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A recent Indiana Court of Appeals decision provides valuable practice pointers for municipalities considering the sale of their utilities. Municipalities that do not comply exactly with statute when selling a utility do not necessarily doom the sale. The Court of Appeals’ ruling in NOW!, Inc. v. Indiana-American Water Company, Inc., __ N.E.3d __, 2018 WL 6837732 (Ind. Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2018)[1], affirmed the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s (“IURC”) order approving the sale of the City of Charlestown’s (“City” or “Charlestown”) water utility to a private utility.

Posted in Litigation

Evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent, otherwise known in Kentucky as a forcible detainer action, is usually the most straightforward method for a landlord to terminate a tenant’s right to the premises. Although Kentucky judges will offer a hearing to any tenant who requests one, one of the few accepted legal defenses a tenant can present during this hearing is proof that rent was in fact paid within the required timeframe. This is because under the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (“URLTA”), a landlord waives the right to evict a tenant if the landlord has accepted any payments (full or partial) after beginning the eviction process.

Posted in Estate Planning

You might have heard before that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons.  This was certainly the case in a decision recently handed down by the Wyoming Supreme Court.  

In E.G.W. v. First Federal Savings Bank of Wyoming, 413 P.3d 106 (3/15/18), the Court upheld and enforced a “no-contest” clause in a grandfather’s Revocable Trust, which resulted in two minor grandchildren forfeiting their shares of the Trust due to their father filing a trust contest.   

Posted in Estate Planning

A recent Rhode Island case illustrates the need to carefully exercise any power of appointment retained by a grantor over a trust.  Jaffe v. Pournaras, 178 A.3d 978 (2/23/18).

In this case, the Grantor had created an irrevocable trust in 2003, naming his son as the Trustee.  Under the terms of the Trust, the Grantor retained a power to appoint its assets to or for the benefit of his descendants, in any shares and amounts he would direct. 

Posted in Estate Planning

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows each individual to exempt $11,180,000 from federal estate tax in 2018 ($11,400,000 in 2019). A married couple would need over $22,000,000 in assets before their estate would be subject to federal estate tax. With less individuals owing federal estate tax, you may wonder, “Do I need an estate plan if my estate will not be taxed?” The answer is yes, you do need an estate plan because your estate plan is much more than a tool to reduce federal estate taxes. Regardless of the size of your estate, below are five reasons why you need an estate plan.

Posted in Litigation

BGD’s K. Mulvaney and M. Christensen draft amicus brief in support of decision.

Indiana’s state motto is “the Crossroads of America” and, when it comes to railroad grade crossings, the Hoosier State lives up to its name. With 5,693 grade crossings, Indiana has the highest concentration of grade crossings in the country — one grade crossing for every 17 public-roadway miles in Indiana. See Indiana Dep’t of Transportation, Indiana State Rail Plan, 25, 32, 69-70 (Oct. 2017).

This article appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal on October 5, 2018.

My last article on the blood-testing firm Theranos explored how and why so many people could have been deceived by a business strategy and technology that proved to be entirely dependent on deception. Since that article appeared last spring, the unraveling of Theranos has accelerated, and we can now glean some additional learnings.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (the “Seventh Circuit”) recently decided the case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness v. City of Naperville, 900 F.3d 521 (7th Cir. 2018). The suit brought by Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (“NSMA”) alleged that the collection of smart meter energy-consumption data by the City of Naperville, Illinois, (the “City”) constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be prohibited.[1] The Seventh Circuit made two important holdings in the case. First, it held that the collection of smart meter data is, in fact, a search under the Fourth Amendment. Second, it held that under the specific facts of the case, the City’s smart meter program constitutes a reasonable search and thus does not violate customers’ Fourth Amendment rights.

[1] NSMA also brought state constitutional claims under the Illinois constitution that are not addressed here.

The Supreme Court’s October 2018 term is right around the corner, and one case will have a very practical impact on prospective copyright litigation.  In the Court’s only copyright case this term, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com will settle the question of whether a plaintiff must have a valid copyright registration before filing an infringement suit or, instead, can merely have an application pending with the U.S. Copyright Office.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This amendment made it illegal to fire women for becoming pregnant, to deny insurance coverage for pregnancy-related conditions, or to require women to take unpaid leave after becoming pregnant.

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