Archive for July 2010

Labor Dept. Considering Worker-Classification Rule

July 20, 2010

In an effort to crack down on companies that misclassify employees as independent contractors, the U.S department of Labor is contemplating a proposed regulation that would require an employer to complete a written analysis of a worker’s status, disclose that status to the worker and keep a record of the analysis on file. Testimony of Deputy Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris to the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee stated that companies who misclassify employees as independent contractors can gain an advantage in the market over law abiding companies and asserted that the new rule, in conjunction with budget increases in the labor department, will significantly help in slowing the illegal practice. The testimony came during the committee’s current debate on a new bill that would boost penalties on companies convicted of misclassifying workers and require employers to notify each worker of their classification. Currently, the bill only has 7 co-sponsors and is adamantly opposed by committee republicans who think that the bill will penalize all companies, not just the few who are taking advantage of the system. With little time left in the legislative session, it is unlikely the bill will be passed before the current Congress ends.

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only.  The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter.  By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm.  This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.  Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.

Attorney Fees in Lien Cases: Only paid by the Owners

July 20, 2010

In a recent case the appellate court of Kane county upheld section 17(b) of the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act, which prohibits attorneys’ fees awards against subsequent purchasers. The plaintiff Action Plumbing Company (Action Plumbing) filed claims for liens on property developed by Neumann Homes (Neumann) when it did not receive payment for work it did for Neumann’s residential complexes. Before Action Plumbing filed the claims though, Neumann sold its units to new occupants and when Action Plumbing decided to foreclose on the claims, it filed 16 separate complaints to foreclose, naming Neumann and the new owners of the units (subsequent purchasers) as defendants. In addition to seeking payment for services rendered with interest, Action Plumbing demanded its attorneys’ fees be paid in accordance with section 17(b) of the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act (Lien Act).

As soon as the trial court began, the defendants jointly submitted a motion to dismiss the lien claims, arguing that the liens did not meet standards specified by the Lien Act. Shortly after that motion was submitted, Neumann filed for bankruptcy, putting a stay on the proceedings. After the trial resumed the court denied the motion to dismiss and ordered the defendants to answer Action Plumbing’s complaint. Neumann did not answer and was defaulted but the subsequent purchasers did answer and asked for a partial summary judgment that exonerated them from paying any of Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees. The trial court agreed that only Neumann, the owner of the property who contracted Action Plumbing, could be assessed Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees. The trial judge is even quoted as saying, “when I’m taxing attorneys’ fees, I’m taxing them on Neumann Homes.”

The court ordered decrees of foreclosure on all 16 claims, and in each claim the amount included Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees. Even though the language of the decree stated that the attorneys’ fees are, “taxed costs against Neumann” Neumann had defaulted on all its cases and no longer had any interest in the property, leaving the subsequent purchasers in a predicament; either pay Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees or lose their property in a judicial auction.

The subsequent purchasers quickly filed an appeal, asserting that the trial court erred in putting the attorneys’ fees in their foreclosure decrees. The Appellate court understood section 17(b) and how it states, “the court may tax that owner, but not any other party, the reasonable attorney’s fees,” of the lien claimant. It also recognized the trial court’s intent to only fine Neumann Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees. However, Neumann no longer had any interest in the properties and had defaulted in each case, putting itself in a position where it did not have to pay the claim or lose any interest. Therefore, the foreclosure decrees placed the subsequent purchasers in a situation where they had to pay Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees or lose their rights to the property entirely. The appellate court determined that by including Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees in each decree, the trial court improperly levied the attorneys’ fees on the subsequent purchasers, in clear violation of section 17(b). It ruled that the trial court erred in inserting Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees in each decree and partially reversed the decision of the trial court, remanding the case for additional proceedings pursuant to their opinion. The court did allow Action Plumbing to seek awards for its attorneys’ fees in all proceedings relevant to the claims’ case, but only from Neumann.

Section 17(b) of the Lien act is not an ambiguous statute, its language is clear; only the owner can be taxed the attorney fees of the lien claimant. The appellate court interpreted the law correctly and ensured that the subsequent purchasers would not have to pay Action Plumbing’s attorneys’ fees. These two rulings protect the subsequent purchasers from being unlawfully taxed and upholding section 17(b) of the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act.

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only.  The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter.  By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm.  This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.  Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.

Chicago Operating Engineer strike shuts down projects

July 7, 2010

Chicago Operating Engineer strike shuts down projects…read more

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only.  The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter.  By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm.  This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.  Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.

Obama Awards $2 Billion for Solar Power

July 7, 2010

WASHINGTON – The government is handing out nearly $2 billion for new solar plants that President Barack Obama says will create thousands of jobs and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

Obama announced the initiative in his weekly radio and online address Saturday, saying the money is part of his plan to bring new industries to the U.S.

“We’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America,” Obama said.

The two companies that will receive the money from the president’s $862 billion economic stimulus are Abengoa Solar, which will build one of the world’s largest solar plants in Arizona, creating 1,600 construction jobs; and Abound Solar Manufacturing, which is building plants in Colorado and Indiana. The Obama administration says those projects will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

To view this article from the Associated Press, click here:
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_JOBS?SITE=OKPON&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only.  The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter.  By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm.  This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.  Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.


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