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What is the MD Consumer Protection Act – And How Does it Affect You?

If you live in Maryland and have been the victim of an unscrupulous landlord, service provider, or seller of consumer goods, you have a powerful tool to help you fight back and win restitution: The Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Created in 1973 to protect citizens against unfair and deceptive business practices and “restore an undermined public confidence in merchants,” the legislation is designed to “set minimum statewide standards for the protection of consumers” with the recognition that existing laws were “inadequate, poorly coordinated and not widely known or adequately enforced.” More specifically, the CPA strives to offer “strong protective and preventive steps to investigate unlawful consumer practices, to assist the public in obtaining relief from these practices, and to prevent these practices from occurring in Maryland.” Realizing you’ve been duped or scammed is frustrating, embarrassing, and can cost you money that you can’t afford to lose. Call the skilled…

Minimum Standards of Care for Animals

Domestic animals are completely dependent on their human caretakers for food, shelter, medical care, and their overall health and happiness. If they are being abused or neglected, they can’t speak up, and they don’t have recourse to improve their quality of life. We understand that as the proprietor of an animal-based enterprise, you face the same challenges as any small business, and then some. Whether you’re a farmer, veterinarian, dog walker, trainer, groomer, or pet boarder, you have to juggle the needs of customers, employees, and the animals in your care — all while watching your bottom line. The well-being of your charges is paramount. In Maryland criminal code 10-604, the state defines the minimum standard of care that every animal is entitled to receive. Attorney Rebekah Lusk not only knows animal and equine law inside and out, she runs a horse farm and boarding facility herself, giving her valuable…

5 Steps Businesses Should Take to Reduce the Threat of a Lawsuit

It’s an unpleasant part of doing business, but it’s an increasingly common one: If you’re a business owner, you may very well find yourself facing a lawsuit. In fact, a recent poll found that 43 percent of small-business owners in the U.S. have been threatened with or involved with a civil lawsuit. And as luck would have it, the U.S. legal system is the world’s most costly. A report by the Small Business Association Office of Advocacy found that the cost of litigation for small firms can range up to $130,000. That’s a big bill for a small business trying to make ends meet. As a business owner, you might be sued by one of your customers, accusing you of providing faulty goods or services or claiming to have been injured on your property. You might also be sued by employees claiming, for example, discrimination or other breaches of HR policy. Prepare Now to…

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…

What is the Impact of Low Unemployment on Small Business Owners?

Low unemployment numbers are great for the economy, but not always for small business owners. In late 2018, unemployment numbers in the United States dropped to 3.7 percent. According to a report from NPR, this was the lowest point in nearly 50 years. This means more Americans are working abd putting more money into the local economies. This is beneficial to business owners, because more money in the local economy means customers and clients have more to spend with businesses. But for small business owners considering making a hire, this lower unemployment number also means that the pool of available employees is shrinking. Here is what today’s business owners need to understand about the mixed blessing of low unemployment. Many Small Businesses Concerned About Filling Available Positions A strong economy means growth for small businesses, and with growth comes a need to hire additional employees. In a recent survey, 29 percent of…

New Insight for Women Entrepreneurs

New Insight for Women EntrepreneursIf you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses, women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, SCORE notes, that number is rising. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned businesses rose 45 percent—five times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SCORE recently released the results of a wide-ranging survey of more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs. The report, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” contains several key insights on the unique opportunities and challenges these business owners face. Why did these women start their businesses? They reported many different motivations, such as open opportunities, family considerations, job changes, and financial necessity. One interesting detail is how the reasons differed for each age demographic. Most of the women surveyed under age…

What You Need to Know If You Run a Horse Boarding Facility

Maryland has many protections, regulations, and guidelines regarding the care of horses. Several of these directly impact owners of horse boarding facilities. As a boarding facility owner, it is crucial that you understand your obligations under the law. Whether you are running a large-scale horse operation, are just only one boarder to help defray your horse expenses, giving lessons, have a horse rental service, or are a rescue or stable sanctuary in the state of Maryland, you are required by law to be licensed through the Maryland Horse Industry Board. (Additionally, a few counties have further licensing requirements for boarding facilities.) Regulations Affecting Horse Boarding Facilities The MHIB requires that each horse be provided with shelter that is clean, dry, well-ventilated (but not drafty), and protects the horse from inclement weather. The stables and surrounding areas must also be kept neat and orderly and in good repair. This includes making sure…

Client Spotlight: Media to Memories

We regularly highlight one of the community’s promising businesses in our Client Spotlight. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Media to Memories, LLC.Lusk Law, LLC, serves a wide array of business clients. We regularly highlight one of the community’s promising businesses in our Client Spotlight. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Media to Memories, LLC. Media to Memories is a photo-organizing business based in Severna Park, Maryland, that helps people organize, archive, and display their photos in such a way as to make them more enjoyable to view. Owner and lead memory organizer Kristy Stephens came up with the idea to start her business when she sat down to work with her family photos to create her family’s annual yearbook. “I was amazed by how many photos my family of three took in one year,” said Stephens. “We had taken well over 3,000 photos and videos in just one year.” This was when she realized that she had so many photos and videos that it was unrealistic that her family would be…

City Council Bill Enhances Requirements for Baltimore Landlords

City Council Bill Enhances Requirements for Baltimore LandlordsBaltimore City Councilman Bill Henry introduced a bill this year that would require licensing and inspection of all private rental properties. Currently, landlords with one- and two-unit rental properties are exempt from those requirements, but those are the properties that most often are the subject of tenant complaints. Mayor Catherine Pugh signed the legislation on May 7, so the new law becomes effective in 2019. Provisions of the Law The new law establishes a three-tier licensing structure: Landlords whose properties pass initial inspections or who promptly repair violations may be licensed for three years and subject to inspection every three years. Landlords whose properties have lingering violations may be required to submit to inspection every year or every two years (depending on the severity and nature of the violations) in order to renew their licenses. Pros and Cons of the New Law Supporters of the legislation say it’s a long-overdue…

Women Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Coming Decades

Maryland Small Business LawyersThe concept of “the glass ceiling” in business seems to be fading away – female entrepreneurs predict big changes in the next 20 years that will put them on par with, or ahead of, their male counterparts. These findings come from the 2017 Bank of America Women Small Business Owner Spotlight. For this year’s annual study, researchers gathered input from 1,022 small business owners – 375 of them, women – that employ two to 99 employees and have annual revenue of $100,000 to $4,999,999. Here are some highlights of this year’s survey: 66 percent of women think that by 2037, female-owned businesses will outnumber men-owned businesses. A recent survey found 40 percent of new entrepreneurs are women, so it seems likely that female business owners could easily outnumber male business owners in the next 20 years. Similar to a lower representation of women in the business field are women in…