SYK encourages you to come watch (…or sing with) some of their attorneys at Karaoke For A Cause. Proceeds benefit the MBF Civic Education Fund.
October 1, 2017, marks the start of stiffer fines and tougher penalties for distracted driving with cell phones.
Oregon had allowed limited use of smart phones while driving, but beginning October 1, it is now illegal for drivers to use or hold an electronic mobile device. You are allowed a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate a device or function, but do not talk on speaker mode while holding your phone, or you could be looking at a fine of $130 to $1,000 for your first offense, $220 to $2,500 for your second offense and a minimum of $2,000 and up to 6 months in jail for a third offense.
This revision to Oregon law expands the distracted driving law from the existing ban on cellphones in the driver’s seat to include all electronic mobile devices. Phone calls are still allowed if the driver uses a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth headset, or routing calls to the vehicles stereo system — but only if the phone is not in the driver’s hand. The law uses the phrase “mobile electronic device” rather than “communication device” to account for the array of modern devices and their uses, and specifies that “driving” includes idling in a traffic jam or at a light. A driver can only start using the device if the vehicles has “stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary,” such as a parking space or pulled off to the side of the road.
There are some exceptions for things like medical emergencies and truck and bus drivers, but Oregon has made it clear that hands-free really does mean what it says.
Friday, Chambers and Partners released their annual rankings for their Chambers High Net Worth publication. Chambers HNW is objective, independent and research-based; the guide recognizes the world’s leading high net worth advisers.
SYK is proud to again be recognized as a firm, as well as to celebrate the individual recognition received by SYK partners Steve Kantor – estate and tax planner extraordinaire – and Victoria Blachly – ferocious fiduciary litigator.
The Pitfalls of Intergenerational Wealth & Business Management
Running an intergenerational family-owned company can be very challenging. How do you balance present family and lifestyle goals, with operating a successful and growing company? How do you choose what is best for the family and its individual members, while also considering the future and thinking ahead to the next generation of the business?
While some family business dynasties such as the Mars Candy company and the descendants of William Randolph Hearst continue to thrive, other dynasties have crumbled. Frances Stroh was born an heiress to one of the largest beer companies in America, Stroh Brewery Company. In her new book “Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss” she writes about her wealthy family’s downward spiral leading to the loss of their approximately 130 year brewing legacy. Ms. Stroh documents the missteps an intergenerational family-run company can make which could result in its collapse.
In a New York Times article discussing Ms. Stroh’s book, they highlight some of the unique issues that arise in intergenerational wealth and business management. For instance, in the Stroh family they chose successors of business management positions along patriarchal family lines. Instead of including women family members and outside talent, they assumed male heirs would automatically be talented and qualified in running the business.
As the Stroh family multiplied, many of the heirs relied on large annual dividends to support lavish lifestyles. Even when business profits dwindled, the dividends to heirs continued, resulting in company principle being drained.
Struggles within the nuclear family also contributed to the collapse of Stroh Brewery Company. Ms. Stroh recalled her father’s alcoholism and her brother’s drug addiction, coupled with the stress of losing the family business, causing her immediate family to unravel.
To read more about the Stroh’s struggle with intergenerational wealth management see the New York Times article.
Learn more about Frances Stroh’s book here.
The event will begin with Michelle Williams sharing her inspiration and vision for the Women Living a Richer Life Summit. Following the kick-off, be ready to engage in an interactive Q&A and to spend the day listening and learning. Attendees are encouraged to stay after, to celebrate the day together and share a toast at the cocktail hour. It’s a great opportunity to talk with speakers, and learn more about one another.
- Registration opens at 8 a.m.
- Complimentary parking is provided at the Multnomah Athletic Club
- Breakfast buffet and lunch are provided.
Click the photo below for more information and register for this exciting event.
Rule Expanding Overtime Halted by Federal Judge
On Tuesday, November 22, a Federal District Court Judge in Texas granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against an Obama administration regulation, which sought to expand the eligibility of millions of workers for overtime pay.
The regulation was ruled by Judge Mazzat to have likely exceeded the authority of the Obama administration because it nearly doubled the overtime salary threshold. The regulation would raise the minimum annual salary amount from $23,660 to $47,476. It would automatically qualify workers for overtime pay, so long as their annual salary was below the new $47,476 threshold.
Twenty-one states and over fifty business organizations have backed the request for an injunction to delay the regulation’s effective date of December 1, 2016, until the judge could make a final ruling based on the merits.
Small business owners and business organizations applauded the decision, arguing that the regulation would substantially burden business owners with increased labor costs. The Labor Department and worker advocacy groups argue that by blocking the regulation, workers who already put in 40 hours a week will continue to work longer hours for unfair pay.
Many employers have been making plans for the effective date of the new regulations, which is now just eight days away. Employers may have already notified employees about their new pay arrangements. Should employers reverse those salary decisions and postpone their implementation? There are many unknowns at play, not the least of which is that the Trump administration will take over responsibility for this litigation in January 2017. Might a Trump administration concede this case, and let an injunction remain in place? That is a possibility. Might the new administration have the Department of Labor issue new regulations extending the date for implementation of the new salary/overtime rules? That’s also possible. One other possibility is an appeal and a higher court vacating the injunction. In that case, could the December 1, 2016 effective date be made enforceable retroactively?
Each employer must make a business decision about what is appropriate for their workforce, and determine how much risk (given the uncertainty) they are willing to accept. One important point for employers – adjustments to compensation terms can be made prospectively, but it is dangerous for an employer to retroactively modify an employee’s compensation, particularly if the modification is to reduce pay. An employer and employee have a contractual relationship, with many applicable state and federal regulations. Employers should be cautious about any course of action that could be seen as a breach of the employment contract, or a violation of state or federal laws.
For more information, read this article from Bloomberg.
SYK attorney Van White will be this year’s guest speaker for the Building Material Dealer’s Association (BMDA) Washington and Oregon Lien Law Seminar.
White’s presentation will include: preliminary notices, perfecting lien claims, bond claims, post lien requirements, and licensing requirements.
The presentation will take place October 20th at 8:00am, and will included a complementary breakfast and lunch.
Attendance is free for full members. To inquire, see the BMDA’s website.
Van White’s practice has a strong emphasis on construction, real estate and business litigation. All of the topics he covers in his presentation are matters he often encounters in his own litigation practice. Among his clients are contractors, material suppliers, property and business owners, developers and public and commerical construction works. White is also the BMDA Board of Directors President.
“The victory benefits investors everywhere by making clear that basic rules of due process do apply in FINRA arbitration”
In August, 2014, I represented Sandra Liebhaber in a FINRA hearing requested by Royal Alliance Associates and its one time financial advisor, Kathleen Tarr. This was an expungement hearing in which Royal Alliance and Tarr asked FINRA to erase any trace of the claim that my client had filed and settled with Royal Alliance. To grant that extraordinary remedy, the FINRA three-person panel had to find essentially that Ms. Liebhaber had filed a false claim. Ms. Liebhaber did not and would not file a false claim, and when I found out about the request, Darlene Pasieczny and I agreed to represent her without charge at the hearing to oppose the expungement. At the hearing, the arbitrators allowed Ms. Tarr to testify that she was a minister’s daughter and had done nothing wrong. When I asked to cross examine Ms. Tarr, the FINRA panel refused to allow me to ask her any questions. I then asked permission to call Ms. Liebhaber as a witness, to testify about what Ms. Tarr really had done. The panel refused to allow her to testify, as well. And, along the way, they told me that they had heard enough from me, despite the fact that I retained my cool and acted with respect through the entire Gulag-like ordeal. When the decision came down, and not surprisingly, the panel granted the expungement.
Yesterday, we were vindicated by the California Court of Appeals. The court found that the panel had acted improperly. It vacated the FINRA panel’s decision granting expungement. Ms. Liebhaber’s claim will remain on Ms. Tarr’s Broker-Check report, as it should.
The victory benefits investors everywhere by making clear that basic rules of due process do apply in FINRA arbitration. It was the product of many hands. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend and colleague in Beverly Hills, Lenny Steiner, who ably represented Ms. Liebhaber before the California Court of Appeals. I thank FINRA itself for recognizing that the panel had done wrong, and joined us in the request that the court toss the arbitration ruling. I also thank Susan Antilla, whose reporting on this case originally in The New York Times, and again yesterday in TheStreet.com, brought much-needed national attention to the case. And, last but clearly not least, I thank Sandra Liebhaber, who cared enough for future victims of investment abuse to fight the good fight.
A copy of the California Court of Appeals decision, which is scheduled for publication, can be found on the California Courts website.
Investor Defenders is a practice group of Samules Yoelin Kantor LLP focused on representing investors in situations where professional misconduct resulted in a financial loss. Lead securities attorney Bob Banks has earned a national reputation for his success fighting on behalf of investors in FINRA arbitration and in court for over 30 years. Consultations are complimentary and most cases are done on contingency fee, meaning that our clients do not pay any attorney fees unless we recover losses.
Homecare Choice Program is a new alternative option for care at home, and the consumer is in control.
The Oregon Home Care Commission recently launched its innovative Homecare Choice Program. The service is another option for home health care, providing connections for personal care, household tasks, companionship, pet care, transportation and medication assistance. At the time of this posting, over 400 statewide service providers are registered.
The consumer (the client, family member, POA, or conservator) goes through a list of online prompts to identify what services are needed and when, and are connected with prescreened and qualified caregivers from the Commission’s Registry Services, who have access to over 25 free trainings through the Commission and have passed a background check. Furthermore, the Commission helps participants with the paperwork necessary to meet the legal responsibilities of being household employers, while the state pays for the workers’ compensation coverage. The Commission provides a fiscal intermediary to help the consumer learn how to complete employer tax forms, pay the caregiver, withhold and report payroll taxes, and issue W-2 statements. This is a private pay service for about $22.00 an hour for people at home who do not qualify for Medicaid.
Florida court dismisses money-laundering case, saying that bitcoin is not money.
Recently, a Florida judge dismissed a money laundering charge against a man who sold $2,000 worth of bitcoin to an undercover agent. The agent claimed he was using the bitcoin to purchase stolen credit card numbers. The judge held that the digital currency is not money. Therefore, it does not fall within Florida’s money laundering statute. The judge stated that trying to regulate bitcoin using a statutory scheme regulating money is “like fitting a square peg in a round hole.” This leaves the door wide open for the Florida legislature to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currency.
Bitcoin was released in 2009. Since that time, courts and legislatures have struggled to fit it into existing legal framework. There are few laws or regulations specifically governing bitcoin and its price fluctuates widely. One expert witness compared bitcoin to “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you” (this expert was paid in bitcoin to appear as a defense witness). The currency isn’t printed, like the euro or the U.S. dollar. The IRS considers bitcoin to be property, as opposed to currency, so any exchanges are deemed to be bartering exchanges. New York now requires “BitLicenses”. They are needed for any businesses that buy, sell, or process bitcoin in the state. New York institutes a multitude of consumer and fraud protections on the businesses. Most notably, the business will have to maintain records of their customers’ names and addresses. This eliminates the anonymity that made bitcoin so appealing in the first place.
It is not just the US that struggles to define bitcoin. In Australia, bitcoin is double taxed. That is because in the country it is considered to be a commodity, not a currency. There is a 10% tax when consumers purchase the currency. They are taxed again when consumers use the bitcoin to purchase goods. Bitcoin is exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in many European countries, indicating that they do not see it as a good but instead as a legitimate currency. In Switzerland, the city of Zug is allowing citizens to pay for public services using virtual currency.
While the trend certainly seems to be towards treating bitcoin as currency, there is still plenty of uncertainty as to what its future will look like. The Florida case may have set precedent for how the rest of the United States will treat virtual currency. It may also encourage legislators to create more laws regulating bitcoin. Only time will tell.