Category: Business Law Blog

Epiphany Law Joins Davis & Kuelthau

Davis|Kuelthau, s.c. (D|K) is excited to announce that eight attorneys, five paralegals, and the support staff of Epiphany Law, LLC will join D|K on March 1, 2021. The addition of this Appleton-based business law firm further strengthens D|K’s existing service offerings to businesses and individuals throughout the greater Fox Valley region as well as Green Bay.

The team includes attorneys Michael Bendel, Kathryn Blom, Kevin Eismann, Patrick Furman, Heather Macklin, Rob Macklin, Alexis Merbach, and Jonathan Walsh.  They will be joined locally by Stephen Jensen and Thomas Connelly, formerly of Northwind IP Law, who transitioned to D|K in September of 2020.  This team joins D|K’s long-standing Green Bay and Appleton members to continue serving clients throughout the Northeast Wisconsin region.  Several D|K attorneys will continue serving both regions, including Sherry Coley, Gini Hendrickson, Tim Feldhausen and Tiffany Woelfel.  Drawing upon the firm’s broader depth, this regional team will offer the full suite of business law services including employment, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, tax, and, for individuals, estate and wealth planning.

For 17 years, Epiphany Law has provided superior service to small to midsized businesses, multi-national corporations, and entrepreneurs in Wisconsin’s top industries including construction, distribution, finance, manufacturing, real estate, and retail.  Like D|K, the Epiphany team has always prided itself on being different than most legal service providers.  The partnership with D|K thus allows for increased growth while maintaining the sophisticated service and culture that has always been important to both firms and their clients.

“At D|K, we target growth with a great degree of purpose and a fit for our culture,” said Sherry Coley, D|K’s Office Managing Partner for the firm’s Appleton and Green Bay offices.  “We are excited about this union for the value that it offers to our mutual clients.  It also reflects our priority to serve the communities in which we live and work.  The synergy between Epiphany and D|K in our respective service areas, clientele, dedication to personalized care, and competitive rates made this an extraordinary opportunity.  We are proud to welcome Epiphany onboard and look forward to expanding our presence throughout the region.”

D|K’s current Appleton office will move to Epiphany’s convenient location at 2800 East Enterprise Avenue.

Founded in 1967, Davis|Kuelthau, s.c. offers an array of innovative legal solutions to business owners and corporations of all sizes, including emerging, middle-market and Fortune 500 companies, high net worth individuals and families, private and institutional investors, and lenders.  The firm’s attorneys, who practice from five offices across Wisconsin, have national experience combined with strong community ties and Midwestern values.  For more details, visit us at www.dkattorneys.com.

Click below for the full press release

Davis|Kuelthau Adds Epiphany Law Team, Expanding Existing Presence in the Fox Valley Region

 

DOL Overtime Law

Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021: What Employers Need to Know

On December 27, 2020, the U.S. government enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which is the second-largest federal stimulus package after the $2 trillion CARES Act passed back in March. Within the bill is the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (the “Act”). The Act was enacted to help relieve the financial stresses businesses are experiencing during this economic downfall. The Act extended the Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”), enhanced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s (the “CARES Act”) relief, and provided additional relief. Below is a summary of changes to the PPP, tax provisions, business meal deduction, and employment benefits.

Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program

The Act added an additional $284 billion for forgivable PPP loans and extended the program to March 31, 2021. Small businesses categorized as “hard-hit” businesses that received PPP loans in 2020 will be eligible for a second round of funds. The eligibility requirements for the second round of PPP loans are:

  • Have 300 or fewer employees;
  • Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan; and
  • Show a 25% gross revenue decline in any 2020 quarter compared with the same quarter in 2019.

The additional eligibility requirements stated above do not apply to first-time borrowers. The size of a PPP loan is limited as follows:

  • A business may obtain 2.5 times its average monthly payroll; or
  • A business in Accommodation and Food Service (NAICS Code 72) may obtain 3.5 times its average monthly payroll.

The second round of PPP loans are capped at $2 million per borrower; whereas, the first-time borrowers remain capped at $10 million.

Enhancements to the PPP

Expanded forgivable expenses, including:

  • Operational Expenditures: software and cloud computing service payments used to facilitate, without limitation, business operations, service or product delivery, payroll, processing, billing, accounting, inventory, and human resource functions.
  • Supplier Costs: payments to suppliers of goods that are essential to operations at the time made pursuant to an order or contract in effect prior to the covered period.
  • Property Damage: costs related to any public disturbances that occurred in 2020, to the extent not covered by insurance or other compensation.
  • Worker Protection Costs: costs related to compliance with regulations issues by CDC, HHS, OSHA or any state or local government authority after March 1, 2020 and ending on the date when the national emergency declared by the president related to Covid-19 safety measures expires.

Additional Notable Updates

  • Expenses paid with proceeds of PPP loans are deductible for income tax purposes, a change from prior IRS rules. This may be the most significant change for many businesses.
  • Borrowers may self-elect a covered period between 8 and 24 weeks from receipt of the PPP loan.
  • Repealed the requirement that borrowers must deduct the $10,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance amount from the forgivable amount of the PPP loan.
PPP Loan Proceeds

A business whose PPP loan is forgiven is not required to include the amount forgiven in gross income. Also, tax deductions are permitted for otherwise deductible expenses paid using the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, and there is no corresponding reduction in the basis of business assets. Therefore any forgiven PPP loan is effectively tax-exempt income.

Other Provisions
  • Employers who deferred withholding of the employee payroll taxes under the presidential memorandum dated August 8, 2020 now have until December 31, 2021 to arrange for withholding from employees and repay the deferred amounts.
  • Businesses that receive CARES Act loan forgiveness are not required to include amounts forgiven in income and are permitted tax deductions for otherwise deductible expenses paid.
  • Employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave extended through 2025.
  • Employer may continue to pay up to $5,250 per employee toward an employee’s “eligible student loan repayments” and the payments will be excluded from employee’s income through 2025.
Business Meal Deduction

The Act increased the limit on deducting business meals, including takeout and delivery meals, provided by restaurants to fully deductible. This rule applies to expenses paid or incurred in 2021 and 2022. All other existing requirements continue to apply when you dine with current or prospective customers, clients, suppliers, employees, partners, and professional advisors. Thus, to be deductible:

  • The food and beverages cannot be lavish or extravagant under the circumstances; and
  • You or one of your employees must be present when the food or beverages are served.

If food or beverages are provided at an entertainment activity, either they must be purchased separately from the entertainment or their cost must be stated on a separate bill, invoice, or receipt. This is required because the entertainment, unlike the food and beverages, is nondeductible.

Impact on Labor & Employment

Unemployment Benefits

The Act extended existing pandemic unemployment insurance programs under the CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. The Act provided an additional 13 weeks of benefits to those individuals who have exhausted their regular state benefits in addition to a supplemental federal unemployment benefit of $300 per week for up to 10 weeks to March 14, 2021. Additionally, the Act added program integrity provisions that require documentation of earnings and employment and compelled states to have processes for verifying an applicant’s identity to combat fraud and abuse in the unemployment programs.

Paid Sick Leave

The Act provides a tax credit to support employers that offer paid sick leave to employees. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is no longer required as of December 31, 2020, but if covered employers voluntarily provide these benefits through March 31, 2021, those employers are eligible to take the tax credit for the leave. Also, the Act extended refundable payroll tax credits and employee eligibility for the paid sick and family leave to March 2021.

Next Steps

When it comes to the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, there are a lot of changes for employers and business owners to know. It is important to understand all your options and develop a strategy to maximize your benefits. Epiphany Law attorneys will partner with you to create a plan that will help your business efficiently and effectively achieve your desired results. You can contact us here.

The Importance of the Employee Handbook & 2021 Updates

An employee handbook serves as a guide for employees and employers. The handbook is a tool to provide clear expectations and rules.  It defines ground rules and explains what is and is not considered acceptable behavior. Done properly, an employee handbook is a great first line of defense for a variety of legal issues.

However, if an employee handbook is done improperly, it can lead to confusion, anger and lawsuits. The sections contained in the handbook need to be carefully worded in order to avoid those pitfalls.  Generally, laws regarding employees and employees are drafted in favor of the employee so without the protections offered in an employee handbook, the employer is open to more risk.

Although some federal regulations such as Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act do not go into effect until you have 15 or more employees, a business of any size can be sued for other employment-related issues.

To minimize your risks, it is important to have a relationship with an employment law attorney who will update you of any federal or state required changes.

Other ways to minimize risks include an annual handbook review. As the world changes, you may need to create new policies that reflect the changes in the law and your employee handbook should reflect those changes.  For example, think of the changes to the workplace over the past few years like health care reform, more employees are able to work from home, working parents and the balance between home and work life, the use of personal mobile devices and so many others.

In addition, the handbook should be reviewed to make sure the documented polices that are included in the book are consistently followed and are a reflection of the culture of your work environment.  If the policies in the handbook are not followed and not a reflection of your work environment, you will have a weak defense if a dispute arises.

Remember–keeping current with employment legislation is essential to protecting your business. 2020 was a big year in employment law.

 

  1. Remote work policies: If your employee handbook didn’t address this topic before, it most likely does now. As COVID-19 stretches into 2021, your company’s remote work policy should be revised to better reflect the guidelines and expectations while an employee is conducting work at home. The provision should also incorporate data security measures and expectations for all remote workers.
  2. New Protections: In June of 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot fire workers for being LGBTQ+.  If your company has not already done so, you will need to make sure this provision is included with existing anti-discrimination policies.
  3. Employment Leave Requirements: As of January 1, 2021 the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will no longer require covered employers to provide 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave nor up to 12 weeks of partially paid emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) under the EFMLEA provisions. However, your company may voluntarily provide FFCRA leave and claim a corresponding tax credit until March 31, 2021.

 

Remember, it’s not enough just to update the handbook.  Clearly communicating any change or policy update to all employees is also required. To ensure you are compliant with all federal and state requirements, you’ll want to contact an experienced business attorney to review your specific situation.

When to Update Your Company’s COVID-19 Policy

Keeping current with CDC guidelines and vaccination roll-out

In recent weeks, CDC recommendations regarding the length of quarantines have changed. And, as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to the public, employers may need to review and update their policies to better reflect the current situation. The below are some of the top questions employers are asking regarding how they can better protect their employees, customers and their business.

Q: Can I mandate employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: This answer may vary by industry, location and whether your workforce is unionized. Currently, many health care companies have already mandated employees receive annual flu shots. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have determined these policies to be permissible for health care workers. However, both OSHA and EEOC require employers to consider granting accommodations to employees who refuse to vaccinate due to a medical condition, disability or even religious belief.

Employers with unionized workforces will also need to consider the National Labor Relations Act as well as any labor contract obligations. If there is no collective bargaining agreement that already exists regarding mandatory vaccination, the employer may be required to first bargain to agreement before a mandatory vaccination policy can be enacted.

Business owners and employers should also ensure their policies are compliant with any pertinent state laws. Currently there is no Wisconsin state law prohibiting employers from requiring employees get vaccinated as a condition of employment. However, some states do permit employees to opt out.

In addition to the legalities of the issue, employers need to consider practical matters such as how a vaccine requirement could impact recruitment and retention. According to recent Gallup polling, 42 percent of U.S. adults say they are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: If employees do get vaccinated, will they still need to comply with a mask mandate?

A: State mask mandates will most likely stay in effect while vaccine administration is rolled out. Most states now require face masks to slow and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  OSHA has offered guidance and generally recommends that employers encourage employees to wear face coverings while in the workplace. Until OSHA and CDC guidance changes, employers should stay compliant with current recommendations. It’s important the company’s COVID-19 policy demonstrates a proactive approach to protecting employees’ health and preventing outbreaks. Since March, there have been over 1,400 lawsuits filed against employers due to alleged coronavirus labor and employment violations. One of the most effective ways to protect both your employees and your business is to develop, document and enforce policies that are consistent with OSHA and CDC guidance.

Q: Now that the CDC has shortened their quarantine timeline, can I adjust our company’s COVID policy accordingly?

A: Employers now have more options for quarantine guidelines, however symptoms must continue to be monitored through Day 14. On December 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new quarantine guidelines for employers. Previously, the CDC had advised a standard 14-day quarantine for employees who came into close contact with individuals who tested positive or were presumed positive. The new guidelines now offer the following alternatives.

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • Quarantine can end after Day 7 IF a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation, but cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.

To ensure your company’s COVID-19 policy meets your legal responsibility and limits your risk of litigation, it’s a good idea to reach out to legal counsel. Together, you can evaluate your options and you’ll stay up-to-date with the rapid changes from guidance at local, state and national level.

Epiphany Law, LLC Advises Tundraland on Acquisition of Renewal by Anderson.

Epiphany Law is pleased to announce that it represented Tundraland, a Kaukauna-based home improvement business, in the acquisition of the Milwaukee window company, Renewal by Anderson.

Tundraland Home Improvements LLC, which operates in Wisconsin and Arizona, announced the acquisition Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020. Tundraland is the parent company of Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Wisconsin, Decks in a Day, Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Arizona and Renewal by Anderson of Greater Milwaukee.

As a result of the acquisition, Tundraland will expand its workforce in the Milwaukee area. Tundraland said the company plans to add more than 100 new jobs in the Milwaukee area in the upcoming months.

“Renewal by Andersen of Milwaukee has a 20-year ‘Best in Class’ track record for delighting their customers,” said Brian Gottlieb, CEO and founder of Tundraland, in a news release

“They have a culture of excellence, which makes them a great fit. Like all the markets we serve, we’re excited to bring a unique and impactful level of community outreach to Milwaukee that makes us more than just a home improvement company; instead, a brand that’s woven into the fabric of the community.”

Tundraland, a privately held company, has more than 400 employees. It has its headquarters and a showroom in Kaukauna with another showroom in Wausau. Tundraland operates production facilities in McFarland and Pewaukee.

Epiphany Law Partner, Rob Macklin led the deal team, which also included Partner Katie Blom, as well as Associate Shane Anderson.

 

Media Contact:

Epiphany Law, LLC

Shannon Daniels

Marketing Director

sdaniels@epiphanylaw.com

920.996.0000

www.epiphanylaw.com

EU Privacy Shield

EU Court of Justice Nixes the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework

What is the EU – U.S. Privacy Shield?

The European Union (EU) enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in April 2016 and it went into effect in May 2018. The GDPR protects and covers European Economic Area (EEA) member state citizen personal data. The GDPR largely regulates the transfer of personal data to third countries. One method of effectuating a compliant transfer was the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (Privacy Shield). The Privacy Shield permitted countries with less stringent data protection laws than the European Union (EU), such as the United States, to create a safe harbor within its “inadequate” law. On July 16, 2020, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the Privacy Shield invalid. The ECJ maintained that the Privacy Shield was not “essentially equivalent” to EEA-member state data transfer mechanisms.

Why does the Privacy Shield matter to U.S. companies?

  • Personal data is everywhere – If you are a U.S. company engaged in commerce, there is a very good chance that day-to-day transfers of consumer personal data is somehow implicated. Any personal data on an EU citizen—regardless of where they live—is subject to these laws.
  • Vendor and contractor policy – You may not readily receive and process the personal data of EEA-member state citizens, but chances are your vendors or contractors do. What is more—one of your vendors or contractors may have been relying on the now invalidated Privacy Shield framework to comply with the handling of consumer data. Additionally, they may ask you to comply with their policy.
  • Compliance still necessary – Trans-Atlantic business must go on. Companies that control and process data need to hardwire data privacy and protection measures into virtually every business process they implement under the GDPR. Moreover, the DOC’s International Trade Administration (ITA), the agency tasked with administration of the Privacy Shield framework, maintains the ECJ’s opinion does not discharge participants of their responsibility to comply with the Privacy Shield’s mandates.
  • State requirements – Even if you are certain that your data flows are not transnational in nature, states, such as California with its Consumer Privacy Act, have implemented measures giving consumers rights to their personal data, such disclosure, deletion, or the ability to opt out of third-party data sharing. These laws are very similar to EU laws.
  • Penalties – The penalties associated with non-compliance with the GDPR carry a steep penalty of up to 20 million euros ($23.6 million) or 4% of your company’s annual global revenue, whichever is higher.

How to ensure my data transfer and privacy policies are up to date?

Companies that process and control data—virtually every consumer facing business—must have the ability to readily identify a consumer’s personal data, as well as alert consumers of their rights in the data. What is more, a transnational company controlling and processing personal data must: possess the legal right to process the data, notify the data subject of what other entities hold their data, and “forget” personal data under GDPR. Make sure your compliance with data privacy laws is up to date.

 

Understanding Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) is commonly defined as a group of legal rights that provide protection over things people create or invent. It might sound straightforward, but there is a lot of confusion over what can actually be protected and what can not.

Who needs to be concerned with IP Protections?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “hindsight is 20/20”. That’s especially true when it comes to IP protections. So often companies or individuals do not realize a new creation or innovation should be protected until it is too late. If you are creating or developing within your space, you need to have an IP strategy to avoid any unintentional disclosure missteps. And, when you are creating, be careful to:

  • Make records. They should be accurate, dated and corroborated.
  • Research the competitive landscape early and identify both opportunities for protection and risks of infringement.
  • Use a non-disclosure agreement or contract before collaborating with another business.
What are some of the biggest IP challenges business owners and employers need to overcome?

The goal for your IP strategy needs to be: Identify, Protect, Monetize.  The question business owners need to answer is how they can most effectively achieve this. The first step is understanding the applicable IP types and the protection gained.

Intellectual Property Type The Value
 

Trade Secret

No registration fees or costs. Goes into effect upon creation and can last forever.
 

Non-Disclosure Agreement/Contract

Very affordable and flexible. But, it only binds the contracting parties.
 

Copyright

 

Free and automatic upon creation.
 

Trademark/Service

Commercial differentiation and price enhancement. Low cost and can last forever, but must police others’ misuse.
 How can an IP strategy affect your bottom line?

It’s important to understand there is no “one-size fits all” approach to IP. The correct IP strategy must be tailored to your unique business. While some companies may be overspending on a scattered approach to protecting IP, other companies may not be investing enough and potential losing out on what could have been an important revenue stream.

The best way to right-size your strategy is to sit down with an experienced IP attorney. Protecting your intellectual property estate can be a daunting task. You’ll need someone with expertise to help guide you through the process and identify opportunities and risks you may have overlooked.

To learn more about how Epiphany Law can help with your company’s IP needs, check out our upcoming webinar. You can register here.

Do you have questions about IP? Contact us here

 

Epiphany Law Manufacturing Law

Can You Lose Your Corporate Protection?

What Every Business Owner needs to Know

Ask any business owner why they incorporated their business and one of the reasons they’ll give is “to protect myself from business liabilities.” But incorporating doesn’t mean you can never be held personally liable. Although it’s rare, courts sometimes ignore the legal protection of a corporation to hold an owner personally liable (a process called “piercing the corporate veil”).

The good news is there are steps you can take to avoid having a court pierce the corporate veil. Piercing happens when the court decides that you, as a business owner, haven’t really treated the corporation as a separate entity. In Wisconsin, the same theory applies to LLCs and their members as well. Essentially, the courts are saying that if you want the protection of incorporating, you have to follow corporation rules.

To avoid piercing:

  • Always follow corporate formalities, like holding annual meetings, keeping minutes and filing with the state on time
  • Never mix corporate assets with your personal ones (or those of another corporation or LLC)
  • When setting up your business, make sure it’s adequately funded. Courts are more willing to pierce an “undercapitalized” business
  • Always identify your business as a corporation or LLC so customers and creditors are on notice that your business has limited liability. Also identify your title so they know you’re acting on the business’ behalf
  • Never use your business to engage in illegal, fraudulent or reckless activities

Having a court pierce your business’s veil can be devastating for you as an owner. But by following the rules, you won’t give the courts a reason to pierce. And, always make sure to get the advice of a trusted business attorney if you are unsure about any of the guidelines. That way you and your business can take advantage of the protections offered by corporations and LLCs.

 

Dispute resolution: litigation v. mediation

Litigation vs. Mediation

In business, it’s common for disputes to arise. Developing cost effective strategies for dispute resolution is critical for achieving a healthy bottom line. Because employers and business owners generally seek to avoid litigation (it is time consuming, expensive and emotionally draining), mediation has become more common.  The below summary compares the differences between mediation and litigation and provides insights as to why the popularity of mediation is on the rise.

Employers and Business Owners understand

Litigation – Refers to a formal process that uses either state or federal court to resolve the dispute. To determine the court, you must examine the claim(s) asserted, the amount at issue and where the parties reside. Though you filed your claim with the court, the judge may require the parties attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation.

Mediation – Refers to an informal and confidential process that uses a neutral third-party, the mediator, to help the parties discuss their differences and consider potential solutions to those differences. If the parties cannot reach an agreement “that both parties can live with,” you still have the right to file a claim with the appropriate court to have a judge or jury determine the outcome of your case.

Where is the process held?

Litigation – Hearings are held telephonically or in the court room.

Mediation – You and the other party determine if the mediation is held at your counsel’s office, opposing counsel’s office, the courthouse, the mediator’s office, or even virtually. Depending upon the mediator’s and/or the parties’ preferences, the parties may be placed in the same room or in separate rooms. If in separate rooms, the mediator will walk between the rooms and present each party’s positions, thoughts and arguments to the other party.

Are the conversations confidential?

Litigation – Correspondence is not confidential and can be used as evidence at a hearing unless the correspondence is related to negotiations between both parties’ counsel to resolve the dispute.

Mediation – Correspondence and evidence presented during a mediation session is confidential and cannot be used by the other party as evidence at a hearing.  The mediator cannot be called to testify and will maintain the confidentiality of everything learned through the mediation.

What is the length of the process?

Litigation – The litigation process typically takes 2-3 years to reach a court judgment. The case may extend beyond 3 years if multiple motions are filed and depending on how complicated the claims are.

Mediation – The mediation process typically takes less than a year, and can sometimes be resolved within weeks. It often depends on the mediator chosen and schedules of all involved. Sometimes, you may attend multiple mediation sessions if both parties are continuing to progress towards a resolution.

Who determines the outcome?

Litigation – Judge or Jury. Besides presenting your case, the outcome is completely out of your hands and in the hands of the judge or jury.

Mediation – You. The mediator does not tell you who is right or wrong. The mediator does not render a decision. The Mediator is there to guide the conversation between you and the other party. Ultimately, you are the one presenting, crafting and responding to potential solutions. You are the one making the decision to accept or decline a solution. The outcome of the mediation is in your hands.

What is the potential outcome?

Litigation – The judge or jury determines a winner and a loser. The judge or jury determines the damages owed to the winner based on claims presented, case law and statutes.

Mediation – Both parties are winners. The parties, of their own accord, mutually decide to end the dispute and accept an outcome that both can live with at the end of the day.

What will the process cost?

Litigation – Below are conservative estimates of costs expected to reach a court judgment in Wisconsin courts. The costs will vary depending on the complexity of your claims and/or the dispute itself. For instance, if your case requires expert witnesses, you will pay more than the estimated costs. Also, the opposing party and/or counsel may cause your counsel to have to submit motions and briefs, which will increase your costs above the estimated costs. Remember, though, that you and the opposing party may settle the dispute prior to receiving a court judgment.

Court Filed in Represented by Counsel Costs
Small Claims Yes Filing Fees plus $5,000
Small Claims No Filing Fees
Large Claims Yes Filing Fees plus $25,000 – $50,000
Large Claims No Filing Fees
Federal Claims Yes Filing Fees plus $30,000 – $60,000

**Wisconsin and Federal Courts require companies be represented by counsel in Large Claims.

Mediation – Mediators usually charge between $250 – $350 per hour. If your case requires knowledge of a unique field or industry, the mediator may charge more than $350 per hour.

What about receiving my legal fees?

Litigation – Whether you receive legal fees depends on statutes, contract language and the discretion of the judge. If statutory or contract language allows the winning party to receive legal fees, the judge will determine the reasonable legal fees that the losing party will pay. The table below shows what you will receive if the judge awards legal fees.

Court Filed in Legal Fees
Small Claims $150 if judgment in favor; $300 if represented at trial and judgment in favor
Large Claims Reasonable fees – depends on contract and/or statutory language
Federal Claims Reasonable fees – depends on contract and/or statutory language

Mediation – Whether you receive legal fees depends on the other party’s willingness to agree to pay your legal fees. Most likely, the other party will not explicitly agree to pay your legal fees.

How do I locate a mediator?

The state bar association has a list of mediators who can be contacted for an appointment. However, it is advisable to work with your attorney first to determine if mediation is right for your case.  Your attorney will spend time investigating and selecting the right mediator for your case.

Would you like to learn more about mediation? Contact us here. Epiphany Law Partner Heather Macklin is an accredited mediator with over 20 years of litigation and dispute resolution experience.

PPP loans; What Business Owners Need to Know

New PPP Updates: What Business Owners and Employers Need to Know

On June 5, 2020, the PPP Flexibility Act was signed into law. The Flexibility Act expanded on certain provisions of the original CARES Act regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). First, the term of PPP loan has been extended. Originally the loan term for the PPP was for one year and now it has been extended to 5 years. The extended repayment period applies only to PPP loans made after June 5, 2020, but lenders and borrowers can renegotiate the maturity of any previously existing PPP loans.

Secondly, the PPP was meant to cover 8 weeks of payroll and the funds needed to be used within 8 weeks after the date of the origination loan.  The time to use the loan proceeds has now been extended to 24 weeks from the date of the loan or until December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. If a business received PPP funds as of June 5, 2020, they can now choose to extend the eight-week period to 24 weeks, or they can keep the original eight-week period. New PPP borrowers will automatically have a 24-week period, but not beyond December 31, 2020.

Additionally, a business now may not receive a reduction in forgiveness amount for having a reduced in the number of employees if the business in good faith can document an inability to rehire individuals who were employees on 2/15/2020 and an inability to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020.

OR

Can document an inability to return to the same level of business activity as such business was operating at before 2/15/2020 due to compliance with requirement established/guidance issued by CDC OSHA or Health and Human Services during period of March 1, 2020 and ending on 12/31/2020 related to maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing or other safety requirement.

Also, loan recipients now only have to use 60% of the loan for payroll costs and can use 40% for other approved expenses. Loan recipients will also now have their loans deferred for 10 months versus the original 6-month loan deferment.

Lastly, under the original CARES Act,  a business was allowed to delay payment of employer payroll taxes through December 31, 2020 and the payments payable over the next two years.  The caveat to this was that if a business took the PPP loan, they were ineligible for this benefit. The new law now allows for any PPP borrower to delay payment of its payroll taxes like other businesses.

Then it comes to the different COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Packages, there’s a lot for employers and business owners to know. It’s important to understand all your options and develop a strategy to maximize the benefits. Epiphany Law attorneys are able to partner with you and create a plan that will help your business achieve your desired results. You can call us at 920-996-1000 or contact us here.