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Are You Owed Money? When You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney to Help

Are You Owed Money? When You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney to HelpIn a perfect world, every client, tenant, member of the supply chain, or debtor would pay their bills on time. When they don’t, businesses often expend a lot of effort trying to collect on unpaid debts, and the longer a debt is unpaid, the harder it becomes to collect. You may not need an outside assistance with collection if you run a large company with the resources to pursue delinquent debtors. Most small businesses, however, can’t afford for their bookkeeper or small accounting staff to devote time to collections. If you’re struggling to collect unpaid debts, it may be time to hire an outside help. Debt Collection Agency or Attorney? Hiring a debt collector costs money, of course, but that’s a preferable alternative to collecting nothing on the outstanding debt. Collection agencies usually charge a flat fee on any debt they collect. So, if your debtor owes you $10,000, and…

Protect Yourself From Unfair Contracts

Maryland Business Contract LawyerAs a business owner, you will enter into a number of contracts – leases, supplier agreements, employment contracts, and more. You want to ensure that any contract you sign is fair and offers you some legal recourse, should a contract dispute arise. But it’s equally important to make sure you don’t inadvertently create unfair or illegal contracts yourself. The following is an overview of how to avoid signing or creating an unfair contract. Maryland Contract Basics Maryland law recognizes five basic components of a contract: Competent parties – Adults who are mentally capable of understanding the terms of the contract Offer – The proposal by a party to take an action and/or pay for goods or services Acceptance – Approval of the terms and conditions of the offer, as may be evident by the signatures of the parties to the agreement. Consideration – The agreement specifies consideration, which means all…

Singer and record label settle to avoid court

Maryland music fans may be familiar with the work of British songwriter, singer and actress Rita Ora. The 25-year-old's debut album "Ora" was a huge hit in 2012, but she has not put out any records since. This may be in large part due to a contentious legal battle with her record label that she became embroiled with in 2015, but media sources reported on June 7 that Ora and Roc nation had reached an out-of-court settlement. Ora agreed to release five albums when she signed with the Jay Z-backed Roc Nation in 2008, but she became disillusioned with the label and filed legal papers in 2015 claiming that her contract violated California law and should be ruled unenforceable. The singer said at the time that Roc Nation was more interested in promoting Jay Z's other commercial ventures than fostering musical talent. She has since said that the label devotes…

Health insurance companies battle over prescription drug costs

Thousands of Maryland residents rely on health insurance provided by Anthem and prescription drug coverage from Express Scripts, but they may not be aware that these two leading health care companies are embroiled in a contentious legal battle. The first shots were fired in March when Anthem sued Express Scripts for $15 billion, but the Missouri-based pharmacy benefit company fired back on April 19 by filing a lawsuit of its own. The two companies are involved in a contract dispute over the cost of prescription drugs. Anthem's CEO says that he tried to negotiate a better deal for his company in January seeking savings of up to $3 billion a year. Anthem claims that it is entitled to a percentage of the savings earned by Express Script from negotiating more advantageous deals with drug makers. The Express Scripts lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern…

Maryland man files class action lawsuit against AOL

A Maryland man who is representing himself has filed a class action lawsuit against AOL, which was formerly known as America Online, for breach of contract. The man claims that AOL customer service representatives misled him about subscription services offered by the company, and he also alleges that AOL's practices violate Maryland's consumer protection laws. The man filed his lawsuit on Oct. 29 at a circuit court in Prince George's County, but the case was referred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on Nov. 24. The venue of the breach of contract case was changed because the plaintiffs and the defendant reside in different states and the damages being sought are in excess of $5 million. The man claims that an AOL representative told him that he would have to purchase a subscription membership in order to receive help recovering emails that he had lost when…

Federal court rejects appeal to award $96 million to Chevron

On Aug. 4, a federal appeals court rejected a challenge from the Ecuadorian government to an award of $96 million to Chevron Corporation. Individuals in Maryland who follow the oil industry probably know that the energy giant has been in a dispute with the South American nation for decades over oil field development. Texaco, which Chevron acquired later, made a deal in 1973 with the Ecuadorian government that allowed it to develop oil fields in the country as long as it sold oil at less than market price. In the 1990s, Texaco filed multiple lawsuits that claimed Ecuador violated the contract. Chevron began an arbitration proceeding in 2006 at The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration, claiming that the courts in Ecuador did not to settle the legal actions in a timely manner, which was a breach of treaty between the two countries. The Hague panel awarded $96 million to Chevron…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in court

Maryland movie fans might be interested in the details of a case filed in a California civil court. Six plaintiffs are claiming they have been denied contractually-mandated payments from the profits of the three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films released in the early 1990s. The plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $3.175 million for breach of contract and other causes of action. The first movie, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", was released in 1990 and grossed more than $200 million. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" was released in 1991 and grossed $78.7 million domestically. The last of the three initial TMNT films was released in 1993 and took in $42.3 million. Neither the 2007 animated film nor the 2014 Michael Bay feature is part of the lawsuit. According to the complaint, each of the plaintiffs was promised a percentage of net profits from the TMNT…

Contract fight ends with auto dealers breaking ties

Maryland drivers in search of new vehicles may to reassess their buying options following a split between TrueCar Inc. and AutoNation Inc. According to reports, the firms are set to end their partnership, and the breakup is projected to impact more than 200 AutoNation dealerships that employ TrueCar services. TrueCar, which provided sales leads to AutoNation and other companies via its web portal, was accused of requesting large volumes of consumer purchase data, and it also faces a number of lawsuits brought by other parties in the retail auto business. News sources say TrueCar is well known for breaking ties with dealerships that refuse to agree to its data-sharing terms. The company, which had already come close to shutting its doors in 2012 as a result of investigations by authorities in several states, continued to push for contract provisions demanding that AutoNation hand over customer information about every one of…

HP sued by MicroTech over software transactions

Maryland investors may have heard about a legal dispute that has developed between Hewlett-Packard and Autonomy. HP acquired the British software company in 2011 for approximately $11 billion, but the value of the company has subsequently been written down amid allegations of impropriety. HP filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Autonomy in the British High Court in April 2015. The lawsuit claims that the Autonomy's founders misrepresented transactions in order to make the company appear more profitable. The legal dispute escalated on May 18 when MicroTech filed a breach of contract lawsuit against HP in California, seeking damages of $16.5 million. The company claims that it paid Autonomy $11 million in 2010 and $7 million in 2011 but never received the software keys necessary to complete the transactions with their end users. An attorney representing the Virginia-based company said that MicroTech wants HP Autonomy to either provide the software as…

Damages available after a breach of contract in Maryland

When one party fails to live up to the terms of a contract, that party is said to have breached the contract. When a contract is breached, the non-breaching party has several remedies at its disposal. One option is to cancel the contract and another is to ask for restitution. If the contract is cancelled, neither party has any further obligation to the other. If the non-breaching party decides to seek restitution, the breaching party would have to pay to put the other party back to the position it was in prior to the breach. There are several different types of damages that may be awarded to the non-breaching party. For instance, nominal damages are awarded when breach occurs but there is no evidence that a monetary loss occurred. Compensatory and liquidated damages aim to put the non-breaching party in roughly the same position that they were in before the…