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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

Different types of probate litigation issues you may face

Probate litigation can be a tricky field for you to traverse by yourself. There are many unusual troubles that crop up surrounding probate litigation. We at The Jackson Law Firm aim to help you find your way by providing you with useful information.

You may be experiencing any number of different issues that can arise in the field of probate litigation. These issues can involve debt collection, ERISA benefit discrepancies, fiduciary misconduct, will contests and more. These are areas of the law in which you may find yourself struggling due to the unique aspects of it, or because probate litigation is not an often talked-about area of law.

Couple is over $25,000 in the hole after contractors bail

A breach of contract can happen in any business arrangement, which is a rather unfortunate reality that many people have to face. This includes agreements between a customer and a business, which is usually the case when people hire home renovators who are working on a contractual basis.

For example, one couple from Galveston is now involved in a contracting dispute in which they sued a general contractor over a case of home remodeling. They have claimed that both miscommunication and negligence are the fuel behind this suit, including negligent misrepresentation. The couple reportedly paid over $25,000 for a home remodeling job that was never finished. When they attempted to contact Demus L. Westmoreland of Galveston to work out the issue, he allegedly did not appear for any of the meetings.

Dealing with the potential of business dissolution

One of the hardest things that can happen to your business partnership is the potential of dissolution. However, there are some cases in which this is simply unavoidable due to various circumstances, and it therefore becomes imperative for you to know when to cut your losses and when to seek more professional means of dividing up your business.

Sometimes referred to as “business divorce”, dissolution is the ultimate outcome of irreconcilable differences between business partners. Whether it’s because you and your partner(s) have differing values, different models of business, different goals or different ideas of how your business should run, there may simply be some hurdles of opinion and thought that can’t be jumped. Over time, this could lead to you building up resentment toward your business partners which could end in you simply being unable to overcome any future challenges together.

How torts and business interact

The world of business is one that is filled with many potential hazards, making proper navigation a key component to success. In order to stay afloat, one must be aware of as many hazards as possible and know how to recognize them in order to avoid what can be circumvented.

Likewise, a person should be familiar with the terms that they may run across. One such term is tort. In short, a tort is a civil wrong in which the responsible party, called the tortfeasor, has caused undue damage, stress or loss to another party. This can be intentional or unintentional. It can also involve more than two parties, as is the case with tortious interference. Cornell University describes this as a situation in which the tortfeasor interferes with a contractual or business relationship. It can also include the tortfeasor involving a third party to scorn the plaintiff’s relationships.

How does employment law cover pregnancy in Texas?

When one of your employees becomes pregnant, you may have some concerns about whether she will be able to continue performing her job duties and if she’ll continue as an employee after the baby is born. It might seem easier and more beneficial to the business just to let the employee go, especially if complications arise during the pregnancy. However, there are laws in Texas that protect pregnant employees from discrimination and wrongful termination. It is usually in your company’s best interests to take the needs of your pregnant employee into consideration and attempt to reach a resolution that benefits all.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission's page on pregnancy rights, if you have more than 15 employees in your company, pregnant employees are protected by federal and state laws regarding pregnancy and discrimination. This includes the Family and Medical Leave Act if there are more than 50 employees in the business. Terminating a pregnant employee without reasonable cause could result in an unemployment claim or unfavorable business litigation.

Strong, unique trademarks are better protected from infringement

There are few things that can be as fun, exciting and creative for company executives as creating a business trademark, whether starting a new business or modernizing the look of an established company. Trademarks are arguably the most identifying feature of a business. A strong and unique trademark can help consumers identify a company at a glance, whether it’s a locally-known Texas supermarket chain or a nationally-recognized auto brand. 

However, just as with many other business aspects, trademarks can be copied or infringed upon. This is one reason why it’s important to establish a distinctive trademark that’s easily distinguished from others. To create a strong trademark (and to prevent accidentally infringing upon others), the International Trademark Association’s website provides several suggestions: 

  • Invent or coin a term for the trademark that has no meaning to other businesses or individuals.
  • Use a dictionary definition or phrase that is unrelated to the company’s services or products but creates interest.
  • Design a stylized symbol, pattern or letter that’s unlike others in the business world and can become easily recognizable or even iconic.
  • Search business directories and online for trademarks in the preferred region of business before settling on a design.
  • Be aware of local phrases and customs so that a trademark does not accidentally offend or confuse foreign customers. 

What is tortuous interference?

The definition of a tort, first and foremost, is a civil wrong that has caused unnecessary loss, grief or harm to another party. This creates a legal liability for the tortfeasor, or the person who has committed the tort. This definition applies to common law jurisdictions and can usually result in a lawsuit against the tortfeasor by the person who has suffered damages.

Torts have a common law in which there are different divisions of tort policy. This allows different situations to be handled separately and in accordance with their various needs. Tortious interference is also called intentional interference with contractual relationships, which is essentially the definition of this type of tort. It applies to both contractual relationships that may or may not be business related, and specifically business-related relationships that may not necessarily involve a contract.

Wage theft is increasing across the country

Several weeks ago, we discussed the passing of a wage theft ordinance in Houston that has inspired other Texas communities in dealing with a problem that has been increasing not only in Texas, but across the entire country. According to the National Employment Law Project, instances in which workers are being denied wages or benefits due by their employers are not as rare as people may think. Wage theft can include the following:

  • Paying an employee less than minimum wage

Owner of travel deals website sued for unfair competition

When starting a business that’s completely legitimate, business owners may not expect a lawsuit, but sometimes that’s exactly what happens. Business litigation can occur any time professionals in another company feel that their rights or interests are being threatened. This appears to be the case for a young New York City entrepreneur, whose online company helped people across the country, including in Texas, find the best deals on airplane tickets.

According to a lawsuit filed by United Airlines and Orbitz, the 22-year-old owner of Skiplagged.com is being accused of unfair competition. The website takes advantage of a strategy called “hidden city” ticketing that many frequent fliers have utilized for years. With hidden city ticketing, travelers take a flight with a layover at their actual destination and get off at the layover point. For example, a traveler who wants to disembark in Houston can buy a one-way ticket to Phoenix with a layover in Houston if it is cheaper than other flights.

Commercial real estate litigation can take many forms

When it comes to real estate, businesses often face more complex matters than contract signings and lease agreements. At The Jackson Law Firm, we understand the range of real estate issues that Texas business owners might have to deal with, and we know how to handle them.

Most of the time, the most complicated real estate problem that a company will have to face involves understanding the terms of a contract. This often includes property boundary definitions, the type of business that is to be conducted on the property, and lease payment and insurance terms. However, even routine contracts can be complex, and it may be in a company's best interests to seek outside counsel before signing.

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