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Andrews Myers
Business Insight from the Ground Up
Recap of the 31st Annual State Bar of Texas Construction Law Section Conference
by Ben Westcott  From February 28 – March 2, 2018, the State Bar Construction Law Section hosted its 31st Annual Construction Law Conference.  For most of us construction lawyers, this time is like a homecoming of sorts.  It’s a wonderful time to catch up with friends and colleagues many of whom we’ve known for years.  This year’s conference set a record for attendance with over 800 attendees.  Marquee topics included: “Notice Anything,” by Kristen Sherwin (discussing a recent court decision under 16.071 of CPRC); “Can I Say That?” by Clayton Utkov (discussing libel, slander and tortious interference in construction disputes); “Hot Topics From In-House Counsel,” by Kelly Carr, Vijay D’Cruz and Jason Martin; “The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors,” by Amy Emerson (reviewing traps for unsuspecting construction attorneys) and “One Breach, Two Breach Old Breach, New Breach,” by Amy Wolfshohl (reviewing competing breach of contract claims under recent cases).  For more information on all of the topics, presentations and papers, click here. While we all learned a lot, what I’m most proud of is that our organization raised in excess of $27,885 for Helping a Hero (Empowering Wounded Heroes One Home at a Time). If you haven’t attended this conference before, please make plans to join us next spring.  

Big Welcome to Two New Attorneys:
Colby Hodges, Senior Associate
Colby Hodges recently joined the firm’s litigation group as a Senior Associate with a practice focused on the representation of businesses in complex commercial, construction, and labor and employment litigation.

Colby has successfully handled an array of
disputes for clients across a broad spectrum of business-related tort matters, including breach of contract, breach of warranty, tortious interference, construction defect, copyright infringement, trade secret theft, employee fraud, and employee non-competition. He has represented a diverse group of clients across numerous industries, including manufacturing, construction, telecommunications, insurance brokerage, real estate development, and oilfield services. Read more. 
Andrew Clark, Labor & Employment Associate
Andy Clark has joined the firm as an Associate in the labor and employment practice group.  He is focused on advocating for clients in a variety of employment-related disputes including discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, wage and hour disputes, non-compete and
restrictive covenant litigation, and government agency investigations. He regularly counsels clients on employment-related matters impacting their business objectives, including negotiating employment and executive agreements, conducting reductions in force, responding to accommodation requests, investigating employee complaints, drafting employment policies, and otherwise complying with federal and state employment laws. Read more. 
Paid Sick Leave in Austin
by Tony Stergio The Austin City Council passed an ordinance requiring most Austin employers to give their employees paid sick leave starting on October 20, 2018. Under the statute, the paid sick leave will accrue at a rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours annually (48 hours for employers with 15 or fewer employees). This ordinance is important to all Texas employers as it mandates paid sick leave for any employee who works 80 or more hours in Austin during a calendar year. So an employee who is based in other parts of the State may qualify for this statutory paid sick leave based upon limited time working in Austin. Vacation and PTO policies will need to be modified to avoid having some employees qualify for both this statutory paid sick leave and company PTO/vacation awarded pursuant to handbooks, policies, or contracts.
Blockchain Technology: No Longer a "What If?" Now a "What Next?”
by Katie Gourley If you’ve followed the news recently, you’ve surely heard the buzz surrounding blockchain, bitcoin, and the burgeoning cryptocurrency market. Cryptocurrency has undeniably taken the world by storm. But as the cryptocurrency market continues to make waves, many now wonder how the underlying technology, blockchain, can reinvent and modernize industries beyond the securities market. While some pundits have argued that blockchain is a just fad, recent developments suggest that the distributed ledger technology is here to stay.

Most talk surrounding blockchain has been just that—talk. Experts across all fields have spent countless hours speculating and hypothesizing as to how this new technology will eventually infiltrate their industries. Recently, though, there have been advancements across multiple industries that should get you thinking—how will blockchain eventually affect me? Blockchain technology in real estate, government, and even the digital media industry is no longer a “what if?” Now, it’s a “what’s next?” Read more.
Andrews Myers Steers Recapitalization Transaction
by Brent Pharis   The Andrews Myers corporate team, led by Patrick Hayes, Brenton Pharis and Katherine Gourley, recently assisted the owners of Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, a leading commercial roofing and waterproofing specialty contractor, in a recapitalization transaction with Main Street Capital Corporation.  The transaction included Main Street funding $33.0 million in a combination of first-lien, senior secured term debt and a direct equity investment.  In addition, Main Street and its co-investor are providing Chamberlin an undrawn credit facility to support its future growth initiatives and working capital needs. Read more.
Facilitating the Sale of Family-Owned Business
by Patrick Hayes  The Andrews Myers corporate team, led by Patrick Hayes, Champe Fitzhugh and Scott McKaig, recently assisted the owners of Best Redi-Mix, a leading Houston concrete building materials supplier, with the sale of its business to Ingram Readymix.  Founded in 1980, Best Redi-Mix is a Houston-based, family owned concrete building materials supplier involved in residential, commercial and industrial cement and concrete projects across the Gulf Coast.  Recently celebrating its 60th anniversary, New Braunfels-based Ingram Redimix is a family owned business whose portfolio includes 27 concrete plants, 2 aggregate operations, a high-tech truck and pump fleet and over 500 employees across the state of Texas.  
Sharing Exciting News at AM
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) announced that William B. “Billy” Davis received Board Certification in Construction Law. Billy is a shareholder and construction litigator in the Houston office of Andrews Myers, with a practice focused on construction litigation, dispute resolution and claims counseling. Read more.
Mike Schiff was recently named Senior Counsel.  Mike is a 8-year attorney who joined the firm’s construction litigation group in 2011. His practice focuses on both construction litigation and alternative dispute resolution, in which he represents general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and owners in a variety of construction related disputes, as well as labor and employment litigation. Read more.
Six Attorneys Named Rising Stars
Six Andrews Myers attorneys have been recognized among the top young lawyers in Texas by Thomson Reuters’ SuperLawyers.
The list appears in this month’s Texas SuperLawyers-Rising Stars Edition:
  Rising Stars are described as “outstanding young lawyers who have demonstrated superior professional potential.”  Fewer than 2.5% of lawyers throughout the state are selected for this recognition, and all candidates must be age 40 and under, practicing 10 years or less, to meet eligibility requirements.
Can the New Steel & Aluminum Tarrifs Trigger a Force Majeure Event?
by Champe Fitzhugh   As the new federally imposed tariffs on foreign-produced steel and aluminum take effect, there are a lot of questions in the oil patch.  There are three things that everyone knows but no one is sure about right now: (1) some of the steel needed for pipelines cannot be produced domestically and may well cost around 25% more than planned; (2) projects that were greenlit with pre-tariff pricing now face a different economic climate; and (3) many domestic mills are at capacity and will not be able to meet new demand in a timely fashion.

From a legal perspective, the most interesting question I have had recently is: “when the new tariffs result in an inability to get the steel we need, will that be considered a force majeure event?”  The answer, of course, is it depends on how much attention was paid to the contract clause on the front end and what else the contract says.  Read more. 
Litigation & Arbitration
Keep Your Exemption from Personal Liability Intact by Staying Current on Your Franchise Taxes
by Kathryn Baird   In my construction practice, I have recently had several cases where the opposing party, whether it be an LLC or a corporation, has filed a lawsuit or counterclaim to recover under a breach of contract only to be surprised by the realization that their officers and directors have opened themselves up to personal liability. After the shock wears off the reality sets in that the officers and directors may have been able to avoid this exposure by keeping their franchise taxes current.

Section 171.252 (2) of the Texas Tax Code states that an entity forfeits its corporate privileges when it does not pay its franchise taxes after 45 days of receiving a notice for failure to pay. Read more. 
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