Business and Real Estate Disputes
Business owners and real estate investors are not in the business of suing or being sued. However, when you do enough transactions or own enough real estate, disputes, lawyers, and lawsuits are an inescapable cost of doing business. If you find yourself in such a situation, we offer top-shelf legal services at a fair price.
Our hourly rate, based on our experience and rate of success, is $250 to $350 per hour for attorneys and $95 for paralegals. We require an upfront retainer based on the minimum time expected on your case. After the retainer is exhausted, we bill you monthly. From day one, we send monthly statements detailing our time and expenses on your case so you always know exactly where your money is going. We handle most business and real estate disputes on an hourly basis, but are open to considering contingency and blended-fee arrangements in certain situations.
With contract disputes, our process is similar in every case. First, we study the agreement to determine if its enforceable (there are many reasons why a contract or part of a contract might be unenforceable). To the extent the agreement is enforceable, we determine the parties’ obligations—what does the contract require of you and the other party. Second, we look at the default language to understand what happens when there is a breach. Lastly, we review relevant Georgia statutes and appellate cases to learn how previous disputes have been resolved. At the end of this process, we give you our unvarnished opinion regarding what outcome to expect if we go to court; we suggest a game plan to get you the best possible result; and we tell you how much we expect it’ll cost for us to handle your case.
Real Estate Disputes
We’ve litigated all kinds of real estate issues over the years, including alleys, adverse possession, prescription, boundary disputes, alley/private way disputes, quiet title actions, partition actions, slander of title, breach of purchase and sale contracts, breach of construction contracts, breach of promissory notes, breach of security deeds, nuisances, trespass, foreclosures, real estate commissions, refunds of earnest monies, breach of warranty deeds, and title insurance disputes. Every case is different and requires a different approach. We’re ready to go to court if necessary, but also advocate less aggressive approaches such as alternative dispute resolution. We’ll be happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and give you our opinion on how best to resolve your situation.
Business Dissolutions (Business Divorces)
Besides family, friends, religion, and health, your livelihood matters more than anything else. If you and your business partners can’t work together, you need to be ready to protect yourself. In a perfect world, the parties would sit down and coolly agree to an exit plan, but, much like a marital divorce, this oftentimes doesn’t happen. Because these breakups have a profound impact on your future, you need to get good legal advice. While we cannot undo this unfortunate situation, we can walk you through the process, help you negotiate a fair resolution, and, if necessary, aggressively protect your interests in court.
We work with individuals and business owners to maximize insurance recoveries. Our many years of dealing with insurance companies allow us to know how they tick, what they want to hear, and what they find persuasive to pay out top dollar on your claim. We’ll guide you through the roadblocks set up to discourage, confuse, and diminish payout. Our process is to gather evidence related the occurrence/incident, work closely with the adjustor, submit proofs of loss, respond to reservation of rights letters, obtain policy limits, write bad faith letters, make policy limits demands, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
We handle claims including commercial general liability, umbrella/excess liability, employment practices liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, builder’s risk, commercial property, homeowners, inland marine, jewelers block, disability, business interruption/loss, environmental claims, construction defect claims, commercial property losses, intellectual property claims, claims for punitive damages, disability and health claims, and malpractice.
An important part of successfully handling any insurance claim is to make sure the insurance company timely and fairly adjusts the claim. When this doesn’t happen, Georgia law has provisions to penalize insurance companies for acting in bad faith. These bad faith laws keep the insurance companies honest (or at least more honest). We make sure the insurance companies know that if they handle your claim unfairly, they will pay a price.
As a business or property owner, at some point you will get a notice of bankruptcy regarding a customer or a tenant. A bankruptcy stops all contact with the debtor and has a significant impact on future payment. Prompt action—including filing a motion for relief from stay and challenging the bankruptcy—is required to protect your interests. Bankruptcy law has many unforgiving deadlines and procedures, so please call so we can give you a summary of your options and what your next steps should be.
After working hard to get the business in the door and busting your rump to get the job done, you find out that your customer, for no good reason, is choosing not to pay you. This isn’t only upsetting, but negatively impacts your cash flow, your ability to serve your other customers, and even your ability to pay your own bills.
Our process is one we’ve perfected over many years. We send a demand letter to the debtor. If the debtor responds, we attempt to resolve the debt by payment or payments. We don’t discount the debt or accept payment without your written permission. If the debtor ignores our demand letter, with your permission, we file a lawsuit to recover principal, interest, and attorney’s fees. After filing the lawsuit, we regularly follow-up with the court until we get a judgment. Many clients, and even some attorneys, believe getting the judgment means winning the case. As a practical matter, however, a judgment is a just piece of paper that does not guarantee you’ll ever see a dime.
After a judgment is awarded, we record the judgment on the real estate records in each county where the debtor might own real estate or personal property. This creates a lien against the property and prevents the sale of the property without your debt being paid. Next, we do an internet search to find assets: where does the debtor live, what car does the debtor drive, and where does the debtor work. With your permission, sometimes we hire an investigator to uncover assets or find where the debtor works. If another person or business has money that belongs to the debtor (such as a bank or an employer), we file a garnishment to recover these monies. A employment garnishment is often the most effective collection tool because, monthly, you get paid up to 25% of the debtor’s salary until the judgment is paid. Lastly, Georgia law requires the debtor to respond to written questions (interrogatories and requests for production of documents) regarding his or her debts. If the debtor fails to respond, the court can fine and put the debtor in jail. Debtors cannot be put in jail for not paying a debt, but they can and have been jailed for not obeying a court order.
If you are owed a debt, please call us.
Wrongful Death Cases
Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
Real Estate Disputes