Archive for category Business News

Can You Stop Your Ex-Spouse From Competing Against Your Business?

While you were married, you and your ex were running a family business together. You win the business in your divorce, but your ex now opens a competing business right next door and is siphoning away customers from you.

Sound like an episode of Two and a Half Men? What’s a business owner to do?

Well according to a recent Massachusetts decision, a Probate Court judge can order the ex-spouse to not compete against you.

Here’s what happened: a husband and wife ran a feed and grain store while they were married. The wife’s a veterinarian. In their divorce, the judge awards the business solely to the husband.

The story gets a little sketchy from there: the trial judge found that the husband’s landlord then evicted his business from the premises. Then, the wife, with the help of her parents, opened up a competing feed and grain store in the exact same location.

In the divorce, the husband asked the judge to prohibit his ex-wife from running the competing business arguing that the value of the family business awarded to him was being diminished by the ex-wife’s activities.  But, the judge refused the request.

The Appeals Court cried “foul!” They held that a divorce court judge can order an ex to not compete in the family business. The reasoning has to do with the ‘good will’ of the business which is considered a valuable asset in the going concern. If the judge awards a family business to one spouse, then the judge can make an order that will protect the value of that business by prohibiting the other spouse from directly competing against it – a non-compete agreement.

Of course, such an order has to be reasonable and no broader than necessary to protect the good will, which means that the non-compete can’t be so strict and over reaching that it prohibits the ex from making a living.

This case is a first of its kind in Massachusetts and some divorce lawyers find the decision shocking. However, if you’re awarded the family business in a divorce, you’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to prevent the ex from opening up right next door to you.

To learn more about non-compete agreements and how they can affect your small business contact Attorney Andrew Garcia and Phillips Garcia Law here.

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Franchise Disclosure Document

Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law explains the importance of understanding the Franchise Disclosure Document when purchasing a franchise. If you would like to learn more about legal documents and business law contact Andrew, visit our website at www.phillipsgarcia.com or call us toll free at 888-449-5343.

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20% of Massachusetts Probate Judges Step Down: How does this affect your business?

Before the end of 2011, 20% of judges in the Massachusetts Probate Court will be stepping down. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports.

So what does this mean for my business?

With significantly less Probate Court judges, the Probate process will slow down dramatically, leaving your business in probate, following your death, for an extended period of time and in the hands of the remaining overwhelmed judges.

How do I pass down my business without being affected by the Probate Court?

Set up a Trust! Setting up a trust is the safest way to make sure your business is passed on in an orderly fashion.

Why a Trust and not a Will?

A Will “comes to life” when you die and passes your business on through the Probate Court System. A Trust, or “living trust,” “comes to life” when still alive and after your death while avoiding Probate Court.

Who can help me set up a trust to protect my business? We can! At Phillips Garcia Law we specialize in protecting business owners by helping them legally pass down their business in the safest and most precise way possible. Contact us using the Contact Form, call us at 508-998-0800, or email us at agarcia@phillipsgarcia.com. As always, you can find out more information on protecting your family and creating Trusts at our website, www.phillipsgarcia.com.

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Massachusetts Wage Law: Employer Pays Triple Damages for Failing to Follow the Law

A Massachusetts judge found that a Boston business violated the Massachusetts wage law when it deducted money from an employee’s weekly paycheck for a retirement contribution but then never deposited the wages into a retirement account. The judge then awarded triple damages of $25,814 plus attorney’s fees to be paid to the employee.

 The Boston real estate investment and development company had promised its employee that it would set up a retirement account into which the employee could make contributions. In December 2005, the employer began deducting money from the employee’s weekly paychecks. These deductions went on for at least two years.

 During those next two years, the employee made inquiries about the status of his retirement account and his funds, but the employer’s administrators ignored him. The judge found that the employer never bothered getting around to setting up the account and instead withheld the money. The amount of the weekly deductions over this time frame was $8,604.80.

 Sometime in the Spring of 2009, the company offered the employee a check for the $8,604, but as a condition for the money, the employee was to release any claims. The employee refused and then filed the lawsuit alleging that by withholding the money from his paycheck but not putting it into a retirement account, as promised, was a violation of the Massachusetts Wage law.

 There are lessons to be learned by all Massachusetts business owners by this case:

 First, the Wage Act states that an employer must pay an employee his wages within six days of the ending of the pay period during which those wages were earned. So, for example, if a weekly pay period is Monday through Saturday, then an employee must receive his wages by the following Friday. In this case, by withholding weekly deductions from its employee and not putting them into a retirement account as promised, the judge found the employer had failed to pay its employee within the six-day time period allowed under the law.

 Second, the Wage Act has very harsh penalties. Under the version of the Wage law adopted in July 2008, when an employee proves that the employer violated this section of the Act, then the court must award triple damages. It is mandatory. And, the employee is entitled to recover his attorney’s fees and expenses. So, in this case the judge multiplied the employee’s back wages of $8,604 by three and ordered damages of $25,814. The judge also allowed the employee to seek an award of his attorney’s fees and costs (that amount had not been decided as of the publication of this news story).

If you would like to learn more about Massachusetts Wage laws and your responsibility as a business owner, contact us at 508-998-0800 or email me at agarcia@phillipsgarcia.com. As always you can find out more at our website www.phillipsgarcia.com or scan the code above.

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Does Your Business Overpay for Commercial Auto Insurance?

Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, recently released a report following a review of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Automobile Insurers Bureau (AIB) stating that, since 2004, business owners have overpaid by $1 Billion for commercial auto-insurance. The statement followed a review by the Attorney General‘s office in which she responded with:

“These inflated commercial auto premiums impact virtually every industry in Massachusetts – from manufacturing, trucking, and construction to sales and services. The added costs limit the ability of businesses to invest in Massachusetts and cost Massachusetts residents thousands of jobs. The problem is especially acute for small businesses, who ability to create jobs is impaired by excessive rates.”

The report also narrowed down the dramatic sum to a yearly commercial auto-insurance overcharge of nearly $150 million, dating back to 2004, in which rates were high by at least 21.6%.

This stunning report proves that not only are Insurance Companies overcharging but many business owners are accepting this and choosing the wrong plans without learning the facts. Phillips & Garcia Law offers an extremely helpful Free Book on Auto Insurance which can help your business choose the correct and financially reasonable plan.

 

 

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Local Lawyer of Dartmouth Ma. Takes on Bank of America in California Federal Court

Local Dartmouth Ma. lawyer Andrew Garcia of Phillips & Garcia Law is currently flying over the continental United States on his way to California Federal Court to take on the largest American bank, Bank of America. Andrew’s trip is for a widely publicized illegal lock-out and trash-out case.

You can follow Andrew for updates on twitter.

Check out earlier discussions about illegal lockout and trash-out cases with Phillips & Garcia featured on the Today Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

For more information check out our website here. If you have a smartphone scan below.

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New Client Spotlight Featuring SouthCoast Carpet One

Owner Bryan Mailloux

Located at 1030 State Road, Westport Ma. SouthCoast Carpet One has been a leader in flooring supplies for 11 years.

Being a true pioneer in the industry and an environmentally conscious business, SouthCoast Carpet One has adopted an eco-friendly plan called The Green Select.

“Our Green Select initiative represents our commitment to making our environment better through our relationship with our communities, our customers, our suppliers and our employees. One key example is our Green Select Labels. We’re continually working with our vendors to produce flooring that meets our strict eco-friendly standards.”

Along with owner Bryan Mailloux’s economically efficient flooring plans SouthCoast Carpet One is partnered with thousands of mills, manufacturers and brands allowing them to posses enormous buying power getting you, the customer, exactly what you want. We have represented Bryan and SouthCoast Carpet One and I have personally purchased materials for my own project shown below.

I redid my counter-tops using Italian granite tiles and a stone backsplash. Bryan also supplied me with a very high quality professional thin-set material that’s not available in the “big box” stores. This is just one of the many ways that his SouthCoast business stands out against the big-box competitors.

As we do here at the Client Spotlight we asked Bryan a few questions about how his business was formed and his own background. What we found out was quite an interesting story.

Bryan had “fallen into the industry” after 4 years of service in the military. He was able to earn a degree in accounting and management where he took his skills to a CPA firm after his service had ended. At night Bryan was installing flooring equipment with a friend who he would later run a flooring store with for 10 years. After 10 years he left to become a wholesale flooring representative and 2 1/2 years later we has given the opportunity to “buy into Co-op Carpetone.” After years of exceptional service Bryan decided to expand his market and move into a new facility, where he currently operates, at 1030 State Road, Westport Ma.

Now in his 11th year as a business owner Bryan still spends every minute of his day and night dedicated to SouthCoast Carpet One. When asked what Bryan loved most about being a business owner he responded,

“BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN ACTIONS – KNOWING MY HARD WORK AND DEDICATION WILL (HOPEFULLY) BE REWARDED TO ME SOME DAY.”

Well, being an extremely satisfied customer myself, I can assure Bryan that through his endless dedication and quality of service “that day” is sure to come soon.

“WE TRY TO GIVE THE BEST POSSIBLE PRICE RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE.  ONE HAS TO BE WARY OF “NOT SO CLEAR” ADVERTISING – THE INITIAL OFFER OF A “LOW” PRICE ON MATERIAL MOST OFTEN INDICATES A VERY POOR QUALITY PRODUCT.  IF I AM INVESTING IN MY HOME I DO WANT THE BEST QUALITY PRODUCT THAT I CAN AFFORD.  PRICE OF THE ACTUAL PRODUCT IS ALWAYS ONLY ***ONE*** ISSUE IN THE PURCHASING PROCESS.  INSTALLATION, AFTER SALE SERVICE, WARRANTIES – WILL BE SACRIFICED IF JUST SHOPPING PRICE.  THE “BOTTOM LINE” FOR THE PRODUCT AND SERVICE AND HOW COMFORTABLE YOU FEEL WITH THE COMPANY YOU ARE DOING BUSINESS WITH SHOULD BE THE BAROMETER.”

To learn more about Bryan’s business check out his website here or stop by SouthCoast Carpet One at 1030 State Road, Westport Ma.

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