Legal Advantages of Limited Liability Companies

January 31st, 2017

At Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, our skilled legal team is experienced in practicing business law for companies throughout PA. For over 70 years, our attorneys have provided both consultation and advocacy services for various business entities navigating the complexities of corporate law.

Decisions as to the corporate form selected by a startup business can play a crucial role in the manner in which they are governed. There are three main types of business entities:

  1. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
  2. Corporations
  3. Partnerships

In this blog entry, we will provide a brief overview of limited liability companies and the specific legal advantages that they can provide to their members.

An LLC is a hybrid business entity that combines the limited liability features of a corporation with the tax flexibility offered by a partnership. The owners of LLCs are called members, who may be individuals, partnerships, estates, trusts, corporations, governmental entities or even other LLCs. A so-called “single-member LLC” can be formed and controlled by a single person.  The liability of an LLC is limited to its value, minimizing the downside risk borne by its members. This perk usually protects members of the LLC and their personal assets from debt or lawsuits filed against the LLC.  Since the Internal Revenue Service does not consider an LLC to be an entity separate from its members, income tax liability passes through the limited liability company and is assigned directly to its members, avoiding double taxation.

Although each state has its own regulations for LLCs, these business entities can be governed rather informally by their members when compared to other corporate forms.

When selecting the name of a limited liability company, Pennsylvania does have some rules that must be adhered to:

  • The name must be different than the names of every other LLC organized under the laws of Pennsylvania.
  • The name must not imply that it is a bank, trust, credit union, insurance company, governmental agency, or public utility.
  • The name must contain the term “company,” “limited,” “limited liability company,” or an abbreviation of one of those terms.

You can learn more about LLC formation and the many other ways that Kozloff Stoudt’s distinguished business attorneys and legal professionals in PA can assist business clients by calling 610-370-6700 or filling out a contact form on our website.

In the News: AT&T Found to Have Committed Illegal Age Discrimination by Laying Off Older Employee Who Trained His Younger Replacements

December 30th, 2016

According to statistics published by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 4,420 individual charges of unlawful discrimination and retaliation were filed in Pennsylvania during 2015.  Innumerable victims have suffered from acts of discrimination based upon race, gender, sex and/or age and have rightly voiced their complaints about their mistreatment and pursued legal action against their harassers.

For our latest In the News segment, we discuss a recent age discrimination case that was successfully brought against a telecommunications giant for discrimination that occurred locally:

In March 2013, John Gerundo, a 43-year veteran of AT&T, was terminated during “surplus layoffs” designed to downsize the company’s workforce. Having received only positive performance reviews during his tenure, the 65-year old account executive was puzzled by the decision to replace him with a less-qualified 36-year old colleague whom he had previously trained to work his accounts.

Sensing that he may have been a victim of age discrimination, Gerundo sued his former employer in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accusing AT&T of violating both the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). These two laws protect employees aged 40 years and older from being subjected to adverse employment actions on a discriminatory basis by employers with twenty (20) or more employees.

After a five-day trial, presided over by Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl in Reading, Pennsylvania, the jury found that Gerundo’s age was the determining factor in his termination and awarded him $370,000 in back pay and front pay damages.

This incident was not the first time that AT&T has been alleged to have perpetrated age discrimination against its employees. In 2011, the EEOC sued the company for refusing to rehire former AT&T employees pursuant to a policy which barred rehiring of employees who had previously retired under early retirement or enhanced severance programs. The case was subsequently settled when AT&T consented to the elimination of its reemployment policy.

At Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, we are committed to helping individuals address the hardships and struggles encountered during their employment. We have skilled teams of lawyers who practice employment litigation and personal injury law throughout Southeastern PA. Our attorneys regularly represent clients who have suffered harassment and other issues stemming from the workplace.

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys is dedicated to providing fair and experienced representation for anyone who feels that they have been harassed in the workplace or wrongly terminated or disciplined. We encourage you to inquire further about our employee rights services and the services offered by our personal injury lawyers in Pennsylvania by calling 610-370-6700 or filling out a contact form on our website.

Daniel’s Law Signed Into Effect

December 5th, 2016

Texting while driving causes unnecessary distractions in already dense and treacherous traffic.  This senseless behavior constitutes one of the main causes of preventable accidents and motor vehicle deaths in the United States.  Studies of motor accident statistics conducted by government agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an agency within the United States Department of Transportation, demonstrate the unfortunate toll that distracted driving takes on society:

  1. In 2012, 421,000 people were injured, and 3,328 were killed in accidents caused by the negligence of a distracted driver.
  2. In 2015, 66 individuals were killed in Pennsylvania by the 14,800 crashes caused by distracted driving that occurs within the Commonwealth alone.

In response to these troubling statistics and the national dialogue created by AT&T’s viral “It Can Wait” campaign, Pennsylvania State Representative Jaret Gibbons sponsored H.B. 853, a bill designed to enhance the sentences imposed against distracted drivers convicted of offenses involving accidents caused by their texting while driving.  Representative Gibbons nicknamed his bill “Daniel’s Law” in memory of Daniel Gallatin, a 40 year veteran of a volunteer fire department who was killed when a vehicle struck Gallatin’s motorcycle because the motorist was busy texting while driving. Although the driver pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and texting while driving, she was only sentenced to pay a fine of $250 and serve 23 months in jail.  After serving only two months in state prison, she was released on parole.  Under the legislation recently signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, drivers convicted of texting while driving can be sentenced to up to five years of imprisonment for causing an accident that results in death and up to two years of imprisonment for causing an accident that results in serious bodily injury to another.

While sentence enhancements may help to deter future offenses and punish offenders in a manner commensurate with the gravity of their offense, the devastating effects associated with the debilitating injury or premature death of a loved one are never fully rectified by a criminal conviction.  Our distinguished legal team at Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys never finds it acceptable for family members to bear the financial burdens caused by the unnecessary risks taken by motorists who text while driving. Our personal injury lawyers in Southeastern Pennsylvania provide victims of automobile accidents caused by texting and driving with experienced legal services. Our personal injury litigation practice regularly represents clients who have suffered physical injury and financial hardship due to auto accidents.

If you or any of your family members are injured due to a distracted driver, our auto accident attorneys, who faithfully serve the Philadelphia region, will provide you with passionate and skilled legal representation to help you obtain the personal injury recovery that you deserve.

You can learn more about the legal services that our esteemed legal team has provided over our 70-year history of professional excellence by calling 610-370-6700.

In the News: Collective Bargaining Agreements Provide Employers with the Power to Unilaterally Cut Retiree Benefits

December 5th, 2016

At Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, our team of seasoned legal professionals recognizes the importance of keeping clients informed about the latest legal developments and how these changes can impact their business and day-to-day livelihood. Beyond our provision of skilled legal services, Kozloff Stoudt’s Berks County lawyers strive to impart relevant and timely information to inform and educate the public.

The focus for this month’s “In the News” segment is whether an employer can use a bargained-for contractual privilege to impose lifetime limitations on retiree health benefits plans unilaterally.

After obtaining class certification in Federal District Court, a group of Johnson Controls Inc. retirees filed a class action lawsuit against the automobile parts manufacturer, challenging their employer’s 2009 decision to unilaterally reduce health benefits by imposing a lifetime cap of $50,000 on benefits received by retirees after age 65.  The class of employees alleged that such a decision was at odds with the employer’s long history of providing uncapped coverage to retirees and the collective bargaining agreement’s provision requiring coverage of retirees’ healthcare costs “until death.”

U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo rejected the employees’ arguments, finding that each successive collective bargaining agreement between labor and management and the group insurance plan booklets contained language which reserved to management its right to unilaterally reduce or terminate health benefits plans.  Such a managerial prerogative was consistent with the established custom and practice of the parties in which healthcare benefits were negotiated for each successive CBA.  The District Court’s analysis also rejected the treatment of the healthcare benefits as a vested benefit of the retirees, in which case the employer would have to engage in impact bargaining with the employee union prior to the implementation of a unilateral change in coverage.

Similar attempts by classes of retirees from companies such as Weyerhaeuser Co., Honeywell International Inc., Moen Inc. and Raytheon Co. have produced similar results.  The plaintiffs in each action have been unable to identify specific language in their respective collective bargaining agreements which clearly and expressly provides a vested right to unlimited retiree healthcare benefits. Without such “clear and express” language evidencing the parties’ intent to provide for the vesting of lifetime benefits, there is a presumption against vested rights.

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, respected as one of most experienced labor and employment law firms in the Reading, PA region, provides general counsel to public and private sector clients in the areas of collective bargaining, grievance and interest arbitration, worker’s rights, employee benefits and municipal law. Employees and employers alike can seek dependable representation from the skilled legal team at Kozloff Stoudt.  Interested persons can learn more about the labor and employment litigation practice at Kozloff Stoudt by calling our Wyomissing Office at 610-370-6700 or by filling out the contact form on our website.

In the News: US Steel’s Workplace Policies and Practices Successfully Challenged by OSHA

October 3rd, 2016

Our attorneys at Kozloff Stoudt strive to provide comprehensive legal services to clients seeking skilled and competent assistance to those facing the challenges of civil law.  Having been recognized as the “People’s Choice” for lawyers in Berks County, PA for each of the past four years,  we believe that it is our responsibility to take an active role in keeping our clientele informed about changes to the law that could potentially impact their lives and businesses.  In our latest “In the News” segment, we provide an update about the recent efforts of United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to challenge the workplace policies and activities of one of Pennsylvania’s most famous employers, U.S. Steel.

In February 2014, two seemingly minor incidents at U.S. Steel’s factories produced stiff punishments against its blue-collar employees:

Jeff Walters, a utility technician at U.S. Steel’s Clairton, Pennsylvania steel plant, noticed that a small splinter had lodged in his thumb.  Having quickly extracted the splinter, the technician saw no need to report the seemingly benign injury to his supervisor.  But two days later, his hand began to swell from an infection that ultimately required medical treatment.

John Armstrong, a laborer at its West Mifflin, Pennsylvania plant, bumped his hard hat into a low beam but caused no immediate sensation of pain or discomfort.  Within a few days, however, he began to experience shoulder stiffness and sought belated medical treatment.

After these gentlemen belatedly reported their injuries to their respective supervisors, U.S. Steel suspended the two men without pay for five days each for violating its injury reporting policy.  At the time, U.S. Steel required employees to immediately report all workplace injuries to their supervisors.

In response to these punishments, the employees filed retaliation complaints with OSHA.  Although OSHA determined that these employees were discriminated against for reporting their workplace injuries under a policy that effectively promotes the under-reporting of injuries out of fear of punishment, U.S. Steel refused to rescind the suspensions or make any changes to its injury reporting policy so as to permit employees additional time to report delayed pain or discomfort.

Following U.S. Steel’s refusal to make changes to its policy in response to OSHA’s findings, the United States Department of Labor filed Federal lawsuits on behalf of the two men to force U.S. Steel to implement a more accommodating injury reporting policy and to provide the employees with compensation for the unlawful suspensions. In an effort to discontinue the litigation, a settlement agreement was ultimately reached between the parties, requiring U.S. Steel to allows its employees to report injuries either prior to leaving their plant or within eight hours of the discovery of their injuries.

This incident, however, was not the only encounter that U.S. Steel had with the workplace safety regulators at OSHA.  In August 2016, U.S. Steel was fined $170,000.00 following seven reports of employee exposure to asbestos. Five workers were found to have removed asbestos-containing packing materials, while two others were instructed to burn rotten expansion pipes that were later found to have contained asbestos.  After these incidents had been reported to OSHA, an administrative inspection led to the identification of 10 workplace violations.  Because this was the second known instance in which the company failed to inform employees of asbestos-containing material since 2011, OSHA levied the substantial fine as a deterrent to future violations.

The courageous decision of these employees to challenge these unlawful working conditions and policies can be attributed in large part to the protection that OSHA provides to whistleblowers.

The distinguished legal team at Kozloff Stoudt strives to provide employees and employers with excellent representation in matters involving the entire range of labor issues, particularly those involving workplace health and safety.  Employees and employers encountering litigation involving workplace discrimination, the denial of employee benefits, sexual harassment and wrongful termination can rely on Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys for effective and dedicated representation of their legal interests.

Clients seeking a workplace discrimination lawyer or a personal injury attorney in the Reading, PA can rely on us for their legal needs. For more information, our offices can be contacted by calling  610-370-6700 or through our website http://www.kozloffstoudt.com.

Gifting to Accomplish Estate Planning Objectives

September 19th, 2016

Estate planning can be a complicated process. With taxes, deductions, exemptions and an endless variety of different personal situations, the use of gifting as a form of estate planning can be an overwhelming task for the lay planner.  Both the Federal and Pennsylvania governments impose taxes on certain types of “gratuitous” transfers made from one individual to another during the taxpayer’s lifetime.   Familiarizing one’s self with the manner in which the Federal gift tax is assessed upon certain types of gifting can aid individuals as they use such gifts to accomplish their estate planning goals.  Knowledge of certain little-known exceptions to the Federal gift tax can mean significant tax savings for informed individuals managing their estates:

Gifts Not Subject to Federal Gift Tax

Statutory provisions expressly exempt certain gift transfers from the imposition of the Federal gift tax.  Spouses are generally permitted to make unlimited tax-exempt gifts between themselves. Payments for educational tuition and medical care are not considered to qualify as gifts for purposes of the Federal gift tax.  Finally, there are no limitations as to the amount of gift tax-free transfers that can be made to political organizations and certain tax-exempt organizations, such as religious, educational, governmental and other organizations.

Annual Exclusion Gifts

Federal gift tax laws allow a taxpayer to make aggregate gifts of up to $14,000 a year to each recipient.  There is no limitation as to the number of recipients that can receive gifts from a single taxpayer. The recipient’s relationship to the donor does not matter. Children, grandchildren, other family members, friends, and even total strangers can receive the full amount without the donor paying Federal gift tax.  Couples can combine their annual exclusions and give a total of $28,000 to a donee within any tax year.  When combined with the statutory exemptions given to the types of gifts mentioned above, most gifts to individuals will not qualify as taxable gifts.

Unified Credit

Gifts made in excess of the annual exclusion can still be made without incurring Federal gift tax liability if a portion of one’s “unified credit” is applied to one’s lifetime gifts.  The unified credit exempts an inflation-adjusted amount of donative transfers made by an individual and/or his or her estate from both the Federal gift tax and the Federal estate tax.  In 2016, the unified credit exempts the first $5.45 million in transfers that are not protected by the annual exclusion from gift taxes.  A taxpayer can apply this unified credit to implement an estate plan through lifetime gifting.  Utilization of the unified credit, however, requires the filing of a Federal gift tax return with the Internal Revenue Service to ensure proper recognition of the credit being applied towards those gifts.

Federal Gift Tax Rate

If gifts are made that are not fully covered by a statutory exclusion, the annual exemption or the unified credit, the Internal Revenue Code will assess the gift tax against the uncovered portion of the gift (called the “taxable estate”).  The Federal gift tax rate progressively increases based on the size of the taxable estate.  In 2016, Federal gift tax rates range from 18% for taxable estates less than $10,000 to 40% for taxable estates in excess of $1,000,000.00.

Although most gifts made by individuals will not be subject to the Federal gift tax, taxpayers should still be cognizant of other potential legal issues surrounding the making of such gifts.  Recent gifts could potentially disqualify nursing home patients from receiving Medicaid for their long-term skilled nursing.  Gifts made within a short period before one’s death could lead to Pennsylvania inheritance tax liability.  For these and a number of other reasons, it would be wise to consult a seasoned estate planning attorney to ensure that the use of gifting appropriately accomplishes one’s estate planning goals without adverse tax and legal consequences.

Individuals focused on preserving their estate for their loved ones can accomplish their estate planning goals by seeking the assistance of Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, the premier estate planning and accident attorneys in Berks County.  We concentrate on estate planning, probate and non-probate estate administration, general trust law, special needs planning, non-profit organizations and related areas of taxation.  As a trusted law firm that continues a proud tradition of serving Southeastern, PA over the last 70 years, Kozloff Stoudt can deliver trust and estate services capable of preventing these adverse consequences in a manner that can yield significant financial savings.  Whether you are in need of estate planning services, assistance with understanding corporate law, or involved in personal injury litigation related to a motorcycle accident in Reading, PA, Kozloff Stoudt is ready to help. To find out more about how we can assist you, please call us at 610-370-6700.

In the News: Eminent Domain and the Sunoco Pipeline Case

September 13th, 2016

The power of the government to pursue its policy interests often has the unfortunate consequence of depriving individuals of their private property rights.  Both the need to obtain property for public use and the need to regulate private activity to achieve certain government objections can lead to such deprivation.  One such type of intervention involves the government actually taking private property for public use. Takings by the government for the public use usually occur when the government expressly declares property to be taken under its power of eminent domain.   Alternatively, government attempts to implement land use regulations can also effectively deprive landowners of all of the economically beneficial uses of a piece of property without substantially advancing a legitimate state interest.

Although no formal exercise of eminent domain occurs in these situations, these regulatory takings, known as inverse condemnations, also constitute takings for public use.  In both of these situations, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution entitles the affected landowners to receive just compensation for their lost property.  Since both eminent domain and inverse condemnation impair the property rights of landowners and can present a wide range of complex legal issues, the assistance of competent legal counsel might be appropriate.

Although the right of eminent domain had been traditionally limited by common law to government entities, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), a recent decision by the Commonwealth Court has interpreted the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law as expanding this right to Sunoco Logistics, a privately owned public utility corporation.  In this highly publicized and hotly contested case, the Court held that Sunoco Logistics maintains the power of eminent domain as a public utility corporation subject to regulation by the Public Utility Commission (the “PUC”), giving Sunoco Logistics the power to condemn private property for the purposes of laying the Mariner East II pipeline.  The Mariner East II project was originally meant to export natural gas to Europe. As part of the initial phase of this project, an existing pipeline was repurposed in order to deliver close to 70,000 barrels of natural gas a day.  But the brutally cold winter of 2014 and the lack of cheap heating fuel options in the Mid-Atlantic region led Sunoco to add two off-loading terminals to satisfy consumer demand.

This change in the pipeline infrastructure converted the Mariner East II pipeline from an exclusively interstate pipeline subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) into an interstate and intrastate dual use pipeline subject to regulation by both FERC and the PUC.  Upon determining that the Mariner East II pipeline qualified as an intrastate pipeline,  the PUC granted Sunoco Logistics a certificate of public convenience for a 351-mile long pipeline that travels through 17 counties. Having received this certificate of public convenience, Sunoco Logistics initiated the process to condemn properties across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in anticipation of construction.  Aggrieved landowners began to object to these condemnations on the grounds that the pipeline would not serve a public need.  Although Sunoco won the appeals of decisions rendered by the Courts of Common Pleas of Cumberland and Washington Counties, landowners have filed petitions for the allowance of an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, seeking to overturn these decisions.  While these appeals are pending, the future of the Mariner East II pipeline and the landowners’ property interests remain uncertain.

In the event that an entity with the power of eminent domain does not appropriately value the private property and compensate the owners for an express or regulatory taking, the landowners can fight back against the condemnor and seek just compensation through legal proceedings.  Fortunately, Pennsylvania’s Eminent Domain Code provides a number of due process protections to landowners whose property has been taken by eminent domain or inverse condemnation.  Condemning entities, including pipeline companies, are required to immediately pay their estimate of the fair market value of the condemned property.  Oftentimes though, these estimates can be self-serving and drastically undervalue the taken property.  In the event that a landowner finds that the condemning entity undervalued the condemned property and did not pay just compensation for the property, the landowner can challenge this valuation by petitioning for the appointment of a board of viewers.  The board will conduct an evidentiary hearing regarding the valuation of the condemned property, determine its actual value, and award additional just compensation if merited in the case.  In order to provide landowners with the financial means necessary for reviewing the propriety of the condemnor’s estimated just compensation, the Eminent Domain Code provides landowners with a right to limited reimbursement of legal, engineering, and appraisal fees incurred as a result of a condemnation action.  This right to reimbursement enables a landowner to obtain a professional review of the condemnor’s valuation of the taken property in order to determine the likelihood of successfully contesting the condemnor’s valuation before the board of viewers.

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, one of the top law firms in Reading, PA, provides representation of municipalities, utility companies, and property owners in a wide variety of municipal matters, including condemnations and exercises of  eminent domain, rights of way, zoning and land use planning, land acquisition, sheriff sale purchases, municipal bond issues, property tax appeals, municipal contract drafting and negotiations, budget approval, challenges to Sunshine Act violations, Right to Know Law open records requests, civil service practices and insurance protection.  Our Berks County lawyers continue a proud tradition of representing both local agencies and residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania in both transactional and litigation matters that dates back over 70 years.

Whether a client needs to retain Kozloff Stoudt’s legal services for general counsel or representation in just a single matter, we can provide knowledgeable and creative solutions to the legal issues confronting Berks County and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Contact their office today by calling 610-370-6700 or filling out a consultation form on their website.

Pennsylvania Law Requires Family Members of Nursing Home Patients to Potentially Bear Costs of Long-Term Care

August 11th, 2016

Having your parents move into a nursing home or assisted-living community can be an emotional event for the whole family. The realization that one’s parents are no longer able to live alone can be a scary reality for some. They taught their children everything, from walking to riding a bike to learning to cooking a treasured family recipe.  Seeing that your parents aren’t the strong mentors of your youth can be truly heartbreaking.

Beyond the emotional and physical toll that this decision can place on family members, the decision to place a loved one in a skilled nursing facility can mean significant financial consequences for the entire family, even when a family member does not sign a personal guaranty of the patient’s nursing home contract.  An 11-year-old Pennsylvania law called the “filial responsibility statute” has the potential to impose grave financial consequences for family members of individuals who fail to adequately prepare for their long-term care.  The 2005 law requires the spouses, children, and parents of indigent persons to financially assist their loved ones.  This legislation has been interpreted by Pennsylvania’s courts to allow nursing home facilities to initiate what are known as “filial support actions” against immediate family members, whereby nursing homes can seek reimbursement for the costs that they incur to support their indigent patients.  If a court order is entered against a family member requiring such individual to financially support a patient, that family member can be faced with paying nursing home costs totaling tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on pain of imprisonment for failure to make such payments.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which family members can adequately protect themselves from these filial support claims by planning for their loved ones’ long-term care.   Federal mandates implemented in conjunction with the Medicaid program can provide family members with some protection from nursing home debt collection.  By obtaining eligibility for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, known as Medical Assistance, the nursing home will receive the compensation that it deserves for caring for its patients and family members can rest easy knowing that they will not be left paying these tremendous bills.  Eligibility for Medical Assistance, however, is determined by a complex set of financial regulations which can trigger ineligibility for many seniors.  Advanced planning can enable long-term care patients to shelter their assets from medical creditors, providing long-term financial value to patients and their family members and patient eligibility for Medicaid.  Skilled legal representation involving carefully crafted resource spend down plans can help an individual obtain access to governmental benefits that can be used to pay for long-term skilled nursing care. This option is surely preferable to paying for nursing home bills using the remainder of a patient’s life savings (or, even worse, that of his or her family members).

The estate planning department at Kozloff Stoudt, an experienced team of Berks County lawyers, can help you and your family members plan ahead to avoid the potentially devastating financial consequences of the filial responsibility statute. Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys provides effective, efficient and economic trust and estate services for its clients.  The range of advisory services that it offers wealth planning clients includes probate and non-probate estate administration, trust planning and administration, special needs planning, charitable giving, non-profit organizations, fiduciary litigation and taxation avoidance. As an example of what Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys can do for its clients, this talented legal team can help personal injury victims, including those suffering from car crashes, nursing home neglect, or motorcycle accidents in the Reading, PA region, preserve their financial settlements from extensive medical bills through skilled trust planning.  These services can go a long way to assisting clients with preserving, managing and transferring their wealth.  Advanced planning with the assistance of Kozloff Stoudt can place you and your family in the best financial situation ahead of whatever may happen down the line.

Kozloff Stoudt is proud to offer a comprehensive range of civil legal services from estate planning and administration to workers’ compensation to sexual harassment litigation. For more information on Kozloff Stoudt’s estate planning services, prospective clients are urged to contact the firm at 610-370-6700 or visit their website https://www.kozloffstoudt.com.

Kozloff Stoudt Honored as 2016 Berks County People’s Choice Recipient

June 6th, 2016

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys, the top personal injury attorneys in Reading, have been honored as the most outstanding law firm in the 2016 People’s Choice – Who’s Who in Berks County survey. The award recognizes local businesses that “develop strong and memorable relationships with their customers.”   It is the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in the past six years that this law firm has taken home the award. The award has been sponsored annually by Berks County Living, the region’s premier lifestyle magazine.

The People’s Choice Awards recognize leaders from each sector of the Reading, Pennsylvania economy.  Berks County Living works with independent marketing firm Polk-Lepson Research Group to conduct an email survey of consumers from across Berks County to determine the region’s leaders in 74 different business categories. The winners will be celebrated at their annual luncheon.

Continuing a proud tradition of serving the legal needs of Southeastern Pennsylvania since 1936, Kozloff Stoudt has maintained a strong reputation for professional excellence and a proven track record of results in the resolving the legal issues that confront Berks County and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Kozloff Stoudt, which was also named one of the 2016 Greater Reading Chamber’s Top 50 Businesses of the Year, provides client representation in a wide range of legal matters, including litigation, personal injury, business, real estate, estate planning, banking and municipal law.

Litigation

Kozloff Stoudt has entered its appearance in Federal and state court proceedings throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on behalf of clients ranging from private individuals to major national corporations. Its litigation department has experience resolving business and employment disputes, discrimination and sexual harassment claims, insurance defense, debt collection and personal injury claims. Our experienced litigation attorneys present the strongest case in these often complex matters by utilizing state-of-the-art resources and competent expert witnesses in an effort to provide the clear and concise legal arguments needed to produce results for clients.

Personal Injury

Kozloff Stoudt has an experienced team of personal injury lawyers who stand ready to protect victims’ rights in the event of unforeseen personal injury or property damage. Kozloff Stoudt has advocated on behalf of victims of car, bus and truck accidents, workplace accidents, nursing home neglect, and defective products in PA. From its main office in Reading, Kozloff Stoudt’s personal injury lawyers assist victims from across Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Business

In addition to their personal injury services, Kozloff Stoudt’s business practice powers the Berks County economy by providing both startups and established businesses alike with the guidance needed to properly setup and run their commercial operations. They also represent ownership in business disputes and commercial litigation.

Real Estate

Clients represented by Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys are given peace of mind from knowing that their legal interests are protected when purchasing or selling a home.  For those times when title to property remains uncertain, they also serve as advocates in litigation involving property disputes, the law of adverse possession, and the fallout of real estate transactions gone wrong.

Estate Planning

The trusts and estates practice at Kozloff Stoudt offers a wide range of advance planning services designed to manage client wealth to achieve long-term financial goals.  Potential options for planning may include crafting estate plans involving trusts or estates, converting assets for long-term care and special needs benefit eligibility, funding charitable bequests for non-profit organizations, and employing strategies for tax avoidance. Its estates practice is dedicated to advising executors, trustees and other fiduciaries during the administration of probate estates, non-probate estates, and trusts, as well as individuals intending to preserve, manage or transfer their own personal wealth.

Banking

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys have served as legal counsel for nearly every commercial lender in Berks County.  By providing banks with well-crafted documentation that is specially tailored to protect a lender’s interests from defaulting debtors, banks obtain the confidence that they need to extend new lines of credit to entrepreneurs and deserving borrowers.  They also provide representation in multistate and multinational loan transactions involving money-center banks and conduit lenders and serve as bond counsel in tax-exempt financial transactions.

Municipal/School

Kozloff Stoudt provides a full range of legal services to municipalities, authorities, commissions and school districts while serving as solicitors or special counsel in transactional and litigation matters. With a diverse team of professionals well versed in various aspects of civil law, Kozloff Stoudt employs a team-based approach to ensure that knowledgeable professionals represent the best interests of its public sector clients.

Kozloff Stoudt Attorneys’ vast experience and sophistication on the aforementioned points of law have truly set them apart over the past years, making it the premier law firm in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

RECENT BANKRUPTCY DECISIONS Part 2

May 22nd, 2016

In our previous post, we reviewed recent bankruptcy decisions in regards to trusts and mortgage lenders. In Part 2 of our review of recent bankruptcy decisions made by the court, we bring light to real estate situations between landlords and tenants in a long-term lease.

Commercial Landlords

Commercial landlords frequently enter into long-term leases with their tenants. Unfortunately, sometimes these tenants file for bankruptcy protection.  Under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, tenants can reject unexpired leases if the continuation of the lease presents an impediment to successful reorganization of the tenant.  Section 502(b)(6) limits the landlord’s claim arising from the rejection of a lease.  Section 502(b)(6) limits the landlord’s claim the 15%.  But 15% of what?  Landlords argue that it is 15% of the rent remaining on the lease to take advantage of the fact that rents specified in a lease generally increase over the term of the lease.  Tenants argue that 15% refers to 15% of the term of the remaining term of the lease, beginning when the lease is rejected.  This allows the tenant to take advantage of the lower rent in the earlier years of the lease term and, thereby, reduce the landlords’ claim.  There is a split among the courts on this issue and authority can be found supporting both positions.

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has issued a recent decision in In re: Filene’s Basement that brings some clarity to this dispute through a thoughtful analysis. The Delaware court came down on the side of landlords, holding that the claim is limited to 15% of the rent due over the remaining term of the lease.  In the view of the Delaware bankruptcy court, this interpretation was closer to the intent of Congress.  However, until clarification of Section 502(b)(6) comes from Congress or the Supreme Court, the rules will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and it will remain important for commercial landlords to know of the rules applicable where they have properties.

As one of the most highly recognized law firms serving Reading, PA, we are well-versed in real estate and bankruptcy cases. To speak with an experienced and skilled real estate attorney in Pennsylvania, schedule an appointment today by dialing 610-370-6700.

**written by Barry W. Sawtelle

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