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Andrews Myers
We Mean Business in Texas
No Lien Law Overhaul This Legislative Session
by Brittany Cooperrider    You may have heard discussion about the possibility of significant changes being made to Chapter 53 of the Texas Property Code—the chapter concerning mechanic’s, contractor’s, or materialmen’s liens. There were a number of different bills filed in both the House and the Senate this legislative session which could have materially changed certain provisions of Chapter 53. With the close of the regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature on May 27th, it is now clear that there will not be a significant overhaul of Chapter 53 this year.
HB 589, filed in December 2018, arguably called for the most drastic changes to the operation and function of Chapter 53. Among other changes to Chapter 53, HB 589 included the creation of a state-wide lien website, maintained by the Texas Secretary of State, for providing required lien notices. These measures will not become law, as HB 589 was left pending in committee at the end of the session.  Read more...
Construction Contracts - Quick Tips for Better Risk Management
by Mike Cortez    “I’ve never had a problem with ____ or they have a good reputation, so I am not worried.”…. “I trust them”…. “This is my first job with ____, so I don’t want to risk the award”…
These are common responses I hear when reviewing construction contracts for my clients, and my analysis is that these type contracts are usually very one-sided and thus my comments are then very extensive. While I understand the relationship at the start of a job is extremely important, there are simply risks that far outweigh the history and/or potential benefits.
However well-intentioned the parties are at the start of project, the fact is that the construction industry boasts some of the highest rates of litigation. The most effective foundation to prevent disputes is a well drafted, balanced or negotiated construction contract.  Accepting one-sided contracts, or blindly using standardized forms without understanding the appropriate risks, can easily lead to increased costs, un-insured or unreasonable risk assumption, and ultimately delayed and over-budget projects. As I like to say – “better contracts help build better projects”. 

Here are 4 construction clauses which require the most focus: Read more...
Real Estate
Texas Property Tax Reform Package Approved
by Jack Turano III  The 86th Texas Legislative Session ended on May 27th with significant implications on the future of property taxes. After being approved by both the House and Senate, Governor Greg Abbott is poised to sign off on the long debated property tax reform measures set forth in Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 3.
Senate Bill 2 - Titled the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act, Senate Bill 2 will place new restrictions on proposed increases to property taxes. To be clear, the new bill does not reduce anyone’s taxes. Instead, according to State Rep. Dustin Burrows, the legislation should demystify the property appraisal and tax processes by “shed[ing] light on who is raising [property owners’] taxes and by how much.” Once signed into law, Senate Bill 2 will require cities, counties and other taxing units to receive voter approval before raising 3.5% more property tax revenue from the previous year.  Read more...
May Kicks Off Our Summer Law Clerk Program
Ingrid Silfvast-Kaiser (South Texas College of Law) and Matthew Mouer (University of Houston Law Center) join the Houston office for our six-week summer law clerk program. Welcome Ingrid & Matt - we're glad you're here! 
FMLA Requirements and Potential Employer Advantage
by Tony Stergio   The FMLA presents significant challenges to Employers covered by the Act (i.e., employers with 50 or more employees).  Getting familiar with what it takes to comply with the FMLA however, can give an Employer some powerful tools to control employee leave.
General Notice Requirements   The first rule of compliance is that covered Employers must post a notice of FMLA leave rights in its office(s) where employees are likely to see it.  Then an FMLA leave rights policy must be included in all other leave publications issued by the Employer (in Employer handbooks, etc.)  Further, the Employer must establish a FMLA leave year (i.e., a calendar year, another leave year designation, or a rolling leave year).
When an Employee Requests Leave   When an employee first requests FMLA, the Employer must let the employee know if he/she is eligible for leave within five (5) days of the request, and must also give the employee a notice of FMLA rights and responsibilities at that time [Form 1].   Read more...
Paid Sick Leave Update
by Andy Clark    Once a top priority for the Governor and the Texas business community, legislation intended to overturn local ordinances requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave never made it out of debate before a key late-session deadline. What does this mean for Texas employers? That the urban business communities should be prepared for the new laws barring any legislative or court interventions.
Here’s a refresher on the ordinances for San Antonio, Dallas and Austin:  Read more...
Join Us at the Upcoming Special Events in June

6/5 - AM supports the HYLA Summer Associate Program
6/10 - Tony Stergio presents on Employee Injuries at the SWICA Conference
6/13 - AM supports the 2019 Chambers USA Forum
6/14 - AM supports the AGC Greater Houston Mid Year Safety Meeting
6/19 - Clayton Utkov and Carson Fisk present on Recent Construction Legislation to ABC Mid Coast Chapter
6/28 - Billy Davis speaks on Construction Contracts at HalfMoon Education Seminar
Litigation & Arbitration
Limitation Waivers - Exactly How Specific Does "Specific" Need to Be?
by Jim Aycock and Hunter Barrow    In the recent opinion of Gerald Godoy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the Texas Supreme Court took another look at whether it really meant what it said back in 1944 in Simpson v. McDonald, when it unapologetically stated “an agreement in advance to waive or not plead the statutes of limitation is void as against public policy.”  Relying on various court of appeals decisions that have chipped away at Simpson since then (or to use the Court’s words, “built upon its holding…”), Wells Fargo argued that the three contractual defense waiver provisions in its guaranty agreement were sufficiently “specific” so as not to violate Simpson, and that it should therefore be able to seek a deficiency judgment against the guarantor three and one-half years after the foreclosure sale, despite the express two-year limitations period afforded to guarantors in section 51.003(a) of the Texas Property Code. 
While the Court found that two of the three waiver provisions (including one expressly referencing limitations) in Wells Fargo’s guaranty agreement were not specific enough for public policy purposes to waive the guarantor’s statutory limitation defense, a third waiver provision was sufficiently specific.  Read more... 
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