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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

How to handle issues related to due diligence

Prospective buyers of Texas commercial real estate generally want time to do due diligence. This may include looking at any leases, liabilities or zoning information about the property. Buyers may also need time to secure financing because sellers may not allow contingencies based on financing in an offer. It is possible that a buyer may begin the process of gathering information about a property before making an offer.

This may mean that a seller wants to give the buyer less time to perform such diligence. When determining a due diligence period, the parties involved in the deal may agree to a definite number of weeks or months before a buyer must commit or back out of the deal. In some cases, the diligence period begins only after certain documents have been received from the seller.

IoT may help to transform the CRE market

Texans who are involved in the commercial real estate market as developers or owners might want to consider installing smart building technologies. When developers and owners are able to market buildings that contain these advanced technologies, they may be likelier to attain full occupancy rates.

According to experts, nearly half of the U.S. workforce will be working as freelancers by 2020. By the time they reach age 38, they are expected to have held an average of eight to 10 jobs. This changing economic landscape makes it more important for developers and owners to make their buildings and spaces more attractive through optimization.

Agency claims football coach owes money from unfinished contracts

Sports fans in Texas might not realize that college football coach Rich Rodriguez is embroiled in a contract dispute. Creative Artists Agency has filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract after Rodriguez ended his relationship with the agency in 2015. The agency negotiated his contracts with the television network and the university where he works as head football coach.

Court filings from his former business representatives assert that Rodriquez made a verbal agreement with the agency in 2011. The agreement allegedly required him to pay 10 percent of earnings from his appearances on CBS Sports Network and 4 percent from his coaching salary. The agency claims that he still owes $230,250. Court filings add that the attorney for Rodriguez refused to negotiate a resolution.

Bill Nye, Science Guy, accuses Disney of $9-million fraud scheme

"Hollywood accounting" led to Bill Nye being underpaid by at least $9,350,565, according to a lawsuit against Disney and a number of affiliated companies. Nye, the star of the extremely popular "Science Guy" television series in the 1990s, accuses Disney of using a variety of mischaracterizations, false charges and shady accounting practices to avoid paying him and the show's other owners their fair share of the profits.

According to the Courthouse News Service, complaints like Nye's are not uncommon in the TV and movie industry, making "Hollywood accounting" a catchphrase among insiders.

Producers of 'The Walking Dead' sue AMC for breach of contract

Robert Kirkman, one of the creators of "The Walking Dead" graphic novel and show, the show's producers and former show runner Glen Mazzara have filed suit against the AMC Network and its parent company AMC Studios. The complaint cites breach of contract as the dispute and seeks unspecified damages.

The dispute relates to the definition of profits from the show and how those profits are distributed. In a standard contract for a television show, the plaintiffs, claim, a profit would be declared and distributed to profit participants if the production company were profitable. By contrast, profits the network makes from exhibiting the show are not shared with profit participants. In this situation, however, the production company is AMC Studios and the AMC Network is part of the same conglomerate.

Does the fired Google memo writer have a wrongful discharge case?

You've heard the story. A Google software engineer recently made headlines by sending out a 10-page memo to other employees decrying the company's left-leaning bias and perpetuation of gender stereotypes as Google attempts to bring more women into tech and leadership roles. He argued that the company, a unit of Alphabet Inc., is hostile to conservative viewpoints and argued that the lack of women in leadership positions likely reflects biological differences instead of discrimination.

It was a bombshell, and the software engineer has been fired. According to Reuters, who received an email from the man, he is looking into his legal options. Does he have a case?

June construction spending down overall, office construction up

This week, the Department of Commerce reported that overall construction spending dropped by 1.3 percent in June. This represented the second marked drop in the last three months. Moreover, spending on government construction projects fell by its largest percentage since 2002.

The previous large drop occurred in April, when spending declined by 1.8 percent. It then rebounded by 0.3 percent in May but essentially remained flat. The numbers are disappointing but perhaps not surprising, as U.S. construction spending hit a decade-long high in November.

Wells Fargo claims unit bidder violated no staff-poaching clause

Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc., or WFIS, is suing Alliant Insurance Services, Inc., a company that submitted a failed bid to buy the Wells Fargo unit. WFIS claims that Alliant gained insider knowledge while bidding to buy the unit and is using it in an "aggressive campaign" to poach top sales executives for its own benefit -- and much to the detriment of WFIS.

WFIS is Wells Fargo & Co.'s commercial insurance unit. After the scandals of last year, the banking giant has decided to focus on its core business and is shedding the insurance unit, according to Reuters. USI Insurance Services submitted the successful bid in June and is expected to close on the deal later this year.

CFPB ban on mandatory consumer arbitration may attract challenge

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new rule prohibiting mandatory arbitration clauses in most consumer banking contracts has just been published in the Federal Register, which makes it official. However, the rule's publication also starts the clock on two challenges that may be brought against it.

The new rule makes it unlawful for banks and financial service providers to require consumers to sign contracts containing mandatory arbitration clauses when they open new accounts. These mandatory arbitration clauses involve an agreement that any disputes arising will be resolved via individual arbitration rather than by class action lawsuits.

Texas a top state for foreign investors in commercial real estate

According to a recent survey, roughly half of the members of the National Association of Realtors reported an increase in commercial real estate transactions involving investors from outside the U.S. in 2016. And Texas is one of the top three markets for foreign investors.

According to the survey, foreign buyers are snapping up specific types of commercial space in places like Texas and Florida, including relatively modest transactions valued at around $2.5 million.

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