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Vol. IV, Issue No. 2
February 27, 2015
If you're in the Midwest, are you tired of winter yet? We thought this would be a perfect time for a Florida edition of our Briefing. This month's briefing covers some recent Florida business news of note, some of the services we can provide in the Sunshine State and a new arrival to the HSP family!
Stay warm and think Spring!

Did Your Start-Up Business Check For Name Availability? If Not, It Could Be "Toast"

February 25, 2015, video story in the Naples Daily News showed that your great idea for a business name may not have been so original - and in violation of a federal trademark.

"Toast" restaurant had been operating at several locations in the Naples area since 2010. In December, the owners of "Toast" received a cease and desist letter from a Chicago restaurant holding a trademark over the "Toast" restaurant name. The trademark holders had indeed successfully sued other restaurateurs around the country for trademark violation. Therefore, despite years of name recognition and goodwill development, the Naples owners decided to cease usage of "Toast" rather than litigate the issue or license the name.


Because the Naples owners felt their name had been "poached" from them, they had the perfect new name: "Poached."  Avoiding litigation still came at a significant price however; the owners estimated that the name change would cost $30,000.00!  

Business naming rights are regularly litigated; make sure your great new business name is not trademarked.

Got Mediation? We've Got Resolutionists

In a mediation, a neutral third party mediator helps the interested parties reach a settlement that resolves their dispute. Often, attorneys act as mediators based on their experience in particular areas while certified mediators undertake specialized training and observation requirements.  

 
John Hubbard and Mark Snitchler were recently certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as Circuit Court Mediators. In addition to their certification, both John and Mark have commercial mediation experience. John has particular expertise in securities and construction disputes while Mark has probate and estate dispute expertise.  If you or your clients are involved in a dispute, consider using John or Mark to help you reach a resolution!

Do Your Employment Agreements Require Arbitration and Preclude Class Actions? 

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A February 17, 2015, decision of the district court in the Southern District of Florida confirms the ability of an employer to require an incoming employee to execute and be bound by an arbitration agreement.

ICurbelo v. Autonation Benefits, Inc., the plaintiff electronically signed a confidentiality, no-solicit, non-compete, and arbitration agreement on her first day on the job.  The agreement required arbitration of any claim she could bring against her employer "including participation as a class representative or class member on any claim."  The plaintiff sued the employer in federal court under the Fair Labor Standards Act for wage violations and sought to act as a class representative on behalf of other employees. The federal court found that both the arbitration clause and the class action waiver were valid and enforceable. The court ordered the case to arbitration.  

Arbitration clauses in your employment agreements can be another way to limit your litigation risk. Contact Eric Parzianello to make sure your employment agreements protect your company. 
No Wife, No Kids, No Will. No Problems Left Behind? Wrong!


A February 5, 2015, decision of the Florida District Court of Appeals highlighted the importance of an estate plan even when you're not married - and didn't learn of your only child until she was 36 years old.
 
 

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In Kemp & Associates v. Chisholm, Teofil Chablowski died without a will - and without a spouse, parents or siblings. As a result of a 1960 romance in Texas, he did have a biological daughter who he didn't know about until 1997. She had been put up for adoption after her birth by her mother without Teofil's knowledge. The two then maintained a good relationship by telephone and in writing and met twice before his death in 2010.

Teofil's death resulted in an estate battle between his cousins and the biological daughter. The cousins sought his entire estate under Florida's inheritance laws. The daughter argued that because Teofil didn't have notice of her adoption in 1961, the Texas adoption was invalid and she was therefore his only heir. Ultimately, the Florida court found that the Texas adoption terminated the daughter's inheritance rights and Teofil's cousins inherited all of his estate.

Contact Mark Snitchler to plan for your estate - you never know who may end up fighting over it.
HSP Congratulates Gavin and Emily Fleming on The Birth of their Daughter! 

HSP partner Gavin Fleming and his wife Emily welcomed their 
daughter Mary Helen into the world on February 20th! Baby, Mom and Dad (although sleep deprived) are all doing great! 
Congratulations!

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