Spivey, Pope, Green, and Greer, LLC Attorneys at Law

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The Importance of Creating an Advance Directive for Healthcare & How SPGG Can Help

An advance directive for healthcare goes by many names. Maybe you’ve heard it called a living will, personal directive, or advance decision. No matter what name you call it, creating this document is of extreme importance. However, it must be done correctly. Allow the SPGG attorneys to team with you to create this healthcare directive.

Call us at 478-254-8866 to schedule an appointment.

Millions of people in the United States have made personal directives concerning healthcare. They asked many questions and received answers that gave them peace of mind. Consider the following FAQs:

What is an advance directive for healthcare?

This legal document is written by a person who wants to have specific actions taken in case they are incapacitated. Too often, people endure an injury or suffer an illness and are unable to speak. This leaves the family to make decisions on their behalf, unless an advance directive for healthcare has been written.

Why is it important to write a directive?

With this document, the family and doctors will know exactly what you want in case you are unable to communicate. This relieves feelings of stress and anxiety from family members knowing that they are honoring your wishes.

What is written in this directive?

This document can cover anything healthcare-related. Many people address end-of-life treatments that they wish to have or not have. These treatments range in topic, such as the use of a ventilator, feeding tube, antibiotics, dialysis, blood transfusions, and more.

How can the SPGG attorneys help me?

We are skilled attorneys who have written countless advance directives. We know exactly what questions to ask you, and how to write it clearly and in detail so that no confusion occurs. Our team is ready to help you have peace of mind.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our team.

SPGG Services: Your Number One Attorneys For Your Legal Needs

Choosing an attorney with extensive experience can be the difference between winning and losing your case. The Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer (SPGG) attorneys not only have extensive experience, but have a deep knowledge of many different facets of the law.

Call us today at 478-254-8866.

Allow us to assist you with your legal needs! Below are highlights of several of our services:

Wealth Protection & Tax Planning

Maximizing your wealth is only the first step to creating a solid, secure financial future. Our estate planning attorneys can help you protect your future by taking the appropriate steps to care for your financial needs. We are extremely knowledgeable in areas such as wills and trusts, estate planning, probate and estate administration, and more.

Employment & Human Resources

If you are a business owner and have employees working for you, you need one of our employment and human resources attorneys. In order to achieve success for your business, you need to ensure that your employee handbook, termination and hiring procedures, recordkeeping, and other employee-related issues are up to par.

Commercial Real Estate

Due to the ever-changing federal, state, and local laws, commercial real estate can be extremely confusing if you don’t have a well-informed attorney and team on your side. We can assist anyone involved in commercial real estate such as lenders, buyers, sellers, investors, developers, underwriters, landlords, and tenants. Are you looking to acquire or sell property? Our team at SPGG can help.

Business Litigation

Business litigation covers business issues such as fraud, breach of contract, partnership disputes, business torts, and more. Our attorneys have years of experience handling business litigation cases.

These are only four of our many services. Call us today at 478-254-8866!

Employment Laws: Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer Can Help

It is an almost impossible task for Georgia businesses to stay abreast of constantly-changing federal, state employment laws. Not only that, but it’s an exhausting one, too. Employment matters such as terminations can be difficult, and costly if not handled correctly. Fortunately, we can help with these matters and offer you peace of mind!

If you need legal help, don’t delay and contact our team today!

At Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, our attorneys specialize in consulting, providing legal advice, and training on all aspects of employment and human resources law. Our experts can help ensure compliance with federal and state laws to prevent future, often complex problems. We specialize in all employment law topics, including wage and hour, unemployment insurance issues, benefits, termination and hiring issues, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, recordkeeping, and dealing with regulatory agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor.

Employment Laws

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer can help not only with immediate employment issues, but we also provide preventative measures that can head off costly litigation on employment issues, such as properly-crafted employee handbooks and employment agreements. These proactive measures can help you develop and implement sound personnel policies and practices to reduce the risk of costly lawsuits by employees.

Human Resources Laws

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer can help your business with:

  • Discrimination/harassment issues
  • Employee terminations and exit interviews
  • Employee handbooks and employment agreements
  • Restrictive covenant (non-compete, non-solicitation, non-piracy and non-disclosure) issues
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) matters
  • Planning and implementation of recordkeeping procedures
  • Review of personnel policies
  • Wage and hour compliance reviews

Attorneys Eager To Help You

David A. Pope and Matthew R. Hall are both qualified and respected attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer who can help your business. Give them a call today at (478) 254-8866.

Attorney Spotlight: Get to Know Thomas Green

Tom and his wife live in Fort Valley, Georgia, and enjoy spending time with their two daughters and three grandkids. He especially enjoys real estate law due to growing up on a farm in Crawford County. Because of his personal and professional investment, Tom is one of the leading attorneys in Georgia concerning real estate law.

If you need legal help, contact Tom today!

Thomas Green & His Expertise

Tom specializes in three areas of the law: commercial real estate, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy, and public and affordable housing. Do you need legal assistance with those areas of the law? Take a closer look at what those areas deal with:

Commercial real estate – Laws concerning commercial real estate are ever-changing, and that’s why it’s extremely important to choose an attorney who has immense knowledge and experience about this area of law. We work with lenders, buyers, sellers, investors, developers, underwriters, landlords, and tenants.

Creditors’ rights and bankruptcy – This legal area can be very complicated. Many people believe that if someone who owes them money declares bankruptcy that their money is lost. However, with the right attorney, we will fight for you to recover some or all of your debt.

Public and affordable housing – This area of the law is extremely specialized, and only a handful of expert lawyers across America can effectively argue this area of law in the courtroom. Public and affordable housing deals with housing authorities, developers, nonprofit organizations, and HUD contractors on a variety of housing projects.

About SPGG

The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer offer legal counsel to a wide variety of clients on all aspects of business and legal matters. Practice areas include business law and litigation, commercial real estate, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy, employment and human resources, and more.

Contact us today if you need legal help!

How to Avoid Partnership Disputes in 2 Simple Steps

Being in charge of your own company can take years to master. Sharing the responsibility of the company with a partner is a whole other issue to tackle. It takes collaboration, communication, deliberation, and so much more to earn success. However, with the right partner (and team of lawyers to help), the reward can be exponential.

Contact the SPGG attorneys today if you need guidance with a partnership dispute!

Inevitably, partnership disputes will happen. People have different ideas and ways of doing things. However, with a written agreement and frequent communication, your partnership should thrive instead of struggling to survive. Consider the following two steps:

Write Out Each Partner’s Responsibilities

From the beginning, each partner should know exactly which responsibilities belong to him or her. With a written agreement, the chance of miscommunication drops significantly. And, there will always be a hard copy to reference in the event of a misunderstanding.

Responsibilities will differ depending on the ability, need, and desires of your partner. However, be as specific as possible when writing this document. Feel free to revise it as time passes, but always make sure both parties are aware of the changes.

Communicate Your Frustrations

By the time a dispute occurs, many people have allowed the frustration to build up over time. Instead of harboring ill feelings or frustrations, communicate to your partner if something happens you don’t agree with right as they happen. However, remember to not only point out the problem, but a solution as well.

By doing this, you are keeping the line of communication open and dissolving any frustrations before they can become a greater problem. Additionally, your partnership will grow stronger instead of weaker.

If you feel like your partnership needs legal intervention, contact us today! One of our attorneys will gladly help you and your partner mediate your differences.

How We Can Help With Wage & Hour Compliance Reviews

The world of wage and hour rules and regulations are ever-changing. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 itself has been amended over 10 times and will likely see more amendments. So, how can companies keep up with this constantly-changing law? By trusting a team of professionals to perform a wage and hour compliance review.

Contact your SPGG team today if you are in need of a wage and hour compliance review!

By choosing SPGG to perform this review, you are taking the necessary steps forward to protect yourself and your company from a costly lawsuit.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Before the FLSA was enacted, employees often were overworked and underpaid. However, with this law, the company and the employees can work with each other and with the law to produce incredible results. Despite how many times this act has been amended, its main objectives have remained the same:

  • 40-hour work week
  • Child labor restrictions
  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime pay

This act gives both the employee and employer the knowledge necessary to act according to the law. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and disputes still occur. The percentage of lawsuits from employees has increased exponentially in the last decade. With so many disgruntled employees and frustrated employers, there must be a way to solve this problem. Fortunately, there is.

The Best Defense for Wage & Hour Issues

It’s vital for every company to be proactive with wage and hour compliance reviews. With so many amendments and changes in the law, it’s difficult to stay within the legal realm. But, that’s where the SPGG team of attorneys can help.

When we help you with wage and hour compliance reviews, we will be able to dissect any area of your company that may be a cause for concern. We can help you evaluate and correct any issues so your company is in full compliance with the law.

Don’t hesitate to call our team today at 478-254-8866.

Explaining CRE & Why You Need Our Help

Purchasing or selling commercial real estate can be extremely tricky but also an incredible opportunity. Commercial real estate (CRE) takes many shapes and forms, such as your local shopping malls, office buildings, industrial parks, local stores, and more. These stores thrive on the business of people just like you.

Contact the SPGG attorneys today with any of your commercial real estate needs!

What is Commercial Real Estate?

There are many types of real estate but three that are the most common: residential, vacant land, and commercial. Residential real estate is extremely common since everyone needs a home. Vacant land real estate is growing in popularity due to more people wanting to be out of the city or a place to build their second home. Commercial real estate continues to thrive since it makes up any real estate that is non-residential.

To buy or sell commercial real estate, you need a skilled lawyer to walk you through every step. The process looks different for every situation and person. However, many people need our guidance with financing, development, acquisition, and more.

How can we help?

SPGG attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable, and ready to help with all aspects of commercial real estate matters, including:

  • Assessments
  • Commercial leasing
  • Commercial real estate transactions, financing, & workouts
  • Conservation easements, environmental compliance, wetland mitigation, & underground storage tanks
  • Easements, restrictive covenants, & right-of-ways
  • Land use & zoning issues (including LED billboards/signs)
  • Mining & industrial
  • Mortgage lending regulation or secondary mortgage markets
  • Real estate taxes
  • Shopping centers
  • Timberland & farm land

More often than not, commercial real estate matters call for knowledge in other areas of law. Because we are a multidisciplinary firm, SPGG can provide our clients with a full range of legal services.

Call the SPGG attorneys today at 478-254-8866 for any legal need you have!

Breach of Contract vs. Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Understanding the Difference & How We Can Help

In today’s world, contracts are everywhere and take many different forms such as job agreements, housing contracts, vehicle sales, and more. Fiduciary duty has also become more common as more people venture into different aspects of life where they need guidance. In both situations, fiduciary duty and contracts, legal action will arise if a breach occurs.

Have you been the victim of a breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duty? Call the SPGG attorneys today at 478-254-8866.

Understanding what a breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract is important to your case:

What is a breach of fiduciary duty?

A fiduciary is anyone whose responsibility is to act in the best interest of a person or organization. They often handle many important issues such as estate, finance, services, or asset matters. When the fiduciary benefits from the breach and causes harm to the party involved, this is called breach of fiduciary duty.

When this breach occurs, it is important to seek legal help. In order to regain any lost income, fix estate issues, or any other important matters, the SPGG attorneys can help.

What is a breach of contract?

A contract is a document that lays out what both parties expect from the agreement. If the contract is broken in any way (failure to complete or partial completion), this is considered a breach of contract and legal consequences may arise.

If legal action is taken, the victims of breach of contract are often awarded damages, specific performance, cancellation, or restitution. The most common remedy for breach of contract cases is damages. Different types of damages include compensatory, punitive, nominal, and liquidated damages.

If someone has accused you of a breach of contract or you are the victim of the breach, contact the SPGG attorneys today to settle the dispute.

Fraud: Proactive & Reactive Steps to Take

Millions of people are victims of fraud each year in America. Because of the rise in fraud and theft, it’s important to know the different types of fraud, steps to take after fraud, and ways to prevent fraud from occurring.

Contact SPGG today for all of your legal needs!

Different Types of Fraud

Unfortunately, fraud has many faces and can infiltrate your life in different ways. One of the best ways to avoid fraud is to know the different types of fraud that exist. Different types of fraud include (but are not limited to):

  • Credit card
  • Identity
  • IP address
  • Social security
  • Withdrawals from accounts

Steps to Take After Fraud Has Occurred

No one likes to deal with fraud and it tends to take a good amount of time to alert everyone involved. However, the sooner you can alert each company that has been affected, the better! For example, if your credit card has been stolen and there have been fraudulent charges made, call the credit card company directly and dispute the charges. Ask them to immediately cancel your credit card so the thief will not be able to make any more purchases.

It is also helpful to file a police report so the theft is documented legally. It is important to tell the police officer everything that was stolen from the smallest to the largest items. Keep a file of the police report for future reference.

Ways to Prevent Fraud

It’s important to take steps to prevent fraud, however difficult it may be. The best way to prevent fraud is being proactive. Daily checking your bank accounts (including checking, savings, and credit card statements), signing up for free credit score monitoring (such as Credit Karma), or paying for services that will check for identity theft and fraud every month and notify you updates.

SPGG attorneys are extremely experienced and knowledgeable in many areas such as business litigation, commercial real estate, tax exempt organizations, and more. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 478-254-8866 for any legal need you may have.

How to Perform an Employee Exit Interview

Many people shudder at the thought of performing an employee exit interview due to potential discomfort or awkwardness. However, not everyone leaving his or her job is doing so on a bad note. Regardless of the reason, an exit interview is good for both the employee and employer.

Call a SPGG professional at 478-254-8866 if you need guidance concerning employee termination and exit interviews.

Schedule an Exit Interview

Exit interviews are a great tool to learn how you, as the employer, can improve your company. Additionally, the exit interview may give closure to the employee and feel appreciated that his or her voice was heard. Schedule the interview as a one-on-one meeting. If too many “bosses” are in the meeting with only one employee, it may be overwhelming or intimidating.

Ask Questions & Be Receptive

Rarely does anyone leave a job without reason. Be intentional about asking the departing employee about their time with your company. Common exit interview questions include:

  • How well do you feel you were treated by your supervisors and coworkers?
  • What steps should be taken to make this company a better place to work?
  • Do you feel you had adequate support from your peers and leadership?

Of course, the number one question to ask is “Why are you leaving?” Whatever their answer is, be receptive. While you may not agree with some answers, it is still how they feel and there’s a reason behind it. If you respond to his or her answer defensively, the employee may choose not to be honest during the remaining exit interview.

Implement Changes

Exit interviews have the potential to be extremely productive if the answers the departing employee gives lead to positive changes in the company. While not every suggestion may be implemented, it’s important to consider how your company can become a better place to work and make changes accordingly.

Contact SPGG today if you have any legal needs!

Discrimination & Harassment Issues? SPGG Can Help

Workplace discrimination and harassment can introduce costly lawsuits and decrease employee morale. As employment and human resource attorneys, we can help keep you up-to-date with current laws and regulations.

Call SPGG today at 478-254-8866 for any employment and human resource legal needs!

We provide preventative measures that can head off costly litigation on employment issues, such as properly-crafted employee handbooks and employment agreements.

Preventative & Reactive Measures for the Workplace

Did you know that an employer is liable for harassment and discrimination that occurs in the workplace if certain measures are not taken? Those measures include providing an avenue for complaint and taking appropriate actions to try to stop the discrimination or harassment. Sadly, these occurrences are common. However, you can take preventative measures to stop it before it happens.

Train Your Employees

In multiple locations and in various ways, clearly explain what harassment and discrimination is and what the consequences are if you take part in these acts. We recommend dedicating a section about harassment and discrimination in your employee handbook, post flyers around the job site, and bring in a professional speaker once or twice a year to educate your employees about these critical issues.

Be Present & Available

As a boss, it’s very important to set aside time to be among your employees. By doing this, they may feel more comfortable reporting any harassment or discrimination since they have been around you at various times. If an employee asks to speak to you, be available to speak to him or her. If you delay the meeting, the employee may choose to not report the incident.

Take All Complaints Seriously

If an employee reveals that harassment or discrimination is occurring, do not avoid the situation. Be sure to deliver the appropriate consequence according to the handbook. This will reaffirm to your company that the rules cannot be broken and you are someone they can trust. If employees believe you will fight for them, they will work hard for you.

These proactive measures can help you develop and implement sound personnel policies and practices to reduce the risk of costly lawsuits by employees.

Call SPGG today at 478-254-8866!

Explaining Intellectual Property Litigation & How We Can Help

Creating intellectual property is a feat in itself. However, without proper protection, someone might take credit for your ideas, whether intentional or not. At SPGG, we fight hard for you and your creation if intellectual property litigation is necessary.

Call SPGG today at 478-254-8866 for your intellectual property litigation needs!

What is Intellectual Property Litigation?

Intellectual property refers to conceptions of the mind including (but not limited to) designs, products, artistic works, or inventions. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are three ways to protect your intellectual property from being stolen.

Unfortunately, if intellectual property is unprotected, it may be stolen. Intellectual property litigation is a type of complex business litigation that requires an experienced attorney.

Fortunately, the Constitution is the backbone for the American people’s rights. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 is known as the “Copyright Clause.” It states: “The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for a limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…”

This clause, written and implemented in 1787, gives American people rights and ownership to their creations. Today, the SPGG team can fight for you if copyright infringement occurs.

Three Famous Intellectual Property Cases

From Kellogg to Napster, the court has heard thousands of intellectual property cases. However, these three cases are some of the most well-known:

Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog

In this case, Louis Vuitton filed for copyright infringement against Haute Diggity Dog and its line of parody products (Chewey Vuiton, dog chew toys). The court ruled in favor of Haute Diggity Dog, stating that its products were vastly different from Louis Vuitton, and its product names were a successful use of parody. This case furthered parody as an accepted intellectual property use to deny infringement.

Bratz Dolls v. Barbie

The makers of Barbie (Mattel, Inc.) sued the makers of Bratz Dolls (MGA Entertainment, Inc.), claiming the Bratz look and name were similar to Barbie. The court sided with Mattel, Inc. when it discovered the designer of Bratz Dolls was on Mattel’s payroll while being an MGA Entertainment, Inc. consultant.

Baigent & Leigh v. Random House Group, Ltd.

Famously known as The Da Vinci Code case, authors Baigent and Leigh of Holy Blood, Holy Grail filed a copyright infringement case against Random House Group for publishing Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The court ruled in favor of Random House Group, claiming that although the two books had similarities, the public research that was made in order to write both books was not copyrighted and therefore copyright infringement did not occur.

Contact us today for your legal needs.

Community Support Spotlight: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia

The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer are dedicated to impacting the community around them. It’s our belief that commitment to community does not end when the briefcase is closed at the end of the day. That’s why we volunteer and support community organizations outside of our time at the office.

One of the organizations we support is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia, whose mission is to provide care and comfort for the families of seriously ill or medically-fragile children who seek specialized pediatric medical care in our community.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities

A Ronald McDonald House is a safe, encouraging home-away-from-home for the families of extremely sick children. If a family has to travel long distances for medical attention, the House is a warm and cheerful environment where they are close to their children.

Additionally, families are among other families that are going through similar circumstances. This creates a place of comradery and support during a time of crisis. If a child is receiving outpatient treatment, a Ronald McDonald House is the perfect place for them to be-with their families in an environment full of support.

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can help your local Ronald McDonald House, such as:

Monetary Donations

With monetary donations, we accommodate roughly 5,000 “room nights” every year. Your donation will help the House underwrite the cost to keep these rooms available and suitable for families and children in need.

Volunteer Your Time

At the House, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities including office assistance, greeting and hospitality, conducting House tours, house management assistance, seasonal cleaning, gardening, staffing festival booths, mailings, and fundraising.

Host a Fundraiser

Fundraisers are great ways to create awareness and get your friends and family involved with the House. Fundraisers can come in all shapes and sizes such as fashion shows, bake sales, tasting events, talent shows, yard sales, and more.

Learn more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia.

Announcing Newest Attorney Keith A. Johnston

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, LLC is pleased to announce that Keith A. Johnston has joined the firm as an associate. Keith graduated magna cum laude from Georgia College and State University with a degree in English. He graduated cum laude from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law, where he served as a member of the Mercer Law Review. After graduating law school, Keith clerked for the Honorable Victoria S. Darrisaw, State Court Judge of Dougherty County. A native of Macon, Keith returned home to start a family and, prior to joining Spivey, Pope Green & Green, LLC, joined Sell & Melton as an associate. Keith will practice in the areas of business litigation, general civil litigation and corporate law. He is admitted to practice in Georgia. In his free time, Keith enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Understanding Public & Affordable Housing

Public housing refers to low-priced homes that are available near the city. Because housing in urban areas tends to be more expensive, government housing provides inexpensive rent in proximity to major cities. This allows tenants to live near their jobs instead of moving away in search of cheaper housing. In many cases, public and affordable housing can contribute to low unemployment rates and a thriving economy.

Our experts at SPGG are ready to help you with any legal need you have. Call us today at 478-254-8866.

Since the 19th century, the government has been heavily involved with housing projects in the United States. During the beginning stages of public housing, low-income apartment buildings were built in one area instead of being dispersed within other housing communities. This caused an increase in poverty in a very concentrated area.

In the last 50 years, the government has rebuilt certain housing communities in order to replace them with higher construction standards. The government made sure to place them among other communities instead of in one concentrated area. This allows members of society from every income level to live and prosper together.

How Our Team Can Help You

Our SPGG attorneys are experts in legal matters concerning public and affordable housing. We have worked extensively with housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, developers, contractors, and more.

New laws and codes are introduced to public housing often. We stay current on the changes and the knowledge necessary to fight your case.

We not only have extensive knowledge concerning housing laws but we have years of experience in:

  • Public Housing
  • Nonprofit Housing
  • New Markets Tax Credit Development
  • Federally-Assisted Housing and Community Development Programs
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Development
  • Dispute Resolution, 2530 Clearance, Partial Payments of Claims, and Prepayment Lockouts

Contact us today for legal assistance with public and affordable housing.

What Is a Business Tort?

A tort is considered a civil wrong that is comprised of many different topics including false imprisonment, slander, defamation, auto collisions, and more. Business torts, also called economic torts, addresses unethical trade practices that will likely result in economic loss. In a business tort case, the plaintiff in the lawsuit does not have to prove past or present harm, but rather the likelihood of future harm.

The Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer experts are ready to help you with your business’ legal needs. Contact us at 478-254-8866.

Most business tort cases are settled with a monetary award to the victim. However, because most business tort cases include future harm, the burden is on the plaintiff to calculate exactly what their future loss consists of in a numeric value. Every monetary reward must be “calculable with reasonable certainty.”

3 Examples of Business Torts

While common law torts usually address physical loss, business torts deal with companies intentionally harming a competitor’s business opportunities. Examples of business torts include trademark infringement, disparagement, and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Trademark Infringement

A business can be sued if the name or logo is created to trick clients into thinking they are buying a different product produced by a contending company. Seventy years ago, the Lanham Act was created to protect businesses and forbid trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and false advertising.

Disparagement

When a person gives false or fake reviews concerning a product, an economic loss may occur due to the review. Because of this, the business can sue the person for disparagement. In most cases, the plaintiff will be awarded monetary damages and the guilty party must retract the false statement.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

To ensure honest and fair treatment, a business can be sued if found guilty of intentional fraud or deceit. During a fraud claim, the plaintiff must prove that the guilty party intentionally distorted a fact that created harm.

If you have suffered losses due to business torts, contact an attorney at Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer today.

Commercial Real Estate Leases: Important Terms You Need to Know

If your business is about to enter into a commercial lease, you’ll need the help of a knowledgeable attorney to ensure the process goes smoothly. While your lawyer will understand each clause of your lease, you need to understand them too. After all, you’re the one who will be using the space.

Below are definitions for three important clauses. For more detailed information, schedule a consultation with the commercial real estate attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer.

Parties Clause

The parties clause seems simple at first, but it requires close attention from you and your attorney. This clause lists the parties of the commercial lease agreement: your business and the landlord (or the landlord’s business). These parties can be called “landlord and tenant” or “lessor and lessee,” with your landlord being the lessor and your company being the lessee.

It is crucial that your business name and your landlord’s name are correct in this clause. If your personal name is on the lease, you will personally be held liable under the lease. Make sure your business’ full legal name is spelled out in this section. If you’re an LLC, “Business Name, LLC” should be the name on the lease. The same goes for other forms of business structures.

Description of the Premises Clause

This clause outlines what exactly you are leasing. If you’re leasing an entire building, a simple address will suffice. If your lease includes additional buildings or lots, these should be listed too. The premises clause becomes incredibly important when you’re leasing a portion of a building.

The clause will describe in detail the space you are leasing, including any shared spaces such as storage rooms, conference rooms, and parking. Your attorney will help ensure the language is precise and that it encompasses the correct space.

Rent Clause

The rent clause is one of the most important clauses in your lease. Your attorney will help you negotiate rent, as well as factors such as:

  • The amount of the landlord’s operating costs that will be passed on to you
  • Automatic rent increases
  • Tenant improvement deductions, which could decrease your rent for improvements you make to the space
  • How to deal with unanticipated issues or increases

Other important clauses your lawyer will ensure you understand include:

  • Use and exclusives clauses
  • Term clause
  • Improvements and alterations
  • Maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Security deposit

Leases can be complicated and include many more clauses than what is covered in this post. For help with your commercial real estate lease, contact SPGG today.

Attorney Spotlight: David A. Pope

Attorney David Pope is a partner at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer. He practices in the areas of:

David graduated from Georgia Southwestern State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology in 1981. For several years after graduating, he worked in the oil fields of Texas as a petroleum geologist. In 1989, he enrolled in Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law and earned his J.D. in 1992.

Upon graduation, he began working at Jones, Cork & Miller. In 1999, he became a founding partner of James, Bates, Pope & Spivey. He joined Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer in December 2011.

David wanted to become an attorney in order to help people resolve problems and achieve their personal and business goals. He has four children: David Jr., Clayton, Sam, and Catherine. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his family, traveling, sports, and music. He especially loves baseball, which he coaches.

He is a member of:

  • Georgia Bar Association
  • William A. Bootle American Inn of Court
  • Macon Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

David is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia, and Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia.

About Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer

SPGG is committed to providing trusted counsel, client-focused services, and proven results. Our goal is to offer practical solutions that minimize stress. With over 130 years of combined legal experience, our strong relationships with clients, the community, and those in the legal industry ensure we have the knowledge and understanding necessary to provide excellent legal services. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call 478-254-8866 or fill out this form.

4 Steps Toward Achieving Financial Security

Tax season is over, but it is always a good time to consider your financial future. The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer are wealth building and tax planning experts. We have the expertise required to help you build your assets and protect your estate.

With help from a skilled attorney and the right planning on your part, you’ll be on your way toward achieving financial security. To get started, schedule a consultation by calling us at 478-254-8866 and reading the following tips.

Live Below Your Means

This might be advice you don’t want to hear, but it’s the most important financial advice you can follow. The best way to ensure financial success in the future is to spend less than you earn and save on a regular basis. Make a goal to set aside a certain amount of money per month or per year into a savings account. Don’t forget to take advantage of retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k). These workplace retirement plans are effective, because you can automatically deduct money from your paycheck before you have the chance to spend it.

Start Planning Early

It’s hard to plan for retirement when you’re still decades away from it. But saving little by little over a long period of time can result in a comfortable nest egg when you’re finally ready to retire. It’s a good idea to set small goals. For example, every time you get a raise you can invest a little more into your retirement plan. Or, you can save as little as $100 every month. Over time, these small choices add up to big savings.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Save using a few forms of investments, rather than just one. This ensures you are protected against losing all of your assets, and it will balance your risk and reward. Typically, the younger we are, the more we’re willing to risk with our investments. As we grow older, we become more risk averse because we have more money invested into our accounts. Take this into account as you invest over the years.

You have several choices available to you when it comes to investing:

  • Common stocks
  • Equity securities
  • Real estate
  • Bonds
  • CDs
  • Funds (mutual, index, exchange traded, hedge)

Be Dedicated

See your whole plan through to retirement. It doesn’t help to start planning your financial future only to quit halfway through. Although financial security can seem difficult or confusing, remember to seek help when you need it. SPGG provides an array of services to individuals and businesses working toward financial security:

  • Estate planning
  • Special needs planning
  • Wealth preservation and asset protection
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Estate and gift tax
  • Probate and estate administration

Contact us today for a consultation.

Community Support Spotlight: Jay’s Hope

The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer strive to be more than excellent lawyers. We want to be supporters of our community and of the organizations we’re passionate about. Our service goes beyond monetary donations – we take an active part in serving our community. Our attorneys are civic club chairmen, board members, volunteers, and more.

One of the organizations we support is Jay’s Hope, whose mission is to improve the quality of life of children with cancer and their families.

About Jay’s Hope

Jay’s Hope connects children diagnosed with cancer and their families to a support network where they receive emotional, spiritual, educational, and financial support during the tough battle against cancer.

  • Family events connect families to one another and provide encouragement and lasting relationships
  • Play therapy offers an escape for children to just act like children
  • The family resource center provides inspirational and educational resources to caregivers
  • Tutorial services ensure kiddos are still learning, even when they can’t go to school
  • Temporary housing and travel assistance make trips to the hospital easier
  • Need-based financial assistance meets the needs of families facing tough financial decisions

How You Can Help

You can support Jay’s Hope and help families and kiddos in need in several ways.

Volunteer

Volunteers work in the office, help at family events, and just make a difference in the lives of children. Learn more

Bone Marrow Donations

A bone marrow transplant can save the life of a child with cancer. If you are between 18 and 44 years old and are in good health, you can donate bone marrow at Jay’s Hope’s Life Connection Center, the only walk-in testing center in Georgia. Learn more

Host an Event

You can host an event and partner with Jay’s Hope as a means of raising money and support for the organization. Learn more

Monetary Donations

Your donation will help Jay’s Hope support kiddos with cancer and their families. Learn more

Donate Wish List Items

Jay’s Hope creates care packages for their children, and donations toward these care packages go a long way toward helping the organization and the people they support. See which items are needed

Learn more about Jay’s Hope and how you can help this fantastic organization.

When Does an Employer Need an Employment Lawyer?

Running a business is about striking the perfect balance, especially when it comes to employment matters. You need an employment attorney for certain aspects of running your business, but you don’t need one for every decision and transaction. This article will help you determine which instances call for the skilled attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer.

Contracts

Documents such as employment contracts or severance agreements should include everything you want or need them to include and be legally binding. This can be a tough undertaking without a lawyer. Consulting a lawyer while drafting important business documents will protect you from liability and ensure you are following all employment laws.

Firing

You shouldn’t need a lawyer every time you fire an employee, but there are instances when hiring an attorney is necessary. If you are worried that an employee might sue you if you fire him or her, you should definitely consult a lawyer. Other reasons to talk to a lawyer when firing employees include:

  • If the employee has a contract, or believes he or she has a contract, limiting your right to fire him or her
  • If the employee’s benefits, stock options, or retirement money is due to vest soon
  • If the employee filed a complaint or claim to you or a government agency of unethical conduct, discrimination, or harassment
  • If the employee belongs to a protected class
  • If you are concerned the employee might be violent
  • If the employee has access to trade secrets

For other instances when firing someone might require an attorney, read this article.

Lawsuits

Of course, it’s always a good idea to hire an attorney when facing a lawsuit. You should never put your business at risk by DIY-ing a court case. As soon as you know that an employee is suing your company, you need to hire a lawyer, because meeting deadlines early in the case is crucial to your case’s success.

The attorneys at SPGG Law have extensive experience in numerous aspects of employment law and human resources. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help you.

Which Business Ownership Structure Should I Choose?

You have several options when choosing how to structure your business-but which option should you choose? The answer to that question will depend on the kind of business you want to run. Is your business small? Do you have a business partner? Are you in a line of work that could result in litigation?

Your answers to these questions will determine the ownership structure that is best for you. The first step to deciding which ownership structure to use is to learn about each one. The legal resource nolo.com offers a great breakdown of each ownership structure. After doing some research, talk to the attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer to learn more.

The most common ownership structures are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • LLC (limited liability company)
  • For-profit corporation
  • Not-for-profit corporation

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business owned and run by one person. The business is not registered with the state, and you don’t need to fill out any special paperwork. The owner of a sole proprietorship is inseparable from his or her business, meaning the owner reports business income and losses on personal tax returns. Sole proprietors are also personally liable for all of the business’ debts and claims.

Partnership

The only difference between a sole proprietorship and a partnership is that a partnership is a business owned by two or more people. Partners file taxes for their share of the business’ income and are still liable for all debts and claims.

Limited Partnership

In a limited partnership, one general partner solicits investments from limited partners. Only the general partner controls day-to-day operations and is liable for business debts and clims. Limited partners have limited control, but they are not liable for debts or claims.

LLC (Limited Liability Company)

Unlike the above 3 ownership structures, an LLC is considered separate from its owner(s). In most circumstances, owners are not personally liable for business debts and claims. LLCs receive a tax identification number; however, owners still need to report business income and losses on personal tax returns.

For-Profit Corporation

A corporation is similar to an LLC, but it is considered completely separate from its owners. That means the business pays its own taxes. A corporation is a good choice for businesses at risk of being sued or of accumulating high business debts. It is also good for owners who want to protect personal assets from business creditors.

Not-for-Profit Corporation

As you would expect, a not-for-profit corporation is a charitable, educational, religious, literary, or scientific organization with the purpose of giving back the community. Money that goes toward whatever causes these corporations support is not usually taxed.
For help structuring your business, schedule a consultation with the attorneys at SPGG Law.

What to Do if Someone Who Owes You Money Files for Bankruptcy

If someone you’ve done business with owes you money and files for bankruptcy before paying you, what do you do? Bankruptcy law is complicated and differs a great deal from other areas of law. Although it may seem like there’s nothing you can do, the experienced attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer can help you fight for your payment.

Cease All Collection Efforts

When a debtor files for bankruptcy, you must stop all collection efforts immediately. If you continue to try and receive payment, you could be sued or fined.

In order to get your money back, you’ll have to go through the courts. It’s important to realize that receiving your money will be difficult, and you will likely receive only part of your money.

File a Proof of Claim

The proof of claim outlines what the debtor owes you and why. The court will set a deadline for when your proof of claim should be filed, so make sure you and your lawyer complete this form on time. If you don’t, you won’t receive payment.

Review the Repayment Plan

The debtor must create a repayment plan that their court-appointed trustee approves. This plan outlines when and how each debt will be paid off. You and your lawyer can review this plan and either consent or not.

Play the Waiting Game

If the person who owes you money filed Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he or she will have to abide by the payment plan. Debts such as secured claims will be paid first. Unsecured claims rank low in the hierarchy, so if your debt is unsecured, you might be waiting for a while.

The best way to deal with a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy is to hire a skilled attorney who will increase your chances of getting payment. SPGG attorneys John Burton Wilkerson, Jr. and Thomas M. Green have expertise in creditors’ rights and bankruptcy filings. Contact our attorneys today for a consultation.

Attorney Spotlight: Matthew R. Hall

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer attorney Matthew Hall practices in the areas of business litigation, corporate and business law, and employment and human resources.

Matthew received his undergraduate degree in 1996 from Mercer University, and he earned his J.D. from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law in 2000. He is a member of both the State Bar of Georgia and the Macon Bar Association, and he is a barrister with the William A. Bootle American Inn of Court.

Matthew is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and the Central District of Illinois, the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia, and the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia. He has received the AV Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards.

Matthew has many years of experience representing individuals, business owners, professionals, employers, companies, and boards of directors in multiple cases.

Outside of SPGG, Matthew is a member of the Salvation Army Central Georgia Area Command Advisory Board, the High School Mock Trial Competition Committee, and he served on the board of directors for CASA of Houston County from 2003-2004.

Matthew is married to Macon native Aimee Jackson, and they have three children. He attends Ingleside Baptist Church.

To contact Matthew, call 478.254.7987 or email mhall@spgglaw.com.

About Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer

The lawyers at SPGG commit to maintaining strong relationships with clients, the community, and others in the legal profession. Our goal is to minimize stress for our clients by providing professional and reliable services as advisors and counselors. Our areas of practice include:

Is My Organization Tax-Exempt?

If you are part of a non-profit organization or are thinking about starting a non-profit, applying for tax-exempt status can help you make a bigger impact on your community. Many people don’t understand the difference between non-profit and tax-exempt statuses, but the organization Community Tool Box has published a helpful guide for determining how to become tax-exempt.

What’s the Difference Between Being a Non-Profit and Being Tax-Exempt?

You might be surprised to find out that “non-profit” and “tax-exempt” are not synonymous. Some not-for-profit organizations are not tax-exempt, though most are.

Difference #1: Governmental Agencies

Individual states grant non-profit status, but the federal government grants tax-exempt status through the IRS.

Difference #2: Timing

Being a non-profit simply means your organization’s leaders and supporters do not earn a profit. The organization itself can make a profit, but its goal is not to make money. That’s why non-profits are also called not-for-profits.

Typically, organizations receive their non-profit status before their tax-exempt status. In fact, your organization must be recognized as a non-profit before it is eligible for tax-exemption.

Applying for Federal Tax-Exempt Status

Community Tool Box gives several suggestions for how best to apply for tax-exempt status. There are 26 total exemptions, so understanding which one applies to your organization can be confusing. In addition, the application process is involved and takes a long time to complete. Here’s some advice to help you get started:

  • Hire trustworthy and experienced legal counsel
  • Determine whether or not your organization qualifies for tax-exemption
  • Decide if your organization will benefit from a tax-exemption
  • Find the right tax exemption for your organization
  • Complete the application
  • Understand the requirements for being tax-exempt

Advantages of Being Tax Exempt

If your organization is eligible, there are several benefits to having tax-exempt status.

  • You do not have to pay many taxes, so your organization can use more money to accomplish its goals.
  • Your donors can make tax-deductible donations.
  • You can more easily apply for grants.

Get the Help You Need

Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer can help your organization navigate the federal tax exemption application. Contact us today to learn about our experience with helping community organizations do their best work.

We have moved!

Effective Tuesday, June 30, the SPGG offices have moved to a new location: 4875 Riverside Drive, Suite 200, Macon, GA 31210 – please see the map on the Contact Us page. We look forward to welcoming you to our new office.

How to Choose the Right Business Attorney

If you own a business, an attorney is a valuable asset to your team. Some business owners believe an attorney won’t benefit their business, or that the expense of hiring an attorney is too great. A good business lawyer, however, helps your company tremendously.

There are several reasons your organization would benefit from a business law professional. Here are a few typical business transactions and processes that become easier when you hire a knowledgeable attorney:

  • Buying or selling a business
  • Creating and negotiating contracts
  • Obtaining patents, trademarks, or copyrights
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Drafting policies, bylaws, etc.
  • Filing taxes
  • Litigation
  • Corporate restructuring
  • Solving human resource challenges

Who Should You Hire?

When your organization needs the advice and expertise of an attorney, how do you know who to hire? Whoever you choose, that lawyer will become an integral part of your organization, so it’s imperative that he or she fits your specific needs. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you look for a business attorney:

Hire Someone Who Identifies with You and Your Organization

Research attorneys in your area with expertise in the areas of business law that are pertinent to your organization. If you run a non-profit, look for someone with tax-exempt expertise. If you are passionate about what your company accomplishes, find someone who shares your passion.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Small vs. Large Firms

Large firms have many attorneys with numerous specialties, so it will be easy for a large firm to meet your needs. However, large firms can be more expensive, making them less ideal for very small businesses.

Small firms might not have experts in every aspect of business law, but it’s easy to form close, personal relationships with the lawyers at small firms. In addition, small firms are usually less expensive.

Find and Interview Qualified Attorneys

Do an Internet search for qualified attorneys in your area, and then schedule consultations with them. Or, ask colleagues which lawyers they trust and do business with. Prepare a list of questions and interview each candidate. Some information you’ll want to know includes:

  • Experience
  • Areas of expertise
  • Fees and billing

Take the Next Step

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential attorneys, decide which one is best for your organization. An experienced attorney is one of the most valuable assets of your business, and if you hire someone you trust, your organization will reap the benefits.

Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer Presents Good Morning Macon

Join us Tuesday, August 18 for Good Morning Macon, a periodic morning forum hosted by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Curtis Jones, superintendent of Bibb County Public Schools, will share his plans for improving schools in Macon-Bibb County with a talk called “Leadership this Community Can Believe In.” Dr. Jones will also speak of his commitment to ensuring students graduate college or career ready.

The event is free for chamber members and $10 for future members. Registration and a continental breakfast begin at 8:00 a.m., and Dr. Jones will speak from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Join us at The Douglass Theatre, 355 MLK Jr. Boulevard.

About Good Morning Macon

At Good Morning Macon, chamber members receive updates from legislators and other political and community leaders on issues of concern to the Macon-Bibb County business community. Each meeting is attended by 100 to 150 business executives from Macon and the surrounding region. The event presents topics about economic development, military affairs, legislative developments, education, and other community matters.

Our Commitment to Community Involvement

Presenting Good Morning Macon is only one of the ways Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer LLC supports the Middle Georgia Community. Our staff supports the community as Civic Club chairmen and board members of the local chapter of the Salvation Army, the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia, and the Medcen Community Health Foundation, among other involvements.

We practice law to make our community a better place. It’s our belief that commitment to the community does not end when our briefcases close at the end of the day. In addition to supporting the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, we back several local organizations that make a difference in the Middle Georgia community.

To register for Good Morning Macon or to learn more about the event, visit the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce website.

Announcing Newest Attorney, Dean C. Copelan

The partners at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer are pleased to announce our newest attorney, Dean C. Copelan, who practices in the areas of wealth management and probate and estate administration. Dean is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and joins us from Bank of America, where he served as Assistant General Counsel.

Dean earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from Georgia College and State University in 1991. He received his J.D. from the Walter F. George School of Law in 1994, where he was a member of the Mercer Law Review and Brainerd Currie Honor Society. After attending the School of Law, Dean attended the University of Miami, where he earned an LL.M. in estate planning. Upon finishing his education, Dean became an associate attorney at The Bowden Law Firm in Atlanta, and then at James, Bates, Pope & Spivey in Macon. He also served as Vice President and Senior Trust Advisor at Wachovia Bank, and as First Vice President and Estate Settlement Manager at SunTrust Bank.

What You Should Know About Historic Tax Credits

historic-tax-creditsMacon is an old city with a deep history that deserves to be preserved. At Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer, we are committed to making a meaningful impact on the Middle Georgia community. We offer historic tax credit services to business owners who are dedicated to preserving Macon’s rich history. If you are interested in renovating a historic structure, here are some basic facts about the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program.

Eligible Buildings and Uses

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program is administered by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in partnership with State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO). To be eligible for a 20% tax credit, historic rehabilitation must meet the following requirements:

  • The building must produce income, meaning it cannot be a residential property
  • It must be a “certified historic structure” by the National Park Service
  • It must apply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation

To determine if this tax credit is available and beneficial to you, contact SPGG. We will help you maximize the potential returns on your investment and take advantage of historic tax credits.

Additional Tax Credits

A 10% tax credit is available through the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program for the renovation of non-historic buildings not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To be eligible for this tax credit, rehabilitation must meet the following requirements:

  • The building must have been built before 1936
  • It cannot be used as residential property
  • At least 50% of the existing external walls must remain as external walls
  • At least 75% of the existing external walls must remain as either external or internal walls
  • At least 75% of the internal structure must remain the same

Historic preservation easements are also eligible for tax incentives such as federal income tax deduction. Learn more about the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program.

Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer has over 130 years of combined experience. Two of our attorneys in particular have extensive experience in historic tax credits: David A. Pope and George S. Greer. Learn more about how SPGG can help you receive a historic tax credit.

Partner George Greer Named 2016 Chair Elect of Macon Chamber

George-Greer

George Greer, partner at Spivey, Pope, Green, and Greer, was selected as 2016 Chair Elect of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves as Director. Brigitte Moten, the former Chair Elect, gave her resignation after announcing that she and her family will be moving to Florida.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors previously selected Greer to serve as Chair in 2017. Isaac Culver, Vice President of Progressive Consulting Technologies, will now fill that position.

About George S. Greer

George is a Macon native who graduated from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in 2002. Before he went to law school, he worked with The Summit Group, learning invaluable information about the commercial real estate industry, which has helped him in his law career. He is a member of the Georgia Bar Association, Macon Bar Association, and Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition. His community involvement includes the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, Macon Civic Club, Medcen Community Foundation, Idle Hour Club, and Macon Economic Development Commission. At SPGG, his areas of practice include commercial real estate, corporate and business law, historic tax credits, and public and affordable housing.

SPGG Community Involvement

The staff at Spivey, Pope, Green, and Greer enjoys being involved in multiple community organizations. We believe that the best way to achieve a thriving community is to give of our time to revitalization and community involvement efforts. In the past, SPGG has sponsored several local events including Good Morning Macon, Eight at Eight, and One Macon!. SPGG supports numerous organizations such as the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, Georgia Industrial Children’s Home, Jay’s Hope, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Salvation Army, and more. Learn more about our efforts to better Macon and its surrounding communities.

Choosing a Business Litigation Attorney

While a lawsuit is certainly not an experience that any business owner enjoys, lawsuits are sometimes necessary in order to resolve business matters that have become problematic. When your company is faced with a lawsuit, choosing a business litigation attorney will be one of the most important decisions you make throughout the entire process. Your business litigation attorney will guide you through the complicated system and ensure that you have a strong enough case for trial.

Arbitration and negotiation are fine solutions where they can be effectively applied. In fact, SPGG helps our clients to identify potential pitfalls and problems in order to avoid litigation when possible. When a dispute cannot be resolved through these means, however, litigation may be necessary. Whether the dispute is between separate companies or partners within the same company, our proven track record on both sides of the courtroom can help you achieve the best outcome.

One of the most influential factors you should consider before choosing a business litigation attorney is their specific experience with regards to the type of lawsuit that applies to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of trials and cases they have handled to review their experience for yourself.

There are several scenarios that may lead to litigation-a dispute over intellectual property, breach of fiduciary duty by a business partner or director, or undervaluation or denial of a fair claim by a commercial insurer. No matter what the cause, our expertise can help you reach the desired result. Whether we are working for the plaintiff or the defense, our goal is not only to win the case, but to win your trust and form a long-term relationship through the life of your business.

At Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, We specialize in handling all types of complex business litigation matters, including:

  • Business torts
  • Breach of contract/fiduciary duty
  • Fraud/misrepresentation
  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Collection actions
  • Franchise litigation
  • Restrictive covenant employment litigation
  • Regulatory litigation
  • Partnership disputes
  • Securities litigation

We invite you to call us today at 478-254-8866 to learn more about our track record with helping business owners with business litigation in Georgia.

Partner Spotlight: Scott Spivey

Scott W. Spivey is a named partner at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer. He was drawn to the practice of law because of his desire to help people. He passionately believes that the services SPGG provides are an extension of his faith and an opportunity to serve others.

After receiving his B.B.A at the University of Georgia, Scott went on to study law at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He continued his studies at Georgetown University, receiving his LLM in Taxation with Distinction.

Scott has always had strong ties to Georgia, particularly the Macon community. He was born in Augusta, grew up in Houston County and attended high school in Macon. He married his high school sweetheart, the former Jacki Frame, also a Macon native. After living in Alabama and Northern Virginia, Scott and his wife wanted to return to Macon to live near family members, and to instill their children with the values and provide them the same experiences that they had growing up. As Scott and his wife put it, “We are blessed to have had the opportunity to live, practice and worship in Macon for 18 years.”

Continually seeking ways to support the local community, Scott has been a member on the board of directors of the Macon Civic Club, a show chairman, and past president. He has served as a board member and past president of Idle Hour Country Club, and also on the board of the Ronald McDonald House, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Medcen Community Health Foundation, and the Hay House. He and his family are active in their local church, Vineville United Methodist.

Scott’s expertise in corporate and healthcare law, tax exempt organizations, affordable and low income housing, and wealth planning helps ensure that SPGG clients receive superlative quality services for their business and legal needs. He is dedicated to providing services that equal or surpass those found in metropolitan communities.

SPGG Working From Temporary Office After Nu-Way Fire

Nu-Way Weiners, our neighbors in the building adjacent to our office, lost their restaurant to a fire that was reported around 3:00 a.m. on Friday, March 13. The famous Macon landmark had occupied that building for 99 years, and owners Jim Cavacias and Spyros Dermatas vow to rebuild by the restaurant’s 100th anniversary in February 2016. Our hearts go out to the Nu-Way family and their 20+ employees during this tragic time, but we, too, look hopefully toward the re-opening next year and getting our neighbors back!

In regards to our building, we are so thankful that the firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the SPGG office. There is extensive smoke and water damage to the building, but structurally everything is sound.

We are currently open and working from a temporary office. Our phone numbers are the same: 478.254.8866. You can visit us at 4931 Riverside Drive, Suite 200B. And, of course, we are always available by email. We will announce a return date to the 438 Cotton Ave. office as soon as we know.

Here are some interesting facts about Nu-Way’s history according to Nicholas Wooten’s article in Mercer University’s news source The Cluster:

“Nu-Way’s history in Macon began when Greek immigrant James Mallis moved to the area in 1914 and purchased the property on Cotton Avenue.

Mallis sold fruit from the location until he realized the popularity of hot dogs in larger, northern cities. 430 Cotton Avenue thus became the home of Nu-Way Wieners, the second oldest hot dog restaurant in the United States.

The restaurant was Oprah’s favorite part of her visit to Macon in 2007 during the filming of Oprah’s Favorite Things and, in 2002, received the honor of best slaw dog in America from The New York Times.”

Read more articles about the Nu-Way fire:
The Cluster
The Telegraph

Public and Affordable Housing Expertise

The attorney at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer are experts in the area of Public and Affordable Housing in Middle Georgia. Our attorneys have worked with housing authorities, developers, nonprofit organizations, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We are proud to offer our clients expertise and experience, proven by our recent and past success with the development of affordable housing in the Middle Georgia Federally-Assisted Housing and Community Development Programs area. SPGG’s offers counsel within the following areas and more:

  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Development
  • Dispute resolution, 2530 clearance, partial payments of claims, and prepayment lockouts
  • Public Housing
  • Nonprofit Housing
  • New Markets Tax Credit Development
  • Senior Housing and Assisted Living

With 39.9% of residents with income below the poverty level in Macon alone, the Public and Affordable Housing programs are very important to the livelihood of our community. In order to qualify for low income housing, you must go through the Section 8 housing assistance program. In order to be eligible for the program, you must be elderly (62 years of age or older), handicapped, disabled, single persons or families that are “very low income” according to the HUD definition. These tenants are then able to pay 30% of their “adjusted family income” for rent and utilities.

In the last year, SPGG assisted with the acquisition, purchase, closing, and construction of $136 million to assist the low income communities’ housing projects. Of that $136 million, $71.16 million was invested to 20 of the already existing affordable living communities which amounts to 620 units in 18 Georgia counties. We also helped with converting 450 unites of public housing to Section 8 rentals. This was the first transaction in the Southeast to utilize a Federal Housing Association loan with the Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

SPGG has closed more than $320 million, resulting in more availability of low income housing for those who need it. If you would like to learn more about our Public & Affordable Housing counsel please contact:

Attorney Spotlight: Ian McMullen

This month we’d like you to meet one of our top-notch associates, Ian McMullen.

Ian is no stranger to Middle Georgia, as he was born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia. He stayed in the area to complete his undergraduate studies at Georgia College and State University. He then came to Macon to complete his law degree at the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He received his Juris Doctor in 2009 graduating cum laude. During his time at law school, he was a member of the Mercer Law Review, an editor of the Journal of Southern Legal History, and a member of the Brainerd Carrie Honor Society.

After graduating, Ian joined Spivey, Pope, Green and Greer and specializes in commercial real estate law. Ian is admitted to the Georgia Bar as well as the Macon and Baldwin County Bar Association. He is a part of the Real Property Law and Local Government Law Sections. Some of Ian’s work is published in Constitutional Burdens on the Right to Vote: Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, Mercer Law Review, Volume 60, Number 3, Spring 2009, 1007.

Outside of the law world, Ian is a board member of the Historic Riverside Cemetery Conservancy. He also volunteers for the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Macon Outreach Community Garden. Ian and his wife, Ruth, are both active members of Mulberry Methodist Church.

If you are looking for a highly qualified, trustworthy, and hardworking commercial law attorney, we invite you to contact us today at 478-254-8866.

SPGG Recaps 2014 Public & Affordable Housing Transactions

MACON, Jan 13 – During 2014, Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, LLC facilitated the acquisition, purchase, closing, and construction of $136 million of investment into affordable and low income communities which benefits very needy populations of residents in the state of Georgia. These investments were made in connection with a variety of clients ranging from Georgia housing authorities, Georgia non-profit corporations, for profit syndicators and investors, for profit developers, and financial institutions through federal and state low income housing tax credits, historic tax credits, tax exempt bond financing, USDA 538 and 515 loan programs, and the HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD).

In facilitating these transactions, $71.16 million was invested into 20 existing affordable housing communities comprising 620 units in 18 Georgia counties. In addition thereto, the law firm assisted a public housing authority with the conversion of approximately 450 units of public housing to Section 8 rental assisted housing pursuant to the HUD RAD program, including the first transaction in the Southeast to utilize an FHA 223(f) loan with the RAD program. These investments were used to achieve HUD and USDA’s goals of providing safe, decent, affordable housing to all citizens of the state of Georgia while bolstering the local economy.

The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, LLC have closed more than $320 million in low income housing tax credit transactions, historic tax credit transactions, tax exempt bond financing, HUD 221(d)(4), 811 and 202 loan programs, federal HOME loans, USDA 538 and 515 loans, and RAD conversions for multi-family and elderly communities. In assisting with these transactions, the Firm has represented housing authorities, non-profit developers, for profit developers, financial institutions, and real estate financial services companies.

Learn more about Public & Affordable Housing counsel at SPGG.

Attorney Spotlight: Tom Green

In the spirit of fostering strong relationships with our community, we would like to take a moment and share a glance into who we are individually, and this month we’d like you to meet one of our partners, Tom Green.

Tom hails from the heart of rural Georgia. He was born in Fort Valley and grew up on a farm in Crawford County. Upon graduation from high school, Thomas was accepted into Harvard University and completed his Bachelor’s Degree there in 1978. After college, he moved closer to home to attend law school at the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law, and received his Juris Doctor in 1981.

Real estate has been a subject of interest all his adult life as both an area of professional specialization and of personal investment, as well as providing a venue for all the other important activities of life. This interest in real estate and the law has provided Tom the opportunity to become a leading expert in the areas of commercial real estate, public and affordable housing, and creditor’s rights.

Tom lives with his wife Virginia in Fort Valley. They have two beautiful daughters and three grandchildren. He is a member of the Macon Bar Association and Chairman of the Peach County Hospital Authority. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering with the Medical Center of Peach County and the Crawford County Public Library Board of Trustees.

If you are looking for an experienced, knowledgeable real estate attorney, we invite you to contact us today. View Tom’s profile.

Q&A with Associate Taylor Broun

This fall, Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer has proudly presented two different Good Morning Macon events, both of which in some way pertained to the economic health of Downtown Macon and Macon as a whole. It’s clear that the health of our downtown area has a powerful effect on the economic well-being of our entire city, and we are full of excitement about what the future holds for Macon due to the incredible efforts of a wide array of organizations, businesses, and individuals who want to see Macon thrive.

In our previous article, we discussed the now-completed Second Street Corridor, a vision block for the city. With its bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and fresh new look, Second Street is most certainly a successful project to be proud of. In an effort to add to the excitement surrounding Macon’s revitalization, we have asked one of our associates, Taylor Broun, to share some of his favorite things about Macon. Taylor enjoys working with Historic Macon, an organization that plays an instrumental role in the development of the historic districts in Macon.

What do you find most interesting about the history of Macon?

Macon’s music history. It’s amazing that one of the best rock & roll groups of all time, the Allman Brothers Band, and one of the best soul singers, Otis Redding, came from right here in Macon, Georgia. Their influence on Macon is still alive and well and is helping promote the resurgence of the city’s music scene.

What is your favorite historical site in Macon?

The Hay House. The house has been restored many times since it was built in the 1850s and is continuing to be restored to its former grandeur. It is a nod to the architectural beauty of the city, and an example of what downtown can become when people work together to restore its historical integrity.

What do you want to see for the future of Macon?

I’d like to continue seeing downtown restored and revitalized. I also would like to continue to see the promotion of the city’s historical significance in Georgia.

Taylor Broun practices in the areas of commercial real estate, historic and affordable housing tax credits, and business and tax planning. In his free time, Taylor enjoys hunting, fishing, tennis, golf, live music, football at the University of Georgia, and Atlanta Braves baseball. View his full profile.

Passionate about Downtown Macon Revitalization

As a law firm located in the heart of Downtown Macon, we are both excited about the progress of revitalization and passionate about getting involved. One of our associates, Taylor Broun, recently moved to Macon and jumped right in with Historic Macon.

“I wanted to be a part of the preservation of the city. Working with my firm, Spivey, Pope, Green and Greer, I have the privilege of helping in the revitalization of downtown by working with developer clients to rehabilitate historic buildings in Macon by using the state and federal historic tax programs,” he said. Historic Macon plays an instrumental role the development of the historic districts in Macon and in the promotion and facilitation of the state and federal tax credits to developers in order to encourage further development and preservation of our city.”

Since its introduction in 1976, the federal historic tax credit has become a primary impetus of real estate investment and community revitalization in historic city areas. Our team has handled all types of tax-driven real estate investments, including historic rehabilitation tax credit transactions. As our economy begins to recover, the need for expert counsel in this area will continue to grow as smart investors take advantage of the opportunities afforded by historic tax credits.

“The revitalization of downtown as a whole is giving Macon a new energy and life while preserving the history of the city for future generations to come. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that will happen in the next few years,” Broun commented.

We are especially excited about the renovation of Second Street in Downtown Macon. According to the Telegraph in a recent article, “the project is a “vision block” for eventual plans to convert all of Second Street, revamped from a six-lane-wide stretch of pavement into a more bike-, pedestrian- and transit-friendly space. There will be just two travel lanes for cars, plus improved sidewalks, bike lanes, reverse angle parking, landscaping, shade trees, benches, an irrigation system, and a space for a future trolley system that could run along Second Street, connecting Mercer University to east Macon.”

We invite you to call us at 478-254-8866 to learn how SPGG can help maximize the potential returns on your real estate investment in Downtown Macon.

SPGG Proudly Presents Good Morning Macon on November 12, 2014

On Wednesday, November 12, the law firm of Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer is proud to present Good Morning Macon: An Overview of the Downtown Master Plan. Good Morning Macon, an initiative of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, is a periodic morning forum where members receive updates from legislators and other political and community leaders on issues of concern to the Macon-Bibb County business community. Attended by 100 to 150 business executives from the Macon region, this event presents topics focused on economic development, military affairs, legislative developments of all areas, education, and other top community issues. Learn more about the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.

We are pleased to welcome Scott Page of Interface Studio, the company charged with designing the Master Plan for Downtown Macon. According to Interface Studio, “Macon’s urban core is changing in exciting ways. New lofts are attracting more Downtown residents. New retail and restaurants are repopulating storefronts, generating foot traffic and making Downtown buzz with activity. Streetscape improvements now underway on Cherry and 2nd Streets will make the urban core more walkable and beautiful, a perfect backdrop for new placemaking initiatives that will celebrate and build community within the urban core’s unique public realm.” It will be an exciting opportunity to hear an update and overview of the Master Plan from Scott Page at the event.

Good Morning Macon will take place on November 12, 2014, at the Navicent Cancer Center (800 First Street, Macon, GA) in the Peyton Anderson Cancer Center Lobby. The continental breakfast will begin at 8am and the forum will be underway from 8:30-9:30am. The event is free for members and $10 for future members. We invite you to RSVP online or call 478-621-2001. Supporting sponsors include Navicent Health, NewTown Macon, and iHeart Radio.

About Interface Studio

“Interface Studio is a full-service planning and urban design company founded in 2004 and based in Philadelphia. As a veteran of a large, multi-disciplinary design firm, Scott Page established Interface Studio to pursue high planning and design quality in an environment that thrives on close working relationships with our clients. Today, we are a successful company that has made public outreach and community design hallmarks of our approach.

We have brought a unique sense of optimism and innovation to our work in downtowns and in-town neighborhoods. We appreciate the distinct challenges associated with communities that have experienced significant change and have helped to promote and protect their core values. Our work is calibrated toward implementation with both pragmatic and creative strategies that set a realistic agenda for change guided by local voices.”

Learn more about Interface Studio.

SPGG a Presenting Sponsor of Upcoming Good Morning Macon Event on August 12, 2014

On August 12, the law firm of Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer is proud to present Good Morning Macon, an Economic Development Update on Industry, Tourism, and Film. The event is an initiative of the Macon Chamber, and members and non-members alike are invited to learn more about the state of Macon’s economy with regards to these specific areas.

We are very pleased to announce that Deputy Commissioner Tom Croteau of the Global Commerce Division, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Langston of the Tourism Division, and Deputy Commissioner Lee Thomas of the Film Division will be the keynote speakers for the event.

Good Morning Macon will take place on August 12, 2014 at The Douglass Theatre (355 MLK Jr. Blvd, Macon, GA). The continental breakfast will begin at 8am and the forum will be underway from 8:30-9:30am. The event is free for members and $10 for future members. We invite you to RSVP here or call 478-621-2001. Supporting sponsors include GEICO, Georgia Power, and Clear Channel.

Eight at Eight: A Small Business Initiative of the Macon Chamber

At Spivey, Pope, Green, & Greer, we believe in the importance of being a relationally driven firm and it is our top priority to maintain strong relationships with clients and the local community while offering the highest quality legal services. From wealth building and tax planning to public and affordable housing, our attorneys practice a wide array of law. However, close to our hearts and one of our most enjoyable practice areas is that of business law. At SPGG, we have a sincere appreciation for businesses in Middle Georgia and a passion to see them succeed.

One of our partners, George Greer, serves on the 2014 Board of Directors for the Macon Chamber of Commerce. The Macon Chamber exists to provide the resources and support to advance business success in the region, and we are proud to be a part of their mission.

This year, the Macon Chamber is renewing their commitment to small businesses specifically through the initiation of a new program called Eight at Eight. The purpose of Eight at Eight is to give eight small businesses the opportunity to meet with Chamber President and CEO, Mike Dyer, and another Chamber staff member to discuss business advocacy, current issues, and anything else they are passionate about as a business owner in Middle Georgia.

At the first meeting in March, Eight at Eight focused on businesses in downtown Macon and how the Chamber could better meet the needs of its members in the heart of the city. The May meeting with eight businesses from North Macon and the Ingleside area was also a great success. If you are interested in attending, please call 478-621-2000 for details on the next meeting.

From the smallest sole proprietorship to the largest corporations, SPGG is ready to help with all types of business matters, including corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and contractual matters. Whether you need assistance updating a shareholders’ or operating agreement, setting up a franchise, or protecting intellectual property, SPGG is ready to help your business prosper. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.

Announcing Two New Partners at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer is pleased to announce that two outstanding attorneys have become partners with the firm – John B. Wilkerson Jr. (Burt) and Matthew R. Hall.

Burt is a native son, born and raised in Macon. He received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Georgia. Burt has extensive experience with commercial real estate transactions, real estate taxes, and public and affordable housing. He has maintained his expertise through service with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Region IV.

Matthew Hall is a native of Blackshear, Georgia and attended Mercer University for his B.A. and earned his J.D. at the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. He represents clients ranging from small business owners to large corporations. His practice includes providing advice to clients in complex business transactions and representing clients in various business litigation matters.

“The expertise and level of service these new partners have provided our firm’s clients over the years have been integral to the success of our company,” remarked David Pope, partner at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer. “We are more than pleased to welcome them as partners and are confident that their partnership will continue to lend both stability and excellence to the future of SPGG.”

Partner George Greer Uses Expertise for Macon’s Good

The Telegraph’s Linda Morris recently wrote an article about George Greer, partner at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, detailing his past experience in different industries, his legal career in Macon, and his work with the Macon Chamber. The article highlighted Greer’s expertise on affordable housing projects, especially focusing on his work with the Macon Housing Authority. The following is a summary of the article which can be read here: http://www.macon.com/2014/06/07/3138057/life-doesnt-follow-a-script.html.

Before Greer went to Mercer Law School, he worked with The Summit Group for a couple of years gaining invaluable knowledge of the commercial real estate industry which has benefited him in his legal work in that area. Greer has worked on at least 15 different cases that have come to fruition with Bruce Gerwig, head of In-Fill Housing Inc. since 2002.

Greer’s most recent project is the planned rehabilitation of the former Hunt School on Shurling Drive. He is working with Gerwig on the application for tax credits to fund the Hunt School project. If it moves forward, Greer will also handle the closing for the acquisition as well as the closing for the funding of it.

He especially enjoys working on affordable homes’ projects because his father grew up in Felton Homes in Macon. Greer worked on the deal to help rehab Felton Homes from a 1950s-era housing complex into a new community in 2011. That project meant a lot personally to him, and having a safe place for people to grow up and make the most of themselves is something [he] thinks is important.

According to Greer, the best part of his job “is being able to help transform parts of the community that I’m from. Pearl Stephens School and Bartlett Crossing were both abandoned, dilapidated projects that were hurting the community, and being able to have a small part to be able to turn those into something that’s positive is the most rewarding thing I could do.”

One Macon! Proposes Strategy for Economic & Community Growth

As a law firm located in the heart of downtown Macon, we have a deep sense of pride for our city and for the organizations working to improve it.
One Macon! has proposed a five-year strategy to unite the community’s various organizations and institutions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors around a consensus blueprint to move the community forward. This strategy addresses a variety of challenges that hinder the city economically and socially, and offers ways to support the development of key business sectors while promoting economic diversity.

The One Macon! Committee conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research which indicated that Macon-Bibb requires a comprehensive approach to community and economic improvement. At the foundation of this approach are three pillars of the community:

  • Quality schools to educate our youth
  • Abundant jobs that match the skills of our residents
  • Vibrant places that are attractive to diverse populations

Collectively, these three pillars should be the source of pride for Macon-Bibb’s existing and potential future residents. The OneMacon! strategy seeks to reinforce these pillars, unifying the community behind this blueprint for the future of Macon-Bibb – unification that can only be achieved through two attributes that are essential to effective implementation: collaborative leadership and engaged residents.

One portion of the One Macon! strategy involves an increased emphasis on supporting small businesses, promoting innovation, and opening up access to capital for entrepreneurs. Here is a specific example from the Community & Economic Development Strategy:

Integrate small businesses into business retention and expansion (BRE) outreach efforts:

  • Develop an online survey that targets small business owners in Macon-Bibb that seeks to identify their individual concerns and barriers to expansion
  • Utilize findings to inform ongoing efforts to improve the climate for existing businesses in Macon-Bibb
  • Seek to engage small business owners that may not have previously been engaged by the small business support system, including but not limited to the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, MEDC, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE, and others

As a firm that represents small businesses and corporations in a wide variety of business matters, we believe that this resource will be beneficial to the small businesses in the Middle Georgia area.

Further Reading:
One Macon! Community & Economic Development Strategy
“One Macon! Targets Jobs, Education, & a Sense of Place”

Attorney Spotlight: Taylor Broun

Located in the heart of downtown Macon, our firm is committed to being actively involved in and creating a positive impact on our community. In the spirit of fostering strong relationships, we would like to take a moment and share a glance into who we are individually. This month’s spotlight features one of our newest associate attorneys, Taylor Broun.

Taylor hails from Athens, GA where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2005 at the University of Georgia. Shortly thereafter, he attended Charleston School of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 2008. He studied Transactional Law at Emory University School of Law and received his Master of Laws in 2013.

Now living in Macon, Taylor enjoys supporting the Historic Macon Foundation and participates in the Macon Area Kappa Alpha Order Alumni. In his free time, Taylor enjoys hunting and fishing, playing tennis and golf, seeing live music, and watching Braves baseball.

Prior to joining the firm, Broun clerked for the Honorable Eugene M. Benton in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit and worked with the Tort and Environmental Practice Group of King & Spalding, LLP. He is admitted to practice in Georgia, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

At Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, the practice areas Taylor focuses on include commercial real estate, affordable and public housing, and wealth building and tax planning.

To learn more about Taylor’s involvement in professional organizations and his background, view his full profile.

Could Your Business Benefit from Trade Secrets Protection?

Most business owners balance their time between casting vision for their company and giving attention to daily operations that require their attention. However, one item that is often left for a future date is taking into consideration the legal protection necessary for a company’s trade secrets, including intellectual property.

Intellectual property, as defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), refers to creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, and images used in commerce. In the United States, intellectual property is protected by law under one of the following classifications: patents, trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets. In Georgia, trade secrets are protected under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act of 1990.

Protection of trade secrets, in a broad sense, includes protecting confidential business information that yields a competitive advantage for the company to which it belongs. Interestingly, many businesses possess information that qualifies for protection as a trade secret, but they are unaware. A few examples the WIPO classifies as information often, but not always, considered as trade secrets include sales methods, distribution methods, consumer profiles, advertising strategies, lists of suppliers and clients, and manufacturing processes.

There are four precautionary measures suggested by the WIPO that businesses should take to legally protect their intellectual property:

    • Firstly, considering whether the secret is patentable and, if so, whether to apply for a patent or seek protection as a trade secret.
    • Secondly, making sure that a limited number of people know the trade secret and that all those who do are well aware that it is confidential and protected information.
    • Thirdly, including confidentiality agreements within employees’ contracts. Under the law of many states, however, employees owe confidentiality to their employer even without such agreements. The duty to maintain confidentiality on the employer’s trade secrets generally remains, at least for a certain period of time, even after the employee has left the employment.
    • Fourthly, signing confidentiality agreements with business partners whenever disclosing confidential information.

As a business owner, these precautionary measures may seem overwhelming or time consuming. At Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, we have given counsel to clients pertaining to unauthorized use and violation of trade secrets, and we understand the risks involved in ignoring precautionary measures. We will assist your business in developing appropriate employee contracts, confidentiality agreements, and whatever else deemed legally necessary to protect your valuable intellectual property.

A National Spotlight on Macon in C-SPAN’s 2014 Cities Tour

Macon will be the first of twenty-four cities to be featured on C-SPAN’s 2014 Cities Tour, a show in its fourth year airing on BookTV (C-SPAN2) and American History TV (C-SPAN3). In each community, the network’s producers spend a week partnering with C-SPAN’s local cable affiliates to produce the unique segments. As a public affairs programming network, C-SPAN does not receive any taxpayer or advertisement dollars, and Macon’s Cox Communications was one of the first cable systems to support C-SPAN.

A number of attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green and Greer proudly support the Hay House, a stunning Greek-revival style mansion built in the 1860s, which will be featured in Macon’s Tour. The Hay House hosted C-SPAN for a news conference attended by local media, community leaders, and Mayor Robert Reichert. The purpose of the Cities Tour is to showcase the historical and literary significance of communities that may not otherwise be familiar to a national audience. Mayor Reichert called the C-SPAN visit “a rare opportunity to showcase our community and the projects we’re engaged in that make us special.”

As a law firm located in the heart of historic downtown Macon, we are actively engaged in efforts to preserve and restore the beauty and culture of our city. In addition to spending time at the Hay House, the C-SPAN producers visited the Allman Brothers Band Big House Museum, the Ocmulgee National Monument, and the Museum of Aviation, spoke with several locally acclaimed authors, and interviewed students at Howard High School, Wesleyan University, and Mercer University.

The segments of C-SPAN’s 2014 Cities Tour will air this weekend, February 15-16, with Macon leading the way.

Attorney Spotlight: David A. Pope

At SPGG, we are intricately connected to the Central Georgia community. We live, work, and pour our energies and talents into the people and organizations here. In the spirit of fostering strong relationships with our community, we would like to take a moment and share a glance into who we are individually, beginning with one of our founding partners, David Pope.

David chose to go to law school in 1989 after a career as a petroleum geologist, because he had a passion to help people resolve problems and to achieve their goals for their business and in their personal life. He received his Juris Doctor from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in 1992 and began practicing law at the Macon firm of Jones, Cork, and Miller. He later became a founding partner at James, Bates, Pope, and Spivey.

David has four children, one daughter and three sons, and has truly enjoyed being involved in the community through coaching basketball and baseball and serving as Director of Save A Life Ministries for 10 years and Director of North Macon Youth Sports. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his family, sports, and music.

David has extensive business experience and specializes in business litigation, employment and human resources, and business transactions, among other practice areas.

To learn more about David’s involvement in professional organizations and educational history, view his full profile.

Macon Leads the State in Historic Preservation Projects

According to a report issued by the state government in August 2013, Macon leads the state in the number of historic preservation projects this year, outnumbering Savannah, a city well-known for their preservation efforts. Macon filed 42 applications during the July 2012 – July 2013 fiscal year for historic preservations and certifications. There were 112 applications filed in the state of Georgia, and Savannah was responsible for 22 of those.

The push for historic preservation in Macon’s 14 historic districts has promising repercussions economically and culturally. Macon has already seen positive effects from the restorative programs in downtown, including increased revenue and tourism, a decrease in crime, and a strengthened economy overall. With over 6,000 historic buildings, the opportunities for continual renovation are not difficult to find.

Many investors and developers are attracted to the historic preservation program because of the tax incentives. The historic rehabilitation tax credit offered through the federal historic tax credit program can be a remarkably successful financial investment for a company. SPGG specializes in tax-driven real estate investments, and has unique experience with historic rehabilitation tax credit transactions because of their location in the heart of Macon.

Call us at (478) 254-8866 or contact us online to make an appointment to learn how SPGG can help maximize the potential returns on your historic real estate investment.

Affordable Housing Community Rehabilitation

Spivey, Pope, Green and Greer, LLC, in connection with the Macon Housing Authority and In-Fill Housing, Inc., announces the closing upon the acquisition and finance of a 64-unit senior and special needs affordable housing community in Blackshear, Georgia. In-Fill Housing intends to use state and federal low income housing tax credits and a construction loan from Branch Banking and Trust Company to rehabilitate this housing which benefits a very needy population of residents.

Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, LLC has closed more than $170 million in low income housing tax credit transactions and federal HOME loans for multi-family and elderly communities since 2002. In assisting with these transactions, the Firm has represented housing authorities, non-profit developers, and for profit developers, including joint ventures between for-profit and non-profit developers.

Macon Octoberfest: A Successful Tribute to Bavarian Tradition and Local Charities

Last weekend, a unique, never-before seen cultural celebration transformed the Cherry Street Plaza in downtown Macon, Georgia. From Georgia-made craft brews to authentic Bavarian cuisine, the food and drink offered did not disappoint. The first ever Macon Octoberfest was not only a successful and enjoyable experience, but it also served a great purpose with 100% of the proceeds benefiting 4 local charities: Central Georgia Breast Care Center, L.H. Ecology Center, Macon Volunteer Clinic, and United Cerebral Palsy.

The Macon Octoberfest aspired to feature as many local beers, bands, and vendors as possible, making it truly a local celebration. Kicking off the weekend with an intimate feast at the Armory Ballroom, Georgian brewery owners mingled with guests and enjoyed the musical talent of Charles Walker & The Dynamites. Saturday’s main event, the beer garden, resembled Munich’s Oktoberfest in both décor and delicacies. Food trucks, the Cherry Blossom Festival Wine Bar, and a vendor’s market added to the fun. The musical performances of local singer-songwriters competing in the Macon Harmony Competition was a talent-filled production, and the Macon Octoberfest ended on a high note with a performance by Shawn Mullins.

SPGG is proud to have been a part of helping make the Macon Octoberfest a reality. Partner David Pope provided legal assistance in the formation of the event and acted as their official attorney in all other matters of law. SPGG “fosters a culture of service and efforts to make a meaningful impact on our community.”

SPGG Announces 2 New Associate Attorneys

SPIVEY, POPE, GREEN & GREER, LLC is pleased to announce the addition of John A. Wilkerson and C. Taylor Broun as new associate attorneys with the firm.

At Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, John A. Wilkerson will practice in the areas of commercial litigation, banking, and creditor’s rights and bankruptcy. Before joining Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer, Wilkerson was an associate with GC Law Group, and he is admitted to practice in Georgia. Wilkerson graduated from Samford University with a degree in History and received his Juris Doctor degree from Regent University School of Law in 2011. Wilkerson enjoys reading in his spare time and watching both Braves baseball and the University of Georgia football.

C. Taylor Broun will practice in the areas of commercial real estate, affordable and public housing, and wealth building and tax planning. Prior to joining the firm, Broun clerked for the Honorable Eugene M. Benton in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit and worked with the Tort and Environmental Practice Group of King & Spalding, LLP. He is admitted to practice in Georgia, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Broun graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and received his Juris Doctor degree from Charleston School of Law in 2008. In May 2013, he received his LLM in Transactional Law from Emory University School of Law. In his free time, Broun enjoys hunting and fishing, playing tennis and golf, seeing live music, and going to football games at the University of Georgia and watching Braves baseball.

About SPGG

The law firm of Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer is based in Macon, Georgia, and prides itself on establishing strong relationships with its clients and other members of the legal profession while placing great emphasis on supporting the local community. The attorneys at Spivey, Pope, Green & Greer offer legal counsel throughout the state of Georgia to a wide variety of clients on all aspects of business and legal matters. Practice areas include business law and litigation, commercial real estate, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy, employment and human resources, healthcare, tax credits, public and affordable housing, tax exempt organizations, and wealth building and tax planning.

SPGG’s Greer chairs Civic Club Annual Revue

The Macon Civic Club’s Annual Music Revue, Rolling on the River, was held on the evenings of January 30 – and February 2. The 4 night production benefited numerous local charities, including Theatre Macon, The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Heart of Georgia DDM, Children’s Hospital of Middle Georgia, Middle Georgia Heart Association, Jay’s HOPE, The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, and the Andy Anderson Institute.

Spivey, Pope, Green, and Greer partner, George Greer, served as this year’s Show Chairman and Vice President of the Macon Civic Club.

“My wife, Anna, and I worked on the theme for several months and we feel like the (Ocmulgee Heritage Trail) and the things going on downtown have been big improvements in Macon. We wanted to support the river walk as part of our charities this year. …Once we’d picked that, we came up with a theme that would reflect what we were supporting. Also, like always, we will have a spectacular set, colorful and amazing costumes and a live orchestra.”

Greer continued, noting the many charities supported through the cause each year.
“We have featured charities, but we are not limited to giving only to those charities,” Greer said. “Last year, we were able to give $191,000 to a broad group of charities. We are hoping that if people will come out again this year, we will be able to do that again, only more so.

“The main thing is that we try to support a broad group of charities. The river walk is a nonprofit that we think everyone in the community can benefit from, but a lot of others have to do with childhood diseases or adult diseases. We are also trying to support the arts, like Theatre Macon, this year. Basically, we want to support the organizations that support the community.”

Partner Scott Spivey served as the President of the Macon Civic Club this year and he sang and danced in two numbers in this year’s Revue. Associate Burt Wilkerson also served as the leader of the comedians, or endmen, and coordinated all the comedy for the Revue.

OIG Exclusion List: Your Duty to Know

Health care providers that bill Medicare and Medicaid have an affirmative duty to know whether its employees or independent contractors are excluded by the OIG from participating in the federal health care programs.[i]

If a health care provider employs or contracts with someone on the OIG Exclusion List, “no payment will be made by Medicare, Medicaid or any of the Federal health care programs…for any item or service furnished” by the excluded individual.[ii] Even individuals in administrative positions need to be checked against the OIG Exclusion List, since the exclusion “applies regardless of who submits the claims and applies to all administrative and management services furnished by the excluded person.”[iii]

If a health care provider makes a claim to the Federal health care program for an item or service furnished by an excluded individual, then the provider is subject to a penalty pursuant to the Civil Monetary Penalties Act (the “CMP”).

Not only must a health care provider repay monies received based on an items or services furnished by an excluded individual,[iv] but the CMP allows a penalty of up to $10,000 for each excluded claim plus a penalty of up to “three times the amount for each item or service wrongfully claimed.”[v] The standard for liability is whether the provider “knew, or should have known” that the individual was excluded from the Federal health care program.[vi] Because of the access to the OIG’s Exclusion List online, it is virtually impossible for a health care provider to successfully argue that it did not “know” or that it “should not have known” that an employee was excluded from the Federal health care program.

Conduct these searches carefully, as someone who is on the OIG Exclusion List may not be eager to disclose this fact—especially in these economic times.

Based on the above, health care providers are highly encouraged to check all new hires and independent contractors against the OIG Exclusion List, regardless of their position, as well as checking all existing employees and independent contractors. You may want to make this a monthly search. Additionally—document each search, either by electronic record or in writing, so that efforts of good faith compliance may be easily proven.

Quick Tips for an Exclusion List Search

The OIG offers the following “Quick Tips” on conducting an accurate search of the OIG Exclusion List. From www.oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/tips.asp:

  • Because the databases include only the name known to the OIG at the time the individual was excluded, any former names used by the individual (e.g., maiden name, previous married name, etc) should be searched in addition to the individual’s current name.
  • An individual with a hyphenated name should be checked under each of the last names in the hyphenated name (e.g., Jane Smith-Jones should be checked under Jane Smith and Jane Jones, in addition to Jane Smith-Jones).
  • When you check the LEIE, using the Online Searchable Database or the Downloadable Data file, you should maintain documentation of the initial name search performed and any additional searches conducted in order to verify results of potential name matches.
  • If you are checking only a few names, choose the Online Searchable Database. You can search up to five names at once.
  • If you are checking many names, consider downloading the Downloadable Data File into your computer’s spreadsheet or database program. This will enable you to use that program’s search functions to crosscheck your names against the thousands of names on the LEIE.
  • Be sure to double-check that you have the correct spelling of any names before starting your search.
  • In order to achieve the most accurate search results, enter only the first few letters of the name.
  • Do not forget to take the final step of identity verification using the Social Security Number (SSN) for an individual or Employer Identification Number (EIN) for an entity. It is not sufficient to simply find a matching first and last name on the LEIE.
  • If you find a potential match using the Downloadable Data file, you must still verify the results by entering the SSN for an individual or EIN for an entity on the Online Searchable Database. (Note: The Privacy Act prohibits the distribution of SSNs so they cannot be included in the Downloadable Data file).
  • If a search result does not contain a DOB, UPIN, NPI, EIN, or SSN, it is not available from the OIG. Contact the Exclusions Staff to determine if there is any other information available.

[i] See The Effect of Exclusion From Participation in Federal Health Care Programs, Special Advisory Bulletin, Sept. 1999 (by the OIG), page 4.

[ii] See 42 C.F.R. §1001.1901(b)(1).

[iii] See The Effect of Exclusion From Participation in Federal Health Care Programs, Special Advisory Bulletin, Sept. 1999 (by the OIG).

[iv] Payment for items or services furnished by an excluded individual is considered overpayment.

[v] See 42 C.F.R. §1003.103 and 42 C.F.R. §1003.104.

[vi] See 42 CFR §1003.102(a)(2), which provides as follows:
(a) The OIG may impose a penalty and assessment against any person whom it determines in accordance with this part has knowingly presented, or caused to be presented, a claim which is for–
(2) An item or service for which the person knew, or should have known, that the claim was false or fraudulent, including a claim for any item or service furnished by an excluded individual employed by or otherwise under contract with that person…. [Emphasis Added].

 

Ensure Payment for Workers’ Compensation Care

Do you provide medical care to individuals involved in workers’ compensation claims? If so, then you are likely aware that workers’ compensation claims may be “controverted” by the employer/insurer if the activity causing the injury was arguably out of scope of the employment or if the inured employee may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of injury. A controverted claim affects the injured worker as well as the injured worker’s health care provider—you!

These matters are handled entirely by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation and the rules and procedures promulgated thereby. If a health care provider does not become a Party at Interest in a particular case, then the case may be adjudicated or otherwise settled without taking the health care provider’s bill into consideration. If this happens, the health care provider may be left to recoup payment directly from the injured employee.

To help avoid this situation, you may petition the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation to become a Party at Interest to a case by filing Form WC-206 and submitting supporting documentation regarding the medical services provided and the amount you are owed (see O.C.G.A. §34-9-206; Board Rule 206).

This action will help support your right to payment, particularly if the case goes before an administrative law judge or if it is settled with an admission of liability by the employer/insurer. Even if the employer/insurer and employee agree to a settlement of no-liability, the settlement must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Because of this, the employer/insurer and employee should be reluctant to settle a matter that ignores the medical provider’s status as a Party at Interest, and this should allow the medical provider an opportunity to negotiate payment for services as part of a settlement.

Note that becoming a Party at Interest is different from a hospital, nursing home, or physician practices’ lien on a cause of action accruing to an injured person. This type of lien on a cause of action does not apply to “any moneys becoming due” under the Workers’ Compensation rules and regulations (See O.C.G.A. 44-14-474, 44-14-470, and 34-9-11).

Greer Named Economic Champion

January 21, 2012 – At the 151st Annual Meeting of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, partner George Greer was awarded the 2012 Economic Development Champion Award. The award is presented each year to a member of the community who has excelled in business and community involvement. In particular, Mr. Greer received the award for his invaluable legal assistance and counsel to the greater Macon area.

The theme of the event was “Come Together” and over 200 people attended the yearly event at the Macon City Auditorium. Also awarded during the evening was Frank Amerson (Citizen of the Year), Jim Marshall (Leadership Macon Alumni Award), LaTrenda Leaks (Ambassador of the Year), and Thomas Wicker (Chairman’s Award).

Mr. Greer is a partner at Spivey, Pope, Green and Greer, LLC and focuses his practice on commercial real estate, corporate and business law, tax credit financing, and public and affordable housing. He is highly involved in the community, serving on several boards including the Macon Civic Club, Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, and the Macon Economic Development Commission. He is also a member of the Medcen Community Foundation’s Business and Corporate Committee.

Visit the Chamber’s website to learn more about its events or to get involved.

Rapid Real Estate Response

In any real estate transaction, having ready access to needed documents helps ensure quick and accurate completion of the deal, saving time and preventing the headaches caused by incomplete or faulty documentation.

SPGG has acquired the real estate title files assembled over the course of 50 years by Robert E. Lanyon, late of the Fort Valley, Georgia, Bar. These files give us the title history on many parcels of real property in Peach, Houston, Crawford, Taylor and Macon County, Georgia, allowing us to provide more prompt title and closing services to our clients.

Give us a call to find out how we can facilitate your next commercial real estate transaction.