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Vol. IV, Issue No. 6
November 2015
The end of the year is in sight. Are you and your business making plans for 2016? Some of this month's news items - from significant settlements we recently obtained to the disaster of having your parents' attorney write himself into their will - highlight the importance of doing that.

HSP Obtains $650,000 Settlement For Former LLC Owners 
LLC. Limited liability company. Popular business abbreviation.
Mark Snitchler and Eric Parzianello successfully settled a  case they brought on behalf of members of a limited liability company against the company and its officers. The members held a 5% interest in a company  which owns land used for the operation of a horse racing track . The complaint, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, alleged  claims against the company's officers for breach of fiduciary duties, oppression and bad faith. Within six months, the company agreed to a buyout of the members' interest for $650,000.00.

The litigation  highlighted  the importance of not only ensuring  that any business ownership interests are pro perly documented but that a company's officers  are carrying out their duties with the utmost care for all owners regardless of their ownership percentage. 
Why Did Mom Leave Her Estate To Her Attorney?

Two recent cases from Florida and Michigan show that having a will is important - but equally important is that children ha
ve some knowledge of their parents' intent and who may be influencing that intent.

In the November 6, 2015, Florida case of  In re Estate of Murphy Virginia Murphy died in 2006 at the age of 107. Before her death, she executed several wills prepared by her longtime attorn ey, including her last will from 1994 which left the bulk of her $12 million estate to her  attorney . After nine years of litigation, the Florida Court of Appeals found that because of undue influence exerted over Mrs. Murphy by her attorney, her estate would pass to the heirs she included in a prior will.  In  another well-publicized Michigan case, an attorney argued that while it may have been unethical for him to draft a will naming himself as a beneficiary, it shouldn't invalidate the will. That case remains pending.

Is your estate plan in order? Do you know your parents' intent for  their estate? Contact Mark Snitchler with questions.
HSP Obtains $150,000 Securities Litigation Settlement For Retired Physician

John Hubbard successfully obtained a $150,000 settlement on behalf of  an 86 year old retired physician  in a securities litigation case. The case arose out of the 2008 financial crisis where the client's discretionary account was invested by his registered investment advisor (RIA) in nearly 100% stocks. Despite the losses generally suffered by all investors at that time, John argued that because of an unsuitable over-concentration in equities, our client lost more than if he had been properly diversified. After a joint mediation involving both the RIA and the broker-dealer, the matter was resolved.

Have you discussed your investment  strategies with your advisor? Contact John Hubbard if you have securities questions. 
Using Employee Staffing Companies? You May Not Be as Protected as You Think

Businesses often use employee staffing companies or temporary employment agencies to avoid many employment liability risks such as hiring, firing and wage decisions.   A recent decision of the National Labor Relations Board may erode that protection.

In the case of Browning-Ferris Industries, the Board found that two or more entities may be joint employers of a single work force if they share control or reserve authority to control the terms and conditions of employment. The Board found that "reserved authority to control terms and conditions of employment, even if not exercised, is clearly relevant to the joint-employment inquiry."

Businesses  which retain the potential  to exercise control over a worker's wages and working conditions, regardless of whether that control is ultimately used, may remain liable to the workers for actions of its staffing company. These businesses should review their staffing contracts to ensure they include language specifying that the business is not a co-employer and consider eliminating provisions that reserve some control over the workers, such as retaining the right to terminate the worker.  Contact Eric Parzianello with your  employment questions. 
HSP Super Lawyers Honored!

John Hubbard, Mark Snitchler and Eric Parzianello were honored as 2015 Michigan Super Lawyers! Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement comprising no more than 5% of the attorneys in the state. The Super Lawyers Magazine was recently included as a special insert in Crain's Detroit Business.
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