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Andrews Myers Monthly Law Alert

AM MONTHLY LAW ALERT
January 2017


NEW I-9S, POSTER REQUIREMENTS AND OSHA PENALTIES
By Tony Stergio 

Employers should double check that new hires are filling out the revised I-9 form as of January 22, 2017.  While the regulations and the deadline – three days within employment – are the same, there are some changes to the employment eligibility verification form.

The form, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is available as a fillable PDF.  There are a few changes to the form, including a new “citizenship/immigration status” section, drop-down lists and calendars for filling in dates, and on-screen prompts for every field. Read more...


GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS SUBJECT TO GREATER SCRUTINY
By Poston Pritchett

Through our on-going review of legislative proposals that may impact the construction industry we discovered similar bills filed in the House (HB 792 and 793) and Senate (SB 407 and 408) that affect the Texas Public Information Act and may impact the disclosure of competitive bidding information as well as what public-private entities are subject to the Act.
 
HB 792 and SB 407 add text to the Act’s exceptions for competitive bidding that would put the burden on a governmental entity seeking to withhold competitive bidding information to show that the information to be released would harm the governmental entities interest in order to keep it private. Previously, a private entity could challenge the release of competitive information based on its own interest. The additional text goes even further by requiring the disclosure of bidding information after a contract is executed or awarded. Read more...


PARENTS BEWARE! THINK TWICE BEFORE CO-SIGNING YOUR CHILD'S APARTMENT LEASE
By Patrick Hayes and Scott McKaig

In May 2016, the Texas Supreme Court held that a residential lease provision holding tenants responsible for damage not caused by their own negligence does not violate public policy, reversing the intermediate appellate court’s decision.
 
In the case described above, a young lady signed a standard TAA lease for her apartment in San Antonio.  Her parents, no doubt proud that their daughter was supporting herself, purchased a washer and dryer for her new apartment.  Immediately after the washer and dryer were installed, the young lady proceeded to overstuff the dryer with sheets, towels, a duvet cover and at least two foam pillows (yes, you read that correctly).  A fire somehow started in the dryer and the young lady’s apartment and several adjacent apartments were destroyed.
 
Unfortunately for our young lady, the standard TAA lease included the following provision:
 “DAMAGES AND REIMBURSEMENT. You must promptly pay or reimburse use for loss, damage, consequential damages, government fines or charges, or costs of repairs or service in the apartment community due to:  a violation of the Lease Contract or rules; improper use; negligence; other conduct by you or your invitees, guests of occupants; or any other cause not due to Landlord’s negligence fault…” 

Based upon this clause, the Landlord’s insurance company went after the young lady for the damages caused by the dryer fire.  Despite the trial court and the appellate court finding that the clause was overreaching, the Supreme Court held that this provision was valid, enforceable and not unconscionable.  As a result, our young lady was found liable for the damages caused to the apartment complex.  Not exactly the way you want to start off your adulthood. Read more...


HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF IN THE FIRST 30 DAYS OF A CUSTOMER'S BANKRUPTCY FILING
By Josh Judd

Often the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of a client/customer is not entirely a surprise.  Warning signs of financial distress include increasing late payments, short or partial payments, turnover of employees, or, if it is a publically traded company, certain disclosures made in public filings that the company has retained restructuring professionals.  When accepting late or partial payments from a company that may file bankruptcy, consider applying any payments against the oldest invoice to avoid giving up potential rights if a bankruptcy is filed.
 
At the start of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, the debtor-company typically files a set of “first day motions” that the bankruptcy court considers within the first 30 days (some much sooner).  These motions will impact the debtor’s ability to continue to operate its business and may directly affect the rights of certain creditors.  Thus, creditors are best served if they become involved as soon as possible and make the court aware of their positions in the case. Read more...
FEBRUARY HAPPENINGS 

2/10  Carson Fisk receives the Tom Garner Award at the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Induction Ceremony of Board Certified Attorneys
2/15  Ben Westcott presents on "Anatomy of a Construction Claim" to CFMA Houston Chapter
2/17  Andrews Myers holds a Mock Trial for ABC Houston's Leadership Forum
2/20  Carson Fisk, Clayton Utkov and Ben Westcott participate in ABC's Legislative Day in Austin
2/21  Jason Walker and Lisa Norman present "The Current State of Credit Laws" at NACM Super Days
2/23  Bill Andrews presents "Strategies & Tactics in Selecting Arbitrators" to the State Bar of Texas International Law Section Annual Institute
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