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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Subcontractors Can Sue the Owner of a Construction Project in Virginia in Limited Circumstances

August 22, 2018

Owners typically control the money on a construction project.  Subcontractors do not have a contract with the owner and therefore have limited rights against the owner.  When something goes wrong with the general contractor, if the owner has not paid the general contractor, there are some avenues for a subcontractor to assert a claim directly against the project owner. A subcontractor’s best remedy against a project owner is to file a mechanic’s lien.  Subcontractors must be...

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Naturalization Requirements, Eligibility and Common Causes for Concern

August 14, 2018

The United States has specific requirements that must be met in order to apply for naturalization (U.S. citizenship).  Generally speaking, a non-U.S. citizen must be a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) of the U.S.A. for a period of five years prior to being eligible for naturalization.  If the foreigner is married to a U.S. Citizen who is the same citizen who sponsored them for lawful permanent resident status, then they may apply for citizenship after three...

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Highlights of Bills and New Laws in Virginia

July 01, 2018

Each January the Virginia General Assembly convenes to consider passing new laws and repealing old ones. Delegates and State Senators meet for six or eight weeks in alternating years with the extra two weeks in years when a budget is voted on, such as this year. Generally, the new laws become effective on July 1st with exceptions for either immediate or delayed enactment. This year the General Assembly considered 3,722 bills. Some were continued to the 2019 session, others...

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When Is an Employer Liable for an Employee's Workplace Misconduct?

June 25, 2018

This month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision addressing when employers can be held liable for the actions of their employees.  Garnett v. Remedi SeniorCare of Virginia, LLC concerned a situation where an employee went on sick leave for a day.  While she was gone, her supervisor told her coworkers that she was having gynecological surgery and, therefore, must have an STD.  The employee sued the supervisor and her employer for defamation.  In its opinion,...

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Aquaculture oyster farming "off the bottom"

Waterfront Property Owners: Riparian Rights vs. Oyster Aquaculture Companies

June 06, 2018

Riparian property rights are the reason that people pay extra to live “on the water”.   Jim Lang authored a widely-read article in June 2013 that explains why riparian property rights command such great value.   The homes on Sandfiddler Road in Sandbridge, Virginia, give a practical example that further proves the premium value that the market attaches to riparian property rights.  Up and down the five miles of Sandfiddler Road, the homes on the east side – the side facing...

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Borrowed Servants on Virginia's Waterfront: A Muddied Predicament for Employers

May 30, 2018

Third party access to waterfront property has become a norm and necessity for most waterfront businesses.  Preventing third party access often results in lost business opportunities and profits.  In some cases, prevention can result in breach of contract or tortious interferences with business suits brought against the property owner and/or operator.  Yet, allowing third party access complicates employment relationships at the worksite and the legal responsibilities of the...

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Do Employers Have to Pay Interns Overtime or Minimum Wage?

May 17, 2018

With summer approaching, employers are hearing from college students looking for internships.  In the past, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) made it almost impossible for “for profit” employers to establish unpaid internship programs that did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The DOL used a rigid, six-factor test that prohibited employers from gaining an immediate advantage from the intern’s activities, which severely limited the intern’s usefulness. This...

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New Spousal Support Tax Changes Affect Payors and Payees

May 01, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) became law on December 22, 2017 and influences many areas of American life. Anyone who is contemplating divorce should understand how the Act treats spousal support payors and payees.  For years, the tax code permitted the payor spouse to deduct his or her spousal support from the payor’s taxes.  The payee spouse was required to include the support payment in his or her income.  From a practical perspective, this provision would...

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How Do New Partnership Audit Rules and the New Role of a “Partnership Representative” Affect my LLC or Partnership?

April 24, 2018

In case you missed it, January 1 of this year (2018) ushered in a significant change in the world of limited liability companies and partnerships.  Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (“BBA”) the existing rules for auditing partnerships were replaced with an entirely new set of rules.  In addition, the role of the “tax matters partner” was replaced with that of a “partnership representative”.  Both of these changes are significant and impact the operating and partnership...

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Implied Certification: A New Trap for Unwary Federal Contractors

April 05, 2018

The False Claims Act (“FCA”),[i]  has been around since 1863 and has been repeatedly amended by Congress.  The FCA can result in liability to the government for treble damages, plus civil penalties up to $10,000, for each false claim for any person who knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the government.[ii] Because a “claim” against the government includes any request for the payment of money, any invoice or application...

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