Latest Articles from Our Blog

How Small-Business Owners Can Reduce Slip & Fall Liability

How Small-Business Owners Can Reduce Slip & Fall LiabilityAs a small-business owner, you likely don’t have the deep pockets of a large corporation. If sued, you can’t pay out a hefty settlement and then just move on. One costly lawsuit may have the power to break you and your company. The good news is that Maryland is one of the few states that applies a principle called “contributory negligence” to personal injury claims. As opposed to the “comparative negligence” rule that most states follow, contributory negligence is more favorable to defendants. Basically, it means that in order to win compensation, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant is entirely responsible for the incident that led to injury. In comparative negligence states, the party being sued may be on the hook for some damages even if the plaintiff is found to be partly responsible for the accident. That said, it’s in your and your customers’ best interests to make…

Lusk Law Client Spotlight: 22 Karrots Health & Wellness Bar

At Lusk Law, LLC, we’re incredibly proud of the relationships we build with clients. We’ve had the pleasure of working with many business owners who are inspiring and forward-thinking individuals. One of our clients, Lauren Cross, recently launched a new business venture called 22 Karrots Health & Wellness Bar. Lauren is a juice junkie, health enthusiast and the perfect ambassador for the health-conscious and delicious offerings she’s serving to patrons in Frederick, Maryland. Lauren was kind enough to share with us her story and her business goals. Tell us about yourself and your business.  My name is Lauren, drawing from my roots in the Frederick community and my 10 years of business, project management, and accounting experience. My position at a leading accounting firm in Bethesda, MD, has propelled me to master critical skills, including the management of customers, vendors, and business partners, multitasking, resolving discrepancies and complaints, and much…

Buying a Business? Consider Getting an Attorney’s Help

Business litigation attorneyIt’s part of the DNA of any business: a desire to expand and take on new challenges. One time-honored way for a business to do that is to simply acquire another business. Or, rather, it may seem simple – but as with many transactions in the business world, there are complexities beneath the surface, and a smart business owner will not tread those waters alone. Know the Different Types of Business Purchases When structuring the sale and purchase of a business, there are two options: an asset purchase or a stock purchase. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and to make the right choice, you need to understand the implications of each type, including what is actually included in the sale under each structure and the tax implications of both. In an asset purchase, the buyer agrees to purchase certain assets from the seller, including things such as fixtures, equipment, licenses,…

An Introduction to the Discovery Process in District and Circuit Courts

business law and landlord/tenant lawIn a court of law, the facts of a case are weighed, then a decision regarding them is made based on applicable laws. Discovery is a step in the legal process that ensures that all of the evidence each party will use at trial, is shared with the other side, so both parties can fully prepare for trial with all relevant information. The general process is the same in both district and circuit court. However, the scope and depth of the inquiry, as well as the timeline for the discovery process, differs between the two. Knowing what to expect as you head through the legal process can help set your mind at ease and help assure the best outcome at every stage. Discovery in District Court Maryland's District Court is where all civil cases for claims under $5,000 are heard. For claims that are between $5,000 and $30,000, District Court shares jurisdiction…

Maryland Business Owners: Don’t Forget to File Your MD Personal Property Tax Returns

file your personal property taxesOne of the challenges of owning and operating a small business is making sure that you stay on top of all the filing deadlines required to keep everything in good standing with the state where you registered your company. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the legal authority to operate your business, and it will require time and money to make things right. In the Old Line State, one deadline that business owners need to pay attention to is the deadline for filing Maryland personal property tax returns. Here's what you need to know. The Good News: A Streamlined Assessment Process Other states have multiple local jurisdictions that handle the administration of personal property. But in Maryland, one single agency, the State Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT), handles everything other than real estate property, including office furniture, machinery and equipment, tools, inventory, and supplies. This is an advantage to…

Understanding a Tenant’s Right of First Refusal

Tenant's right to first refusalThe concept behind the right of first refusal is fairly straightforward: Contractually, it’s a right granted to Entity A to enter into a business transaction with Entity B before anybody else is able to. If Entity A decides not to take part in the transaction, Entity B is then free to negotiate with other potential buyers. Often, this concept appears in real estate transactions, where the seller grants a certain party the right to purchase a property before anybody else can. Many leases executed between tenants and landlords contain a right of first refusal clause. In Baltimore City, however, a tenant’s right of first refusal is on the legal books, established in Subtitle 6 of Article 13 of the Baltimore City Code. What does the law say? The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) maintains that “before title to any single-family residential rental property is voluntarily transferred, the tenant of…

Title or Deed: Which One Do You Need?

Real estate attorneyYou’ve been working for months on that complex real estate transaction, and it’s finally coming together. Just a little paperwork left to be completed, and you’ll be ready to receive the deed. Or wait—is it the title? Most of the public uses the two terms interchangeably, and in the public mind both words represent the same general concept: proof of ownership of a property. But in legal terms, “deed” and “title” have quite different meanings; and if you have any hope of making sense out of a real estate deal, you need to understand the distinction. Titles vs. Deeds When you own a property completely, it’s true that you will possess both the title and the deed. But there’s only one of those things that you can file away in a file cabinet. "A deed is a legal document used to confirm or convey the ownership rights to a property,"…

Why Is a Business Succession Plan So Important?

Business Succession planning attorneysFor many entrepreneurs, the present day is challenging enough. Starting and managing the day-to-day affairs of a business is a massive effort that can leave even the cleverest owners with little energy left to think about tomorrow. But every small business, sooner or later, will face the reality that its leader won’t be around forever. Planning for what happens after a founder moves on can mean the difference between success or failure for the business. The Second Generation—and Beyond The statistics are inarguable: Family businesses are an enormous part of the American economic landscape. Research has shown that family businesses account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation. But research has also shown that less than one-third of family businesses survive the transition from first- to second-generation ownership. Another 50 percent don’t survive the transition from…

How the Shutdown Impacted Small Businesses

Impact of the Government ShutdownAlthough Congress and the President appear to have reached an agreement to fund the government for a brief period while they work on other issues, a great deal of damage has already been inflicted. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees went without pay or without work for over a month, and many key agencies slowed or stopped their activities altogether. The ripple effects of the shutdown spread throughout the economy in ways both large and small. One key group impacted by the shutdown is small businesses which rely on smooth government operations so they can continue to run. Here are some of the ways the shutdown impacted these companies: Support Businesses: Small businesses often spring up in areas where large numbers of federal workers will utilize their services, especially in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington, DC, areas. Everything from diners/restaurants and coffee shops to office supply stores and delivery services lost…

How a Proposed Bill in Baltimore Would Impact Landlords, Renters

Where you live can make a big difference in how you and your children get on in the world. Better neighborhoods don't just have less crime and less environmental pollution. They also afford their residents access to higher performing schools, better quality stores, and higher-quality apartment amenities. This can mean more long-term opportunities for your children and a significant reduction in stress, which can lead to a healthy and longer life. That's why the city of Baltimore's Council Bill 18-0308, which Councilmember Ryan Dorsey introduced in December, 2018, is so important. This legislation proposes to end housing discrimination based solely on source of income. While prospective tenants can still be refused housing based on other factors, like rental history or criminal background, they cannot be rejected because their income falls below a certain threshold without government subsidy. Which Tenants Are Most Affected by Council Bill 18-0308? The bill could potentially affect…