Georgia Commercial Debt Collection: Attorney or Agency?

You have worked hard to build a thriving business and things are going great, but your margins just are not adding up.  Quick research yields that your business has a number of delinquent accounts on the books, and it is beginning to adversely affect your cash flow.  You make calls yourself, but just cannot seem to get these customers to pay, so now you look outward for help.  Your first major decision point is whether you hire a collection agency or a collections attorney.

With ever-increasing protections for debtors, the rules for creditors to collect debt have become stricter with more severe punishment for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, including monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and more.  No matter which party you ultimately choose, it is paramount that the collector operate on the right side of the law.  That said, both agencies and attorneys are operating under the same goal, which is to collect on the debt that you hired them to retrieve.  There do, however, exist differences in regards to how an agency attempts to collect a debt vs. efforts of an attorney.

Collection agencies will often take the same steps to collect as you did, using a multi-communications strategy to reach the debtor. This can include phone calls, letters and/or emails to retrieve what is owed you.  A collections agency can also file a credit report on your behalf.  The use of a third-party name can instill greater urgency within the debtor to pay and the collection agency has experience they can draw from to drive results.  An agency is a superior option when there is a large amount of accounts with a small delinquent balance to recover on.

A collection attorney could take similar steps and produce a different effect.  The largest difference in approach is that an attorney can also take a debtor to court on your behalf.  Retaining a Georgia collection attorney holds more weight and authority since it signifies that legal action may be imminent.  If court becomes necessary, a judgment in your favor opens up alternative methods to collect the money owed, such as wage garnishing, tax liens, and income collections that are not available through agency collection.

You may still not get the entire amount owed to you, but you now have other ways to recoup at least a portion of the funds.  Collection Attorneys are the clear choice when there is a large delinquent debt that would incur significant hardship on the creditor should the delinquency carry on.  This is because an attorney can pursue the matter beyond credit reporting and phone calls, compelling the payment of the debtor through the court system.

Hiring a law firm specializing in debt collection has many advantages.  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are qualified in the State of Georgia to collect debts on behalf of their clients.  We can save you time, money, and frustration because prior to any collection action, we evaluate the legal merit of your claim, including statutory and evidentiary review.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you and your organization today!

Lawyers Kennesaw GA

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The Lawyers Kennesaw GA foundation of our administrations rests in our relationship-focused methodology, where we devote ourselves to our associations with every individual customer. This enables us to not just take in their experience, current conditions, and legitimate issues, yet in addition to center around the master plan future. By utilizing this methodology, we’re ready to give legitimate administrations and advising that is proactive in nature, giving us bits of knowledge into future issues that may emerge and to guide our customers on the best way to continue in the present to set the phase for accomplishing their future objectives without extra time and costs that originate from backtracking and roll out improvements to encourage development later on.

Regardless of whether our customers come to us for a value-based issue or a suit matter, our Lawyers Kennesaw GA specializes in legal matters with a view towards straightforwardness and reasonableness. As you may see all through our site, the expression “inventive and sane methodology” shows up, strengthening our central goal to use out of the container considering and blending it with objective, well ordered arranging that enables our customers to accomplish ideal outcomes.

We esteem every last one of our customers, from those requiring individual administrations, to huge multi-million dollar companies. We’ll never hold back on time and consideration or be diverted by a greater case. At the point when lawyers Kennesaw GA work with you, we’re centered around you, and just you. We’ll never “over-legal counselor” our customers by appointing such a large number of Kennesaw lawyers to one case and charging absurd hours for our own particular advantage. By understanding our customers and requiring some serious energy in the underlying gatherings to evaluate their necessities, we balance our opportunity and endeavors to splendidly coordinate each issue. Lawyers Kennesaw GA

Our relationship-based methodology has satisfied for customers all things considered and we have the tributes to demonstrate it.

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By taking fastidious consideration with regards to little subtle elements, we can spare our customers important time and cost and give them genuine feelings of serenity. We know how distressing lawful issues can be and we intend to lessen worry for our customer’s by doing giving the administrations that we cherish—in light of the fact that while lawful issues can be a bad dream for those working through them, our group of experts Lawyers Kennesaw GA lives for the little points of interest and each customer win.

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Utilize Lawyers Kennesaw GA “Early and Often”

We’ve heard it many occasions—customers wish they had come to us sooner for help. Legitimate issues can be scary on the best of days and numerous either put off lawful insight too long or work to address the issues without proficient help. This can be a characteristic reaction to an unpleasant circumstance, yet with regards to getting a lawful issue dealt with rapidly and viable, an exceedingly qualified legitimate group can advance in and cover things up while our customers return to concentrating on the vital everyday exercises, regardless of whether it’s in their own or expert lives.

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Lawyers Kennesaw GA Private Clients

The heft of our work for private customers includes the production of wills, bequest arranging and senior consideration arranging. This is a novel time in American history, where we’re seeing inconceivably high numbers inside the maturing populace as Baby Boomers are achieving retirement age. Many are woefully underprepared and underinformed with regards to making wills and domain designs, and building up preemptive senior consideration making arrangements for themselves or their friends and family.

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We additionally offer a grouping of other legitimate administrations not recorded on our site. For more data on those administrations, or to get a meeting on a specific legitimate issue you confront, get in touch with us specifically at our Atlanta or Kennesaw workplaces.

Business Clients

Our business customer administrations make up the greater part of our work, halfway because of the ascent of business visionaries and the complexities of business law—and in part since we’re energetic about observing organizations prevail in their picked industry.

From new companies to organizations in more develop positions in their business life cycle hoping to extend their development through mergers and acquisitions and land, we offer a scope of administrations to meet all business related lawful needs. Our lawyers are top in their fields with long stretches of experience handling government and state controls to help our customers in meeting their business objectives.

Our Kennesaw lawyers have the most elevated scholastic certifications and are very much regarded in their fields. Every colleague expansive legitimate understanding and are focused on brilliance in giving lawful administration. We esteem the strictest expert morals at Thrift and McLemore Lawyers Kennesaw GA, and every colleague a profound energy for our relationship-based methodology, customer achievement, and building enduring associations with customers by giving the most abnormal amounts of customer administrations and fulfillment.

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Practice Information

  • Antitrust and Trade Regulation
  • Breach of Contract
  • Business Disputes
  • Business and Commercial Law
  • Buying and Selling a Business
  • Charitable Giving
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Condominiums and Cooperatives
  • Contested Wills or Probate
  • Contract Drafting and Review
  • Corps, LLCs, Partnerships, etc.
  • Drafting Wills and Trusts
  • Eminent Domain or Condemnation
  • Environmental Law
  • Estate Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • False Advertising
  • Foreclosures
  • Franchises and Franchising
  • Government Contracts
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Landlord and Tenant
  • Mechanic’s Liens
  • Mortgages
  • Nonprofits
  • Property Tax
  • Purchase and Sale of Residence
  • Real Estate and Property Law
  • Title and Boundary Disputes
  • Unfair Competition
  • Warranties
  • Zoning, Planning and Land Use

Defending a Mechanic’s Lien in Georgia

Hiring a contractor for a home remodel or repair can be at the same time a rewarding and troublesome experience.  On one hand, finally updating that kitchen that looks twenty years overdue is an exciting notion.  On the other, no two contractors are created equal, and often times it seems like most people make the wrong choice.

So what happens when a contractor does a subpar job on your home project, but still expects payment even though it may not be what you contracted for?  Negotiating with the contractor to complete to expectations is one option and negotiating the price down another, but what happens when the two sides simply do not see eye to eye?

All too often in these cases, the contractor files a Mechanic’s Lien on the homeowner’s property.  This legal mechanism offers the contractor a “security” in the home to compel payment by the homeowner.  The lien works to effectively cloud the title in the home, and the law requires that the lien be resolved before the homeowner transfers title of the property.

This legal mechanism works as intended when a contractor successfully delivers on a project for a homeowner and that homeowner simply is not willing to pay.  Other times however, innocent homeowners find themselves battling a lien when it was the contractor who did not meet the terms of the contract.

Although this is never something to look forward to, the filing of a lien does not automatically mean that you must pay the contractor what they demand.  Lien law in Georgia can be quite complicated, and often times these liens are not filed in a manner in which they attach to the property.  If you have recently become aware of a lien filed on your property, check to ensure that all of the following requirements have been satisfied through the filing of the lien:

  • The builder provided the homeowner a preliminary lien notice within a specified number of days of beginning work or delivering materials
  • The mechanics’ lien contained a minimum amount of detail about the debt (the amount, the scope of the services for which payment is due, the homeowner’s name and address, and so forth)
  • The lien was filed with the local county court or registrar of deeds within 90 days of the completion of work.

If these elements are not satisfied, then the lien is void.  If the lien filer did follow all of these steps, their work is still not done.  In order to perfect the lien, or have it fully attach to the property, the filer must commence suit within 365 days of filing the lien.  A failure to do so automatically voids the lien.  Let’s assume that the contractor satisfies all of these steps, now what?

When a contractor commences suit to perfect the lien, it operates similarly to any other lawsuit.  There is a complaint filed, and the defendant is allowed time to answer.  Then commences discovery and the actual hearing.  This presents both sides with another opportunity to settle the matter outside of court, however at this stage it is likely that both parties are entrenched in their position, and the contractor has paid considerable money in the enforcement of the lien by this stage.

By disputing the claim in the lien, you are effectively stating that what the contractor claims is not true.  Was the quality of workmanship subpar, were the materials not the same as agreed upon, or did the contractor not meet other material provisions of the contract?  It is advised that you retain all documentation pertaining to the contract and speak with a qualified attorney who can advocate on your behalf to protect your rights.

If you are experiencing a lien issue on your home and the contents of the lien are under dispute, give us a call!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have many years’ experience in both filing and defending liens, and will fight to get you the recourse that you deserve.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150.

Suing for Latent Defects in a Home Purchase in Georgia

Purchasing a home may be one of the most rewarding, yet terrifying transactions that a consumer can make in their lifetime.  It is universally understood for many of us that it is the single largest purchase we will ever make.  A commitment this large can make even the most self-assured buyer uneasy. 

Obvious defects in a home are not as worrisome in this case, as cracked walls and non-working electricity are straightforward to diagnose.  Issues that are less obvious are the ones that keep the would be purchaser up late at night.  These issues are referred to as “latent defects”.  Latent defects are those problems with property that are not visible to the naked eye.  These issues can be wide ranging, like asbestos in older homes, corroded piping that leads to a plumbing leak, or carbon monoxide leaking into the home.

In Georgia, like many states, the seller is required to provide disclosures of all known defects, obvious or not.  The purpose is to inform the cautious buyer of any issues that they may incur, and to avoid purchasing a home with such defects that they will have to fix.  Of course, while this is the law, this is not always followed to the extent a purchaser would like.

What happens when you have bought a home, only to find that latent defects exist and the seller failed to inform you?  While it is an uphill battle, you certainly do have options.  While you cannot seek remedy from everyone involved, there are a select few parties you can seek recourse from:

The Seller – As mentioned above, the seller in Georgia is required to provide disclosures on the home.  This disclosure requires the seller to provide a list of defects on the home that they are aware of, but may not be obvious.  While a seller may later deny that they knew about this, patchwork on drywall found after purchase where a leak has formed is an obvious sign that the seller knew there was an issue.

The Sellers agent – similar to the seller, the agent must disclose when asked of any defects on the home, and while their duties are limited, depending on the circumstances they may be on the hook as well.

The home inspector – While Georgia does not require inspections on the purchase of a home, a prudent purchaser will always have one conducted.  The inspector is a trained individual, who is well versed in home construction and accordingly has a higher aptitude for uncovering these issues.  Depending on the issue, a home inspector may be liable for missing it in their inspection of the home.

So now, you have a latent defect, and there is a responsibility for the parties that have not been met, but do you have a case?  There are certain conditions that need to be met before you can proceed. 

Was the defect there before you bought the home?  General wear and tear on the home is not actionable if the loss merely occurs under your ownership, however if the condition was pre-existing then you should be ok to proceed.  Is it a non-obvious defect that was not disclosed, but a prior party was aware of?  In the example above, plumbing may not always be an obvious issue, but if you later find steps have been taken to repair and conceal, and you relied on the non-disclosure of those parties, this condition will have been met.  Finally, the harmed purchaser must prove damages.  Is there an actual cost of repair, or a decrease in the home’s value as a result of the defect?  This will be what your claim in a lawsuit amounts to.

There are a number of legal theories that you can bring against the responsible parties depending on the situation.  It is recommended to review your case with a qualified attorney beforehand to ensure you are bringing an action on the correct theory.  Some of these claims include failure to disclose, negligence, fraud, breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligent misrepresentation.

If you have recently purchased a home and discover a latent defect, but are unsure of your options, give us a call!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys pride themselves on their expertise in the real estate law arena and will fight to get you the recourse that you deserve.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150.

Please join Thrift & McLemore at the National Automotive Finance Association’s 23rd Annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference

The National Automotive Finance Association’s 23rd Annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference will be held June 5 – June 7, 2019, at the Renaissance Dallas Plano Square.  This event is recognized as the premier non-prime auto financing conference. Program content is developed by the Association’s board and member companies, assuring relevant and timely topics. In addition to comprehensive programming developed for the auto financing community, this year’s program will again include sessions of general interest to all participants in the industry. Finance company and bank representatives at all organizational levels and auto dealer principals are encouraged to attend.

Statutory Close Corporations in Georgia – What are they good for anyway?

In creating a legal entity in Georgia, one would be understandably confused at the many possible variations in structure that are available to him or her. For validation, look no further than the numerous forms that a Corporation can take on. Many avoid a corporation because they feel that the formalities involved are too cumbersome, that this type of organization is reserved for the fortune 500 companies that trade daily on Wall Street. While part of this assumption is true, the other part is that many small businesses do not need avail themselves of the corporate form due to the perceived formalities that come with it.

Lawyer Atlanta GA

Enter the Statutory Close Corporation. Created pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 14-2-902, the Statutory Close Corporation is a corporation with fewer than 50 shareholders that includes a statement in its articles of incorporation that it elects to be a statutory close corporation. This corporate form introduces an element of “simplicity” that would benefit a smaller organization as compared to its fortune 500 counterparts.

By adopting the close corporate form, sole proprietors and partners who wish for the benefits and protections of a corporation can do so without all of the formality that comes with it. For example, a close corporation, at its election, can do away with the creation and maintenance of a Board of Directors. Many small organizations with ownership split among a select few will have no need for a formalized board, because they as owners are acting de facto in that capacity already. Additionally, with no uninterested shareholders to appease through quarterly meetings, there is no need to conduct an annual shareholders meeting and record meeting minutes, which come at a cost.

The close corporation also tends to streamline efficiencies and decision rights for the small operator. One of these efficiencies comes in the form of a simple “right of first refusal” requirement between shareholders. While a traditional corporate form is susceptible to proxy voting and corporate takeovers, when discord occurs within a close corporation, shareholders have the option to simply buy one another out. This can all vary when involving disparate ownership and limiting agreements, but holistically, this promotes business continuity within the corporation.

A Statutory Close Corporation is not the only option either, as there are competing corporate forms that provide similar benefits, such as the Limited Liability Company. It may seem that a corporation is an overly formal entity that has no place in small business, but it is possible to take advantage of the corporate form without the complexity and cost that comes along with it.

If you are looking into corporate formation in Georgia and find yourself intimidated by the many options available, reach out to us today! Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys can help you make an informed decision about the best corporate form for your new Georgia business. Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150.

Thrift & McLemore Receives 2019 Martindale-Hubbell Platinum Client Champion Award

Thrift & McLemore is to pleased to announce that we have received the 2019 Martindale-Hubbell Platinum Client Champion Award. The 2019 Martindale-Hubbell Platinum Client Champion Award recognizes those attorneys and law firms who excel at service as affirmed by their clients.  Thank You!

Learn more by visiting https://www.martindale.com/organization/thrift-mclemore-llc-158754093/.

Home Owners: Obtaining Recourse in Georgia from a Failed Home Inspection

Whether you are purchasing your first home or your fiftieth, one of the most important steps in the purchase process is hiring a home inspector.  This inspector will be the one to tell you whether the dream house you recently went under contract on is structurally sound, or contains issues that no longer qualify it as a dream home at all.

Most of us rely on these inspectors to catch every minor detail; after all, that is why you hired them in the first place!  However, what do we do when we have done our research, hired the best inspector we can find, yet defects in the home are still missed?  After all, there is nothing worse than an inspection stating the home you just purchased is in great shape, only to move in and find out that your foundation needs emergency repair, at a great cost.

In the state of Georgia, before immediately taking your grievance to the home inspector, you may have a better claim against the seller.  Although Georgia follows the mantra of “Buyer Beware”, there is a general duty in the state to disclose to would be buyers known defects within the house, especially if they are not easily discoverable.  Sellers could face liability to the buyer for failing to disclose these material defects, so long as it is provable that the defects were known.

Assuming that the seller was not aware of the defect, or there is no proof of fraudulent concealment on their part, then you can look to the home inspector for relief.  There are two general theories to obtain relief from a home inspector from a botched inspection.  Outlined below, these theories are Negligence and Breach of Contract.

Negligence, in any area of the law is generally the failure to act as a reasonable person as someone similarly situated would do.  In this case, if a different home inspector catches the issue at hand (which can be proven by getting a second opinion), then the original home inspector can be found negligent.  The state of Georgia requires all home inspectors to go through in depth training in order to be licensed, so lack of training is no defense.  One thing to consider is that the inspector is only liable to defects within the scope of the inspection.  If the house does not have running water on the day of inspection, the inspector cannot be liable for defects regarding the plumbing in the home.

Breach of Contract becomes a viable claim when the contract that you entered into with a home inspector contains language that you believe was clearly violated.  This could arise when you specifically negotiated to include tests for lead based paint, the inspection came back clean, and you later find evidence pointing to lead based paint in your home.  If you have a contract in writing with the inspector to perform any review, and you can prove that the review was never in fact completed, this would be the proper avenue for legal recourse.

Assuming that you have a valid claim based on the two legal theories above, there are still items to consider.  The home inspector may have inserted a waiver into the contract called an exculpatory clause.  This clause is common among home inspectors, and generally serves to limit liability in the event that defects in the home are uncovered after inspection.  Instead of being on the hook to replace a whole roof, they may simply attempt to refund the home inspection fee.  They may also have an arbitration or mediation provision, which would make it more difficult to file a lawsuit as a first step.

In summary, a failed home inspection in Georgia does not always leave the buyer out in the cold.  There are several avenues to recover losses in the instance that your home inspection did not uncover material defects in your home.  If you are not sure whether you have an actionable case, you should consult with an attorney before taking any action.

If you have questions regarding a home inspection gone wrong, give us a call!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have represented Georgia home buyers seek legal recourse for defects in their homes not caught by the home inspection.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you today!

Atlanta Braves File Suit Against Local Taxi Company for Trademark Infringement

Credit – Ricky Leroux – Marietta Daily Journal

Credit – Ben Brasch – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A local Marietta based taxi company, Braves Taxi, who carries a logo closely resembling that of the Atlanta Braves baseball team has found itself on the opposite side of a lawsuit for federal trademark infringement.  The suit filed November 1, 2018 states that the services is using, “identical and confusingly similar iterations of the Atlanta Braves’ trademarks” on its vehicles.”

The complaint goes on to state that “(Braves Taxi is) intentionally freeriding on the success and popularity of the Atlanta Braves by brazenly copying the Atlanta Braves’ trademarks in an effort to dupe unwitting fans or other Atlantans into believing the taxi company is owned by, associated or affiliated with or sponsored or endorsed by the Atlanta Braves.”

It is worth noting that the taxi company’s logo includes typeface identical to that of the (ball club) Brave’s logo as well as a tomahawk.  The attorney for the company, Braves Taxi, has so far denied many of the allegations according to court filings.

The original complaint states that the taxi company started operating “virtually in the shadow of SunTrust Park.”  Records show, however, that the taxi company has been registered with the state since 2015, and in business long before that in the area surrounding the current Braves stadium.  Many argue that they were in the area long before the Braves made their way to Cobb County.

The Braves further argue in their filing that the company is “inflicting irreparable harm to the goodwill symbolized by the Braves’ marks.”  They also mention potential harm to their extensive sponsorship agreement with Uber to provide all ride sharing to and from the stadium.  Federal court cases can take years to resolve; it is expected that this will be completed sometime in late 2019.

Do you operate a business and have concerns as to whether or not you are unwittingly engaged in trademark infringement or some other legal offense?  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys can help you to ensure that you are at all times on the right side of the law.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150.

Purchasing a Franchise in Georgia as a Career Change

We recently stated on our blog that 1 in 7 businesses in the U.S. operate as a franchise.  It makes sense, as anyone with a healthy amount of working capital can purchase an interest in a turnkey operation and simultaneously become their own boss.  Also recently, Forbes published an article titled, “Laid off, Why Now Could be the Best Time to Franchise.”  It offered a fresh take on what is surely a devastating time in anyone’s life, and suggested an opportunity to spurn working for someone else, and go into the business of yourself.

 

While I would caution anyone who recently lost their job against haphazardly disregarding the years spent advancing in their given field, and honing the specific skill sets acquired, the article does present the reader with some compelling points for evaluation.  What was the level of satisfaction with the prior career?  What is the reader’s age and/or opportunities for continued advancement?  Will employment be easy to obtain, or was the layoff a product of a larger industry shift?

While the article focused on the finer points in franchise ownership, before committing to a newfound career in franchise operations, it is important to evaluate all factors to ensure that this will be a good fit.  The would-be franchisor must first assess things critically, such as their financial position, business acumen and skillset, business and personal goals, and the type of franchise that would do well in the local marketplace.

The first, and arguably most defining factor involved is the franchisee’s access to capital.  All franchises carry an initial franchise fee.  This is how the franchisor makes money, and is typically in addition to royalties on continued financial success.  Without access to this capital, which can typically run up to $1,000,000 for the most established franchise models, the would be franchisee will not be able to make it past the application phase

The second factor involves the skillset and goals of the individual purchasing the franchise.  Perhaps you are an accountant, and possess the business knowledge to keep the entity profitable, but you hate the smell of fast food.  Similarly, if you are allergic to animals then a pet sitting franchise may not be in your best interest.  Luckily, there are resources designed to match potential owners with available franchises that provide the best fit.

The final factor, and arguably the most important of them all, is the preparation and execution of purchasing a franchise.  The purchase of a franchise is a detail intensive process with many agreements and legally binding documents.  It requires a complete understanding of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and the Franchise Agreement with the entity you will be franchising with.  While Franchises are regulated under Federal law, there are differences from state to state, with Georgia being no different.

If you are considering a career change into franchise operations, and would like help understanding the critical elements of the process, please reach out to us.  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys will assist you in every phase of the agreement, and provide critical reviews along the way.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you today!

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