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Andrews Myers
We Mean Business in Texas
HISD Trustees, Construction Contracts and Vendor Involvement Focus of Investigation
by Claire Dykeman   Upon receipt of multiple complaints, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) launched its special investigation into the allegations that Houston Independent School District (HISD) failed to comply with laws relating to the governance of an independent school district. Based on the findings, investigators recommend the state’s Education Commissioner downgrade HISD’s accreditation, appoint a conservator, and install a board of managers to replace the nine elected board members due in part to “HISD Board of Trustees’ inability to ensure proper contract procurement laws.”
The TEA’s 34-page preliminary report was recently made public as part of HISD’s federal court filing of a lawsuit to try to stop the state from taking any action against the district. The report details multiple alleged violations, including three chief issues involving the board; 1) changing job orders, 2) pressuring vendors, and 3) trying to influence contracts.... Read more.
Real Estate
How Rohrmoos Changed the Landscape of Commercial Leases in Texas
by Katie Gourley   Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its opinion in Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW. While much discussion surrounding the opinion has focused upon its implications on the recovery of attorneys’ fees, the Rohrmoos opinion also indicates a significant shift in the manner in which waivers of the implied warranty of suitability in commercial leases are to be interpreted by Texas courts.
Rohrmoos centers around a dispute between Rohrmoos Venture, a commercial landlord, and UTSW, its tenant, regarding alleged “suitability” defects in the leased premises. UTSW sued Rohrmoos, alleging that the Landlord breached the lease by failing to repair the building’s concrete slab floor, causing water damage in addition to other, minor defects. Based upon these defects, which UTSW claimed rendered the property unsuitable, the tenant abandoned the property and stopped paying rent. Rohrmoos counterclaimed to recover rent it alleged that UTSW owed following its wrongful termination of the lease. Read more...
Nine AM Attorneys Recognized in Best Lawyers 2020
  • Bill Andrews
  • Hunter Barrow
  • Bill Davidson
  • Carson Fisk
  • Patrick Hayes
  • Tom Myers - - Lawyer of the Year
  • Clayton Utkov
  • Jason Walker - Lawyer of the Year
  • Ben Westcott
Click here for the entire listing.
Texas Defeats EEOC Background Check Guidance at 5th Circuit
by Tony Stergio  The Fifth Circuit recently struck down Obama-era U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidance that instructed employers to limit their use of criminal background checks when hiring.  A three-judge Fifth Circuit panel upheld an injunction blocking the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice from enforcing 2012 EEOC Guidance.  The Guidance provided that Title VII largely prohibited outright bans on hiring workers with criminal records and other restrictive criminal background check policies.  The Guidance set forth that employers should conduct an individualized assessment of each applicant's criminal record when making hiring decisions.  The Fifth Circuit held that the Guidance constituted a substantive rule, i.e., a rule which puts forth a new legal principle as opposed to a procedural regulation which implements a rule previously passed by Congress.  As such, the EEOC was enjoined from enforcing the Guidance, as federal law does not authorize the EEOC to promulgate new substantive rules.  Read more...
Dallas' Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Still in Effect
by Andy Clark    Last month, Andrews Myers gave an update regarding the status of paid sick ordinances in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. As of this writing, the ordinances in Austin and San Antonio are still on hold.
Dallas’s ordinance, however, has gone into effect—despite the fact that a federal lawsuit has been filed against the City of Dallas. The City is currently fighting the lawsuit, arguing in part that an injunction “could lead to a loss or suspension of accrued benefits for thousands of workers across the city.” As a result, Dallas currently requires that employers with more than 5 employees provide employees who perform at least 80 hours of work within Dallas with one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked in Dallas (up to 64 hours per year for employers of more than 15 employees). That leave may be used by an employee to deal with his or her (or his or her family member’s) physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventive medical or health care, or health conditions, as well as in certain circumstances related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The City of Dallas has provided a checklist to assist employers in following the notice, recordkeeping, and other requirements of the Ordinance. Read more...
The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3311)
by Lisa Norman   Small businesses often have difficulty successfully reorganizing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases due to the high costs and procedural hurdles. Current Chapter 11 rules also make it difficult for a small business owner to maintain an ownership interest in the business. To address these issues and give small businesses the tools needed to reorganize, the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3311).  The Small Business Reorganization Act (“SBRA”) was presented to the President on August 13, 2019 and it is awaiting his signature. Once enacted, the SBRA will streamline Chapter 11 bankruptcies for small businesses with aggregate liabilities that do not exceed $2,566,050.
If enacted, the SBRA will allow a small business owner to retain its interest in the business so long as the plan of reorganization does not unfairly discriminate and it is fair and equitable to each class of claims. An initial status conference must be held within sixty (60) days after the commencement of the bankruptcy case to focus on means and methods to ensure an expeditious and economical reorganization.  Read more...
Carl Williams Joins Construction Litigation Practice Group
Carl Williams has recently joined the Houston office of Andrews Myers.  Prior to joining the firm, Carl enjoyed a 23-year career in credit collections in both corporate and third party 
agencies, including  a regional credit managerial role with longtime firm client Crawford Electric Supply Inc.  A recent graduate of South Texas College of Law, Carl can be reached at 713.351.0363 or via email
9/5 AM Sponsors the AGC of Texas 9th Annual Scholarship Gala
9/6 AM Sponsors the ABC Central Texas Clay Shoot
9/11 ABC of Texas Board Recognizes Jon Fisher's Years of Service to ABC
9/11 Kenton Andrews presents to Foundation Performance Association
9/16 AGC San Antonio PAC Dove Hunt
9/17 Jason Walker and Lisa Norman  present to NACM Construction Materials Group
9/19 Ben Westcott presents Legislative Update at Lonestar Conference
9/21 Ben Westcott presents at HCA Management Conference
9/23 AM Sponsors the ABC Greater Houston Sporting Clay Shoot
9/23 Jason Walker is a featured panelist at NACM All-South Credit Conference
9/25 AM Sponsors AGC Austin PAC Clay Shoot
Litigation & Arbitration
Changes at the Harris County District Clerk's Office May Save Litigants Time and Money
by Brittany Cooperrider  If you have had a case pending in Harris County in the past couple of years, you are likely aware of the challenges that parties and attorneys have faced in obtaining citations and securing hearing dates for adjudication of disputed issues. The Harris County District Clerk’s Office reports that it is working to introduce new technology to make “processes more efficient” and make “the delivery of services more cost effective.”
The District Clerk’s Office is now offering e-issuance of citations for service of process. E-issuance allows parties to obtain citations through email rather than having to wait for paper citations to be issued.
This summer the District Clerk’s Office also rolled out a pilot e-Hearing feature in six district courts. The e-Hearing feature allows attorneys or staff who file motions which require hearings, to view available hearing dates and secure a hearing date through an online portal. This e-Hearing feature should eliminate the need for litigants to engage in a series of communications with each court’s clerk and/or court coordinator regarding the available hearing dates in a given court.  Read more... 
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