Author Archives: Seth L. Laver

March Madness and You: Implications

Brace yourselves, employers: March Madness is upon us. The 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will start with play-in games March 19 and conclude with the Championship Game on April 8 in Atlanta. During the tournament’s three weeks, the US economy will lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity as employees watch early round games, participate in office pools, and discuss the outcomes with co-workers. Make no mistake, March Madness and participation in other work-place “gambling” such as fantasy sports has real world implications on the workplace.

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A Lesson in Ethical Attorney Billing

A lawyer stands at the gates of heaven and pleads his case to St. Peter. “I’m much too young to die. I’m only 48.” St. Peter responds, raising an eyebrow: “Forty-eight? Not according to your time sheets." Unfortunately, some attorneys give the rest of the profession a bad name for abusing the billable hour system. Perhaps a lesson in ethical billing is in order.

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What Does Daylight Saving Time Mean to Employers?

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, people all across the United States set their clocks forward one hour to start Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is intended to place more sunlight into “daytime” hours in order to seemingly stretch the day longer and conserve energy. 2013 marks the seventh year DST was expanded by four weeks pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For many, the change simply means one less hour of sleep, but for employers, the time change has unique and important implications.

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Lindsay Lohan’s Legal Lesson

Last week Lindsay Lohan provided a valuable lesson for the professional liability community. It’s true. The lesson arises from Lohan’s recently dismissed lawsuit against rapper Pitbull. Adding insult to injury, the court tossed the suit and sanctioned Lohan’s lawyer for improperly submitting a brief that contained plagiarized, “cut-and-paste” content. You can’t make this stuff up.

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Yeah, But I Didn’t Read My Insurance Policy…

A recent decision confirms that failure to read the fine print is not a valid defense. The Mississippi Supreme Court recently ruled that the owner of two nursing homes was required to pay a $1.25 million deductible despite claiming it was unaware of the high deductible. The insurance policy issued by Lloyd’s of London contained a $250,000 per-claim deductible. Since the nursing homes were named in five separate professional liability suits, and each of which was considered a separate "claim," the policyholder was forced to pay a $1.25 million deductible.

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Clients of a Certain Age: Particular Issues when Representing the Elderly

A recent South Dakota Supreme Court decision serves as a reminder of some of the ethical issues and pitfalls when representing an elderly client. Unlike some of our posts which apply to a particular specialty, the potential for hiccups arising from representing the elderly impacts all professionals: accountants and attorneys, real estate professionals, brokers of all sorts, to name a few. The lesson is often the same: be particularly wary when representing an elderly client to avoid a potential malpractice suit or ethical problem.

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An Unsavory Brew: Yuengling Sued for $6.6 Million in Back Taxes

With tax season upon us, tax professionals may cringe at another example of the potential for malpractice arising from questionable tax advice. However, America’s Oldest Brewery is in the midst of a very public dispute with the City of Brotherly Love regarding allegedly unpaid taxes. The City of Philadelphia recently sued Yuengling in an attempt to recover $6.6 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties allegedly owed to the City. Although Yuengling is located outside of Philadelphia, the City contends that the brewery failed to pay a tax imposed on entities that regularly conduct business in the City. Yuengling has vowed to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit.

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Thou Shalt Timely Report All Claims

A recent decision before the Nevada Supreme Court highlights the importance of timely reporting all claims. The issue: is a carrier’s “constructive notice” of a potential claim sufficient to trigger coverage? Lesson: all professionals must have a firm grasp of the reporting requirements under their professional malpractice policy or risk denial of coverage. The Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in Physicians Insurance Co. v. Williams raises the all-important question: must all professionals, even pill-poppers and cocaine abusers, provide their insurance representative with timely notice of a claim? This decision also clarifies that the reporting requirement is not excused even if the insurer had independently learned of a potential claim.

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Why Avoiding the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ May Have Caused Increased Risks to CPAs

We avoided the fiscal cliff. That is old news and, for most Americans, it is also good news. But, the developing fallout and the impact of Congresses’ eleventh-hour solution has particular implications on accountants gearing up for tax season. On January 2, 2013 Congress enacted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; a fiscal cliff tax package whopper which effectively changed the rule-book. At a time of year when accountants across the country are typically saying "so long" to their families to prepare for the hibernation that is tax-season, this year’s crop of tax-preparers is stuck in its tracks waiting for the IRS to issue updated software. From a professional liability and risk management standpoint, this is troublesome.

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The Importance of Record Retention

All professionals must maintain and follow a clearly documented record retention policy. These policies are more stringent and regulated for some professions. Each of the 50 states maintain regulations governing work-paper ownership and record retention for accountants, for example. Attorneys, too, may be guided by fairly specific record retention policies pursuant to the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers state-by-state. Despite these regulations, all classes of professionals routinely face legal woes as a result of poor record retention compliance. This risk intensifies as a result of cyber risk and associated liability from electronically stored information.

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