Legal Insights | Winter 2013-2014 | Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC
Legal Insights is a newsletter of timely and practical legal information that we hope you can use in your professional and personal pursuits. Please contact your attorney at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper if you have any questions or comments or if you would like to suggest topics of interest for future issues.
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5 useful tips to close out the year
5 useful tips to close out the year

The holidays are just around the corner, but before you ring in the New Year, take time to consider these useful year-end tips from the lawyers at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper:
  • COMPLETE EMPLOYEE EVALUATIONS.
    If you haven't done it yet this year, be sure to complete all employee written evaluations—and be sure that the evaluations are realistic about the employees' strengths, weaknesses and areas that need improvement.

    Realistic, thoughtful performance evaluations can be important in deciding promotions and pay raises. If an employee or an ex-employee sues you, his or her evaluation can provide a valuable defense.

    It's a good idea to complete the evaluations once a year.
Read the full article.
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What's next for student athletes?
A lawsuit by former college and professional basketball player Edward O'Bannon has the potential of upending the basic premise that collegiate athletes are amateurs. It could also disintegrate, although neither side is letting up after four years in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

O'Bannon had alleged numerous antitrust violations against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC), the NCAA's licensing representative and an affiliate of IMG Worldwide Inc. (formerly the Cleveland-based International Management Group).

Read the full article.
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Utica Shale landowners: How to profit from your oil and gas leases
Today's news is full of stories about local landowners gaining immediate riches because of the Utica Shale oil and gas boom. In most cases, those with newfound wealth have sold oil and gas rights to exploration companies under leases that contain a variety of well-established, sometimes archaic, payment provisions. This article examines the most common of such clauses.
  • SIGNING BONUS.
    This one-time, upfront payment is made to the landowner as an inducement for making a potentially long-term commitment to the exploration company under the lease. Although traditionally these payments were relatively small (measured in dollars per acre), they recently have grown to relatively large amounts (thousands of dollars per acre) in the heart of the Utica Shale play due to intense competition for leases.
Read the full article.
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Legislation watch
Is comp time for private sector employees on the horizon?

Two Senate bills introduced in late October would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to allow private sector employers to award compensatory time to workers who would rather have time off to spend with their families than overtime pay.

The Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act (S.1626) introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a similar bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are companion bills to the Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406) passed by the House of Representatives in May. If the legislation becomes law, private sector employers could award nonexempt, hourly workers time off from work at the rate of 1.5 hours for every hour of overtime worked rather than overtime pay at the same rate. The choice would be the employee's.

Presently, only public sector employees can enjoy the compensatory time (comp time) benefit. The FLSA does not allow private sector employers to award comp time—even if employees would prefer it.

The measure is seen as a way for busy families to better manage the demands of workplace and home life.

In a time when both Republican and Democratic leaders are struggling to be seen as effective, the measure has some public appeal and momentum. Stay tuned.

—Jim Grove
grove@nicola.com

Spotlight
article divider From organization to dissolution, lawyers at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper (NGC) provide a broad range of services to nonprofit organizations.
Read about our work for nonprofit organizations.
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Firm News
article divider Congratulations to Jim Juliano on his election Nov. 5 to a four-year term on Pepper Pike City Council. Juliano has served as law director, assistant law director and prosecutor in several eastern suburbs, but this was his first try for elective office.
Firm News
Michael E. Cicero was the featured lecturer at a continuing legal education seminar on operating a vehicle under the influence. The seminar was Dec. 7 at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Firm News
Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper, Cleveland Leadership Center and Global Cleveland co-sponsored Home Sweet Cleveland Nov. 30 to encourage college students and recent graduates to stay in or relocate to Cleveland for employment. The event was also attended by prospective employers and was at Pura Vida Restaurant near Public Square.
Firm News
Richard G. Witkowski delivered presentations on "Mitigating Malpractice Risk in Audit Engagements" and "Mitigating Malpractice Risk in Tax Engagements" Nov. 14 at the Ohio Society of CPAs' 2013 Columbus Accounting Show.
Firm News
Witkowski was quoted in an American Express Open Forum article, posted Nov. 12, on how to prevent employee theft ("7 sneaky ways employees steal and how to prevent it").
Firm News
The National Federation of Independent Business also used advice from Witkowski in an article in August headlined "How to fraud-proof your business." Witkowski, a lawyer and a certified fraud examiner, wrote on the subject in the Winter 2012-2013 issue of Legal Insights ("Simple steps to detect and deter employee theft and fraud").
Firm News
Jim Chriszt and Arthur L. (Tim) Clements III attended the 39th Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute in South Bend, Ind., Oct. 17-18.
Firm News
In GKP, LLC v. Wells Fargo & Co., Matthew T. Fitzsimmons and R. Christopher Yingling obtained the dismissal of a lender liability lawsuit on behalf of Wells Fargo & Co. arising out of the financing for commercial property on the New Jersey shore. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, lack of capacity of the corporate plaintiff and lack of standing of the individual plaintiff.
Firm News
Witkowski wrote a column on how businesses can protect themselves from injury claims for Crain's Cleveland Business' Sept. 9 small business section. Witkowski also wrote on the topic ("Does your contractor's insurance protect you?") in the Spring 2013 issue of Legal Insights.
Firm News
Witkowski delivered a presentation at a conference titled "Risk Management & Ethics Boot Camp for Accountants" Aug. 23 in Tulsa. The event was sponsored by the Hanover Insurance Co.
Firm News
Clements offers sensible advice on a sensitive topic in an article on how to help parents in declining health manage their financial affairs, posted in August on eLocalLawyers.com.
Firm News
Cicero was an instructor at classes offered in June and August for Ohio residents seeking licenses to carry concealed handguns. The classes were sponsored by the Police Department in Mayfield Village, where Cicero is assistant prosecutor, and were held at the Mayfield Village Civic Center. Attendance at such classes is required by state law before the licenses are granted.
Firm News
Should you hire a lawyer when you get a traffic ticket? Auto Insurance Center quoted Cicero on the topic in "Is it worthwhile to hire a lawyer to fight traffic tickets?"
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Copyright 2013 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC

This newsletter contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations.
Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.