another case of artistic temperament?

Continue Reading Painting over Property Rights: The Effect of the Visual Artists Rights Act on Real-Estate Development

After learning that Buxboro Independent School District would not re-open campuses until September 8th and dismayed that her children Digger (12), Trixie (9) and Hustler (5) would not receive personal instruction, Anna Nicole Pawlenty posted on a Facebook mom group “I’m in Buxboro, and I’m ‘podding up.’ Who’s with me?” . Can just anyone home school their children? What are the implications?

Continue Reading Homeschooling: Too Cool For School?

open sign on business door

Reeling from months of governmental orders that required all restaurants to close their doors, Chez Quis was elated to re-open and welcome back its diners, even at a reduced capacity. But elation quickly turned to despair when Chez Quis learned that one of its longtime customers, Abe Froman, had sued the restaurant for allegedly contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) while dining there. Has Chez Quis jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? Continue Reading Stay Shut Down or Be Sued? The Risk to Your Business from COVID-19 Premises-Liability Claims

When restaurants were ordered to shutter – and before PPP – Ernest Bux’s sister Cookie Bux who owns Beef O’Bux Restaurants was in a bind. Should she lay off or furlough employees who were showing up for work to her empty restaurant chain? What’s the difference between laying off employees and furloughing them? What are her options? Continue Reading What Does a Furlough Mean to My Employees?

laptop with envelope handshake

Before the pandemic, Ernest Bux’s niece Chit Bux signed a lease with Iona Mall in an upscale strip shopping center and hired a contractor to build out her dream business – a beauty salon “Cuts & Fluffs.” When Dallas County ordered businesses to shutter last spring, Chit’s “essential business” construction on her salon continued toward meeting the originally scheduled July 1st opening date – perhaps the worst time to open a high-touch, close-quarters beauty salon. Having dealt with other unsuccessful startups in that same space, Iona needed Cuts & Fluffs to succeed; Chit needed a different opening date – much later when people were less fearful of crowds. Chit called Iona, her contractor and her banker who was shepherding her SBA loan. Can Chit work something out with Iona without completely modifying her lease? Continue Reading Can an Email Exchange Modify a Lease?

The extraordinary measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to cause constitutional clashes. My last post’s opening hypothetical about members of a congregation being ticketed for attending church services has now become a reality, and the Supreme Court has given its first hint on how it would strike the balance between fundamental constitutional rights and the government’s interest in preserving public health. Continue Reading COVID-19 v. the Constitution: The Conflict Continues

Tiger cubDriving through Oklahoma recently and watching Tiger King of late, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux was intrigued that they are apparently 5,000 to 15,000 tigers in the United States and only 3,500 in the “wild.” Hearing that an 8-12 week old cub offered for “cub petting” in a roadside petting “zoo” could pay back over $1 million, Big Daddy decided that his Big Bux Ranch was big enough to add a roadside business and raise pet tigers. Does the State of Texas permit Big Daddy to keep pet tigers? Does Big Daddy have any liability for keeping them? Continue Reading Tiger King 2.0: Is a Texas Roadside Zoo Permissible?

stay home stay safe orderIn an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the county judge has issued a shelter-in-place order that prohibits all public gatherings. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or 180 days imprisonment. Defying the order, Reverend Elmer Gantry opens his church on Sunday morning to a smaller but still enthusiastic congregation. As the members leave at the end of the service, they are met by a sheriff’s deputy, who hands each of them a ticket for violating the order. Reverend Gantry proclaims that fining people for attending church violates their constitutional right to freely exercise their religion. Will the First Amendment be their salvation? Continue Reading COVID-19: Are Your Constitutional Rights Quarantined Too?

Closed sign. (Sorry we are closed)

Wanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win? Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Trigger a Force Majeure Defense?

Woman hangs a card with information about the store closing on a shop window due to the coronavirusWanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win? Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Make a Contract Impossible to Perform?