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Before entering into a contract, one needs to understand how contracts are enforced and their value. The reality is that a contract is only as good as it can be enforced and it can only be enforced in court. Otherwise, if there is a contract dispute between two parties, there is little, legally, that can be done.

For example, John and Joanna enter into a contract and John agrees to paint Joanna's house. Joanna decides not to pay John and John obviously wants his money. How can he get his money? He can not take back the paint or undo his work. He can not take Joanna's property to fulfill this debt. He can not call Joanna's bank and demand the bank pays him from Joanna's bank account. He can only sue her in the court of law, get a judgement, then enforce the judgment by attaching the judgment to Joanna's assets (absent a settlement).

So if you are negotiating a contract and find that the other party engages in unethical behavior or does not respect your rights as early as the negotiation phase, putting terms to penalize that person after a contract is signed means that you may have to spend months (if not years) and way too much money to solve a situation that you saw coming. Additionally, consider that the type of person who engages in unethical behavior will probably makes the legal process even more difficult such as evading service of process, delaying court dates, not speaking the truth under oath, and rebuffing settlement offers. The upshot is that contracts are great, and necessary, for enforcing the parties' rights should things go sour in an unexpected way, but you can not use a contract to avoid or mitigate a bad relationship. And this is why I tell my clients: you can not contract your way out of a bad relationship and sometimes it's better to just walk away.


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Attorney Danya Shakfeh created an easy guide that both employers and employees can use in order to assess whether their non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants are valid. You can download the PDF here.

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In the face of problems, we often do not consider the law to be a viable route. People often mistakenly think that the law can not help them or the law is not on their side. If you find yourself in such a situation, consider challenging that notion.
Here I will debunk 3 myths relating to legal problems:

  1. You don't think you have a contract. Many people mistakenly think that only disputes that involve written contracts are legally actionable, but all a contract requires is parties entering into an agreement with a bargain for exchange. You do not need any lofty language or signatures. A contract can be oral (admittedly more difficult to prove) or even just an an exchange over email. Sometimes contracts can simply form through one's actions. So if you have a dispute with another person or business, definitely consider speaking with a lawyer to make sure there is no contract-based legal claim.
  2. You do you have a contract but the terms do not appear to support your position. Generally speaking, parties can contract to whatever they please and courts do not typically interfere. However, there are provisions that are not enforceable. For example, in Illinois, no-oral-modification clauses are not enforceable so the fact that your contracts require 'written modification' of the contract is likely meaningless and you can challenge it. Another common example are improperly drafted non-compete agreements. The bottom line here is if you want to challenge your contract, definitely consider doing so.
  3. You 'Heard'... I commonly encounter other non-attorney professionals making comments (and yikes, giving advice) about the law when they they should not be. This is usually well-intended and without realizing that said person is giving legal advice, but nevertheless, detrimental to people. For example, an accountant might give advise related to corporate liability or a salesperson might give advice about contracts. Being that other professions encounter the law on the daily basis, those professionals will come to their own conclusions about the law. So when advice, even if not apparently legal advise, does not seem quite right, consult with an attorney to ensure the advise is accurate.

One of the most difficult aspects of any business can be a contract negotiation. It can take weeks or even months to come to an agreement. Each clause gets scrutinized and can be binding for years to come.

It's crucial to ensure negotiations go well for business success because the terms of a contract can have long lasting and costly effects.

Keep reading to learn how a qualified attorney can help.


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Much ado has been made lately about the rising costs of healthcare and for good reason too. Health Insurance is expensive, even with subsidies. Even if you have decent health insurance, the hospital copay and deductible can cost a small fortune. This is WITH health insurance. Without health insurance, you're really in trouble. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Given the lack of Medicaid expansion in Florida, this can be a big problem. Anyone who has seen their medical bills will certainly balk at individual items. Many people complain about single doses of over the counter drugs costing $10-$20.

These seem like pretty anti-consumer practices, right? They can be. In Colomar v. Mercy Hosp, 461 F. Supp.2d 1265 (S. D. Fla. 2006), a Court determined that these kinds of practices can lead to a claim of unfairness, which is prohibited under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUPTA). Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiff might have a valid claim where she was charged $12,863 where the value of the services received were only $2,098, the hospital charged uninsured patients 450% that of Medicaid patients, and their cost-to-charge ratio was almost 400%, among other factors. The Court determined that this practice could constitute unconscionability.

If you feel you a hospital has overcharged you for being uninsured, you may have a claim under FDUPTA. A prevailing Plaintiff can also obtain attorney's fees from the losing party. The downside is that a prevailing Defendant, in some circumstances can obtain an award of attorney's fees from a non-prevailing Plaintiff. Consult with a consumer law attorney to determine if a FDUPTA claim is right for you.

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