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While Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is modeled upon the federal RICO Act, it has some very clear differences that make Georgia’s RICO law more expansive than its federal counterpart. Even still, Georgia’s RICO law is limited in scope and, in many cases where it’s asserted as a claim, the alleged wrongdoing doesn’t fall within the narrow goalposts the law erects. If your ordinary business dispute has spun up into a claim of Georgia RICO violations by the other side, make sure you have an Atlanta RICO attorney experienced in handling these cases and in getting the claim dismissal or other positive outcome you need.

There are actually several ways that a civil claim under Georgia’s RICO law can come up short. For one thing, O.C.G.A. Section 16-14-4(a) requires that a RICO plaintiff prove that the defendant, by use of a “pattern of racketeering activity” or the proceeds from that activity, obtained “an interest in or control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property of any nature, including money.”

This last requirement was what felled one businessman’s recent RICO claim. That businessman, L.D., was someone who, according to some news reports, frequently acted as an intermediary between college football players and professional football agents.

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When you are locked in a dispute that leads to commercial litigation, there are several things that go into a successful outcome. Some of those are related to the facts of the dispute, but others are wholly unrelated to the factual matters. Instead, they turn solely on issues of the law and the rules of court procedure. Success, then, relies on not simply having a strong command of the facts of your case but also issues of law and procedure and how to use those to protect your business. This is one of the many reasons why it pays to rely on an experienced Atlanta commercial litigation attorney to handle your case.

If you have brought your lawsuit in state court, you have obviously done so because you and your legal team have concluded that the state court is the best place to litigate and to obtain a fair outcome that will fully compensate you for the harm you suffered. Given that, what you may have to overcome is an effort by the other side to move the case to federal court.

Fortunately, though, there are several potential ways to attack an effort by the other side to relocate your case from state court to federal court. As a recent breach of contract case illustrates, one of those relates to something called “diversity jurisdiction.”

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As a businessperson, you must face many challenges. One of the challenges your corporate entity may encounter is the disgruntled shareholder. Fortunately, the law limits what disgruntled shareholders can do by prohibiting them from undertaking a direct lawsuit (limiting them only to shareholder derivative suits) in many, though not all, situations. Whether you are a shareholder of a corporation needing to defend itself against an improper direct action or are a shareholder who needs to take legal action, you are someone who should retain the services of an experienced Atlanta business attorney to help you navigate your case.

Here’s an example from right here in the Metro Atlanta area. T.C., P.S. and K.W. were the three corporate shareholders of a suburban Atlanta-based mortgage lender. Each had a 1/3 interest in the company. After several years, the business failed, and the lender ceased operations.

T.C. subsequently filed a direct lawsuit against the other two shareholders, along with a number of corporate structures that P.S. and K.W. controlled, alleging that the defendants were liable for breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and violations of Georgia’s RICO Act.

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Whenever you’re preparing to enter into a commercial contract, there are several things that must be done right. Two of these are (1) proper negotiating to get a satisfactory deal and (2) making certain that the written agreement reflects the deal that you negotiated. Each of these steps (and more) is a place where an effective Atlanta commercial contracts attorney can help you advance your business interests. Retaining the right attorney and getting the right contract are vital because once you sign, the courts are probably going to enforce whatever the terms are in the written agreement.

For an example, consider this federal court case between a Florida-based CBD oil distributor and a Central American hemp-based biotechnology supplier. The supplier and the distributor inked a deal in 2014 making the Florida company the exclusive distributor of the supplier’s products.

The relationship went south quickly. Four months after signing, the distributor canceled the contract, accusing the supplier of shipping impure CBD oil in contravention of the agreement’s requirements. The supplier fought back by demanding arbitration of its claims of breach of contract, conversion and tortuous interference. The dispute went to arbitration, where the supplier scored a resounding victory.

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Business and commercial venture breakups are a bit like marital breakups… you hope that everything will proceed smoothly and amicably, but it often doesn’t. When you’re a member of an LLC who has decided to leave the company, you may often simply want to go your own way. Sometimes, though, the LLC won’t let that happen. When that happens to you, make sure you have the legal protection you need from a vigilant and experienced Atlanta commercial litigation attorney.

J.O. was one of those kinds of LLC members. Back in 2014, he was one of the members who formed a Conyers-based multi-level marketing LLC. In 2017, after experiencing concerns about his compensation as well as the company’s leadership, J.O. decided to leave the company. Around the same time, J.O. signed up as a customer of another multi-level marketing entity.

After J.O. left the company, the LLC sued him on the basis that he had breached the LLC’s operating agreement. According to the LLC’s complaint, J.O., who had been a vice president of sales, had breached his contractual obligations by working for a competing company.

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In any commercial contract dispute, details matter. The difference between defeat and success can be just one word that was excluded or included in your agreement, or it could be a statutory obligation your case triggered that you didn’t know existed. That’s why you need more than just mere legal representation; you need a knowledgeable Atlanta commercial litigation attorney who is fully versed on all the ins, outs and nuances your case can implicate.

A breach of contract case from here in North Georgia is a good example. The underlying contract involved a Marietta-based property owner that leased its property to various businesses, including a gas station in Norcross. The contract between the two sides stated that the lessor and the lessee would share the earnings that the machines generated on a 50-50 basis.

In a lot of circumstances, any dispute that arose between the two LLCs would have been resolved through ordinary civil litigation. This was not one of those circumstances. The machines whose earnings generated this dispute were “coin-operated amusement machines,” which are regulated by the Georgia Lottery Commission (GLC).

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There are many things that a commercial tenant must consider once it signs a lease. One thing most tenants (or landlords) hope not to have to contemplate is what to do if a legal roadblock prevents the operation of the tenant’s business. In these situations, it is important to understand the circumstances under which the law will, and won’t, excuse performance. A Georgia landlord-tenant attorney can help you with these and other questions.

One case that involved a question of a tenant’s non-performance was a tanning salon that had rented a space from a commercial landlord in a southwest Florida shopping center. The lease called for a five-year term, scheduled to start in August 2013.

So far, this probably sounds like an ordinary transaction. However, at around the time the salon was scheduled to take possession, the city rejected a request from the salon to make certain changes to the property needed to run the tanning business. The city denied the request because, it claimed, the property was zoned with a designation of “C-4,” and tanning salons were not allowed in C-4 zoned properties.

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Having to pursue commercial litigation can be a complicated matter. It may be profoundly more so when the business partner whom you’re suing is a foreign government. The law provides wide latitude for foreign governments to avoid facing suit in the United States. This protection is called sovereign immunity. There are certain exceptions that remove that immunity and make the foreign government subject to a legal action in the U.S. Whether you are suing a sole proprietorship located five miles from your business or a foreign government, make sure that you protect your business interests by selecting skilled Georgia business counsel.

One recent case that has potential resonance here in Georgia and that involved sovereign immunity was an action that involved an alleged agreement between a Floridian and the government of Venezuela. Ricardo was the great-great-grandson of Joaquin de Mier, whose main significance within history (and this case) was his friendship with South American leader Simon Bolivar. Bolivar spent his final days at de Mier’s home and left his friend with a “treasure trove” of possessions. That trove eventually passed through inheritance to Ricardo.

The Venezuelan government allegedly stated an interest in purchasing the Bolivar collection that Ricardo held. The two sides entered into negotiations. That year, the Venezuelan government flew Ricardo and the collection from the United States to Venezuela. Ricardo believed the two sides had an agreement:  the Venezuelan government would inspect the collection and either would buy it or would, if declining to purchase, return the collection to Ricardo’s possession. Five years later, Ricardo had neither his collection back nor any payment from Venezuela.

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Most people associate the word ”racketeering” with the Mafia or other organized crime entities. However, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), both the federal and Georgia versions, span more than just situations involving organized crime. People can bring civil RICO lawsuits for a variety of reasons. The law is often overused, but any civil RICO claim is something your business should take very seriously because, if the plaintiff succeeds, your business could be forced to pay “treble damages,” which means a plaintiff’s award that is triple the amount of damages actually proved. Fortunately, there are many ways that a skilled Georgia civil racketeering attorney can defeat an improper civil RICO case launched against your business.

If you are on the defendant side of a civil RICO lawsuit, you should know that there are a significant number of pleading and proof requirements the law imposes on plaintiffs. This gives your knowledgeable attorney many opportunities to obtain a summary judgment that throws out the RICO claim before it ever makes it to trial.

As an example, we can look at a federal court case that started right here in North Georgia. The plaintiff, R.C., was a customer who bought a puppy at a Kennesaw pet store. She paid $2,400 for her Shih Tzu after receiving paperwork certifying that the dog was healthy. The dog wasn’t. A veterinarian diagnosed the puppy with parvovirus, which is often fatal in puppies.

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In any commercial agreement, there are many terms that can be of great importance. Some may be obvious, while other essential provisions may go “under the radar.” Even something as minute as deciding which state’s laws will be used to resolve any disputes can make all of the difference should you find yourself in litigation. In one recent case, a contract’s clause regarding the controlling law allowed a plaintiff to revive its case because the chosen state had a broader basis for allowing plaintiffs to obtain recovery. Cases like these highlight the importance of making sure you have skilled Georgia business counsel representing you, whether you are negotiating or litigating your contract.

In that recent case, decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions affect federal actions in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, a group of business entities reached an agreement with a hedge fund for a line of credit. The borrowers eventually became displeased with the lender’s dispersal of funds and asked the lender to allow them to obtain additional financing from another lender. The hedge fund said no. This set of problems allegedly cost the borrowers the chance to complete an acquisition deal.

The two sides continued to encounter problems. The borrower allegedly continued not to receive funds as it should have. According to the lender, the borrower was the party who defaulted. Eventually, the borrowers sued, alleging a multitude of claims. The borrower had a substantial problem with its case, though:  the release provision contained in the agreement documents it signed. Almost all of the claims that the borrowers asserted in their lawsuit were causes of action that they were expressly prohibited from asserting in a lawsuit, based upon the terms of the release.

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