By David A. Zobel
If you are in the business of selling something, whether it is materials, labor, services, or all of the above, chances are at some point your company will run into a situation where one or more of your customers fails to pay a bill.
Depending on industry custom or specific arrangement with a customer, an invoice may go unpaid for 30 or 60 days without much concern. However, when an invoice goes unpaid more than 90 or 120 days without agreement or explanation, the likelihood of payment of that invoice steadily decreases with time.
Aging account receivables result from a whole host of reasons. There are also varying responses to the problem. Here are a few tips to help address aging account receivables and hopefully help you get paid.
- Don’t Procrastinate – Deal with the Problem
One of the most common responses I’ve seen to aging account receivables is for the client to simply ignore the problem – even during the client’s own financial hardships. This will not fix the problem and will only make it worse. From a legal perspective, keep in mind that the remedies available to you for collection are governed by deadlines and time limits – some of which, like mechanics lien rights, can expire just a few months after your last delivery or work for the customer.
Acting quickly on unpaid invoices will help ensure you are able to take advantage of all available rights under the law or your agreement. From a practical perspective, you will also want to keep in mind the old saying “Out of sight, out of mind.” Keeping an invoice or statement in front of your customer will help keep the issue current and also convey to the customer you are committed to seeking payment. Continue reading »
02/21/17 6:00 AM
Business Law | Comment (0) |
Aging Account Receivables? A Few Tips to Help You Finally Get Paid
By David A. Zobel
Part 1 of a 12-part series on Legal Considerations for Your Missouri Leasing Business: What You Should Consider Now, Later, and Throughout the Process
A common statement we’ve heard from folks considering getting into real estate leasing (or investing for that matter) is that they need or want “a LLC,” but far fewer seem to know exactly why. While there are certainly other valid reasons for choosing to operate your business through a legal entity, the primary basis for using one is asset protection.
Consider this: If you buy stock and the price plummets to zero, you’re typically out only the cost of your investment. Real estate investment, on the other hand, operates differently and may not necessarily end at zero or the cost of your investment, but can extend beyond to reach your personal home, bank account, and day-to-day finances. Proper use of a legal entity can help insulate you from that risk and ensure a bad investment does not turn into your financial ruin. The following scenarios help exemplify the importance of using a legal entity:
Scenario 1: Direct or Individual Ownership and Operation
John takes $50,000 from his savings and buys a condo in his personal name. He then enters into a lease with Bob, as landlord and tenant respectively, in his personal name. Within the first month of the tenancy, Bob falls down the stairs and is injured (ideally John would have insurance in place to cover such an incident, but let’s assume he doesn’t in this example). Bob racks up $75,000 in medical bills. Bob believes his injuries resulted from a defective condition at the condo and sues John, his landlord and owner of the condo, personally. Bob wins and obtains a judgment against John, personally, in the amount of $75,000. John refuses to pay the judgment and Bob begins collection efforts against John. Continue reading »
02/7/17 6:57 AM
Business Law, Real Estate | Comment (0) |
Do I Need a Legal Entity?
By Jeffrey R. Schmitt
For many individuals and businesses, being served with a lawsuit is an uncommon, or possibly even a once-in-a-lifetime, situation. Litigation can be stressful and being served with a lawsuit is often surprising as well. However, in all situations when you or your business is served with a lawsuit, there are three simple, basic steps to best preserve your rights and protect yourself from the outset.
- Make Some Quick Notes
Often, as a result of the frustration or surprise associated with being served with a lawsuit, most people don’t pay attention to the details of how they were served. These details can be very important. There are specific rules and procedures about proper service of lawsuits, depending on the type of lawsuit and the court.
Take a few minutes to jot down notes related to the service. Specifically, identify the date and time of service, the manner of service including whether a sheriff or process server handed you papers or if the lawsuit was received by first-class or certified mail, and the recipient of those papers. These may be important facts for your attorney to know in determining whether or not service was proper and if you should contest service as a result.
Also, don’t assume that service is improper without getting legal advice. In some instances, service by mail or serving papers on your 16 year old son or daughter when you are not home can be proper service. Continue reading »
02/6/17 8:14 AM
Business Law, Litigation, Other | Comment (0) |
What to Do When You Are Served with a Lawsuit
By Katherine M. Flett
Under the Bankruptcy Code, “lien stripping” allows a debtor to void a property lien “[t]o the extent that [the] lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim.” Lien stripping is based on the concept that a second claim must actually be secured by collateral of sufficient value to equal or exceed the amount of the secured claim. Section 506(a) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that claims which are only partially secured, or “underwater,” are to be split into two claims – one fully secured and one fully unsecured.
In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed an important question about lien stripping in Dewsnup v. Timm (1992). In Dewsnup, a Chapter 7 debtor sought to strip the unsecured portion of an underwater lien on her residence under Section 506(d). Specifically, the debtor wanted to reduce her debt of approximately $120,000 to $39,000, the value of the collateral securing her debt at that time. Relying on the statutory definition of “allowed secured claim” in Section 506(a), the debtor argued that her creditor’s claim was “secured only to the extent of the judicially determined value of the real property on which the lien [wa]s fixed.”
The Court rejected this argument, relying on policy considerations and pre-Code practice. The Court concluded that if a claim has been “allowed” under Section 502 and is secured by a lien with recourse to the underlying collateral, it does not come within the scope of Section 506(d). As such, the Court held that the debtor could not strip down the creditor’s lien to the value of the property because the creditor’s claim was secured by a lien and had been fully allowed under Section 502.
The Dewsnup Court defined the term “secured claim” in Section 506(d) as a claim supported by a security interest in property, irrespective of whether the value of the property would be sufficient to cover the claim. Under this definition, lien stripping is limited to “voiding a lien whenever a claim secured by the lien itself has not been allowed.” Dewsnup has been widely criticized as being contrary to the plain language of Section 506(a). Continue reading »
01/25/17 2:50 PM
Bankruptcy, Litigation | Comment (0) |
Lien Stripping in Bankruptcy after Caulkett
By A. Thomas DeWoskin
As most commercial attorneys in Missouri know, the previous Missouri statute governing receiverships, which was enacted in 1939 and consisted primarily of one sentence, provided very little guidance to attorneys, judges, or the parties involved. Missouri’s new receivership statute solves that problem. Effective August 28, 2016, and consisting of some 34 sections, the statute now provides guidance regarding the appointment of a receiver, the powers of a receiver, the rights and duties of the parties, and claim and distribution procedures.
A petition to appoint a receiver is now an independent cause of action. It does not need to be merely an “add on” request to some other claim the creditor has against the debtor. Receiverships can be instituted in order to dissolve an entity, enforce a lien, enforce a judgment, and other specific purposes, as well as any other situations in which the court may find a receivership appropriate.
Commencing a receivership is also a useful new way to resolve an ownership dispute or allow a majority shareholder to challenge a misbehaving management without destroying the business.
One of the most important improvements in Missouri’s receivership process is the requirement of notice to debtors. Continue reading »
01/9/17 1:26 PM
Bankruptcy, Business Law | Comment (0) |
Missouri Finally Has a New Statute Governing Receivers and Receiverships
By Laura Gerdes Long
Co-authored by Laura Gerdes Long and Katherine M. Flett
Our ever-evolving technological society is raising new questions about how to reconcile complex health data protection laws with cloud storage. Storage of data in the “cloud” allows users to store, maintain, and manage data remotely on the internet. Its advantages include accessibility of the cloud-stored data from any location via the internet, emergency back-up capacity, and even cost savings. An online search for HIPAA-compliant cloud storage companies reveals that there is no shortage of companies who advertise their “HIPAA-compliant cloud services.” It is important to remember that working with a company who claims their cloud storage “is HIPAA compliant,” does not excuse you from meeting HIPAA requirements. Due diligence is required when selecting such a company and entering into appropriate contractual arrangements with the companies.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) is responsible for overseeing protection of sensitive health data under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (“HIPAA”). OCR issued guidance on October 6, 2016, explaining how to safeguard electronic health information protected by HIPAA in today’s widespread cloud networking environment.
HIPAA applies to “covered entities,” and this article will focus on one such covered entity, the health care provider. Most health care providers do not perform all of their health care functions by themselves and instead often use a range of services offered by others, called “business associates” under HIPAA. Health care providers are permitted to disclose protected health information (“PHI”) to these business associates (“BA”) as long as they obtain satisfactory assurances that the BA will use the information only for the purposes for which it was engaged by the health care provider, will safeguard the information from misuse, and will help the health care provider comply with some of the health care provider’s duties under HIPAA, through the execution of business associate agreements.
Continue reading »
01/9/17 12:14 PM
Health Care, HIPAA, Technology | Comment (0) |
The Intersection of HIPAA and Cloud Storage
By Joseph R. Soraghan
The entrepreneurial press, indeed, even the popular press, is abuzz about regulation crowdfunding (i.e., investment crowdfunding), which became legal on May 16, 2016. And according to some advertisements (primarily by portals, the businesses which will provide the platforms for such crowdfunding), the fund-raising company does not need an attorney, although it would be “nice.” Rather, they say, or imply, small and large businesses with their portals can simply get on the internet to quickly fund their ideas and better the economy at the same time!
Do not believe either the buzz or the advertisements.
Regulation CF is Only a Small (Albeit Very Important) Part of the Applicable Law
Regulation crowdfunding (17 CFR Parts 200, et seq.)(“Reg. CF”) though it is a sea change from (some of) the rules governing entrepreneurial finance, it is not for everyone. Indeed, for most entrepreneurs it should be considered as a last resort only. (See, for example, “Regulation Crowdfunding; Is it Right for You?”, St. Louis Small Business Monthly, June 2016, p. 29.) Secondly, Reg. CF adds to the rules and required steps for legally raising capital , and thus creates even more of a need for the assistance of a lawyer.
That is, the only (albeit very important) change in the law is that now certain “general solicitation” is allowed to promote certain types offerings of securities. But not all general solicitation is allowed. (For example, much information which could be promulgated other than on the platform of a portal such as by newspaper or television is still illegal.)
Virtually all other regulations, statutes, laws – and judicial lore – applicable to raising capital prior to Reg. CF remain applicable and will be applied by securities regulators – and by attorneys for investors who lose money in their crowdfunded investments. The securities regulators, which have authority to prosecute suspicious offerings, have been opposed to and wary of investment crowdfunding since it was required by the JOBS Act in 2012, including Missouri (see, for example, “Kander Issues Investor Alert on Crowdfunding.”)
With the exception of allowing (limited) general solicitation, all the law (and the lore of the regulators and courts which developed since the Securities Act of 1933) still applies to all offerings, including crowdfunded offerings. So do the complicated rules and methods. For example: Continue reading »
12/15/16 8:34 AM
Business Law, Crowdfunding, Emerging Business, Securities Law | Comment (0) |
Investment Crowdfunding Requires an Attorney — with Long Securities Law Experience
By Brian C. Zaldivar
A federal district court in Texas has delayed the enforcement of the Department of Labor’s changes in overtime regulations.
In May 2016, the Department of Labor published a final rule that has caused a fury of scrambling amongst employers, in both the public and private sectors, to review their employee’s salary levels and exempt statuses. This final rule relates back to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or the “Act”), enacted in 1938, which set minimum wages and provided for overtime pay for hours worked above 40 in a week. Section 213(a)(1) of the Act, however, exempted overtime provisions for any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity. This is known today as the “EAP” or “white collar” exemption. The Act also gave the Department of Labor regulatory authority to “define and delimit” those exemptions.
The current regulations concerning the white collar exempt status, promulgated in 2004, required an employee to meet three criteria. First, an employee must be paid on a salary basis (the “salary-basis test”). Second, an employee must be paid at least the minimum salary level established by the regulations (the “salary-level test”). And third, an employee must perform executive, administrative, or professional duties (the “duties test”). See “It’s Almost Time: DOL Overtime Exemption Rules Effective Dec. 1, 2016” for more information on the current regulations.
The final rule, previously scheduled to be enforced December 1, 2016, revamped the white-collar exemption by increasing the salary-level test from $23,660 to $47,476. Any employee earning less than the new amount, but still paid on a salary basis and meeting the duties test, would be entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked above 40 in a week.
Employers had a few options to become compliment with the final rule and avoid paying overtime, most popular were: Continue reading »
12/2/16 10:40 AM
Business Law, Employment Law | Comment (0) |
Uncertainty Regarding the Department of Labor’s Salary and Overtime Regulations
By Katherine M. Flett
On May 25, 2016, Missouri Senate Bill 608 was passed by the Missouri House and Senate. The Bill adds new requirements to the provision known as the “Health Care Cost and Transparency Act.” Beginning July 1, 2017, the new law requires all licensed health care providers, facilities, and imaging centers to provide an estimate on the cost of a particular health care service or procedure within three business days of a written request from the patient, along with a medical treatment plan from the patient’s health care provider. The estimate must only include those services within the direct control of the health care provider and the amount that will be charged to a patient if all of the charges are paid in full by the patient, without a public or private third-party paying for any portion of the charge. Further, these provisions do not apply to charges for hospital emergency departments.
If health care providers provide publicly available links to the estimated costs or post such costs on a publicly available website, they are not required to provide cost estimates to patients upon written request.
Beginning also July 1, 2017, hospitals will be required to make publicly available the amount that would be charged, without discounts, for each of the 100 most prevalent diagnosis-related groups, as defined by Medicare. Continue reading »
11/29/16 9:43 AM
Health Care | Comment (0) |
New Requirements for Health Care Providers Under Missouri’s Health Care Cost and Transparency Act