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.

Bank Fraud, Phishing and Checksystems Case

Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords. The information is then used to access important accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss. Everyone makes mistakes. Customers make mistakes. Banks make mistakes. Statistics show that phishing generally occurs when someone least expects it. We have found that it is becoming more and more commonplace for online institutions to request sensitive information from customers in order to proceed with transactions.

Several of the institutions researched by this firm do this on a regular basis and legally work, on this basis, with large banks and financial institutions. So, as of 2018, a precedent has been set. While most “old school” customers would never give out sensitive information such as online banking user id’s and passwords, many younger customers are readily doing so for a number of reasons that include, but are not limited to, obtaining credit cards and loans. Simply put, the new “tech savvy” generation is more familiar with doing transactions online than simply approaching an established bank or lending institution.

In a recent case, a customer was approached by an online institution with an apparently known name and legitimate email address. Information was provided. The customer’s bank called days later and informed him or her that they were shutting down their account and reporting them to ChexSystems for fraud because several counterfeit checks had been deposited into their account by “mobile banking.” Chex Systems, Inc. (ChexSystems) is a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). ChexSystems’ clients regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts. ChexSystems provides services to financial institutions and other types of companies that have a permissible purpose under the FCRA. ChexSystems’ services primarily assist its clients in assessing the risk of opening new accounts. https://www.chexsystems.com. In this case, no investigation was made as to who actually committed the fraud and now the customer cannot open up any account at that institution ever again and also is blocked from opening up a new account with another bank. The customer had never even used mobile banking before.

Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are well versed in bank fraud litigation and phishing scams.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can assist you.

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