Creditors are still very aggressive in trying to hold indivdual owners liable for corporate debts. In 2012, our firm reprsented a business client sued by an aggressive creditor. The creditor sued on the basis of a "personal guaranty" signed by the business owner. We were successful in winning the case and absolving the individual business owner of the debt. The lesson is, of course, that business owners should review and understand the importance of each document they sign. As a creditor, you must insure your "forms" are correct and that they are completed accurately and properly. Contact Paul Andrew or Raymon Burns for details.
Largest Legal Malpractice Verdict in Georgia in 2010
Paul Andrew represented sellers of real property who entered into a contract to sell their property to a development entity. At closing, the attorney handling the closing failed to prepare a record a "deed to secure debt" as required by the contract. The buyer later defaulted and filed bankruptcy. Paul Andrew filed suit against the real estate closing attorney. The jury deliberated for only about 20 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of the sellers, finding that the closing attorney had made errors and committed fraud in the closing. The verdict was in excess of $875,000.00. The appeal that had been filed by the closing attorney was recently dismissed.
It Pays to Be Reasonable
When you are a defendant, it often pays to settle a lawsuit early, especially if you are not a "sympathetic" defendant. Paul Andrew of AMRS recently filed suit against a doctor for approximately $800.00 in compensation owed to an office worker. In the initial demand letter, Mr. Andrew offered to settle the claim for $800.00 plus $100.00 in attorneys' fees for having to write the letter. The doctor did not respond substantively to the demand. Mr. Andrew took the case to a jury trial and the jury awarded AMRS' client $800.00 in compensation owed and $8,000.00 in attorneys' fees. This was an excellent result for the client and maybe next time the Defendant will at least offer a compromise rather than adopt the "you won't sue me over $800.00" attitude.
AMRS Successfully Obtains Attorney's Fee Judgment Against Executor
Brook Davidson and Mike Smith successfully litigated an accounting and final settlement case against the Executor of a probate estate which was open for more than twenty years. In more than five hearings over the course of three years, the Executor continually failed and refused to provide an appropriate accounting of the estate. After AMRS achieved a favorable ruling at the trial court level on the accounting and final settlement issue, AMRS filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees and to Deny Reimbursement to Executor of Expenses. The trial court granted AMRS' Motion for Attorney's Fees, stating that AMRS' fees should be paid not by the AMRS client (a beneficiary of the estate) but rather by the estate itself. The trial court denied AMRS' Motion to Deny Reimbursement to Executor of Expenses. AMRS appealed the trial court's Order on those motions to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. On September 18, 2008, in In re Estate of Holtzclaw, 293 Ga. App. 577, the Court of Appeals of Georgia held that, because of the Executor's wrongdoing, the Executor personally should pay AMRS' client's attorney's fees. Also, the Court of Appeals of Georgia held that the Executor should not be reimbursed from the estate for expenses incurred because of the Executor's wrongdoing.
Successful Appeal - RICO
In 2007, the firm, with the assistance of lawyers from Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, succeeded in clarifying Georgia's RICO law in the context of a business tort case. The case, Williams General v. Stone Cold Chemical, established the standard of proof in civil RICO actions.