Perspectives

Sometimes all you need to navigate the legal landscape is a little information. Our blogs and articles touch on a wide spectrum of legal matters that can pop up in both business and everyday life, and we hope they’ll shed a little light wherever you happen to need it.

Employment Opportunities with Wagner, Falconer & Judd!

We are thrilled to be able to grow our team in 2022! Wagner, Falconer, and Judd is a high-paced, team-oriented workplace that offers numerous opportunities for growth and great employee benefits. If that sounds like a good fit for you, take a look at some of our openings and reach out to our HR department to apply!

Small Business Attorney-

Wagner, Falconer & Judd is seeking an entrepreneurial Business law attorney to serve our growing small business clientele’s formation, acquisition, contract and employment law needs. Ideal applicant would have 2-4 years of business experience, a strong focus on customer service, and an interest in the evolving legal service industry delivery models. The successful candidate will have immediate client exposure and hands on client interaction and must be positive, self-motivated, adaptable, high energy and enjoy working in a fast-paced team environment. Great salary with full range of benefits available.

General Practice Attorney-

Wagner, Falconer & Judd is seeking a general practice attorney with a passion for service that is licensed to practice law in any of the following states Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota or Montana. The lawyer would assist the firm in servicing its contract for a group services legal plan with thousands of members across the state. This is a unique opportunity to service a market of individuals, families and small businesses that are often otherwise priced out of traditional models of access to legal services. The position involves assisting clients with their legal needs through telephonic consultations, document review, legal research, and limited scope representation in many different areas of law. Applicants should have strong interpersonal skills, and an eagerness to help people solve problems. We work in a collegial, team-oriented environment, with offices in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, MN. We value work-life balance, offer telecommuting options to qualified employees, as well as a competitive salary and benefits package.

Litigation/Injury Attorney-

Wagner, Falconer & Judd is seeking an entrepreneurial Injury Law Attorney with at least 5 years of experience to lead its Injury practice. The successful candidate will work with the firm’s executive committee to grow the firm’s regional Injury practice which services a large clientele of over 40,000 individuals in the upper Midwest. Excellent legal skills and superior customer service are a must. Applicants should have strong interpersonal skills, an eagerness to help people solve problems, a true caring for the client’s well-being, an understanding of social media marketing strategies, and a dedication to fostering long term relationships with the firm’s clients. Our firm is dedicated to providing extraordinary legal representation to our clients and outstanding customer service, all in a fun, positive, team orientated work environment for our employees.

Accounting Specialist-

Wagner, Falconer & Judd is seeking for an accounting specialist. The ideal candidate will be experienced in handling a wide range of administrative support and office related tasks. Individuals must deliver outstanding service to our clients and have strong computer skills including QuickBooks, Excel and Word. Other tasks will include data entry, invoicing and billing, deposits, and assisting with reporting. Candidates need to be well organized and able to handle confidential information. Person must be positive, self-motivated, and energetic and enjoy working on a fast-paced team. Full-time position with full range of benefits with onsite gym.

Customer Service Specialist-

Wagner, Falconer & Judd is seeking an experienced Customer Service Specialist to join our growing team. This position is responsible for assisting both internal and external clients and our team of attorneys in a professional manner. We are looking for someone that thrives on helping others and who can deliver award winning service. The right candidate will possess strong leadership and communication skills, have a passion for assisting others, possess a high level of integrity and be detail oriented. If you are a passionate person who thrives in a team environment and truly care about making a difference in the lives of others, this might be the right role for you.  This is a full-time role with daytime hours from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and offers a wide range of employee benefits.

Court of Appeals Upholds OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards

On Friday, December 17th, the Court of Appeals for the U.S. Sixth Circuit overturned a nationwide stay that had put a hold on OSHA rules requiring new vaccination and testing standards for employers. The new rules, known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), mandate employers with 100 or more employees require all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be required to wear face coverings and undergo weekly testing. With the hold overturned, the ETS is now free to move forward with its current implementation date set for January 4th, 2022.

The decision has already been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it remains possible that the implementation date could be pushed back once again. In wake of the decision, OSHA has already announced it will not seek to enforce the new rules or punish employers for noncompliance before January 10, 2022, where the employer is making reasonable attempts to come into compliance with the new rules.  The attorneys at Wagner, Falconer & Judd are here to help you stay up-to-date on any regulatory changes regarding vaccination policies in the workplace. If you have any questions about how to create a policy to protect your employees and your business, please reach out to us today!

Further information about ETS and its requirements can be found here.

Georgia Judge Issues New Injunction Against Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

On Tuesday, December 7th a federal judge in Georgia issued a preliminary nationwide injunction against a vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The mandate, originally slated to go into effect on December 8th, later pushed to January 4th, requires contractors working on federal contracts to ensure their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 and following masking and social distancing policies. This would apply to any subcontractor’s employees working on, or in connection with, a covered contract as well.

The judge temporarily blocked implementation of the mandate after lawsuits from numerous states and trade groups- specifically the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., whose members do business nationwide. In their statement, the organization voiced concerns that the mandate added additional hurdles to an industry already facing a workforce shortage, rising material prices, and supply chain issues.

With Tuesday’s ruling, all three far-reaching vaccine mandates affecting the private sector have been put on hold by courts. However, it does not preclude individual states from enacting mandates, so employers should continue to monitor the rulings and consult with an attorney or HR professional when deciding how to move forward in developing their policies.

Our experienced construction attorneys are here at the ready to help you with any specific questions you might have.

Download the FREE Ebook from WFJ: Lien and Payment Bond Manual 2021

Several states have enacted legislative changes over the last couple years to private mechanic’s
lien clams and public bond payments. You know as well as we do how important it is to keep your
forms current to effectively leverage lien and payment bond rights to maximize the timeliness of
your payment(s).

Companies that capitalize on their lien and bond rights can increase sales, substantially eliminate
AR problems, increase cash flow and reduce bad debt. Wagner Business Solutions is a leader in
the construction industry, helping subcontractors and material suppliers secure and enforce their
construction lien and payment bond claims on private and public projects throughout the United
States and Canada.

Included in this book are reviewed and updated opinion letters for all 50 states, in addition to
relevant forms needed to successfully address your lien and payment bond claim needs.

Download your free copy here.

If you have any questions regarding this e-book or the forms included, contact one of our Commercial Collections attorneys today!

2021 State Law Updates to Mechanic’s Lien & Payment Bond Claims

Several states have enacted new legislative changes over the last couple of years to private mechanic’s lien claims and public bond claims-and it’s vital to your business that you stay up-to-date on these changes.

The attorneys at WFJ have compiled a summary of some of the recent changes that apply to commercial or government construction projects, and updated opinion letters for each individual state. Keep reading for a summary of these legislative changes.

Missouri

Statutory amendments passed in 2019 expanded the coverage for bond claims on public projects.  Similar to other states, the claimant is entitled to assert a bond claim if the claimant has a contract with the general contractor or with a subcontractor of the general contractor.  As a result of these amendments, if the contract was entered into after August 28, 2019, a claimant is now entitled to assert a bond claim if the claimant has a contract with a sub-subcontractor or a material supplier.

However, the 2019 amendments added a notice requirement for material suppliers.  If the claimant is a material supplier, and has a contract with a sub-subcontractor or another material supplier, the claimant must serve a final bond claim notice on the general contractor within 90 days of the claimant’s last date of providing material.  The claimant is not required to serve a final bond claim notice on any party if the claimant is providing material and labor, regardless if their contract is with the general contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor.

Tennessee

Tennessee passed an amendment in 2020 to their lien statute which changed the requirements for serving a preliminary notice on a private commercial project.  As a result, if a contract for a private project is entered on or after July 1, 2020, and the claimant has a contract direct with the owner, the claimant is not required to serve a “Notice to Owner.”  Previously, if the contract was entered before July 1, 2020, and the claimant had a contract directly with the owner, the claimant was required to serve the “Notice to Owner” on the owner before the first date the claimant furnished labor or material.

Arkansas

The State of Arkansas passed amendments in April 2021, which made significant changes to its public and private bond claim statutes. The amendments affect the rules for serving a final bond claim, the deadline for filing a bond, and claims for rental equipment on public projects.

Starting in April 2021, if the claimant’s contract is with the subcontractor, the claimant must serve the final bond notice on the general contractor and surety within 90 days of the claimant’s last date.  This new rule applies to both private and public projects.  Previously, a claimant was not required to serve any notice to assert a claim against the payment bond for either private or public bond claims.

Beginning in April 2021, the lawsuit deadline for payment bonds, for both private and public projects, is now one (1) year from: (1) the date of final payment under the construction contract, or (2) the date the general contractor stops work on the construction project, whichever date is earlier. We recommend, however, that claimants follow the conservative lawsuit deadline of one (1) year after the “last date” the claimant furnished labor or material because the new statutory requirements may be difficult to track.

Finally, starting in April 2021, rental equipment is now covered under the payment bond for a public project. The prior Arkansas statutes did not clarify whether a claimant could assert a claim against the payment bond on a public project for rental equipment.

Georgia

The State of Georgia has adopted new “Lien and Bond Waiver” forms which go into effect on January 2, 2021. In addition to the change in the waiver forms, the new law clarifies that waivers signed after January 1, 2021, do not waive contract rights but only lien and bond rights after the prescribed period of withdrawal. Before the passage of the new law, the statute was not clear whether all contract rights and remedies were waived when a prospective claimant waived their lien or bond rights.

Texas

Texas recently passed a bill which made significant changes to the rules and procedures for mechanic’s lien and bond claims.  The changes apply to all new construction contracts entered on or after January 1, 2022.  The prior mechanic’s lien and bond laws will continue to apply for prime contracts executed prior to January 1, 2022.

New preliminary notice requirements will go into effect on January 1, 2022.  If the claimant has a contract with a subcontractor, the claimant is no longer required to serve a “2nd month notice” on the general contractor.  The claimant must still serve the “3rd month notice”, as previously required, if the claimant’s contract is with the general contractor or subcontractor. Additionally, the form required for the “3rd month notice” has been modified.

The new Texas bill will change the lien foreclosure deadline.  Starting January 1, 2022, the lien foreclosure deadline will be one (1) year from the last day a claimant may file the lien (the previous deadline was two (2) years).  However, the lien foreclosure deadline can be extended for an additional year under a written, recorded agreement with the owner.

The notice requirements will change for “specially manufactured materials” when the new bill goes into effect on January 1, 2022.  Under the new law, the claimant will no longer be required to serve any additional notices for “specially manufactured materials.” Instead, the claimant’s lien claim for “specially manufactured materials” will now be covered by the “3rd month notice.”

The preliminary notice form for retainage will contain new requirements starting on January 1, 2022.  The modified form will require the claimant to provide a description of the project and to list the total retainage unpaid.

Starting January 1, 2022, if a payment bond has been recorded on a private project, claimants will be required to serve the preliminary notices to the original contractor and the surety.  Previously, if a payment bond was recorded on a private project, claimants were required to serve the preliminary notices to only the original contractor.

The deadline to file a mechanic’s lien claim for retainage will be extended starting on January 1, 2022, and it will give claimants almost two additional months to file a retainage claim.  The new retainage deadline will now be the 15th day of the third month that the project is completed, terminated, or abandoned.  The previous deadline required claimants to file a retainage claim within 30 days after the date the project was completed, terminated, or abandoned (this deadline still applies to contracts entered before January 1, 2022).

Good news for claimants is that beginning on January 1, 2022, an owner will no longer be able to shorten the deadline for filing a lien.  Prior to the new law, the owner could file an affidavit of completion, or notify subcontractors that the general contractor has been terminated or abandoned the project, which shortened the deadline for filing the mechanic’s lien to 30 days.  A claimant, under the new law, must file a lien no later than the 15th day of the 4th calendar month after the month when the project is completed, settled, or abandoned.

Texas further amended their lien statutes by removing the requirement that statutory lien waiver and release forms be notarized.  Starting on January 1, 2022, statutory lien waiver and release forms will no longer have to be notarized.

 

You can request individual opinion letters by contacting us at info@wfjlawfirm.com.

5 New MN State Laws We Think You Should Know About

Unless you spend your day refreshing the Minnesota State Legislation website, you may have missed some of the new laws that have been passed so far in 2021. Don’t worry, it’s our job to pay attention- and we are happy to report back to you!

 

  1. Insurers Cannot Discriminate Against Those with Prescriptions that Interfere with Opiates

Prescription for opiate antagonist: When determining whether to issue, renew, cancel, or modify a policy of life insurance, an insurer may not make an underwriting determination based solely on information revealing that a proposed insured has a prescription for an opiate antagonist.

 

2.  Statutory Deadlines Suspended During Peacetime Emergency

An act relating to civil actions; suspending the expiring of statutory deadlines imposed upon judicial proceedings during a peacetime emergency; Deadlines governing proceedings in district and appellate courts suspended during peacetime emergency. Deadlines imposed by statues governing proceedings in the district and appellate courts, including any statute of limitations or other time periods prescribed by the statute shall not expire from the beginning of the peacetime emergency declared on March 13, 2020 in governor’s executive order 20-01 through April 15, 2021. Nothing in this statute prevents a court from holding a hearing, requiring and appearance, or issuing an order during the peacetime emergency if the judge determines that individual circumstances relevant to public safety, personal safety, or other emergency matters require action in a specific case. This section is effective the day following final enactment and applies to all deadlines that had not expired as of March 13, 2020 and that would have expired during the period starting March 13, 2020 and ending April 15, 2021.

 

3. Department of Corrections to Provide Resources to Those Recently Released

An act relating to corrections; requiring that certain information, assistance, services and medications be provided to inmates upon release from prison; providing identification cards for released inmates, requiring a homelessness mitigation plan and annual reporting on information related to homelessness.

“Beginning July 1, the Department of corrections will have to provide health and other information to people leaving the prison system. The idea is to help ease their re-entry into the community. People leaving prison must also receive a month’s supply of their medication and a prescription for two months of refills. The department must help them apply for MinnesotaCare or Medical assistance if the person wants it. The department must also provide a range of information such whether the person can vote and whether they owe court-ordered payments or fines.

 

4. Frontline Workers Who Contract Covid-19 Able to Claim Worker’s Compensation Through 2021

First responders, health care workers and child care providers who serve those groups will be able to claim worker’s compensation if they contract COVID-19 through 2021 thanks to an extension of the policy passed in April. It first took effect las year and established the presumption that the people on the front lines who developed a COVID infection were exposed to it in the workplace unless their employer could prove others.

 

5. New Law Sets Energy-Saving Goals

This law, three years in the making, “will strengthen Minnesota’s energy conservation programs, reduce greenhouse as emissions and create jobs across the state, “according to a May press release from the governor’s office. The law sets energy-saving goals and requires documentation of progress toward those goals. It took effect when Walz signed it May 25.

 

Want to see all the laws passed so far this year? Visit Minnesota State Legislation’s website to read the full list of statutes.

 

Have questions? Our attorneys are always available to work with you on your legal needs.

What You Need To Know: MN’s Emergency Executive Order for Commercial Collections

On May 4th, 2020, an Emergency Executive Order was signed into effect, placing suspensions on a number of collection activities related consumer debtors. The Order suspended “service of a garnishment summons on a consumer debtor or consumer garnishee.”* The order also suspended obtaining “information about a consumer debtor’s assets, liabilities, and personal earnings.”

On January 7th, 2021, Executive Order 21-02 amended Order 20-50 to add levies to the suspended activities as well. Up to that point, only garnishments and formal demands for disclosure of financial information had been suspended. The updates in Order 21-02 added a significant limitation on the suspension of garnishments and levies by adding language limiting the suspension of judgments entered on or after May 4th, 2020 and language allowing for wage garnishments and levies on judgments entered prior to May 4th, 2020. Previously, the suspension was on all judgments old and new.

On May 6th, 2021, the MN Governor issued Executive Order 21-21. This order provides a “sunset” provision on Orders 20-50 and 21-02. Movement on this Order relies on the determination by the Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Health to confirm that seventy percent (70%) of people sixteen years of age and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Effective two business days after that confirmation, or on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 at 11:59 pm, whichever occurs first, Executive Orders 20-50 and 21-02 (as well as others) will be rescinded. Meaning, on July 1, 2021, or perhaps earlier, the suspension of garnishments, levies and demands for disclosure related to consumer debtors will no longer be in effect.

If you have questions about whether you may be effected by any of these changes, please reach out to one of our Commercial Collections attorneys.

 

*”for the purpose of this Executive Order, the terms ‘consumer debt’ and ‘consumer garnishee’ have the definition of ‘debtor’ and ‘garnishee’ as used in Minnesota Statutes section 571-712, subdivision 2(b) 2(c), when applied to debtors and garnishees who are natural persons and whose debt originated from the purchase of goods or services purchased primarily for a personal, family, or household purpose, and not for a commercial, agricultural, or business purpose.

Executive Order 20-50

Executive Order 21-02

Executive Order 21-21

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