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Michigan Business Law Blog

Congratulations Joe Bellanca

Joseph A. Bellanca, an entertainment and intellectual property attorney at Hertz Schram PC, has been named a 2014 Up & Coming Lawyer by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. This prestigious honor is awarded to attorneys in the state of Michigan who have, for the first 10 years of practice, excelled in their profession and are standouts among their peers.

Grandma Passed The Test!

One of the most fruitful and confused areas of estate and trust litigation involves the mental capacity of the grantor of a trust. Not too long ago, the Michigan legislature made it clear that the mental capacity necessary to create a trust is the same as the mental capacity necessary to make a will. But a significant problem remains. How do you know?

Grandma is 85. She decides to change her trust and disinherit grandchildren XYZ in favor of grandchildren ABC. Grandma lives in an assisted living facility and granddaughter B was appointed Conservator and helps her pay bills because Grandma can be a bit forgetful. Because of the conservatorship, Grandma is deemed "disabled" under the language of the Trust and Mr. Jones has taken over as her successor trustee. Grandma is alert, knows her family, where she lives etc.

Don't Forget the IRS In Simple Estates

Don't forget the IRS. It sounds like a silly platitude. The IRS always gets theirs, doesn't it? But in a decedent's estate it is essential that someone (a personal representative) file a final tax return for the decedent. Again, this seems simple, but not always. Let's say Grandpa Bill, who was working up until his death, died March 15, 2014. Let's say all of his financial assets were jointly owned with daughter. Since Grandpa died before April 15 he hadn't yet filed his 2013 return AND he had income in 2014 for which another return has to be filed.


FINRA is being pushed by PIABA to crackdown on what brokerage firms and brokers are required to report to FINRA and what FINRA should make available on the broker reports to the public. PIABA wants additional black marks to be reported by brokers to allow investors to see potential red flags when doing a broker check on the FINRA website. The additional black items being pushed to report include personal bankruptcies in the past 10 years, criminal convictions and charges, judgment liens, fraud, theft, violations of investment-related statues, regulations as well as industry standards of conduct according to Jeane Eaglesham and Rob Barry from The Wall Street Journal. 

2014 Victory in Federal Court for Truck Drivers based in Michigan

Over 125 independent owner-operator truck drivers ("truck drivers") entered into agreements to lease truck tractor units with the option to purchase the leased tractor unit from a Michigan based company ("leasing company"). The truck drivers who entered into the agreements with the leasing company were then obligated to have their leased trucks maintained and repaired at the leasing company's repair facility at prices the truck drivers alleged were inflated. Additionally, the leasing company deducted these maintenance charges and repairs from the compensation due to the truck drivers. The leasing company also required truck drivers to pay escrow funds, but it allegedly failed to keep proper accounting of these funds, failed to account for interest and failed to properly refund these escrow funds.

Hertz Schram's medical malpractice team taking charge for its clients and winning in the courtroom

The highly skilled and experienced medical malpractice legal team at Hertz Schram PC, led by attorneys Steve Weiss and Elizabeth Thomson, reviewed a potential medical malpractice claim brought to them by clients who suffered the loss of a loved one that visited a local Michigan hospital for treatment and was given the wrong treatment based off an imprudent gross medical misdiagnosis.

This medical misdiagnosis claim stemmed from a 58-year-old male who presented to a hospital in Wayne County with weakness and difficulty breathing. The man had a medical history of being a heavy smoker and was overweight. The doctors at the local Michigan hospital treated the middle-aged man for congestive heart failure when instead should have been treating him for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Due to this negligent misdiagnosis, the man slowly suffered carbon dioxide (Co2) poisoning, suffered acute respiratory failure was put on a ventilator, and passed away.

REITs contribute to commercial real estate stability in Michigan

Most are aware of the recent housing bubble in the U.S., which caused strife across the nation's economy. However, there may be many in Michigan and other states who do not realize that an entire portion of the real estate sector was able to avoid the negative effects of the real estate boom and bust. Commercial real estate did not experience the same boom and bust effect witnessed in the housing market.

A recent study suggests that Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) played a significant role in keeping the commercial real estate market safe from the boom and bust effect. The study, which was published in the Journal of Portfolio Management, was conducted by the head of financial markets and economics of an international bank, a real estate professor and a BIS statistical analyst. However, the study published in the journal has not received significant attention outside of those already involved in REITs.

Two tech companies receive funds for business planning ventures

Technological advancements are usually aimed at improving various aspects of society. However, a new company looking to bring its technology to the marketplace will have to have solid business planning backed up by startup capital. This is what two startup technology companies are doing with their recently obtained grant funding.

One of the new companies is a technology firm looking to improve emissions and fuel efficiency. The company, Nostrum Energy LLC, had recently received $50,000 in grant money from the Michigan Small Business Development Center through a special startup business accelerator program. The program is being run through a local university.

Construction company faces business litigation in Michigan

Construction projects can be complicated, and many unexpected events may end up occurring. This can put a construction company at risk of a business litigation lawsuit if a party believes the company’s negligence may have caused injury or damage to property. One state government agency in Michigan has recently accused a construction company of negligence, which allegedly resulted in damage to the basements of over 20 residential properties.

The construction company, Pamar Enterprises Inc., was contracted by the Michigan Department of Transportation to work on a reconstruction project. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant construction company had removed concrete and asphalt materials from the project site. Removing the concrete and asphalt, which had been used to cover a road, had caused a trench that had become filled with water during rainfall.

More women may be good business planning idea for tech companies

Women make up half of the population and therefore make up half of the consumers in the economy. This is why companies in all industries and sectors have a financial interest in targeting women in their marketing campaigns to promote products and services in Michigan or in any other state. However, many companies in the software industry may be having trouble targeting women and may have to adjust their business planning strategies in order to do so.

One of the problems that many companies have in the software industry is a lack of women in the workforce. This is widespread throughout the software industry with only 20 percent of software developers being women. In comparison to other industries, this number is low, considering that 56 percent of people in finance and business positions are women. Also, women account for 36 percent of medical doctors and 33 percent of attorneys.