Today, there are more programs than ever at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the participation of small businesses in contracting opportunities. Congress, as well as many state and local legislators, have enacted laws to support businesses owned by veterans, disabled veterans, minorities and women. These businesses are usually referred to as “disadvantaged small businesses.” Because governmental entities offer incentives and set aside a percentage of contracting dollars for small businesses, there are a growing number of fraud claims developing in this area. According to a report issued by the Department of Justice in December, 2017, the number of lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act are increasing with an average of twelve new cases being filed every week. Given the competitiveness in the construction industry to obtain contract awards, and the increasing number of governmental and private “whistleblower” claims, it is important to know and understand the fraud that occurs with government contract work.
In previous alerts we addressed the continued national confusion about the nature and extent of federal jurisdiction over properties exhibiting “waters of the United States” asking, “What Are Waters of the United States” and “Why It Matters.” Trying to get a consensus on defining them has been impossible as the political/environmental regulatory process cycles around in a never-ending analogue to the hydrologic cycle itself. This alert briefly describes the latest twists and turns in the process.
Based on a recent Wall Street Journal article, companies that purchase equipment this year can expense 100% of the acquisition cost.
On February 15, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously issued Order No. 841 which has the potential to dramatically alter the electricity grid and wholesale energy market in large parts of the United States. In Order 841, FERC directed the country’s regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (RTO/ISO), the entities that manage the wholesale electric markets in large parts of the country, to establish participation rules that remove barriers to full participation in the market by energy storage resources. By recognizing the unique characteristics of energy storage resources, Order 841 has the potential to spur development of energy storage technologies and modernize the grid.
Jobsite safety remains of paramount importance for all involved in the construction industry. Recently published statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) and the National Safety Council (“NSC”) reflect that contractors must place continued emphasis on fall protection and on high-quality safety-training programs.
On March 22, 2017, Governor Matt Bevin signed into law the Kentucky Charter School bills which empower local Kentucky school boards with the rights and responsibilities of creating and operating charter schools.
The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repeals the deduction for alimony payments after 2018.
With severe winter weather pummeling much of the country, employers may be forced to delay opening their doors, close their doors early, or even close for days at a time. This leads to a persistent question—how should employees be paid during a weather closing? Whether an employer has experience with winter weather or whether an employer is dealing with it for perhaps the first time, all employers would be wise to review their inclement-weather pay policies and practices to ensure that they are in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Much attention has been paid to the doubling of the standard deduction as well as the lowering of the corporate tax rates contained in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Act”). The combined maximum corporate federal rate will now be 39.8 percent (corporate tax plus capital gains tax) and the top individual tax rate is 37 percent, which is the rate generally applied to the income of pass-through businesses (sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations).
Partnership audits might sound like a rather boring topic, but new rules now in effect make auditing partnerships much easier for the IRS and as such should be an area of concern for businesses.
If your business relies on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for protection from copyright claims, you have until December 31, 2017 to complete the electronic registration of your DMCA agent…
On December 15, 2017, in In re Brunetti, Case No. 2015-1109 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 15, 2017), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the federal trademark statute’s (the “Lanham Act’s”) bar on registration of immoral or scandalous marks is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. If this decision stands, Mr. Brunetti may obtain federal registration of his FUCT mark for use with clothing. The result is not terribly surprising in light of the United States Supreme Court’s holding earlier this year that the Lanham Act’s bar of disparaging marks violated the First Amendment.
On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed an intermediate appellate court decision and reinstated a jury verdict of slightly more than $600,000 awarded to a structural steel fabricator and erector. The award compensated the fabricator and erector for unpaid retainage and extras on a high rise project.
What is a Court to do when an attorney knowingly violates the automatic stay in bankruptcy, and after being sanctioned for that transgression, challenges an award of attorney’s fees at every possible opportunity? In its decision released on December 5, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals considered just that question in affirming awards of trial and appellate attorney’s fees. The Court affirmed prior fees incurred of $134,209.36, and imposed an additional fee award of $30,559.98 as to the current appeal. This award of fees and expenses for nearly $165,000.00 was over four times the amount of the original award of actual damages of $40,000.00 made by the Bankruptcy Court for a violation of the automatic stay.
On April 27, 2017, the Supreme Court adopted and submitted to Congress various amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. The rules become effective December 1, 2017. Some of the most significant changes affect filing requirements for proofs of claim of secured creditors under Bankruptcy Rule 3002. These amendments greatly impact the rights of secured creditors in Chapter 7, 12, and 13 bankruptcy cases.
Do Kentucky patients have a cause of action against a hospital for the negligent credentialing of a non-employee physician who is given staff privileges by the hospital? In March of 2016, the Court of Appeals answered that question in the affirmative, recognizing a new, stand-alone tort and avenue for recovery against Kentucky hospitals.
So answers the Second Witch in the opening scene of the “Scottish play” of Shakespeare, to the First Witch’s query: when shall be the weird sisters’ fateful meeting with Macbeth? At that meeting foreshadowing Macbeth’s rise to kingship (Act I, Scene III) it is clear that the witches are in the prediction business – as now must be American taxpayers anticipating some form of the Trump Administration’s tax reform proposals becoming law.
Among the many vexing problems with taxpayers’ planning is: What changes will be made in the rules for the tax-favored retirement savings? The estimated $115 billion per year of tax expenditures on retirement savings in the federal budget is perhaps the most tempting target for realization of tax savings needed to pay for the Trump tax plan’s ambitious business and personal tax cuts. All the more so now, in the wake of evident resistance among urban state Republicans to initial proposals for cutback or elimination of the present deduction for state and local income and property taxes.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has delayed the effective date of the revised Form EEO-1 and initiated a review to determine the appropriateness of the revisions under the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”).
When Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was sworn in as the 84th Attorney General of the United States in January, business owners were among those wondering what he meant when he declared: “A new era of justice begins, and it begins right now”. Unlike many political appointments, this member of President Trump’s cabinet’s role as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has the potential for immediate direct and meaningful impact upon businesses, especially those in heavily-regulated industries. What will that impact be?
With rising real estate prices many people find themselves facing the prospect of high capital gains taxes when selling property. Most people are familiar with like-kind exchanges (1031 transactions), a method of selling real property and then reinvesting the sales proceeds into a new property of “like-kind,” such as selling a rental property and then reinvesting in other real estate investment property. However, not everyone wishes to reinvest. Moreover, there might be other motivations for selling, such as receiving a stream of income or giving to charity. As such, charitable remainder trusts are a useful alternative to like-kind exchanges, can achieve a stream of income and eventually satisfy charitable goals, and be another way to defer capital gains taxation. Like 1031 transactions, charitable remainder trusts have specific rules that must be followed in order to receive the tax benefits, and we will briefly outline those in this article.
On Thursday, August 31, 2017, a federal judge struck down the Obama administration’s controversial rule that would have expanded overtime eligibility to more than 4 million U.S. workers. The rule, which was challenged by 21 states and more than 55 business groups, came before Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in the case of State of Nevada et. al. v. U.S. Department of Labor et. al., 4:16-cv-00731.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has issued a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9 that employers must begin using no later than September 18, 2017. Employers may begin using the new Form I-9 (revision date 07/17/17) immediately. However, as of September 18, 2017, only the new version will be accepted.
A recent court decision in Georgia illustrates how laws enacted by many states to ensure prompt payment in the construction industry don’t always achieve their purpose. These “prompt payment” statutes typically require an owner to pay a contractor (and a contractor to pay a subcontractor) within a certain number of days and award interest on untimely payments. These laws can provide important benefits to contractors and subcontractors, but are often subordinate to contract terms and therefore less helpful than they might appear.
The Federal Reserve (www.federalreserve.gov) reports that delinquency rates on agricultural loans are up from .78% in the 3rd Q 2015 to 1.53% in 2nd Q 2017. Likewise, default rates on C&I loans are up from .90% in the 3rd Q 2015 to 1.35% in the 2nd Q 2017. Due to the increase in delinquencies, Equipment Financers are experiencing an uptick in borrower bankruptcy filings.
Today, we have a public service announcement in hopes you don’t fall victim to this ever-growing problem. If you have filed a federal trademark application or own a trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you are probably going to receive—if you haven’t already—fake or misleading invoices. These scams are on the rise.
On Thursday, July 27, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") and the Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") published the latest iteration in trying to define what are "Waters of…
In a single day in May 2017, a powerful new ransomware program known as “WannaCry” infected hundreds of thousands of computers across at least 74 countries. Ransomware infects a target’s computer or network, encrypts the target’s files and then holds those files hostage, with the promise that the files will be unlocked if the target pays a monetary ransom.
On May 17, 2017, the United States Supreme Court reversed a decision from the Kentucky Supreme Court in a 7-1 vote finding that the arbitration clause contained in a nursing home’s admission documents for a patient was enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.
Yesterday, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on registering disparaging trademarks under 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), deeming the statute facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
In a nearly unanimous opinion, the United State Supreme Court held “that a patentee’s decision to sell a product exhausts all of its patent rights in that item, regardless of any restrictions the patentee purports to impose or the location of the sale.”