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Andrews Myers
We Mean Business in Texas
A Message from Bill Andrews

Andrews Myers Celebrates our 30th Anniversary

At the beginning of this month, a milestone quietly occurred. 

As I look back on that day, August 1, the firm’s 30th anniversary, the tone and tenor of the expressions of congratulations and thankfulness were quite apropos of this time.  I stayed mute. Given the somberness, uncertainty and apprehension this pandemic had created, all I could do was acknowledge the wonderful messages from the Andrews Myers team, including an epistle from Ben Westcott that reflected the wisdom of a good friend and partner of many years.  But, on further reflection, I want to say a few things about Andrews Myers.

We are more than a business.  Indeed, we are professionals, solid, talented and ethical—all of us.  Each person that works here contributes mightily to the daily success of our wonderful firm.  

I am so grateful for each and every one of the people working at our Houston and Austin offices.  Without a doubt, they are the singular reason we made it 30 years.  Their dedication coupled with outstanding work product distinguishes us from the rest of the pack.  For that, I offer my thanks.

It’s testament to our strength, character and resolve that we did not give in to fear and panic a few months ago.  Rather, emboldened by our amazing leadership, their commitment to overcome the challenges and obstacles, continuing dedication to putting out superior work product and trust that we can work together to continue all the good we do for our families and our clients led us to where we are today. 

We are a thriving community of good people working hard and well.

I could not be more honored and proud to be a part of this firm, their firm.  30 years ago, I was 38 years old and with Tom Myers, left the big firm with ambitious thoughts of founding a small boutique construction law firm.  Never, never did I imagine we would be where we are now. 

Wow.

Happy Anniversary to Andrews Myers!
Real Estate
State of Commercial Real Estate - Multi-Family
by Sara McEown & Jack Turano   The Houston Business Journal (HBJ) held a dynamic virtual roundtable session with a panel of commercial real estate experts on August 13, sponsored by Andrews Myers, P.C. This follow up to June’s State of Real Estate webinar, specifically examined the multi-family sector’s changing development landscape and response strategies in the wake of COVID-19.
 
HBJ’s editor-in-chief, Giselle Greenwood, moderated a lively discussion with panelists Swapnil Agarwal (Founder and Managing Principal, Nitya Capital), Yewande Fapohunda (Senior Vice President, High Street Residential /Trammel Crow Co.), and Michael Vaughn (Senior Vice President – Multifamily, Arch-Con Corp.), who each shared their observations and insights on Houston’s multi-family market from development, management and construction perspectives. ...Click here for our major takeaways from the insightful conversation.
Top Things Property Managers Can Do to Protect Themselves against COVID-19 Lawsuits
by Bret Rycroft  In today’s pandemic, property managers need to be aware of the many possible claims coming from stressed tenants. Lawsuits likely to be seen with respect to COVID-19 are breach of contract claims, negligence lawsuits, and premises liability claims, among others. The best you can do is be prepared; below are some tips for protecting business.
 
Pandemic Plan First, you need to create a pandemic plan for your property. This is simply a list of “reasonable” best practices and policies that your property can adopt. The important thing to remember is that once the policy is created, it must also be enforced equally amongst all tenants and employees. A good place to start when drafting your pandemic plan is with the most current CDC guidelines for prevention. Your pandemic plan will be a guidebook which can be provided to everyone and will contain policies that are applicable to tenants, employees, and guests. We also recommend making the materials available in multiple languages to your tenants, employees, and visitors. ... Read More
Fourteen AM Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers

We are pleased to celebrate the ten attorneys across six practice groups who have been named in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, and the four young attorneys were recognized in the inaugural listing of “Ones to Watch.”  Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Additionally, Ben Westcott was further recognized as the 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston for his work in Construction Law.  This designation is bestowed upon a single lawyer in each practice area and community each year. The “Ones to Watch” awards, in its first year, are recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice.

Litigation & Arbitration
COVID-19 Update in the Texas Supreme Court
by Claire Dykeman  On August 21, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued the 24th Emergency Order renewing and extending the limitations on eviction proceedings and requisite CARES Act considerations previously outlined in the 20th Emergency Order. The 20th Emergency Order provided that any petition for eviction filed between May 27, 2020 and August 24, 2020 had to detail under oath whether or not the CARES Act applied to the premises and state that applicable notices called for by the CARES Act had been given. Pursuant to the 24th Emergency Order, those limitations on eviction proceedings now apply to any petition for eviction filed through September 30, 2020.

Likewise, the 22nd Emergency Order is in effect until September 30th. The 22nd Emergency Order prohibits the commencement of any jury trials until October 1st, enables lower courts to modify any deadlines or procedures set forth in rules, statutes or orders through September 30th, and provides guidelines for hearings, depositions and other proceedings to allow for remote participation and testimony by teleconference and video conferencing.

Before their expiration, currently set for the end of September, it is possible that the Supreme Court could further extend both the 22nd and 24th Emergency Orders through October.
Construction
Eight Issues to Review when Negotiating Construction Contracts in the COVID-19 World
by Mike Cortez   Over recent months, we have all been inundated with webinars, articles and non-stop updates on COVID-19 and how this unprecedented crisis is impacting the construction industry. The term “Force Majeure” has become a common refrain in the COVID-19 era. The issue is that many construction contracts may not even use this term and even more do not use the term “pandemic” prior to 2020. This article will discuss some contract strategies beyond Force Majeure and the best approach in reviewing or negotiating your construction contracts as we continue through these strange times. I’ve also included a checklist for your next construction contract negotiation.

The bottom line questions being presented from contractors and owners in this new age of the construction industry are (a) how do we negotiate construction contracts under the “cloud” of this extraordinary pandemic (or any other event of Force Majeure for that matter); and (b) what can we do to protect ourselves going forward? ... Read more
Corporate Law Success!
We represented longtime client, Sweat Equity Partners, in the sale of its controlling interest in Path Environmental Technology, LLC, an industrial services provider, to Ara Partners, a private equity firm specializing in decarbonization investments.  To learn more about the companies and our corporate practice group, click here
Employment
Employer Liability for COVID-19 Infection
by Tony Stergio   As more workers return to in-person employment while the coronavirus pandemic continues, many employers are becoming increasingly concerned about potential liability arising from work-related COVID-19 exposure.  With respect to one’s own employees in Texas, an employer’s liability appears to be limited. The Texas Department of Insurance has stated that COVID-19 may be an occupational disease as defined by the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act if it is contracted as a result of employment. Thus, work-related COVID-19 infections will be covered by workers’ compensation for subscribers. Therefore, workers’ compensation subscribers in Texas cannot be sued for COVID-19 work-related exposure even if such exposure is caused by the employer’s own negligence.

The only exception would be in the case of an employer’s gross negligence which results in employee death. While COVID-19 can, of course, result in death in some cases, plaintiffs seeking to impose gross negligence on an employer will have a substantial burden. They will have to prove workplace exposure and the likelihood of serious injury. They must further demonstrate that the employer knew of such likelihood but did not care. This standard will present difficulty for any potential plaintiff.  As exceptions to workers’ compensation vary from state to state, employers who maintain a workforce in numerous states may face greater liability. ... Read More
 

Texas Mask Order Still in Effect While several mask mandates issued on the city and county level in Texas have either expired, or are scheduled to expire, it's important to note that Governor Abbott's statewide mask mandate, and the fines associated with it, are still very much in effect. A follow-up order will be required to rescind the mask mandate, and there is no sign of that happening anytime soon.  Click here to read the order. 
About Andrews Myers
Where to find Andrews Myers next month
09/03 - AGC Houston Mid-Year Safety Meeting Sponsor
09/09 - Worldwide Employee Benefits Webinar "Return to Work" with Tony Stergio
09/17 - BCH Insurance client seminar  with Tony Stergio
09/21 - ABC Houston Fall Clay Shoot Sponsor
Celebrating 30 Years in 2020
Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.
COVID-19 Updates
Andrews Myers attorneys have been tracking and updating the many changes that could effect you and your business throughout the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. To see all of the articles and information you may have missed, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 page on the AndrewsMyers.com website. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here
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