Archive

“Georgia Governor Candidates Talk Hack,” ABC and WSB Radio

In radio segments aired on November 5 and 6 on ABC and WSB Radio, Simon Bloom provides insight on electronic ballot security and voting access rights issues in the general election.

Bloom shares his thoughts regarding the allegations over the supposed hack. “If it was an intentional hack, they wouldn’t have called the FBI and told them about it,” Bloom says.  In fact, as Bloom points out, both sides say they’ve asked the FBI to investigate just hours before voters go to the polls.  Click below to listen to segment.

“What Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation Means For The Stock Market,” Morningstar

In an article published on October 5, 2018, Bloom Parham Counsel Troy Covington provides insight into the impact of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Covington discussed Judge Kavanaugh’s potential impact on the legal landscape in the U.S. “It’s relatively safe to assume that you would see some incremental movement to the right, simply because he will be more conservative, in some ways, than Justice Kennedy was…I don’t think that if he were to be confirmed, we would see large and sudden shifts in the way the court goes about its business.” Covington says. You may read the full article here.

“Cosby Sentencing with Simon Bloom,” CBS 46

In a news broadcast airing on September 25, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom provides insight into Bill Cosby’s sentencing and its repercussions. “This is an empowering victory for the “me too” movement and for women victims around the country. DAs around the country are now on notice, and empowered, to bring cases, tough cases, against anyone that is guilty of harassment, assault and rape… Once he has served three years, he can petition to be paroled, but there are no guarantees. It very well may be a life sentence,” Bloom says. You may view the full clip here.

“Cosby Sentencing with Simon Bloom,” CBS 46

In a news broadcast airing on September 25, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom provides insight into Bill Cosby’s sentencing for aggravated indecent assault. “This was a very poignant message that no one is above the law no matter how much money, fame or resources you have… It absolutely empowers women victims to come forward, and more importantly, it empowers the DAs to bring these cases,” Bloom says. You may view the full clip here.

“In State Farm Trial, Veiled Donations May Stoke Juror Anger,” Law360

In an article published on August 31, 2018 in Law360, Bloom Parham founder and partner Simon Bloom discusses how groups with ties to State Farm strategized to avoid disclosing contributions that ended up in the campaign coffers of a judge who ultimately helped knock down a $1 billion judgment against the insurer, according to a trove of documents that may serve the important role of outraging jurors in a trial even if it doesn’t turn out to show illegal acts.   “You’re going to have to get these jurors very mad — which might not be that hard, because nobody likes insurance companies. And people like lobbyists and lawyers almost as little,” Bloom said.  For the full article click here.

“Judge Levies $260K in Fees Against Company That Fought Arbitration Award,” The Daily Report

In an article published on August 30, 2018 in the Daily Report, Bloom Parham founder and partner Simon Bloom and counsel Troy Covington are referenced as counsel to OA Development Inc.  A federal judge awarded more than $260,000 in legal fees to the Georgia company that had already won nearly $900,000 after an Israeli business partner lost an arbitration battle and a subsequent court challenge to that decision.  “I have said from the very beginning that Bamberger’s strategy of re-litigating and incessantly appealing a final arbitration award, confirmed by the U.S. district court, flies in the face of the essence of alternative dispute resolution,” Bloom said.  For the full article click here.

“Attorney Simon Bloom Discusses Cohen, Manafort rulings,” CBS 46

In a news broadcast airing on August 21, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom provided insight into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair and former personal attorney being convicted on federal charges and what this means for the president moving forward.  “It is as serious as you can get when it comes to campaign election finance laws,” Bloom says.  You may view the full clip here.

“Attorney Simon Bloom Discusses Non-Disclosure Agreements,” CBS 46

In a news broadcast airing on August 17, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom provides insight into non-disclosure agreements and what they mean. “From the government perspective there are all kinds of confidentiality restrictions that are actually laws. What we are talking about is more in the private context… They are absolutely enforceable as long as there is an exchange, and usually it is money,” Bloom says. You may view the full clip here.

“Simon Bloom talks about statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases after bombshell report in Pennsylvania,” CBS 46

In a news broadcast airing on August 15, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom provides insight into the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases in Georgia. Bloom spoke to CBS 46 about what victims face in the legal arena. “On one hand statute of limitations are designed to bring people forward and encourage them to make quick reports… For kids this is a tough ask. The other real goal is to ensure that there is a fair trial on both sides,” Bloom says. You may view the full clip here.

Bloom, Oliver, Nugent and Phillips to Speak at Upcoming Civil Trial seminar – August 22

Simon Bloom, Shannan Oliver, Adam Nugent and Nick Phillips join a panel of veteran trial lawyers and local civil court judges for two days of tactical exchange to help participants take their courtroom presentation skills to the next level.  Specifically, the Bloom team will discuss evidence and witness testimony techniques, how to creatively use motions in limine, and how to make influential opening statements.

Civil Trial: Everything You Neexd to Know
August 22-23, 2018
9:00am – 4:30pm
Atlanta, GA

For more details, please visit Civil Trial: Everything You Need to Know.

“Roe v. Wade Probably Won’t Get Overturned – But Here’s What Could Happy to Slowly Chip Away at Abortion Rights if the Supreme Court Becomes Largely Conservative,” Business Insider

In an article published on July 11, 2018, Bloom Parham Counsel Troy Covington provides insight into the impact a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could have on cases regarding reproductive rights. Covington spoke to Business Insider about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s record on abortion. “Judge Kavanaugh has spoken before about the value of precedent, so it’s impossible to say for sure, but I think the most likely outcome, if he is confirmed, is that we would not see a stark reversal.” Covington says. You may read the full article here.

“Fla. Faces Upstream Ga. Water Fight, Despite High Court Win,” Law360

In an article published on July 2, 2018, Bloom Parham Managing Partner Steve Parham provides insight into the long-running water rights dispute between Florida and Georgia. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court punted the case back to the special master. Parham suggests an ideal long-term solution won’t be easy to come by. “How do you create a remedy now that is going to ensure that Apalachicola oyster farmers will continue that industry when who knows what the next five, 10 or 15 years will bring?” Parham says. Law360 subscribers may read the full article here.

“Simon Bloom Founded Firm and Nonprofit,” Atlanta Business Chronicle

In the Atlanta Business Chronicle edition published on May 4, 2018, Simon Bloom is featured in the publication’s Executive Profile. Bloom recounts his path from a large law firm to launching his own firm, Bloom Parham, LLP – as well as highlights his active work in the nonprofit space. Hope+Access, which Bloom founded in 2017, aims to serve underprivileged youth in the city by working with community churches. “We are driving generational change to attack poverty where it lives, starting with our kids.” Bloom says. Subscribers to the Atlanta Business Chronicle may read the full article here.

“Charting a Successful Path to Retaining Outside Counsel: Best Practices for Businesses,” Daily Report

In an article published in the Daily Report’s In-House Georgia section on May 7, 2018, Bloom Parham Managing Partner Steve Parham provides insight into best practices for businesses hiring outside counsel. Parham writes that companies both large and small should make careful considerations before engaging outside counsel, such as making comprehensive engagement management and exit process plans, to ensure the relationship begins and remains on the right track. For the full article, you may click here.

“State Business Courts Fare Well in Legislative Session But Await Final Approval,” Daily Report

In an article published on April 24, 2018, on the website of the Daily Report, Bloom Parham partner and founder Simon Bloom was quoted about the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of legislation that would begin the process of creating a new statewide business court. In order for the measure to become law, an amendment to the state constitution is required. Advocates of such a court say that a statewide business court would improve efficiency and provide more certain outcomes by ensuring such complex matters are heard by judges who have experience in handling the subject matter. “In order for it to work, you have to have very smart and sophisticated trial judges,” Bloom told the publication. “At bottom, this is about economic development. I think this is a way to tell the Amazons of the world that, if you are headquartered here and, therefore, get sued here, there will be a blue-ribbon panel of judges that can adjudicate claims against you.” For the full article, you may click here.

“Landlord Forced to Give Office Back to Evicted After-School Program,” CBS 46

In a clip aired on April 17, 2018, on CBS 46, Simon Bloom, the founder of Bloom Parham, was mentioned for the firm’s pro bono work on behalf of The Jabez Project, a nonprofit group in Southwest Atlanta that provides after-school care for children.  The firm filed an emergency injunction that forced Oxford Village apartments to allow the program back into the space from which the organization was previously evicted and, as a result, the program is back up and running and the group has had its computers returned. “They’re entitled to 60 days’ notice,” Bloom said. “They cannot have the locks changed on them. They cannot have their property converted.”  For now, the rest of the lawsuit is pending and the group is still seeking damages and penalties against the property’s leadership.  To read the full story, you may click here.

“Bloom Discusses Lawsuit Alleging Violation of Club’s Fourth Amendment Rights,” CBS46

In a story aired on April 11, 2018, on CBS46, attorney Simon Bloom of Bloom Parham provided insight into a lawsuit filed by Follies, an adult entertainment club, against the City of Chamblee for violating its constitutional rights, specifically the Fourth Amendment.  Bloom explains Chamblee’s desire to close clubs like Follies, “One of the first things they promised their residents was to shut down the strip clubs.”  He says that the police came to Follies and entered with masks and weapons, shut down the facility and blocked the traffic, which the club contended was excessive.  “When these raids happen, one of the things they’re looking for are drugs, prostitution and, if you let everyone leave, it’s violating the law,” Bloom said.  To watch the full segment, you may click here.

“Bloom Parham Helps After-School Nonprofit Fight Back with Lawsuit,” CBS 46

In a story that aired on April 5, 2018, on CBS 46, Bloom Parham founder and partner Simon Bloom was featured for filing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and lawsuit on behalf of the Jabez Project, a nonprofit group in Southwest Atlanta that provides after-school care for children. Bloom told the station that the Jabez Project was evicted from its premises in violation of Georgia law. The lawsuit charges the defendants with, among other counts, trespass and breach of fiduciary duty, and asks for attorney’s fees and punitive damages. Said Bloom: “[T]hey thought they could get away with it, because they thought they would just bully some of these residents, who have done nothing except try to provide an after-school program for the children of Oxford Village, which is insane to me on a number of levels.” To view the full video, you may click here.

“Bloom Quoted on Tenant’s Rights,” CBS 46

In a story that aired on March 30, 2018, on CBS 46, Bloom Parham founder and partner Simon Bloom was quoted regarding a nonprofit after-school group’s eviction from its Atlanta location by its landlord.  Two days earlier, The Jabez Project had its locks changed on short notice.  Bloom, whose practice includes landlord-tenant disputes, is not involved with the case.  He told CBS 46 that anyone in the volunteer group’s position has the same basic rights.  “They’re entitled to sixty days’ notice,” Bloom said.  “They cannot have the locks changed on them.  They cannot have their property converted.”  To view the full video, you may click here.

“Steve Parham Named Managing Partner of Bloom Parham LLP,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In a recent edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Steve Parham is mentioned for his appointment as managing partner of Bloom Parham. Parham’s practice includes a wide range of areas, including complex commercial, construction, business, fiduciary duty, real estate and tort litigation. For the full article, subscribers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution may click here.

“How to Write a Solid Restaurant Operating Agreement,” Restaurant Hospitality

In an article published on March 2, 2018, in Restaurant Hospitality, Bloom Parham partner Simon Bloom provides guidance on best practices in setting up partnership agreements.  In an article about the legal matters surrounding the dissolution of Atlanta celebrity chef and restaurateur Kevin Rathbun’s partnerships, Bloom provides examples of scenarios that need to be discussed at the formation of a partnership so that legal issues do not arise when it comes time to end it.  “It could be a conflict of interest,” Bloom told the publication.  “It could be that you have another permanent full-time job.  It could just be that I want to buy you out.  These are the terms that have to be discussed when you’re entering into a partnership.”  For the full article, you may click here.

“Owner Bankruptcy: What’s a Contractor to Do?” Construction Executive

In a recent article published in Construction Executive, Bloom Parham Managing Partner Steve Parham and Counsel Troy Covington provide insight regarding how to handle bankruptcy for an owner of a real estate company or a contractor. Parham and Covington write that the Bankruptcy Code determines how a project will move forward following a bankruptcy. The code allows a bankruptcy trustee (in a Chapter 7 dissolution case) or the debtor-in-possession (in a Chapter 11 reorganization case) either to assume or to reject an executory contract. Then, a debtor-in-possession has until the time of the confirmation of its plan of reorganization to decide if it will assume or reject the contract. In many states the law provides that if the debtor files bankruptcy, the contractor does not have to commence an action against the debtor and instead may bring an action directly against the property owner. For the full article, you may click here.

“Bloom Parham Boosts Litigation Practice with Addition of Andrea Pearson,” Georgia Bar Journal

In an article published in the 2018 February issue of the Georgia Bar Journal, Bloom Parham is mentioned for welcoming Andrea Pearson to the firm as an associate who will handle complex litigation matters. Pearson brings experience in civil litigation, international arbitration, investigations, and securities and financial services litigation. For the full article, you may access the digital edition of the Georgia Bar Journal here.

“Bloom Appointed to Teach for America Metro-Atlanta’s Advisory Board,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In an article published on February 11, 2018, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Simon Bloom, a partner with and the founder of Bloom Parham, LLP, was featured for being appointed to the advisory board of Teach for America Metro-Atlanta, an organization that was founded in 2000.  The organization is committed to pursuing educational equity and excellence.  Late last year, Bloom, who is dedicated to serving the Atlanta community, founded the nonprofit Hope+Access, which seeks to provide educational opportunities to the communities of two of Atlanta’s historic African-American church communities.  In addition to this appointment, he has previously served in several roles for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, on the governing board for the Great Promise Partnership, the advisory council board of the Marcus Autism Center and the board of directors of Project Open Hand.  If you are a subscriber to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, you may access the digital edition of the newspaper here.

“Steve Parham Named Managing Partner of Renamed Bloom Parham LLP,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In an article published on February 4, 2018, in the Sunday print edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Steve Parham is featured for his recent appointment to managing partner of Bloom Parham, which has been renamed to reflect this change. Parham has a wide range of practice areas, including complex commercial, construction, business, fiduciary duty, real estate and tort litigation. For the full article, subscribers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution may click here.

“Feisty Litigation Boutique Becomes Bloom Parham,” Daily Report

In an article published on January 23, 2018, on the website of the Daily Report, Bloom Parham is featured for Steve Parham’s promotion to managing partner as well as the firm’s recent name change. The article explains that Parham will handle the firm’s administrative operations, assisted by Bloom Parham Executive Director Lainey McLellan, while founding partner Simon Bloom focuses on client development, big-picture strategy and major litigation. The article recounts the firm’s history and how between 2008 and 2013 the firm litigated $1.2 billion of personally guaranteed debt, representing debtors and guarantors being sued by their banks. Bloom explains the type of clients that the firm services. “We are catering to the more sophisticated consumer of litigation services that values real trial experience and appreciates the difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator,” he told the publication. “… If you’ve got a five-to-ten million, bet-the-small-company type of partnership or commercial dispute on the line, you want someone who can take that case to trial and win it.” For the full article, subscribers to the Daily Report may click here.

Bloom Parham Earns Win at Court of Appeals on Scope of Anti-SLAPP Statute

The Court of Appeals of Georgia recently turned aside an attempt to exploit Georgia’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, handing a win to Bloom Parham clients Strategic Jubilee Holdings, LLC and Jubilee Manager, LLC (“Strategic Jubilee”).  Strategic Jubilee filed claims for breach of contact, breach of fiduciary duty, and declaratory judgment seeking a ruling regarding rightful ownership of Jubilee Manager.  The defendants filed a motion to strike under Georgia’s anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that the asserted claims arose from the defendants’ constitutionally protected activities.  The trial court disagreed, ruling that Strategic Jubilee’s claims arose from a dispute over corporate governance and membership and were not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute.

The defendants filed an immediate appeal.  On January 9, 2018, the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court’s decision.  The appellate court’s opinion makes clear that the anti-SLAPP statute does not apply anytime there is a tangential connection between a lawsuit and constitutionally protected conduct but rather applies only when the claims alleged stem directly from the exercise of such rights.

The full Court of Appeals opinion can be viewed here, and the video of the oral argument can be viewed here.

“Steve Parham Named Managing Partner of Renamed Bloom Parham LLP,” Metro Atlanta CEO

In an article published on January 18, 2018, in Metro Atlanta CEO, Steve Parham is featured for his recent appointment to managing partner of Bloom Parham, which has been renamed to reflect this change. The article says that Parham has a wide range of practice areas, including complex commercial, construction, business, fiduciary duty, real estate and tort litigation. “Steve has been a great partner and will achieve big things in this new role,” said Simon Bloom, the founder and a partner at Bloom Parham. “His experience with corporate governance will be a boon to the firm. Having started his career at Troutman Sanders and Balch & Bingham and also having worked at SunTrust, his experience working inside large law firms and a large corporation will serve us well.” For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Shannan Oliver Elected to Board of March of Dimes,” Public Now

In a recent article published in Public Now, Shannan Oliver, counsel with Bloom Parham, was mentioned for her recent election to March of Dimes’ Atlanta board.  The nonprofit’s mission is to improve the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  For the full announcement, you may click here.

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari and Ends Bid to Vacate Arbitration Award

On January 8, 2018, the United States Supreme Court denied Bamberger-Rosenheim, Ltd.’s (also known as “Profimex”) petition for a writ of certiorari.  The Supreme Court declined to review the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirming the confirmation of an arbitration award in favor of OA Development, Inc. (“OAD”).  Profimex asked the Supreme Court to hear the case to consider the Eleventh Circuit’s holding that an arbitrator’s determination of arbitral venue under the parties’ arbitration agreement is entitled to deference.

Profimex had argued that the international character of the arbitration required the court to apply a more rigorous standard of review to the arbitrator’s construction of a venue provision because of alleged substantive consequences that attach to the venue of the arbitration in the international context.  The Eleventh Circuit had relied on well-established law that arbitrators are presumed to decide disputes regarding arbitration procedures and agreed with four other circuit courts of appeal that disputes over the interpretation of venue selection clauses raise presumptively arbitrable procedural questions.  The Supreme Court’s decision to decline review of the case allows the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and the reasoning behind it to stand.

“Bloom Named to Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees,” Daily Report

In an article published on January 3, 2018, in the Daily Report, Bloom Sugarman partner and founder Simon Bloom is featured for his appointment to the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees. The organization was created in 2003 to provide support to the mayor, the chief of police and the Atlanta Police Department. “I am grateful to be a part of a team that assists those who put their lives at risk every day to reduce crime in Atlanta and help our citizens feel safer,” Bloom says. “Supporting our men and women in uniform is one of the most worthy causes I can think of.” For the full article, subscribers to the Daily Report may click here.

Obtained Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant in Wrongful Termination Suit

Represented metro-Atlanta municipality in a suit by a former employee alleging violations of federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, in her termination.  Bloom Sugarman moved for summary judgment on all counts, arguing the motion before a magistrate judge in the Northern District of Atlanta.  After argument,  the magistrate judge recommended granting our motion on all counts.  The District judge adopted the recommendation in full, agreeing that the defendant had not violated any laws in the termination and taxing costs to the plaintiff.

“Bloom Named to Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees,” Metro Atlanta CEO

In an article published on December 22, 2017, in Metro Atlanta CEO, Bloom Sugarman partner and founder Simon Bloom is featured for his appointment to the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees. The organization was created in 2003 to provide support to the mayor, the chief of police and the Atlanta Police Department. Since its creation, the city has experienced a 58 percent reduction in violent crime and a 41 percent reduction in crime overall. “I am honored to be a member of the board, working alongside some of the city’s most devoted professionals,” Bloom was quoted as saying in the article. “I am grateful to be a part of a team that assists those who put their lives at risk every day to reduce crime in Atlanta and help our citizens feel safer. Supporting our men and women in uniform is one of the most worthy causes I can think of.” For the full article, you may click here.

“Bloom: Delta’s Lease with Airport Has Exception for Possible Litigation,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In an article published on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 21, 2017, Bloom Sugarman partner Simon Bloom provides insight into potential legal pathways that Delta could pursue to recoup millions in losses suffered by the airline against Georgia Power and the city as a result of the Dec. 17, 2017, power outage that shut down the airport. Bloom explains the terms of Delta’s lease with the city and how the city is protected from legal liability but only if “such failures or interruptions were not occasioned by the City’s fault or neglect or that of its employees, agents, contractors, subcontractors or other entities under the City’s control.” Said Bloom: “It makes it more important than ever to get to the bottom of the cause… You can think of a range of possible scenarios where one could make the viable case that the city was asleep at the switch, literally and figuratively.” For the full article, subscribers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution may access the digital edition here.

“Bloom: Delta CEO’s Statement ‘A Major First Step’ Towards Potential Litigation,” 11Alive.com

In an article published on December 20, 2017, on 11Alive.com, Bloom Sugarman partner Simon Bloom provides insight into the possible recourses that Delta might have in pursuing litigation against Georgia Power and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport regarding losses suffered from Sunday’s power outage. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he wanted to have a “conversation” with the utility and the airport about recouping losses, which he estimated at between $25 and $30 million. Bloom said the city, which runs the airport, is protected from liability, according to the terms of its lease, but not if the power failures resulted from neglect. “Bastian’s statement was a major first step in setting the table for this expectation,” Bloom said of the company’s desire to recoup losses. For the full article, you may click here.

“Bloom Sugarman Boosts Litigation Practice with Addition of Andrea Pearson,” Atlanta Metro CEO

In an article published on December 18, 2017, in Metro Atlanta CEO, Bloom Sugarman is mentioned for welcoming Andrea Pearson to the firm as an associate handling complex litigation matters. Pearson brings experience in civil litigation, international arbitration, investigations, and securities and financial services litigation. “We are thrilled to welcome Andrea to the firm,” said Simon Bloom, founder and partner at Bloom Sugarman. “Her litigation experience is extremely valuable and she will play an important role in maintaining our commitment to deliver the highest level of service to our clients.” For the full article, you may click here.

“Parham Appointed to Johns Creek Planning Commission,” University of Georgia Magazine

In an article published in the 2017 Winter issue of the University of Georgia Magazine, Bloom Sugarman partner Steve Parham is mentioned for his appointment to the Johns Creek Planning Commission. The mission of the planning commission is to review zoning cases and make recommendations to the mayor and city council to better the city. Parham has experience at Bloom Sugarman counseling his clients and trying cases in the fields of commercial business, real estate and tort litigation. Parham received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia. You may access the digital edition of the magazine here.

 

“Hope+Access to Serve Two Atlanta Historic African-American Churches,” Atlanta Patch

In a recent article published in Atlanta Patch, Simon Bloom of Bloom Sugarman LLP, is featured for being a co-founder of a new Atlanta-based nonprofit, Hope+Access.  Bloom, along with leaders in Atlanta’s business, legal and nonprofit industries, came together to form the nonprofit.  The organization’s mission is to provide resources in times of hardship and also access to education benefiting the communities of two of Atlanta’s historic African-American churches.  To start, Hope+Access will assist Beulah Baptist Church and the Lindsay Street Baptist Church, and plans to serve 100 families within its first year.  For the full article, you may click here.

“Bloom Discusses Hope+Access Launch at Lindsay Street Baptist,” CBS 46

In a story that aired on November 12, 2017, on CBS 46, Bloom Sugarman founder and partner Simon Bloom discusses the launch of the new nonprofit group Hope+Access at Lindsay Street Baptist Church. Hope+Access’s mission is to serve underprivileged youth in Atlanta to seek a greater education and opportunities to which they would not normally have access. Bloom is one of the founders of the organization and says it will connect those in need with available resources. At its inception, Hope+Access will serve two of the city’s historic African-American churches, Lindsay Street Baptist and Beulah Baptist. “It’s a youth-oriented focus on improving the lives and outcomes of children in the toughest zip codes in Atlanta,” Bloom said. The interview took place on Sunday, November 12, the same day as Kathryn Johnston Day at Lindsay Street Baptist. Johnston was an avid member of the congregation who was shot and killed by Atlanta police during a botched drug raid. To view the full video, you may click here.

 

“Bloom Appointed to Teach for America Metro-Atlanta’s Advisory Board,” Metro Atlanta CEO

In an article published on November 9, 2017, in Metro Atlanta CEO, Simon Bloom, a partner with and the founder of Bloom Sugarman LLP, was featured for being appointed to the advisory board of Teach for America Metro-Atlanta, an organization that was founded in 2000. Bloom will serve on the board of the organization, which is committed to pursuing educational equity and excellence. Bloom is dedicated to serving the Atlanta community. In addition to this appointment, he has previously served in several roles for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, on the governing board for the Great Promise Partnership, the advisory council board of the Marcus Autism Center and the board of directors of Project Open Hand. For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Bloom Discusses Issues of the Day, Provides Insight into Manafort Indictment,” GPB Radio’s On Second Thought

In an appearance on November 3, 2017, on GPB Radio’s On Second Thought, Bloom Sugarman partner and founder Simon Bloom participated in the program’s Friday roundtable show, “The Break Room,” in which he provided insight into a number of hot issues. Regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Bloom said, “The Manafort indictment was very specific and it all deals with conduct up until, and not past, 2014 so there is no actual attachment to the 2106 campaign, which was the purpose of the Mueller mandate as special counsel,” Bloom said. When asked if officials higher ranking than Manafort might face legal jeopardy from this indictment, Bloom responded, “Not form this indictment. If Mueller had that data, if he had those facts, if he had that evidence, by god, you know it would have been in this indictment coming into the 2016 campaign.” To listen to the full program, you may click here.

 

“Bloom Comments on Professors’ Campus Carry Lawsuit,” GPB Radio’s On Second Thought

On the October 5, 2017, edition of Georgia Public Broadcasting Radio’s “On Second Thought,” Bloom Sugarman partner and founder Simon Bloom offered commentary on a lawsuit filed by six University System of Georgia professors who are seeking to overturn the state’s so-called Campus Carry law. Bloom explained that the professors lack legal standing and that the Legislature was well within its rights to establish this law. “Courts cannot judge the constitutionality in a particular case of a law based on speculation and conjecture about potential harms the law may or may not cause in the future,” Bloom said. “Plaintiffs would be better served by pursuing a political solution through lobbying the Legislature and governor to repeal Campus Carry and to follow the policy position that plaintiffs prefer.”

To listen to the full episode, you may click here

 

“Bloom Addresses Whose Gun Laws Are More Strict, Georgia’s or Nevada’s?” CBS 46

In a story that aired on CBS 46 on October 3, 2017, Bloom Sugarman partner and founder Simon Bloom was interviewed regarding how Georgia’s gun laws compare to those of Nevada’s in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Bloom discussed possible new regulations that might arise out of the tragedy, as well as possible litigation that the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino might face out of the tragedy. “The argument will rely entirely upon what is a foreseeable obligation,” Bloom said. To watch the entire piece, you may click here.

 

“Arbitrator Nixes Waitresses’ Tip-Sharing Class Action,” Daily Report

In an article published on September 5, 2017, on the website of the Daily Report, Bloom Sugarman partner Simon Bloom provides insight into the firm’s victory in an arbitration case for client CentraArchy Restaurant Management, the parent company of the restaurant company California Dreaming. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, two waitresses had filed a putative class action to stop management from making them share tips with drink preparers, or service bartenders, whom the waitresses said do not interact with customers. Bloom Sugarman attorneys demonstrated during a hearing in June that the Department of Labor’s field handbook lists service bartender as a tipped role. Bloom Sugarman’s arguments helped to reverse earlier decisions that had given the matter provisional approval to proceed as a class action. The article says, “‘We knew from the start that this was largely a lawyer-manufactured lawsuit,’ said Bloom, who defended the case with Bloom Sugarman colleagues Frederick “Skip” Sugarman, Shannan Oliver and Adam Nugent. ‘There was no real injury being suffered by anyone,’ Bloom said. ‘Everybody was already making more than minimum wage, the servers appreciate having a service bartender because it improves their service. Everybody won.’” For the full article, subscribers to the Daily Report may click here.

 

“How to Navigate Trust, Estate, and Fiduciary Disputes,” Estate Planning

In an article published July 18, 2017 by Estate Planning magazine, Skip Sugarman discusses how litigation involving estates, trusts, and other fiduciary disputes differ from other forms of civil litigation.  Sugarman explains the most common fact patterns involved in estate litigation and provides the five most important steps to maximize the offs of a successful outcome.

For the full article, please click here.

“Are College Sexual Misconduct Investigation Policies in a State of Flux?” Daily Report

In an article published on August 15, 2017 by the Daily Report, Simon Bloom and Nick Phillips discuss the issue of new on-campus sexual misconduct policies.

For the full article, subscribers may click here.

“Litigation Risks in Public-Private Partnerships,” Construction Executive Risk Management

In an article published in Construction Executive Risk Management on July 25, 2017, Bloom Sugarman partner Steve Parham discusses the litigation risks that can arise when a public-private partnership, or P3, is formed. “A well-drafted P3 contract should have a dispute resolution clause providing for some type of mandatory notification of the alleged default(s), an opportunity to cure the same and, perhaps, even a mandatory alternative dispute resolution procedure to be used before a lawsuit may be filed,” Parham explains. He says that the biggest risks private companies face in P3 arrangements are litigation filed by the public partner and litigation filed by other interested parties. Finally, Parham discusses the benefits of forming a P3 early on, writing, “Should a lawsuit be filed, prior planning and documentation will limit its impact and cost, enabling private companies to take greater advantage of the potential benefits of the P3 arrangement.” For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Sugarman: DIY Estate Planning Has Its Risks,” Wall Street Journal

In an article published on August 6, 2017, in the Wall Street Journal, Bloom Sugarman partner Skip Sugarman provides insight on the legal issues people may encounter if they use a DIY (do-it-yourself) estate planning approach. A person without professional experience is more likely to make a mistake in drafting a will rather than an experienced lawyer, says Sugarman, who litigates issues involving estates. “That makes a do-it-yourself product more susceptible to a challenge,” he says. For the full article, subscribers to the Wall Street Journal may click here.

 

Bloom Sugarman Announces New Executive Director

Bloom Sugarman, LLP is pleased to announce that Lainey E. McLellan has been named as the firm’s executive director. In her role, McLellan will manage the day-to-day operations of the firm, duties that include legal administration, business operations, human resources, staff development and management, marketing, finance, accounting, information technology and vendor relationships for the boutique civil litigation firm. McLellan previously served as client care manager at Homrich Berg, a wealth management firm based in Atlanta.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lainey to our firm. The expertise and skills she brings are invaluable,” said Simon Bloom, founder of and partner at Bloom Sugarman. “In 10 years, we have grown from one attorney to 12 and we know that you cannot do that without talented staff. What Lainey brings on the operations side will allow us to continue to provide top-quality legal services to our clients and to continue to grow the firm in a skillful and intentional manner.”

McLellan’s experience includes more than nine years of leading, developing and implementing solutions to promote client satisfaction while assisting in the revenue growth of her previous firm. She also has experience managing firmwide marketing and social media. At Homrich Berg, she managed client relations for six high-net worth families and served as relationship lead for two extremely high-net worth family office clients.

Her duties also included:

  • Leading the firm’s customer relationship management software team;
  • Serving on the firm’s information technology team, marketing committee and office design steering committee; and
  • Serving as a member of the client service leadership team.

“I am thrilled to work with and manage support of the exceptional professionals at Bloom Sugarman,” McLellan said. “Throughout my career in the financial industry, client service has been a top priority. The lessons I have learned will serve me well in the legal industry.”

McLellan is an avid tennis player, gardener and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta supporter. As a member of the Ashford Park Friends of CHOA organization she organizes the silent auction for the annual Boots and Bluegrass Fundraiser and decorates mailboxes during the holiday season. McLellan’s favorite volunteer activity is Christmas Kindness at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, giving less fortunate members of the community a hand up. She lives in Brookhaven with her husband, Ryan, and their two daughters.

McLellan earned her undergraduate degree in management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also holds a certificate in Coaching Effectively and in Better Business Writing from Emory University and a Financial Paraplanner Certificate from The American College.

“Parham Appointed to Johns Creek Planning Commission,” Georgia Bar Journal

In the 2017 August issue of the Georgia Bar Journal, Bloom Sugarman partner Steve Parham is mentioned for his recent appointment to the Planning Commission for the city of Johns Creek. The article says that in his new role he will review zoning cases and participate in a “recommending body to the mayor and city council for the purpose of upholding and implementing the vision and objectives as outlined in the comprehensive plan and accompanying regulatory ordinances such as zoning and subdivisions.” For the full article, subscribers to the Georgia Bar Journal may view the digital edition here.

 

“Simon Bloom Quoted on President Trump’s Transgender Military Ban,” 11 Alive

In a story aired on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, Bloom Sugarman partner Simon Bloom provided insight to 11 Alive on President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military. Reporter Christie Ethridge cited Bloom’s comments that the president has the authority to institute such a ban; however, Bloom said the president’s stated reasoning of high medical costs had a hollow ring. If the president had chosen, Bloom said, he could have simply banned payment for expensive medical treatments for transgender people like hormone therapy instead of banning an entire community of people from the military. For the full clip, you may click here to watch.

 

Bloom Sugarman Prevails at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

On July 17, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Simon Bloom and Troy Covington’s victory at the U.S. District Court where Judge Eleanor Ross confirmed the arbitration award in favor of our client OA Development, Inc. against Bamberger-Rosenheim, Ltd.  Bamberger argued that OAD’s claims should not have been arbitrated in Atlanta under the applicable venue provision found in the parties’ arbitration agreement.

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, holding that the arbitrator’s venue determination was entitled to deference.  The court relied on well-established law that courts must defer to arbitrators’ determinations regarding arbitration procedures such as venue.  The panel’s published opinion joined four other circuit courts of appeal in concluding that disputes over the interpretation of venue selection clauses are procedural and should be left to the arbitrator to decide as long as it was clear that the arbitrator arguably interpreted the provision in good faith.  In this case, because the arbitrator plainly engaged with the language of the agreement and more than arguably interpreted the venue provision at issue, the court deferred to the arbitrator’s interpretation.  Depending on further appeals, the District Court will next address OAD’s motion for attorneys fees against Bamberger.

Simon Bloom argued the appeal before the appellate panel on May 17, 2017 and Troy Covington authored the briefing.

“Bloom and Covington: ‘Fire the special counsel? History shows it would be a bad idea,’” The Hill

In an article published on July 2, 2017, on the website of The Hill, partner Simon Bloom and counsel Troy Covington explore the history of the special counsel statute and provide insight as to the potential difficulty that President Donald Trump might encounter if he were to choose to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Mueller, as the article explains, is investigating “any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.” Bloom and Covington discuss the statutory authority from which Mueller’s powers arise and the chain of command to which he reports. “Although commentators and academics are divided,” they write, “the majority of experts argue that President Trump cannot himself remove Mueller from the special counsel role because the statutory power to appoint a special counsel resides with the attorney general, and well-established federal law holds that the power of removal goes along with the power of appointment.” For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Sugarman: Supreme Court Travel Ban Ruling Won’t End Controversy,” 11 Alive

In an article published on June 26, 2017, on 11Alive.com, Bloom Sugarman partner Skip Sugarman provides analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to partially uphold President Trump’s executive order creating a travel ban on individuals from six majority Muslim countries. Sugarman explains how the ruling carves out an exception for people with established ties to the United States. “What is not clear is exactly who those people are, and that will certainly be the subjects of future lawsuits,” Sugarman said. The court agreed to hear the case later in the fall. For the full article, you may click here.

 

Ask Simon: Structuring Purchase and Sale Agreements Contingent on Rezoning

Q. I am a builder and developer. I recently entered into a purchase and sale agreement for property contingent on rezoning the property to industrial use.  Although the zoning board approved the rezoning, a neighboring property owner appealed, and the ensuing delay caused the seller to back out of our deal as result of my failure to close given the pending appeal.  Is there anything I can do to prevent this in the future?

A. Yes, there is something you can do. Builders and developers frequently enter into purchase and sale agreements that are contingent upon having the property rezoned.  Of course, the builder/developer wants to know it can use the land for the purpose for which it is purchasing the property.  The typical purchase and sale agreement in this situation contains a contingency clause or addendum stating that the agreement is contingent upon the successful rezoning of the property to a certain classification.  If the property owner cannot successfully obtain rezoning, the purchaser can walk away from the deal.

In most instances, the property is rezoned and the parties subsequently close on the property without issue.  However, there are cases where the rezoning is successful but then appealed by a neighbor.  The appeal of a zoning decision is de novo, meaning the parties present their case again in toto to the superior court.  Depending on the judge, it can take some time before the appeal is ruled on and ultimately resolved.  This presents a big problem for parties looking to close on a deal, especially if the appeal extends past the closing date.  In such a case, if the seller refuses to extend the closing date pending appeal, the purchaser-developer may lose the property.

Fortunately, parties can structure their purchase and sale agreements to account for the uncertainties in the zoning process, including appeals.  Developers purchasing land contingent upon rezoning should draft the contingency provision in their agreements such that the contract is contingent upon a successful rezoning, including the exhaustion and final adjudication of any and all appeals.  The agreement should further provide that the closing date for the agreement occurs on a date certain, or 30 days following the final decision of the zoning board or after the exhaustion and final adjudication of any and all appeals, whichever is later.

Developers purchasing land contingent on rezoning should take care to remember that appeals are possible, that appeals can delay the closing, and that appeals can cause the developer to loose the land.  However, structuring the purchase and sale agreement to account for the potential of a zoning appeal will give the developer some certainty that it will be able to close on the property notwithstanding any delays caused by an appeal.

In addition, parties entering into purchase and sale agreements contingent upon rezoning should specify in the contract which party will be responsible for petitioning for rezoning, defending appeals, as well as which party will be responsible for the costs of the rezoning efforts and appeals.  The more the parties take care to structure their contracts to account for the various land mines in these zoning-contingent deals, the more likely the parties will ultimately close on the property.

“Bias Suits Against Banks Face Test on Causal Links,” Bloomberg BNA

In an article published on June 19, 2017, in Bloomberg BNA, partner Simon Bloom provides insight about recent lawsuits by cities that allege harm from bank lending bias that arose during the Great Recession.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is soon expected to address the question as to whether discriminatory lending actually caused a drop in property-tax revenue as a result of these lending practices.  The article details these lawsuits, the obstacles cities face in these cases and the impact the outcomes will have on the legal landscape.  Bloom told the publication that cities will face a separate hurdle if the 11th Circuit allows these cases to proceed, calling the Fair Housing Act’s two-year statute of limitations a “major problem” in some cases.  You may read the full article here.

 

Bloom Sugarman Obtains Precedent-Setting Reversal From Georgia Court of Appeals on Undue Influence Case

On June 6, 2017, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a decision which clarifies the standard that Georgia courts should apply when examining alleged evidence of undue influence.  The opinion almost completely reverses retired Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob’s order granting summary judgment based on the erroneous conclusion that a fact finder may only look at evidence of undue influence that occurred on the date of execution of challenged documents.  Instead, the Court reiterated years of precedential Georgia case law and made clear that a trier of fact in an undue influence case may look at evidence indicative of undue influence before, during and after the date of execution of the challenged documents.

In addition to incorrectly limiting the scope of the evidence, the Court also found that the trial court discredited evidence, adopted the opposing party’s theory of the case, and improperly weighed the evidence.  Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on our client’s undue influence claims, as well as the opposing parties’ adverse declaratory judgment claims.

Slosberg v. Giller, et al., Case No A17A0091, A17A0092 (Ga. Ct. App. June 6, 2017)

“Bloom: ‘If Flynn pleads the Fifth, will Congress hold him in contempt?’” The Hill

In an article published on May 22, 2017, on the website of The Hill, partner Simon Bloom provides insight on the Senate intelligence committee’s subpoena to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the repercussions that Flynn can face by choosing not to comply with it.  Bloom enumerates the many scenarios that could play out.  He explains how the committee could attempt to obtain a court order compelling Flynn to respond to the subpoena and granting him immunity against the use of any materials he produces in a later criminal prosecution.  While documents produced by Flynn in response to the subpoena could not be used against him in a later prosecution, he could still be prosecuted and convicted on the basis of other evidence derived from independent sources.  “The Senate could order Flynn to be imprisoned for a set period of time as punishment or for an indefinite period (though likely not longer than the end of the current session of Congress) until he agrees to comply with the subpoena,” he explains.  “While Flynn is no longer national security adviser, it is questionable at best whether the Senate could use it to try to obtain documents that may touch on his service.”  For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Simon Bloom on Georgia’s ‘Campus Carry’ Law” WABE-FM

On May 19, 2017, partner Simon Bloom was featured on WABE-FM, Atlanta’s NPR station, in a story about a new state law that allows students who have concealed carry permits for their firearms to bring the weapons to some areas on Georgia’s public college and technical school campuses.

Bloom says that the law is less about arming students and more about debating Second Amendment rights in a different arena. He said it won’t affect many students because they have to be 21 years old to apply for a carry permit.

“The likelihood of that small subset of ‘super seniors’ that want to carry a gun to school sitting next to a 15-year-old or 16-year-old or 17-year-old—sophomore, junior, senior in high school—is so remote,” Bloom explains.

For the full segment, you may click here.

Bloom Argues in the Eleventh Circuit

Simon Bloom argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday, May 17 in Atlanta.  Bloom Sugarman represents OA Development, Inc. (“OAD”), the Appellee in the matter.  In April 2014, Appellant Bamberger-Rosenheim, Ltd. (also known as “Profimex”) filed an arbitration against OAD through the International Chamber of Commerce, seeking the payment of certain contractual fees.  OAD filed a counterclaim for defamation, and Profimex asked the arbitrator to dismiss the counterclaim.  The arbitrator refused to do so, and the parties proceeded to litigate their various claims through six months of discovery and pre-trial briefing. Following a week-long trial in July 2015 and post-trial briefing, the arbitrator ruled in OAD’s favor on its defamation claim.  The arbitrator awarded OAD approximately $1,000,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia confirmed the arbitration award to OAD.  Profimex appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.  Profimex continues to argue that OAD’s defamation counterclaim should not have been arbitrated in the Atlanta proceeding under the applicable venue provision found in the parties’ arbitration agreement.  That issue was at the center of Tuesday’s appellate argument, with Mr. Bloom arguing that the arbitrator properly decided OAD’s counterclaim and violated neither the parties’ arbitration agreement nor any applicable federal or international arbitration law.

Click here for audio of Tuesday’s oral arguments.

Successfully Obtained Variance to Reduce On-Site Parking Space Requirement

Represented local business owners seeking a special exception from the City of Atlanta zoning ordinance to reduce the required on-site parking spaces.  We were able to alleviate the concerns of the neighborhood and Neighborhood Planning Unit by working with adjacent property owners, as well as encouraging alternative transportation options.  The Zoning Board’s unanimous vote in favor of the variance protects the business owners from the ever changing nature of the neighborhood and provides finality with regard to the parking affecting their property.

Bloom Speaks at Advanced Trial Tactics seminar – July 27th

Simon Bloom joins a panel of seasoned lawyers for an engaging day of learning and tactics exchange to help participants take their courtroom skills to the next level. Explore the most effective approaches to help in your trial preparation efforts, use powerful summation strategies to distill the maelstrom of information into juror understanding and acquiescence, and learn how to make the best use of testimony to refresh witness recollection, demonstrate inconsistencies, and impeach experts. Specifically, Bloom will discuss how to masterfully use opening statements and direct examination, and  cross-examination and redirect with a focus on experts and evidence.

Advanced Trial Tactics
July 27, 2017
9:00am – 4:30pm
Atlanta, GA

For more details, please visit Advanced Trial Tactics.

“Reduce Lien Exposure with Anti-Assignment Clauses,” Construction Executive

In an article published on April 28, 2017, by Construction Executive, Simon Bloom and Nick Phillips offer insight on how to reduce lien exposure with anti-assignment clauses. The article details that an “anti-assignment clause is a contractual provision precluding the subcontractor from further delegating or assigning its obligations under the subcontract to other subcontractors. By including this clause in their subcontracts, property owners and general contractors may eliminate exposure to liens filed by downstream, unknown subcontractors and suppliers.”

Bloom and Phillips emphasize, “Keep in mind, downstream subcontractors that provided labor or materials in good faith can become frustrated when it turns out they are precluded from filing a lien because of an anti-assignment clause. Accordingly, it is important for all parties to understand their rights with respect to these contractual provisions.”

For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Mercedes-Benz Stadium ‘Adjusts’ Atlanta United Games; NFL Season Not Impacted,” CBS 46

In a story that aired on April 19, 2017, by CBS 46, Simon Bloom offers insight on the delayed opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium due to delays in the project’s construction.

Because of complications with the stadium’s retractable roof, the Georgia Dome will remain standing until further notice. Bloom said he had concerns with that idea. “When they say we’re not going to tear down the Georgia Dome yet, there’s no downside of leaving it up, to me that says, yeah, we think it’s going to be another 10, 12, 15, 26 days, but we’re not going to throw the life boat overboard before the ship starts to sink. We want to make sure we have that life boat just in case something unforeseen comes up,” Bloom said. He goes on to mention that season ticket holders have an argument but not a viable lawsuit for the delay of the stadium’s opening.

You may access the full story here.

 

Bloom Speaks at 39th Annual Real Property Law Institute – May 4-6th

Simon Bloom will share his insights on “Hard Lessons Learned from Litigating Out of a Depression” during the 39th Annual Real Property Law Institute. The three-day event will also cover such topics as State of the Union & Industry Forecast, Cases Everyone Will Know by One Name in 2017, and Trends in Title Insurance Claims, as well as many topics centered around both commercial and residential real estate.

39th Annual Real Property Institute
May 4 – 6, 2017

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
4000 Sandestin Boulevard South
Miramar Beach, FL 32550

Participants will earn:

  • 12 CLE hours
  • 1 Ethics hour
  • 1 Professionalism Hour
  • 3 Trial Practice hours

To register, click here.

“Bloom Sugarman Tops $50,000 Giving Mark for Boys & Girls Clubs at 10th Anniversary Event,” Metro Atlanta CEO

In an article published on March 22, 2017 by Metro Atlanta CEO, the firm’s 10th anniversary event is profiled. The article details that the firm has topped “the $50,000 mark in giving since 2011 to its chosen beneficiary, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.” Simon Bloom states, “We embrace and encourage a spirit of generosity, and the Boys & Girls Clubs are emblematic of the kind of organization that we want to support. We are proud of our firm’s commitment to the Boys & Girls Clubs and hope that the funds we have raised throughout the years have helped to make an impact.”

For the full article, you may click here.

Ellie Bloom, Missy Dugan, & Amy Phuong

Darrell Hall & Susan Conley

Helaine Parham, Steve Parham, & Ariel Zion

Brian Ball, Candice Moore, Mike Dugan, Missy Dugan, Perjah Roberts,
Khadation Smith

Simon Bloom

Alisa Michael, Michael Morrison, Ashley Morrison, Meredith Ragains

Brian Ball

Candice Moore & Margaret Nugent

Nick Phillips & Bruce Rudisch

Ask Simon: Measures to Prevent Subcontractors from filing a Lien; Protecting Your Lien Rights

Q:  Are there any proactive measures I can take to prevent subcontractors from being able to file a lien in the event of a payment dispute? (or the flip side, if I am a subcontractor or materialman, what can I do need to know protect my lien rights?)

Georgia law gives subcontractors, laborers and other materialmen the right to file a lien on property upon which they performed work but were not paid. This right is statutory and an owner/general contractor cannot force a subcontractor or materialman to waive this right in advance of performing the work and being paid for it. It is easy for a materialman to encumber a piece of property with a lien, and can be a large headache for an owner to remove it. Often, the situation is exacerbated when (1) the lienor is a downstream supplier of a subcontractor that the owner/general contractor has already paid; (2) the lien is filed within the statutorily-allowed period, but the builder has already sold the house to a buyer (leaving the buyer with a lien, and looking to the builder to resolve it); or (3) the lien is filed shortly before the builder is set to close on the sale to a buyer, and now has a cloud on the property’s title.

Luckily, Georgia law also provides a simple procedure for owners and general contractors to make it more difficult for downstream subs to file a lien on property. This process, known as a “Notice of Commencement,” requires an owner to file basic information regarding the project and the project site.  By completing a few simple steps, owners and general contractors enjoy added benefits that put the onus on the downstream sub to comply with additional steps before liening a property. This process is not intended to impede the lien right of downstream subs, but instead is intended to require both sides to identify themselves and other relevant parties involved.

There is no required form for a Notice of Commencement. It is simply a document which includes (1) the name, address, and phone number of the general contractor, (2) the name and location of the project and the legal description of the property, (3) the name and address of the true property owner, (4) the name and address of the person seeking the work, if different than the true property owner, (5) the name and address of the surety for any performance and payment bond, and (6) the name and address of any construction lender. The owner/general contractor must file the Notice of Commencement in the Superior Court of the county where the project is located and posted on the job site as soon as possible. The Notice of Commencement is not effective until these steps are complete.  Afterwards, the owner/general contractor must provide a copy of the Notice to any subcontractor who asks for one.

Once the Notice of Commencement is filed and posted on the job site, any subcontractor who fails to provide the owner/general contractor with a responsive “Notice to Contractor” is barred from later asserting a lien. A Notice to Contractor is basic information about the subcontractor including (1) their name, address, and telephone number, (2) the name and address of each person at whose instance their work is being performed, (3) the name and location of the project, and (4) a description of their work and its contract or anticipated price. A subcontractor must provide this responsive Notice to the owner/general contractor within 30 days of the filing of the Notice of Commencement or 30 days after they begin work or deliver materials, whichever is later.

Assuming a proper Notice of Commencement, a subcontractor who does not comply with the Notice to Contractor requirements loses his right to claim a lien against the property. Therefore, owners and contractors should always complete the Notice of Commencement process to identify themselves in order to avoid any unwanted surprises. The added benefit is a potential defense to a lien in the event one is filed by a sub who does not comply with the Notice to Contractor requirement.  On the other hand, a subcontractor, vendor, laborer or materialman should always request a copy of the Notice of Commencement from the owner/general contractor upon commencement of work at a property to ensure that the proper Notice to Contractor is given to protect its lien rights.

“Georgia House Passes Controversial Campus Rape Bill,” WSB-TV Atlanta Channel 2

In a television story that ran on WSB-TV’s 6 p.m. news on March 2, 2017, Simon Bloom offers insight into the controversial campus rape bill that was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives. The story details how opponents of the bill believe it will have a chilling effect on victims, while supporters argue that this bill gives an accused student due process.

Bloom states, “It still allows the schools to investigate but does not allow them to punish until the criminal investigation runs its course.” He emphasizes, “I think that the bill is designed to add on to the university investigation process, the university adjudication process and more of the due process protections the United States’ Constitution affords us anyway.”

For the full story, you may click here.

“Trump Hasn’t Reversed Transgender Policy Yet, Atlanta Attorney Says,” 11 Alive

In an article published on Feb. 27, 2017 by 11 Alive, Simon Bloom offers insight to the speculation that President Trump will rescind federal protection for transgender students. The article details that the issue is more complex than what is being portrayed, and Bloom states, ““All the Trump Department of Education has said is that it doesn’t interpret the specific law as did the Obama administration. A new opinion by the administration hasn’t been issued, but if that happens, it’s certain to wind up in court.” Bloom emphasizes, “Nonetheless, this is just another example of an administration putting up a banner on an issue that is not even among the 10 most important issues facing the country.”

For the full article, you may click here.

Bloom Sugarman Managing Partner to Serve the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless

Bloom Sugarman, LLP is pleased to announce that managing partner F. Skip Sugarman has been appointed to the board of directors for the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to the homeless in civil cases throughout Metropolitan Atlanta. Sugarman’s service on the board began in February 2017. In his capacity as a board member, he will support the Center’s mission to address the barriers to stability and independence that often underlie homelessness, and ultimately help transition individuals out of homelessness.

In his law practice, Sugarman serves as the managing partner of Bloom Sugarman, LLP. His practice focuses on litigation involving trust, estate and fiduciary matters as well as employment and general business litigation.

The Georgia Law Center for the Homeless has provided free legal services for the past 30 years and continues to play a critical role in the continuum of care for homeless individuals and families in Georgia.

Sugarman received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University, and his law degree from Georgia State University College of Law, Summa Cum Laude.

“Ten Pitfalls in Commercial Real Estate Transactions,” Daily Report

In an article published on Feb. 10, 2017, by the Daily Report, Simon Bloom and Shannan Oliver offer guidance to the pitfalls individuals face in commercial real estate transactions. The article details that you should be precise and use your words carefully when it comes to contracts, stating, “If portions of the contract can be interpreted in different ways, then you risk exposing your client to terms different than those intended.” Bloom and Oliver emphasize, “Negotiating a great deal is only half of the battle. Arm your client with a solid contract, and you’ll win the war.”

For the full article, subscribers may click here.

Georgia Court of Appeals Reverses Summary Judgment Regarding Interpretation of Loan Agreement

Successfully obtained reversal of grant of summary judgment in favor of lender regarding interpretation of loan agreement. The lender agreed to limit its remedies upon the maturity of the loan to taking the real estate, which served as collateral, and giving the borrowers credit equal to the greater of the fair market value for the several tracts of collateral or the minimum release prices for the tracts contained in the loan agreement. The lender could then issue deficiency notes to the borrowers for any principal balance remaining after the borrowers were credited for the collateral.

The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed with Bloom Sugarman’s argument that the correct interpretation of the loan agreement requires that the separate minimum release price assigned to each tract of the collateral must be compared to the fair market value of that tract, with the borrowers receiving credit for the greater number for each tract. The Court of Appeals further agreed that the fair market value of each piece of the collateral is disputed by the parties and must be determined by a jury.

Oliver Speaks at Title Law in Georgia seminar – June 21st

This comprehensive seminar will give you the title law fundamentals you need to make title problems a non-issue in your business. Gain a better understanding of the title examination process, learn strategies for overcoming common and not-so-common obstacles to obtain marketable title, and hear about current trends and developments in real estate conveyances. Specifically, Shannan Oliver will discuss how to handle voluntary and involuntary title issues with ease.

Title Law in Georgia
June 21, 2017
9:00am – 4:30pm
Atlanta, GA

For more details, please visit nbi-sems.com.

“Atlanta Attorney Advises President Trump to Start Over on Travel Ban,” 11 Alive

In an article published on Feb. 11, 2017 by 11 Alive, Skip Sugarman provides insight to President Trump’s travel ban. Sugarman states, “If he continues to litigate in this current order, it shows he’s more interested in winning than implementing policy. The administration really needs to start over and be more thoughtful.” He emphasizes, “You need to make sure the executive order exempts green-card holders and institutes some sort of due process for reentry into the United States for visa holders.”

For the full article, you may click here.

“10 Pitfalls in Commercial Real Estate Transactions,” Construction Financial Management Association

In an article published on Feb. 8, 2017 by Construction Financial Management Association, Simon Bloom and Shannan Oliver offer guidance to the 10 major pitfalls that come into play in commercial real estate transactions. The article lists the top potential pitfalls, including: indefiniteness, ambiguity, merger clauses, form documents, title defects, zoning and permitting, environmental concerns, escrow, foreclosures and deficiencies, and debt service.

Bloom and Oliver emphasize, “With any project, negotiating a great deal is only half of the battle. Arm yourself with a solid contract and you’ll improve the odds of emerging a winner.”

For the full article, you may click here.

 

Georgia Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment Ruling on Rezoning Claims

Defended appeal of trial court’s grant of summary judgment and $45,000 of attorneys’ fees to Bloom Sugarman. Trial court property granted summary judgment in favor of Bloom Sugarman’s client on claims related to the rezoning of an adjacent property. Trial court subsequently awarded attorneys’ fees and costs in favor of client. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling.

Successfully Obtained Reversal of Summary Judgment in Nuisance and Trespass Actions

Successfully obtained a reversal of summary judgment in favor of opposing party. The trial court improperly granted summary judgment to opposing party in nuisance and trespass actions after concluding that there was no evidence of causation. On appeal, Bloom Sugarman argued that the trial court misapplied the law and ignored disputed evidence of causation. The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court’s ruling. The Georgia Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Successfully Achieved Cancellation of Material Supplier’s Lien

Successfully achieved cancellation of material supplier’s lien on the property of their client, a national homebuilder, based on anti-assignment language in contract. The homebuilder’s contract specifically prohibited a subcontractor from assigning work to a sub-subcontractor without the homebuilder’s specific written approval. Despite this provision, the homebuilder’s subcontractor hired a sub-subcontractor without the homebuilder’s approval, and the sub-subcontractor subsequently failed to pay a material’s supplier for concrete. The supplier liened the property. Relying on the contract’s anti-assignment language, the Forsyth County Superior Court invalidated the supplier’s lien because the homebuilder never approved the sub-subcontractor who contracted for the materials. The Court also sanctioned the supplier $3,300 for discovery abuses.

 

“Five Reasons Families Fight Over Estates,” Trust & Estates’ WealthManagement.com

In an article published on Jan. 30, 2017 by Trusts & Estates’ WealthManagement.com, Skip Sugarman discusses the main reasons that families get into disagreements over estates. The article details the root causes of these disputes, such as local versus distant siblings, late-in-life spouses and blended families, among others.

Sugarman emphasizes, “The most important first step is planning, but not necessarily estate planning. By the time one of these situations has begun, it is too late for good, thorough estate planning. Indeed, many of these situations occur despite good estate planning. Instead, your client needs to prepare for battle. That does not mean racing to the courthouse to sue everyone in sight. It does mean thinking through your options and taking initial steps to prepare for a potential fight.”

For the full article, please click here.

Ask Simon: Seller Disclosures and Passive Concealment

Q:  I purchased a portfolio of single-family houses to hold as an investment. After closing on the purchase, I discovered that many of the properties were built in violation of their building permits and appear to violate the applicable code and zoning regulations.  The seller executed a seller’s disclosure statement for each property at the time of the sale but did not disclose these issues.  Do I have any legal claims against the seller?

A: Potentially.  You may be able to assert claims against the seller for breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. While the exact claims would depend on the facts of the situation, claims for breach of contract and fraud through passive concealment may be the most promising.

Provided that the seller’s disclosure statements were expressly incorporated into the purchase and sale agreements, it is possible to assert a breach of contract claim based on a false disclosure statement. One important factor to keep in mind is that the seller’s disclosure form states that the seller is making representations “to the best of seller’s knowledge and belief.”  Some courts have interpreted this clause to mean that a seller breaches the seller’s disclosure only when he intentionally makes a false statement on that form.  While the law is not settled on this point, a buyer claiming that a seller has breached a seller’s disclosure statement may have to show that the seller acted knowingly.

Another potentially viable claim against the seller is fraud through passive concealment. The advantage to a passive concealment claim is that it does not depend on the content of the seller’s disclosure statement and may be available even if properties were sold without a seller’s disclosure statement (a/k/a “as-is”).  To prove a claim for passive concealment, it is necessary to show: (1) that the seller has actual knowledge of a property defect; (2) that the seller passively fails to disclose the defect to the buyer; (3) that the defect is unknown to the buyer; and (4) that the defect could not have been discovered through due diligence. One key to prevailing on a passive concealment claim is showing that the seller knew about the defect but kept silent.  This element of knowledge may be easier to prove if the seller oversaw construction of the properties, such that the builders of the houses served as the seller’s agents.  When this is the case, a court may be inclined to impute the actual knowledge of those agents to the seller.

What’s on your mind? Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this column should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this column should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

“President Trump Executive Order: Business as Usual for Home Loans,” 11 Alive

In an article published by 11 Alive on Jan. 24, 2017, Simon Bloom offers insight to President Trump’s executive order on mortgage insurance premiums and credit relief reversal. The article details that this executive order, which cancels a reduction in federal insurance premiums, will not have any impact on who is able to afford home loans and who is not.

Bloom emphasizes, “If you could qualify for an FHA loan in 2016, you’re still going to be able to qualify for that loan in 2017.” He goes on to say, “I don’t believe President Trump wanted a policy directive from the previous administration to dictate his course of action. There’s something to be said for the government helping people buy houses, but the fact is that home ownership simply is not for everyone. And people need to know that it’s going to be business as usual in that regard for the foreseeable future.”

For the full article, you may click here.

 

“Measures to Minimize Subcontractors from Filing a Lien,” Construction Executive Risk Management

In an article published on Jan. 13, 2017 by Construction Executive Risk Management, Simon Bloom and Brandon Arnold discuss the importance of a lien, and its considerable power to a subcontractor to seek payment from an owner through the property itself for a debt owed to the subcontractor by a general contractor or other third party. The article details the different ways to reduce and even eliminate the risk of a subcontractor or materials provider from filing a claim of lien.

Bloom and Arnold emphasize, “Considering these minimal expenses against the potentially staggering costs of lien litigation, property owners and general contractors should implement a Notice of Commencement, [an additional time-sensitive requirement on any subcontractor who lacks contractual privity with the general contractor and seeks to file a claim of lien] on every construction project regardless of size.”

For the full article, you may click here.

 

Bloom Sugarman Boosts Litigation Practice with Addition of Nick Phillips

Bloom Sugarman, LLP announces the addition of J. Nick Phillips to the firm. He joins as an associate to counsel corporate and individual clients in civil litigation in federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels. Phillips joins Bloom Sugarman from Troutman Sanders.

Phillips brings a range of litigation experience, including defense of class action litigation cases involving consumer finance, civil RICO, false advertising and data breach claims. He litigates business disputes that include breach of contract, real estate conflicts, business torts, fraud and misrepresentation claims, product liability and personal injury actions.

Phillips earned his undergraduate degree from Valdosta State University and his law degree from Mercer University.

Sugarman Argues Major Fiduciary Litigation Case Before Georgia Court of Appeals

On December 6, 2016, Bloom Sugarman Partner F. Skip Sugarman argued a major fiduciary-litigation case before the Georgia Court of Appeals. The case could ultimately have major implications for the legal standard applicable to claims of undue influence involving non-probate documents, such as trusts, deeds, and beneficiary-designation forms for life insurance and payable-on-death accounts.

Bloom & Harbin Speak at Real Property Foreclosure Seminar – Nov. 4th

Simon Bloom and Ryan Harbin will be presenting at the Real Property Foreclosure Seminar, sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Education (ICLE) and the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. Bloom will be speaking on “Effective Representation of Borrowers (Negotiation and Litigation Options), and Harbin will provide the “Judicial and Legislative Update”. Other topics covered include Creditor representation, the changing foreclosure practice, divorce decrees and related issues for the foreclosure practitioner, and fraudulent conveyances, among others.

Real Property Law Foreclosure
November 4, 2016
State Bar of Georgia
104 Marietta St., NW
Atlanta, GA

For more information or to register, click here.

Zoning Variance Allows Homeowner to Proceed with Home Construction

Represented a homeowner in his effort to obtain a set-back variance from the City of Atlanta for his Morningside home. The Zoning Board’s 4-0 vote in favor of the variance allows the homeowner to construct his new home on an unusually-sized corner lot, despite opposition from the neighborhood association and the Neighborhood Planning Unit.

Six Bloom Sugarman Attorneys Selected to the 2017 Georgia Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists

Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman, Steve Parham, and Ryan Pumpian have been selected to the 2017 Georgia Super Lawyers list. Additionally, Ariel Zion and Troy Covington have been selected to the 2017 Georgia Rising Stars list.

Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor. Simon and Steve were featured in the Business Litigation practice area; Skip in Employment and Labor; and Ryan in Intellectual Property Litigation. Ariel and Troy were both also featured in the Business Litigation practice area.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selection process includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information, visit SuperLawyers.com.

Ask Simon: Materialman Liens

Q: I’m a developer and our multi-phase residential project is almost complete. The only issue is that Company X, who did asphalt and curbing on some of the phases, but not all of them, claims they didn’t get paid. Company X filed a lien against the whole property, including the phases they didn’t work on. Can Company X do that?

A: “Materialman liens” are available to those who furnish supplies and materials for improving real property. Georgia law sets forth detailed statutory requirements for such liens. Georgia courts strictly construe these lien requirements in favor of the property owner and against the materialman. One requirement is that the lien must contain a description of the land encumbered sufficient to allow for the identification of the property actually affected by the lien. Failure to meet this or any other statutory requirement renders the lien ineffective and unenforceable.

As for Company X, one recent Georgia lawsuit suggested that a materialman lien is invalid where the lien contains a property description which is larger and more expansive than the area subject to the work. In that case, the property description on the lien was actually larger than the legal description of the property found in the owner’s warranty and security deeds. When the property owner demonstrated the discrepancy, the court gave the materialman the opportunity to correct the lien to reflect the subject property accurately. When the materialman failed to do so, the court found that the incorrect property description was fatal, and the lien was extinguished.

To answer your question, then, an over-inclusive property description likely will invalidate a materialman lien, though it appears to be an amenable defect.

A correct legal description of the encumbered property is just one of the many legal requirements that a lien filer must meet in order to make the lien effective. Other requirements include substantial compliance with the underlying contract to perform the work and a specific time period during which the lien must be filed.

What’s on your mind? Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this column should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this column should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

 

Bloom Sugarman Attorneys Speak on Quiet Title Actions at NBI Seminars – Dec. 5th & Dec. 9th

Quiet title actions are currently on the rise from a number of different scenarios – tax deed sales, “robo-signing”, and other fraudulent foreclosure acts. Sponsored by the National Business Institute (NBI), this seminar will help you get up to speed on current procedures, discovery strategies, jurisdictional challenges, lis pendens and complaint requirements, negotiation strategies, and rules and legal requirements involved in these complicated lawsuits.

Steve Parham, Troy Covington, and Ariel Zion will be presenting on:

  • Overview and update on quiet title law;
  • State procedures around initiating a quiet title action;
  • Investigation strategies;
  • Identifying and serving parties;
  • Hearing, settlement, and trial tips; and
  • Ethics in quiet title actions.

This intermediate level seminar is designed for attorneys, title and real estate professionals, mortgage brokers and lenders, oil and gas industry professionals, developers, and paralegals.

For more information or to register for the Dec. 5th seminar in Atlanta, click here.

For more information or to register for the Dec. 9th seminar in Savannah, click here.

Pumpian & Arnold Speak on Turning ESI into Evidence – Nov. 18th

Ryan Pumpian and Brandon Arnold are two of the presenters at “How to Get Your Social Media, Email and Text Evidence Admitted (and Keep Theirs Out)”, sponsored by the National Business Institute (NBI). In this practical, how-to seminar, Arnold will speak on “The Admission Mistakes Made with ESI”, and Pumpian will speak on “What to Look for, Where to Find it, and What to do with it: Email, Social Medial, Texts and Video.”

With all of the changes surrounding social media and email, it’s critical to get up to speed on the latest rules, procedures and case law. From email to Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, to YouTube, Pinterest and video surveillance, this comprehensive ESI guide will give you valuable insight into proven ways for identifying, preserving, producing, admitting and blocking ESI.

Friday, November 18, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn – Atlanta Perimeter
4386 Chamblee Dunwood Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341

For more information or to register, click here.

Attorney’s Fees Awarded Under Georgia’s Frivolous Litigation Statute

Obtained an award of attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $45,000 for client forced to defend suit. After prevailing on all counts at summary judgment, Bloom Sugarman moved on the client’s behalf for an award of fees and costs under Georgia’s frivolous litigation statute. Plaintiffs argued that their claims were substantially justified and supported by justiciable issues of facts. In the alternative, Plaintiffs argued that they relied upon a novel position supported by existing law. After briefing and hearings on both the merits of the motion and the reasonableness of fees, Judge Vinson agreed with Bloom Sugarman and awarded our client more than half of the attorneys’ fees incurred in the case.

Bloom Selected to Leadership Atlanta’s Class of 2017

Simon Bloom has been selected as part of Leadership Atlanta’s Class of 2017. Celebrating its 48th year, Leadership Atlanta is a community leadership program that connects and inspires leaders to strengthen Atlanta’s communities. The nine-month, executive level series brings together a diverse group of established leaders to explore critical community issues across metro Atlanta. See the Class of 2017 here.

Summary Judgment Granted Relieving Client of Deficiency Balance After Foreclosure

Successfully obtained summary judgment in client’s favor in a suit by a national Bank seeking to collect the balance due on a defaulted commercial loan. After foreclosing on the subject collateral property, the Bank failed to confirm the foreclosure sale but still filed suit against our client, the loan’s guarantor, for the deficiency balance remaining after the sale – approximately $800,000 plus interest and attorney’s fees. The Bank argued that our client’s guaranty was sufficient under the HWA Properties line of cases  to allow the bank to sue without confirmation. Bloom Sugarman moved for summary judgment on the Complaint and argued that the guaranty in question did not rise to the level of HWA Properties and that confirmation was a condition precedent to the Bank being able to recover against our client. After reviewing the briefing and hearing oral argument, Judge McBurney sided with Bloom Sugarman and granted our summary judgment motion thereby relieving our client of any possible remaining liability in this matter.

Granted Summary Judgment in Restrictive Covenant Issue with Neighboring Landowner

Successfully obtained summary judgment in client’s favor in a suit by a neighboring landowner seeking to enforce a restrictive covenant. The neighbor—who had not been an original party to the restrictive covenant at issue—sought to enforce an interpretation of the covenant that would have substantially impacted the value of multiple lots in client’s residential development. The Court agreed with Bloom Sugarman’s arguments showing why the neighbor’s interpretation was incorrect as a matter of law under the recorded document, leaving only our client’s claim for attorneys’ fees pending in the case. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order in our client’s favor.

Case Over Hebrew Insults Prompts International Arbitration Challenge in Atlanta U.S. Court

An Israeli company has asked a federal judge in Atlanta to declare that an arbitrator had no authority to levy hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages against it in response to claims of defamation made by a Norcross company.

The case stems from a sprawling dispute between Israeli-based Profimex and Norcross-based OAD Development (OAD). It started when Profimex claimed to an arbitrator in Kennesaw that OAD owed Profimex hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from real estate deals. OAD responded with counter-claims that Profimex officials defamed OAD to investors in emails, some of which were written in Hebrew.

The arbitrator, Nisbet Kendrick III of Kennesaw’s Kendrick Conflict Resolution, in December awarded Profimex $401,675 in unpaid fees, interest and attorney fees. But Kendrick also awarded OAD $950,000 on its counterclaims, leaving OAD ahead by about $550,000.

Profimex argues that OAD’s claims should have been handled in Tel Aviv, Israel, because the arbitration clause in the companies’ contract mandated that any dispute be arbitrated in the defendant company’s chosen venue, Atlanta for claims against OAD and Tel Aviv for claims against Profimex.

Lawyers for OAD argue that Profimex’s effort to have their claims set aside turns the federal court into an appellate forum for arbitration awards losing parties don’t like. Allowing Profimex’s case to go forward, OAD’s lawyers said, threatens to undermine the very reasons that binding alternative dispute resolution exists.

Simon Bloom to Serve on Project Open Hand Board of Directors

Congratulations to Simon Bloom on his election to the Board of Directors for Project Open Hand. Open Hand packs and delivers over 5,000 meals every day, helping people prevent or better manageBloom, Simon chronic disease through comprehensive nutrition care. Its work combines home-delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life.

As a Director, Simon will help grow the organization to reach more people and make an even greater impact on the lives of those in our community. Learn more about Open Hand.

Executive Director Brent Bridges Elected to AALA Board of Directors

Congratulations to Bloom Sugarman Executive Director Brent Bridges on being sworn in as the 2016-17 Vice President of the Atlanta Association of Legal Administrators (AALA). Brent has been an active member of AALA since 2009, serving as its Director of Membership for the past two years.

2016-17 AALA BoardAALA provides support to professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments, and governmental agencies in areas such as finance, human resources, technology, facilities, and marketing and practice development. With over 230 members from more than 170 law firms and legal departments, AALA inspires excellence in the business of law.

Ask Simon: Uneasy Easement

Q:  I am trying to develop single family home lots and need to hook up to utilities by getting an easement over some adjacent property. The adjacent property owner won’t give me the time of day, and I can’t make any progress. Is there another legal avenue I can take to force the adjacent property owner to let me cross his property to hook up to the utilities?

A: As land development in and around the metro-Atlanta area has recovered, several counties have embraced the process of “county-assisted” condemnation. This relatively new phenomenon can be a blessing or a curse – depending on which side of the taking you are standing on.

Imagine that a developer needs access to a public utility for the lots in a new subdivision or a new commercial development—a common occurrence, to be sure. But, for some reason or another, the developer cannot hook up to that utility without an easement over someone else’s property, and that owner just does not want to deal with it. You might be thinking that the developer will be left out in the cold with no ability to get the utility that he needs to complete the development. This is where county-assisted condemnation may come to the developer’s rescue.

In counties that have adopted county-assisted condemnation, the county commissioners have passed a resolution stating that, in situations like the one described above, the developer may ask the county to condemn the land the developer wants for its easement, pursuant to whichever condemnation statute is available (this generally depends upon the type of utility or use at issue). To be sure, it’s not as simple as calling up the county’s planning department and asking the first person available. There typically is a list of procedures and formalities that have to be observed, including getting an appraisal and showing that the developer did try to pay for the easement before asking the county to take it and, in some counties, participating in a county-sponsored mediation process.  Additionally, even county-assisted condemnation will not alleviate the developer’s burden of paying the related costs for the necessary work to be done.

Unfortunately for the adjacent property owner whose land is the subject of the take, the county-assisted condemnation process provides little protection. Even more, the formalities that are required by statute are often times not strictly observed by the county itself, leaving the property owner with limited avenues for relief. From this perspective, county-assisted condemnation is a useful tool for a developer working in any county that provides the option, especially since the county will be stuck litigating any objection to the take.

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Congratulations to our 2016 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman, Steve Parham, and Ryan Pumpian have been selected to the 2016 Super Lawyers list. Additionally, Ariel Zion and Troy Covington have been selected to the 2016 Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor.

Simon and Steve were featured in the Business Litigation practice area; Skip in Employment and Labor; and Ryan in Intellectual Property Litigation. Ariel and Troy were both also featured in the Business Litigation practice area.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selection process includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information, visit SuperLawyers.com.

 

Defeated Summary Judgment in Inverse Condemnation and Trespass Case with Utility Company

Defeated local utility’s motion for summary judgment in inverse condemnation and trespass case in which Bloom Sugarman’s client is alleging that the utility buried its electrical conduit and facilities on the client’s property outside the scope of the utility’s recorded easement. This matter will now proceed to a jury trial this summer where our client will be allowed to present evidence in its favor.

Client’s Business Operating Again after Court Vacated Previous Injunction Order

After successfully intervening in a lawsuit brought by a client’s competitor against a local county commission seeking to enforce a watershed protection zoning ordinance, Bloom Sugarman successfully argued that a prior preliminary injunction levied against its client in that lawsuit should be vacated in its entirety because the evidentiary hearing was conducted without proper notice. The injunction had shut down our client’s operations entirely for almost eight months and was threatening to put it out of business permanently due to the economic losses it sustained during the injunction period. The Court agreed with Bloom Sugarman’s arguments and vacated its own Order, allowing our client’s business operations to resume pending the outcome of the full trial scheduled for later this year.

Obtained Emergency TRO to Stop Foreclosure Sale

Successfully obtained emergency TRO for client in order to stop the foreclosure sale of and/or to conduct the non-judicial foreclosure sale of client’s property. The controversy involves the validity of two Security Deeds as a result of a commercial real estate transaction. The TRO will allow for the courts time to issue a declaratory judgment or decree on the issue to eliminate the uncertainly and controversy and appropriately determine the rights and liability of the parties.

Obtained $950,000 Award on Defamation Claim

Successfully obtained a $950,000 award on a defamation claim for an Atlanta-based commercial real estate developer against its Israeli-based investment company (Claimant). Claimant initially brought the arbitration claim for fees it alleged were owed to it following the sale of a real estate project for which it had secured investment funds. Claimant was also making numerous disparaging statements regarding our client to our client’s investors and to third parties. Our client filed a counterclaim for defamation. After approximately six months of discovery, which included the production of thousands of pages of documents and more than 30 depositions, and a one-week trial, the Arbitrator awarded Claimant its claimed fees based on the sale of the real estate project, but also awarded our client compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees on its defamation claim. The net result was Claimant owing our client about $450,000. Claimant has subsequently filed a petition in federal court in Atlanta to have the Arbitrator’s defamation award to our client vacated or modified.

Covington Speaks on Boundary Issues – May 2, 2016

Troy Covington presented at the upcoming NBI Seminar “Boundary Issues: Resolving Client Conflicts.”

The day-long seminar addressed such issues as:

  • Identify problems with zoning, restrictions and encroachments on a survey, and take the steps necessary to rectify them;
  • Confidentialy deal with property that was obtained through adverse possession, acquiescence or estoppel;
  • Use boundary agreements, affidavits and quiet title actions to resolve boundary disputes;
  • Handle right-of-way issues including roads, prescriptive easements and municipal resolutions;
  • Avoid ethical dilemmas such as conflicts of interest during boundary disputes.

Specifically, Troy led the session on “Dealing with Unwritten Title Transfers”. The basic-to-intermediate course is designed for attorneys, surveyors, engineers, architects, developers, planners, local government officials, and real estate and title insurance professionals.

Monday, May 2, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Atlanta Downtown – Centennial Park
101 Andrew J. Young International Blvd.
Atlanta, GA 30303

For more information or to registers, click here.

Ask Simon: Just When You Think Your Zoning is Approved … Not So Fast.

Successfully rezoning a piece of property can feel like moving a mountain. The meetings with neighbors, homeowner associations, Planning & Zoning staff, the review by a Planning & Zoning Commission, and ultimate approval by a Board of Commissioners (or similar governing body) is a huge accomplishment realized only by hours of work and dedication to your project.

But remember those unhappy neighbors who spoke in opposition to your rezoning request at the Board of Commissioners meeting? Unfortunately, if they are still unhappy that you successfully rezoned your property, they can still cause trouble for you down the road in one of two ways: (1) bringing a lawsuit against you and the local government to challenge the rezoning, or (2) opposing the land disturbance and building permits that you need to continue with your project.

Unhappy Neighbors Challenge Rezoning

In order to bring a lawsuit challenging a rezoning decision, the unhappy neighbors must first demonstrate that they have “standing” to bring the lawsuit. This is a very specific test where the neighbors must show (1) they have a substantial interest in the rezoning decision (persons in the general community who may suffer a mere inconvenience by the rezoning do not qualify); and (2) they have suffered “special damages,” or damages not suffered by the general public. For example, the fear of decreased property values, or increased traffic, noise, or light resulting from a rezoning are insufficient to prove special damages. This is an extremely high burden and is seldom met.

Assuming the unhappy neighbors can meet the high burden to establish standing for a lawsuit, they may then challenge the rezoning on either a substantive or procedural basis (or both). If the neighbors lodge a substantive challenge, they must show that the rezoning decision was either (1) a result of fraud or corruption; (2) a manifest abuse of the zoning process to the oppression of the neighbors; or (3) the local government’s rezoning decision was unconstitutionally arbitrary and unreasonable. Under any of these prongs, the neighbors must present factual evidence to the Court to meet their high burden of proof. This process often includes enlisting expert witnesses to substantiate (and defend) these allegations.

Unhappy neighbors can also attempt to challenge a rezoning decision on procedural grounds. Georgia’s Zoning Procedures Law provides minimum standards that local governments must follow in the rezoning process related to notice of a proposed rezoning, a public hearing, and the government’s exercise of their zoning powers. Typically, local governments also enact their own set of rules regarding notice and hearing procedures in addition to the minimum standards set by the ZPL. If a local government does not follow the requirements of the ZPL or its own rules, a court can set aside the rezoning as null and void.

Unhappy Neighbors Try to Block Permits

Another tactic that unhappy neighbors sometimes employ is attempting to block permits (i.e., land disturbance, building permits, certificates of occupancy, tree removal permits) through the local government’s appeal process. The decision by an administrative official to issue a permit is typically appealable under the local government’s code of ordinances. All local governments maintain their own appellate procedures, so it is important to know the ground rules in the specific jurisdiction. Generally, an interested neighbor may appeal the decision of an administrative official to issue a permit. Local codes provide a specific mechanism for the appeal, and the standard that the appealing neighbor must meet.  For example, a neighbor unhappy with the issuance of a tree removal permit in the City of Atlanta may only appeal the decision if he lives within 500 feet of the property or within the NPU, and then must show that the administrative official issuing the permit either misapplied or misunderstood the tree ordinance in issuing the permit. (Atl. Code 158-65). Appeals related to the issuance of these necessary permits can further delay your project, as a permittee is typically not allowed to proceed with work under the permit until the appeal is resolved.

Don’t break out the party hats and balloons too soon after receiving your favorable rezoning decision.  Just because you have your rezoning finished does not necessarily mean that you are finished with unhappy neighbors who can continue to throw up roadblocks on your route to completing your project.

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Granted Summary Judgment in Attempt to Invalidate Rezoning Decision, Allowing Developer to Continue Project

Successfully defended a developer in a suit attempting to invalidate a recent rezoning decision and to enjoin developer from progressing further in development plan until developer constructed certain improvements. After identifying significant evidentiary weaknesses in plaintiff’s case, Bloom Sugarman moved for and obtained summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs were ineligible as a matter of law to bring the claims at issue, allowing developer to continue project and county to continue issuing permits. Bloom Sugarman successfully defended the case through the appellate process, convincing the Georgia Supreme Court that no discretionary appeal was warranted.

Bloom Sugarman Attorneys Attend GAWL Judicial Luncheon

GAWL Luncheon

Bloom Sugarman Attorneys (from left) Ariel Zion, Shannan Oliver, Lindsay Reese, and Ashley McNair attend the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) 20th Annual Judicial Luncheon. The Honorable Carla Wong McMillian was this year’s featured speaker. GAWL has been serving the diverse interests of women lawyers in Georgia for over 85 years, supporting their interests and fostering their development.

Bloom Sugarman Interviewed on Atlanta Legal Experts Radio Show

Simon Bloom and Skip Sugarman appeared on the Atlanta Legal Experts Radio Show this morning. Simon talked trends in commercial real estate, eminent domain, and zoning issues. Skip discussed the challenges his clients face around fiduciary litigation. Hosted by Emily Rowell, the weekly program features legal professionals discussing the most relevant topics and trends in the legal world.

IMG_0609 IMG_0575 IMG_0604

GSU School of Law Bloom Sugarman Seminar Room

We are proud to be part of Georgia State University School of Law’s new building and the quality of legal education that it represents. The Bloom Sugarman Seminar Room is one of 21 state-of-the-art classrooms, including courtrooms of varying sizes and a 230-seat appellate courtroom for training and special events.

Bloom Sugarman Seminar Room

GSU Room 244

Ask Simon Bloom: Will a Builder be grandfathered into the original zoning when purchasing lots from a Developer?

Q: A Builder is looking into purchasing several lots from a Developer. The lots were zoned R-1 when purchased by the Developer, but during the time the Developer owned the lots, the County added an overlay district which affects the size of houses that can be built on the lots. The Developer says he is grandfathered into the ‘old’ zoning. If the Builder purchases the lots from the Developer, will the Builder be grandfathered into the original R-1 zoning for these lots, or will the Builder be subject to the County’s new overlay district?

A: The zoning change will affect the Developer and Builder in different ways.

The Developer will be found to have a vested right to develop the lots in accordance with the previous zoning scheme. The law recognizes such vested rights to develop in compliance with an “old” zoning scheme in situations where a land owner (here, the Developer) experiences a substantial change of position in relation to the land, has made considerable expenditures, or has incurred significant obligations.

However, the Builder, should he or she purchase the lots, will not enjoy the Developer’s vested rights to develop in accordance with the previous zoning scheme. In other words, the Builder will not be “grandfathered in” because the Developer’s vested rights to develop property in accordance with prior zoning are personal to him or her as owner of the lots at the time of the zoning change. Such vested rights are not transferable and do not “run with the land.” The Developer may build under the old zoning scheme, but subsequent purchasers may not without further action such as rezoning or a variance.

Q: Same facts as previous question except the Developer represents to the Builder that the Builder can build under the previous zoning scheme. The Builder buys lots from the Developer based on that representation, only to find that the Builder must either comply with the new zoning scheme or apply for rezoning or a variance. Does the Builder have a claim against the Developer? Can the Builder rescind the contract to purchase the lots?

A: The Builder will have a claim against the Developer.

However, Builder will have a choice to make. Under Georgia law, fraud makes a contract voidable at the election of the injured party. The contract is not automatically void because of the fraud—the injured party must affirmatively choose to void the contract. Therefore, the Builder may (1) choose to rescind (or void) the contract and sue the Developer for fraud and deceit or (2) choose to affirm the contract and sue Developer for breach of contract. The Builder’s decision between options (1) and (2) may affect the available legal remedies and will certainly be influenced by the terms of the contract to buy the lots from the Developer.

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Bloom Speaks on How to Avoid Pitfalls in Drafting – Nov. 4, 2015

Simon Bloom spoke to a group of real estate attorneys as part of the State Bar of Georgia’s Commercial Real Estate Seminar. Hosted by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE), Bloom focused on common pitfalls in drafting commercial documents such as leases, closing documents, contracts, and loan documents. Other topics to be covered include community association trends, land use law, using local tax incentives for economic development, and landlord/tenant issues, among others.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center
104 Marietta Street, NW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303

For details and registration information, go to www.iclega.org.

Ask Simon Bloom: If I had a personal guaranty on a loan and the bank foreclosed, is this a judgment?

Q: A bank foreclosed on me and the courts confirmed the foreclosure sale. I had a personal guarantee on the loan. Is this a judgment? What further steps must the bank take to force me to pay the deficiency?  

A:  The answer is sure to be different if you are the direct borrower on the note or a personal guarantor. Georgia law requires lenders to confirm a foreclosure sale before they can pursue a deficiency against the borrower. The confirmation process does not result in a money judgment—instead, the court confirms that the lender followed Georgia’s procedural rules for a non-judicial foreclosure sale (correct notice, advertising, etc.) and that the lender sold the property for its true (or fair) market value.

To secure a money judgment against either the borrower or guarantors, the lender must file a lawsuit for breach of contract. If a lender forecloses on the property first, it cannot sue the borrower unless it confirms the sale. As a result, if the judge denied the confirmation of the foreclosure sale, the lender could not seek a deficiency judgment. This same law previously applied to guarantors as well. Recent cases from the Georgia Court of Appeals have changed this long-standing rule. Now, Georgia courts are allowing a lender to sue a guarantor for breaching the guaranty even if the lender failed to confirm the sale IF the court finds that the guarantor waived Georgia’s confirmation law’s protections in the guaranty. Under this new line of cases, the guarantor must look closely at the guaranty’s language to determine if he/she waived the applicable defenses. If these defenses were waived, the lender can seek a deficiency.

Once the lender obtains a deficiency judgment, it can record the judgment, which creates a lien against all of the judgment debtor’s property located in that county. The lender can attempt to collect on the judgment by garnishing the judgment debtor’s bank accounts or wages. If the judgment debtor owns a company, it can file for a charging lien, which results in any distributions that company makes to the judgment debtor to go to the creditor instead. The lender can also conduct a sheriff’s sale to sell any unencumbered assets, including automobiles, boats, and personal property (jewelry, art, etc.).

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Bridges Joins Panel on Atlanta Legal Experts Radio

Brent-150x150Executive Director Brent Bridges talks Bloom Sugarman on Atlanta Legal Experts Radio Show. Joining Host Emily Rowell, Brent was a panelist on the show’s Increasing Productivity Series to discuss “IT Solutions for Attorneys”.

Hear what he had to say about Bloom Sugarman.

Atlanta Legal Experts hosts guests from across the legal industry to discuss the most relevant topics of today’s legal world. Its guests consist of attorneys who are experts in their field, legal management professionals, representatives of the local legal associations, and a mix of legal professors, authors, and speakers. The show airs weekly on Tuesdays at 8 AM Eastern. Listen to the entire episode.

Ask Simon Bloom: Can I renovate my house using the existing footprint?

Q:  I am renovating an older ranch house that was built outside the 25-foot stream buffer. The City has now increased the buffer to 75 feet causing one-half of the house to lie within the new buffer. I want to add a second floor. Can I renovate the house using the existing footprint?

A:  For the answer to this question, we must turn to the doctrine of legal nonconforming use.  A legal nonconforming use is a use that complied with prior zoning ordinances but does not conform to a newly enacted ordinance.  Despite its non-conformance, the use may continue to exist under these circumstances—i.e., the use remains legal. Most refer to the use being “grandfathered” in to the new ordinance.

Most likely, the house itself would constitute a legal nonconforming use or property after enactment of the new 75 foot stream buffer ordinance. Whether you are permitted to add an additional floor to the property is less clear. As a general rule, minor renovations of a structure do not result in loss of a legal nonconforming use status, while major ones do. Accordingly, if the addition of the second story constitutes a significant renovation, the public authority will most likely reject any such permit request. Whether a court reviewing such a decision will agree depends very heavily on the language of the ordinance in that jurisdiction. Most, if not all, municipalities include treatment of nonconforming uses and properties in their development or zoning codes. In no event, however, can a public authority ignore the concept altogether and infringe on your property rights in the face of this common law doctrine.

Given how complex and fact specific the law can be in this area, we suggest talking to an attorney experienced in this arena before making any renovations that might remove your structure from the scope of its legal nonconforming use.

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Ask Simon Bloom: Can a municipality hold developers over a barrel for work they never signed up for?

Q:  Cities and counties are seeking to extract extra fees and extra work to complete horizontal development in revived subdivisions now that new builders are coming in and building houses again. These municipalities are holding building permits and C.O.’s hostage until the builder performs work on common areas, streets, sidewalks and the like.  Often, the reason the works are incomplete is that the city or county failed to hold the developer or surety responsible for said work. Can they hold me over a barrel and force me to perform work on property I don’t own and for tasks I never signed up for?

A:  NO. To understand what this question is about, we must first examine a common situation that arises in the course of real estate development. Developers will often begin work on subdivisions pursuant to written maintenance and performance agreement with the county. These agreements are typically supported by a surety bond posted by the developer that serves, in part, to ensure the developer’s completion of the project. This means that if a developer runs out of money or loses the property to the bank, the county has a right to collect on the surety bond to complete the development.

Unfortunately, counties sometimes drop the ball on pursuing the bond funds—either they try to collect outside the claims period or they forget about the bond altogether. Then, to compensate for their error, counties pass the completion costs on to individual homeowners, associations and builders seeking permits to build houses. The question here is whether the county can hold your permits hostage and force you to do work that was never your responsibility.

Unfortunately, most courts have found that property owners (new lot owners) do not have a right to access bond funds to complete a project because this right belongs only to the county or municipality that is named as an obligee in the bond.  However, all is not lost.  A homeowner or successor builder may have recourse through what is known as a writ of mandamus.  A writ of mandamus is a petition brought to compel a public official to act in accordance with how he or she is required by law. A court will grant a petition either where the official’s act was mandatory, or, if the act was discretionary, where the official’s failure to act was a gross abuse of discretion in that it was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.  Although there is little law in Georgia involving writs of mandamus in the context of completion bonds, in other jurisdictions property owners have brought such claims with moderate success.

With the right set of facts, a lot owner would be entitled to a court order requiring the county to pursue the surety for the funds to complete the subdivision and issue our final plat, building permits, or C.O.  At a very minimum, the court should find that the county cannot hold permits or other entitlements hostage as leverage to force a builder to spend money or perform tasks never required by contract or operation of law.

Please send your “Ask Simon” questions to kmurphy@hbag.org.

The information contained in this column: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. Readers of this newsletter should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular or specific legal matter. No reader of this newsletter should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney, with full and complete knowledge of the relevant facts, can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable to your particular situation.

Bloom Speaks at 25th Annual Entrepreneur’s Night

Simon Bloom was one of the distinguished panelists at ACCESS’s Entrepreneur’s Night, it’s signature end of the year program. For 25 years, Entrepreneur’s Night has been honoring prominent members of the metro Atlanta community who propel Atlanta’s economy and continuously inspire.

ACCESS was founded in Atlanta as a way to engage young professionals in the work of the American Jewish Community (AJC) Atlanta. Bloom Sugarman Attorney Ariel Zion serves on the ACCESS Steering Committee.

AccessWednesday, June 3, 2015
3565 Piedmont Road, NE
Bldg. 4, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30305

6:00 pm, Cocktails & Networking
7:15 pm, Program

General admission is $35. Free admission for ACCESS members.

RSVP by clicking here.

Congratulations to our 2015 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman, Steve Parham, and Ryan Pumpian have been selected to the 2015 Super Lawyers list. Additionally, Ariel Zion and Troy Covington have been selected to the 2015 Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor.

Super Lawyers 2015

Ryan Pumpian, Ariel Zion, and Steve Parham attend the 2015 Super Lawyers reception at The Foundry at Puritan Mill.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selection process includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information, visit SuperLawyers.com.

Bloom Speaks on Receivership at NBI Seminar – September 15, 2015

Simon Bloom served as a faculty member for the upcoming BOOT CAMP: Foreclosure and Loan Workout Procedures seminar. Not for the faint of heart, this fast-paced course is designed to provide a comprehensive procedural orientation to the foreclosure process and alternatives to foreclosure.

Bloom spoke on “Receivership”, specifically types of receivers (and reasons to appoint them), rights and procedures involved in appointing a receiver, interplay of bankruptcy, title insurance considerations, and what one should know in a receiver sale.

Presented by the National Business Institute (NBI), the seminar is designed for attorneys, real estate professionals, title insurance professionals, lenders, and paralegals.

Parham Speaks on Quiet Title Actions at NBI Seminar – May 13, 2015

Quiet title actions are on the rise from a variety of scenarios – mineral right title issues, tax deed sales, prescriptive easements, breaks in chain, adverse possession, and legal descriptive errors – that can initiate the need for a lawsuit to establish title to the property and remove any clouds.

Steve Parham helped attendees get up to speed on current procedures, discovery strategies, jurisdictional challenges, rules, and legal requirements involved in these complicated lawsuits.

Presented by the National Business Institute (NBI), this seminar is designed for attorneys, title and real estate professionals, mortgage brokers and lenders, oil and gas industry professionals, developers, and paralegals.

Live Video Webcast, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For more information or to register.

 

 

Granted Summary Judgment Awarding $100,000 in Outstanding Invoices

Successfully obtained summary judgment awarding our client over $100,000 in outstanding invoices. Our client produced and delivered a custom product to defendant who accepted delivery and then failed to pay. Defendant’s counterclaims were also rejected as a matter of law under the notice provision of the Georgia UCC.

Ask Simon Bloom

What’s on your mind? What issues are bogging down construction? “Ask Simon Bloom” is a new column providing legal insights to Home Builders Association of Georgia (HBAG) members. For nearly 20 years, Simon has been providing advisory, counsel and litigation support for complex matters to builders and developers throughout the U. S., both when their bulldozers are cranking and during the recent downturn. Founding partner at his own Atlanta firm, Bloom Sugarman, Simon has extensive experience handling legal challenges involving eminent domain, zoning and land use, building codes, sewer and water run-off issues, contract disputes, partnership disputes, and construction litigation. He also understands the nuances involved when dealing with multiple levels of government, associations, and the sometimes tenuous relationships with sub-contractors and suppliers.

Simon also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which assists local governments with economic development, provides housing loans and administers state and federal grants, and promulgates building codes. Dirt is moving again in Georgia, so please send your questions to 

Ariel Denbo Zion and Troy R. Covington Promoted to Counsel

Troy_R_Covington-230x300Ariel_Zion-230x300ATLANTA (January 14, 2015) – Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP is pleased to announce that Ariel Denbo Zion and Troy R. Covington have been promoted to Counsel. Both attorneys have been with the firm since 2011 and have made significant contributions to its practice.

Ms. Zion’s practice focuses on contract disputes, business torts, lender liability, and landlord/tenant disputes. Licensed to practice in Georgia and Alabama, Zion is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her B.A. in History and Government before attending Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy. Zion currently serves on the Steering Committee for ACCESS, the American Jewish Committee’s Young Professionals’ organization; and is a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Leadership Development Committee. She is a graduate of the Anti-Defamation League’s Glass Leadership Institute and a member of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta and the Sandy Springs Bar Association.

Mr. Covington’s practice focuses on trademark and trade secret claims, contract disputes, corporate governance disputes, partnership disputes, business torts, church governance disputes, and lender liability. Covington graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History and Political Science from Birmingham Southern College before earning his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he served as Articles Editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review. Covington is an active member of the Atlanta Bar Association and Lawyers Club of Atlanta.

Bloom Sugarman Everett attorneys bring exceptional litigation and legal advisory skills to businesses in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast. Delivering advocacy that gets results, the firm focuses on all facets of real estate, employment and business litigation. Clients choose us for big-firm strategy and effective litigation in a boutique, service-oriented environment.

Everett to speak on Eminent Domain at NBI Seminar – November 3, 2014

Stephanie Everett will be one of the presenting speakers at the upcoming “Eminent Domain from Start to Finish” seminar on November 3, 2014. Stephanie will speaking during two sessions: “Calculating Damages and Just Compensation: Appraiser Insights” and “Challenging the Right to Take: Case Law and Recent Issues”. Presented by the National Business Institute (NBI), seminar attendees will hear the latest on contrasting interpretations and disputes surrounding eminent domain and will build essential negotiation and trial skills.

For more information or to register, click here.

Eminent Domain from Start to Finish

Monday, November 3, 2014
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Holiday Inn-Atlanta Perimeter
4386 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341

Simon Sings with The Indigo Girls

simon-indigo-girls-231x300

Simon Bloom took the stage with The Indigo Girls at a concert to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta at Terminal West. Many thanks to Amy Ray and Emily Saliers for sharing their gifts for such a great cause. Check out the “Closer to Fine” video below.

BSE’s Annual “Pig Gig” raises $10,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta

It was a beautiful fall afternoon as more than 150 friends and their families gathered in Simon’s backyard for a “tailgate” BBQ to celebrate the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA) in that annual tradition we call the Pig Gig. Special thanks to all of the sponsors and attendees who together raised $10,000 for the BGCMA.

Everett Speaks on Judicial and Legislative Updates at Real Property Foreclosure Seminar – November 7, 2014

Stephanie Everett provided a “Judicial and Legislative Update” at the upcoming Real Property Foreclosure Seminar on November 7, 2014. The all-day seminar, presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), covered such topics as Creditor and Borrower representation, Recent Trends in the Sales Process, Title Issues, and Navigating the Probate Process.

Real Property Foreclosure

Friday, November 7, 2014 (Live Studio Audience)
Thursday, November 13, 2014 (Rebroadcast)
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Georgia Public Broadcasting Studio
260 14th Street NW
Atlanta, GA

The seminar will be broadcast to multiple locations across the state of Georgia. For more information or to register, click here.

A Good Day to be a Lawyer

Six-year legal fight ends as Fulton jury dismisses liability for woman who said her name was forged onto loans

Stephanie Everett and Ryan Pumpian represented a woman who was sued multiple times over millions of dollars in unpaid loans that she said she never knew about or signed for. John Disney/Daily Report

Stephanie Everett and Ryan Pumpian represented a woman who was sued multiple times over millions of dollars in unpaid loans that she said she never knew about or signed for.
John Disney/Daily Report

Greg Land, Daily Report
September 19, 2014

Sharon Ivey’s nightmare began as she tried on a $100 red swimsuit in 2008.

Her husband, Gus Pounds, started to sweat profusely, then became so upset that the couple had to leave the store. Asked what was wrong, Pounds said his companies were $12 million in debt. Ivey, now Pounds’ ex-wife, said she soon learned that she was holding the bag for millions of dollars in unpaid loans she knew nothing about.

On Aug. 28, a Fulton County jury put the nightmare to rest with a verdict clearing her of liability for loan guaranties that her attorney said were based on forged documents. “It was a good day to be a lawyer,” said Stephanie Everett of Bloom Sugarman Everett, who, with firm colleague Ryan Pumpian, represents Ivey.

“I’ve been fighting this fight alongside her since January of 2008,” said Everett.

The verdict wrapped up the last of 23 lawsuits related to what Everett described as fraudulent loan guaranties ascribed to Ivey. All of the cases—with the exception of the one concluded in Fulton Superior Court—were ultimately dismissed by the lenders and vendors who filed them.

The plaintiff is an entity ultimately owned jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Lennar Corp./Rialto Capital Management. It was created to handle loans the FDIC assumed in the wake of dozens of Georgia bank failures.

Hartman Simons & Wood senior counsel Irene Vander Els, who with associate Chelsea Dennis represents the plaintiff, declined to comment on the case.

According to Everett and court filings, Pounds was involved in real estate development and also ran a building company. But the companies were in his wife’s name, Everett said.

“She knew they were in her name, but she didn’t know what it meant,” said Everett. “He had told that that was to protect her if anything ever happened to him.”

Everett’s firm had been representing the Pounds companies even before the swimsuit episode, which occurred in Florida. Back in Atlanta, the couple met with Everett, and Pounds revealed that there were “documents out there with [Sharon’s] name on them.”

“It was quite emotional,” said Everett, who began contacting banks and having loan documents faxed to her. All bore signatures that were “somewhat similar” to Sharon’s, she said, but they were definitely not hers.

“Within a few months the true picture came clear,” she said. “The companies were about $35 million in debt, and she was purportedly personally responsible.”

Ivey took over operation of the companies, and Everett helped her shut them down.

“Then the lawsuits started,” she said. Actions naming Ivey as the defendant were filed in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties by banks and trade vendors such as construction supply and landscaping companies.

“I handled every one of them,” Everett said. “Everybody else either dismissed their case or entered into a settlement agreement with [Ivey] not paying anything. Some took judgments against the companies; we ensured that she never had to come out of pocket because they weren’t her debts.”

Pounds was not named in the suits and did not participate in the trial. He never owned any of the companies, said his attorney, Strott & Tifverman partner Peter Strott.

Everett said Ivey separated from Pounds in 2008, and their divorce finalized as the litigation progressed.

The last case, tried in Fulton, involved five loans from now-defunct Integrity Bank: two to Northbrooke Homes Inc. for a total of $810,000, and three to Second Avenue Development totaling $556,000.

“In 2008, as soon as we called Integrity Bank and they faxed over the written guaranties that resembled Sharon’s signature, we immediately informed Integrity,” said Everett. When Integrity failed, “we notified the FDIC. Ultimately, the FDIC filed a lawsuit on these guaranties, we filed a motion for summary judgment, and they dismissed the case.”

“The FDIC packaged the notes and sold them to Rialto Capital Management, said Everett, and once again Ivey was told she was personally responsible for them.

As part of a prior suit, Everett said, a former office manager for the shuttered Pounds companies had been asked about the forgeries. The office manager repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, said Everett, who presented that evidence to Rialto.

“They dismissed without prejudice, started foreclosing on the properties, and started suing Sharon again,” she said.

By the time Rialto filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court in February 2013,it had foreclosed on two properties and set off those proceeds against what was owed, but Rialto added accrued interest to its claimed damages. According to the plaintiff’s portion of the pretrial order, as of Aug. 20, 2014, Ivey owed more than $1.7 million on the notes.

There were limited settlement discussions, Everett said.

“We talked about it, but Sharon was never willing to pay what they wanted because she never signed these notes, so the discussions didn’t go far,” she said.

Judge Henry Newkirk presided over the trial, which began Aug. 25.

Everett said Rialto called as witnesses its own representative and a handwriting expert, who testified that he had looked at two examples of Ivey’s signature, and confirmed that she had signed the documents.

“He looked at four more and they looked nothing alike,” said Everett. “At one point, the jury actually laughed.”

The defense did not feel a handwriting expert was necessary, she said.

“We believed that all of the evidence in this case overwhelmingly supported our client’s story that she did not sign the guaranties, and the use of a handwriting expert in this case seemed desperate,” said Everett.

Everett said she quizzed the plaintiff’s representative as to what sort of investigation had been conducted into the alleged forgeries.

“I asked him, ‘What have you done? You’ve known about this for years.’ His response was, ‘I don’t know. Nothing.’”

Everett said the defense tried to subpoena Pounds for trial, but difficulties serving him meant that he did not attend. But Newkirk did allow Pounds’ deposition testimony to come in, she said, in which he said that he ran the companies, that Ivey had no role in day-to-day operations of the companies, and that he was the point person for the bank.

Everett said she called the office manager to the stand, and the office manager again declined to answer questions concerning the purported forgeries.

“We don’t know if one or more people forged [Ivey’s] name,” said Everett. “What we know is that when the office manager testified at trial, she asserted her Fifth Amendment rights multiple times to questions directly asking whether she forged the signatures, whether she witnessed Mr. Pounds forge them, and whether she witnessed other people do it.”

No criminal charges were ever filed in the case, Everett said, although she said that the office manager’s attorney told the court that charges involving some of the alleged forgeries might still be considered within the statute of limitations.

After a two-day trial, the jury took about an hour to find for the defense, Everett said. The jury was eager to leave, she said, but some panelists stayed and told her they felt the plaintiff had failed to probe the forgeries and wondered why it continued to sue Ivey.

Everett said she and her firm were gratified to see their years of effort pay off.

“I’ve lived this story with her,” said Everett. “As an attorney, it’s my job to channel that into admissible evidence, so it was very satisfying to have her day in court, to have her name cleared, and to have the truth come out. To have your client hug you, say you’ve saved their life—that really means something.”

The case is RES-GA NBSA LLC v. Ivey-Pounds, No. 2013CV227496.

Read the full story: A Good Day to be a Lawyer

On the Move: Real Estate Lawyer Chairs State Development Agency

Meredith Hobbs, Daily Report

Simon Bloom says he wants the board of the state Department of Community Development to encourage city and county compliance with Georgia’s model building codes. John Disney/Daily Report

Simon Bloom says he wants the board of the state Department of Community Development to encourage city and county compliance with Georgia’s model building codes. John Disney/Daily Report


August 19, 2014

Simon Bloom has become the chairman of the board of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Bloom, a partner in Bloom Sugarman Everett, called the agency the state’s “unsung heroes of economic development” and said he’d like to raise its profile.

“I don’t want us to be so unsung anymore. I want people to know the incredible things we are doing to improve their lives every day,” he said.

While the Georgia Department of Economic Development gets the attention for bringing new auto plants to the state, Bloom said the DCA does the same work for cities and counties. “They get Kia into Georgia. We get them into Troup County,” he said, referring to the new Kia plant in West Point.

The agency assists local governments with economic development, provides housing loans and administers state and federal grants. It also promulgates building codes.

Bloom, who has been on the board since 2010, said it was a “good marriage of issues to get involved in.”

“I’ve always been interested in the economic development component. Obviously, the building code promulgation component directly impacts my clients,” said Bloom, a real estate litigator for developers and builders.

The Department of Community Affairs has a budget of about $250 million in federal and state funds, with $64 million from the state. Its 18-member board is appointed by the governor, with representatives from the state’s 14 congressional districts and four members at large.

Bloom said he wants the board to take a more active role in encouraging city and county compliance with the state’s model building codes—particularly the enforcement of local tree ordinances and impact fees.

“If you cut down X inches of trees, you’ve got to pay Y dollars per inch, which goes to a fund to build forests and parks,” Bloom said. But not all municipalities use the fees they collect to plant more trees, he said. The same goes for the impact fees that local governments charge new developments to cover the cost of additional streets, sewer lines and the like.

Not all municipalities enforce their ordinances consistently, he said, and he’d like to see the DCA use its resources to make this happen.

“If you’re going to charge us the money, then do what you say you’re going to do,” Bloom said. “If you’re going to charge us impact fees, then the money you get needs to compensate for the things that are impacted. It should not just go into the general fund or other areas.”

The board takes an advisory role for the agency, which is run by Commissioner Gretchen Corbin. But Bloom said the board must approve bond financing, such as bonds issued by local housing authorities to fund home loans. The Georgia Dream Homeownership program offers first-time home-buyers loans for down payments and help in securing mortgage financing.

“I’m not a fan of big government, but this is an instance of government that does real good,” he said.

Read the full article: Real Estate Lawyer Chairs State Development Agency

Simon Bloom Named New Chair of DCA Board

Croker-Corbin-Bloom-300x222

Simon along with Former Chair Billy Croker and Commissioner Gretchen Corbin

ATLANTA (Aug. 13, 2014) — The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has named Simon Bloom as the new chair of the DCA board.

Bloom, previously the board’s vice chair, is a trial attorney and founding partner at Bloom Sugarman Everett. Specializing in the real estate industry, Bloom has represented builders and developers across the United States both when their bull dozers are cranking and during the recent downturn. This deep knowledge of the industry and the relationships Bloom has developed is well-aligned with DCA’s many initiatives.

“I’m excited about what potential there is for the DCA to roll up its sleeves and further ignite Georgia’s economic development initiatives,” Bloom said. “This organization touches the lives of millions across the state from facilitating loans for first-time homebuyers and saving homeowners from foreclosure or homelessness to offering housing tax credits to bringing governments, communities, and businesses together to achieve economic development goals and create jobs.”

Programs like OneGeorgia which provides funding for rural Georgia economic development and job creation projects, and Main Street and Downtown Development, which helps cities create a business-friendly atmosphere to achieve specific community goals, are just two of the numerous examples of where the DCA is making a real difference. Specifically, the DCA has:

· Managed nearly $400 million in state and federal funding for Georgia’s communities;

· Leveraged $12.5 million in EDGE and REBA state funds to generate $1 billion in private

· Maintained an AAA Bond rating for the Georgia Housing Finance Authority, which is one investment, creating 6,866 new jobs and retaining 1,659 jobs in 18 Georgia locations; of only 13 state housing agencies in the nation to achieve and maintain this recognition for sound management and investment practices;

· Served more than 15,000 Georgia families through the Housing Choice Voucher

· Helped Georgia Main Street communities add 3,583 net new jobs and 593 net new Program- adding more than $96 million to Georgia’s economy each year through direct payments to private landlords; businesses in 96 cities around the state, while adding 19 start-up communities to the program – the largest class of new cities in a single year for any of the 50 states;

· Assisted more than 5,400 individuals and families in 124 Georgia counties through the HomeSafe Georgia program since 2011, committing more than $110 million in U.S. Treasury funding to help keep unemployed/under-employed homeowners from foreclosure. For FY14, these figures reflect a 32% increase in applications, a 42% increase in approvals, and a 90% increase in funds paid over FY13.

“I’m honored to be serving as Chair of an organization that for more than three decades has provided critical support to communities large and small around the state of Georgia,” Bloom said. “Dirt is moving in Georgia again, and the DCA is primed to make sure that all benefit.”

Bloom Speaks About Hearsay Objections and Exceptions – May 21, 2014

No case can be won on sheer brilliance alone. Evidence is the backbone on which effective advocacy is borne. No one knows this better than Simon Bloom. In the NBI Seminar, “Applying the Rules of Evidence: What Every Attorney Needs to Know”, Bloom spoke about “Hearsay Objections and Exceptions”. Learn how to anticipate and minimize hearsay objections, how to elicit what you need without inviting hearsay, and reliable litigation tactics for supporting and attacking evidence at trial, among other invaluable tips.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
9 AM – 4:30 PM
Cobb Galleria Centre
Two Galleria Parkway

For more information or to register, click here.

Successfully Defended Client Against $35M of Fraudulent Business Debt

Successfully defended a client against $35M of fraudulent business debt based on signatures forged by her husband, who habitually guaranteed loans using her name without her knowledge.


Defeated bank’s confirmation of a foreclosure sale that was in violation of USPAP rules for appraisal.


Secured denial of bank foreclosure of a South Fulton County subdivision based on flawed bank appraisal.


Compelled an unfavorable ruling to be set aside for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in a case involving breach of promissory note and personal guaranty.


Secured the dismissal of multiple fraudulent transfer claims under UFTA brought by Rialto against BSE’s client, two of his LLCs and his wife. The dismissal also covered Rialto’s claims for civil conspiracy, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.


Won summary judgment against Community & Southern for wrongful foreclosure of four commercial lots in Bartow County because the security deed lacked any language granting the bank the power to sell the property through non-judicial foreclosure.


Successfully defended a corporate relocation and storage company from claims of discrimination and in individual and collective claims alleging unpaid overtime.

Bloom Speaks About Witness-Only Closings at GRECAA Meeting

Simon Bloom discussed witness-only real estate closings and the related lawsuits the firm has filed this year against LSI, Title Source and the witness-only attorneys involved. The Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorney Association (GRECCA) educates, informs and updates Georgia closing attorneys on current issues involving lawsuits, state and local bar activities, new and pending legislation, and any such matters coming before the Association which affect the livelihood of its members.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Villa Christina, Atlanta, GA

Bloom Speaks About Legal and Exemption Issues for Staff and Clerks – December 3, 2013

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Simon Bloom talked about “Understanding Deeds, Trusts, and Other Forms of Real Property Conveyance” during a one-day seminar hosted by The Georgia Association of Assessing Officials (GAAO). GAAO is a professional organization of appraisers, assessors, and other professionals dedicated to promoting and achieving the highest standards in assessment administration in Georgia.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
9 AM
Hall County Government Building
Board of Commissioners Meeting Room, 2nd Floor
2875 Browns Bridge Rd.
Gainesville, GA 30504

Bloom Speaks About Building Your Civil Trial Skills – November 21, 2013

Simon Bloom presented on strategies and techniques on the skills critical to success in civil litigation during an all-day seminar “Building Your Civil Trial Skills” hosted by The National Business Institute (NBI). Specifically, Bloom talked about “How to Present Your Case at Trial – Plaintiffs View” during one of the morning sessions. Other topics covered included selecting the right jury, understanding and handling post-trial responsibilities, and avoiding common ethical pitfalls.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
9 AM – 4:30 PM
Holiday Inn-Atlanta Perimeter
4386 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341

For more information or to register, click here.

Bloom Named BGCMA Board Member of the Year

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Simon Bloom was named Board Member of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Simon was presented the award during the organization’s 75th anniversary celebration. The event honored volunteers and supporters who make great futures possible for the BGCMA’s kids and teens. Simon has been active in the organization for more than 15 years and annually hosts the “Pig Gig” in his backyard with all proceeds benefitting the BGCMA.

Three BSE Attorneys Named “Rising Stars”

Congratulations to our three “Rising Stars”. Stephanie Everett, Troy Covington, and Ariel Zion were all named as a top up-and-coming attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers. Each year, no more than 2.5% of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

Bloom Sugarman Everett Names Stephen Parham As Partner

Bloom Sugarman Everett is pleased to announce the addition of Stephen M. Parham to its partnership. Mr. Parham, who has been with BSE since 2011, has over 12 years experience in commercial business, real estate, and tort litigation. Mr. Parham was previously partner in Balch & Bingham LLP’s Birmingham office, and most recently served as Assistant General Counsel for SunTrust Bank.

Read his full bio here.


Demonstrated that C&S Bank failed to sell a subdivision for its true market value at foreclosure, resulting in the court denial of the foreclosure sale.


Successfully obtained from the Cobb County Superior Court a dismissal of multiple fraudulent transfer claims against the client. The court ruled that since the purported “transfer” was not a transfer at all, there was no claim under UFTA.


The Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier denial of confirmation of foreclosure, refusing to grant a re-sale after BSE had demonstrated that BB&T failed to sell Fulton County subdivision lots for their true market value at foreclosure.


Successfully demonstrated that the bank’s appraisal of foreclosed lots contained fatal flaws and omissions that resulted in an incorrectly low valuation. The Court refused to confirm the foreclosure sale and ordered BB&T to re-foreclose on the property.


Represented a builder in its efforts to obtain building permits in Forsyth County, convincing the county that the property was subject to site-specific zoning and the owner acquired vested rights in the original set back requirements. BSE also handled the appeal by a group of neighbors and successfully convinced the Board to deny the appeal, resulting in the permits being issued.


Successfully represented a property owner in its efforts to rezone a mobile home park in Spalding County, negotiating for numerous variances in connection with the rezoning. The Zoning Board’s 5-0 vote in favor of rezoning allows the mobile home park to continue its present operations without incurring the substantial costs it would have incurred as a legal non-conforming use.


Helped shareholders of a medical software company prevent other shareholders from misusing the company’s intellectual property for their own benefit, with a permanent injunction against the other party and $1.2M in legal fees awarded to BSE’s clients. The case was fiercely litigated in multiple venues over two and a half years.


Successfully defended our client against a Motion brought by two former employees that the restrictive covenants the employees entered into with the company were unenforceable as a matter of law. The Court agreed with Bloom Sugarman holding the covenants are enforceable as a matter of law.


Defended a consortium of banks against a patent assertion entity alleging infringement of its patents related to ATM technology.


Obtained summary judgment for an electronic medical record software provider against claims of patent infringement asserted by a well-known patent assertion entity.


Obtained a seven-figure settlement on behalf of a client who was improperly terminated from employment with and excluded from participating in a well established family business.


Defeated a limited partner’s attempt to attach $4M of the client’s assets prior to actually obtaining a judgment in a pending breach of partnership agreement case.

Parham Speaks About Quiet Title Actions – November 8, 2012

Steve Parham spoke about the various legal issues surrounding Quiet Title Actions. Quiet title actions can arise from a number of different scenarios that can initiate the need for a lawsuit to establish title to the property and remove any claims or “clouds”.

This National Business Institute (NBI) Seminar, designed for attorneys, lenders, and title and real estate professionals, will provide a better understanding of the mechanics of quiet title action lawsuits, common real estate issues that instigate them, tips for researching interested parties involved and jurisdictional challenges to be aware of. Specifically, attendees will:

  • Gain a better understanding of what types of real estate issues cause grounds for quiet title actions;
  • Review statute of limitations, discovery strategies, and settlement tactics;
  • Learn how to effectively identify interested parties involved; and
  • Review jurisdictional challenges to help file a case in the correct place.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
2 pm – 3 pm Eastern

For more information or to register, click here.

BSE Hosts a “Must See” Seminar for Real Estate Development, Management, and Investment Professionals – November 9, 2012

Turn the Page: Planning for the Next Chapter in Real Estate Based on the Long, Hard Lessons of the Not-So-Distant Past

Bloom Sugarman Everett will present a substantive look at the pitfalls that took so many victims in the commercial real estate community over the past five years. We will turn the lessons from those failures into helpful advice for thriving in the burgeoning real estate markets.

R.S.V.P. Pamala Edwards at (404) 577-7710 or pedwards@bloom-law.com

Friday, November 9th
Registration 7:30 a.m.
Program 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

Ansley Golf Club
196 Montgomery Ferry Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Everett Speaks About Borrower Representation Defense Litigation Solutions and Professionalism Concerns – November 2, 2012

Stephanie Everett talked about “Borrower Representation – Defense Litigation Solutions and Professionalism Concerns” at the upcoming Real Property Foreclosure Seminar on November 2, 2012. The all-day seminar, presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE), will also cover such topics as Creditor Representation, Confirmation Actions Strategies, and Post-Sale Dispossessory Issues, among others.

Friday, November 2nd
Georgia Broadcasting Studios
260 14th Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia

Bloom Speaks About Declarant Rights and Entitlements at Bank REO Summit – Sept. 13, 2012

Norton Holdings has put together a content-rich, half-day summit for REO Bank Asset Managers and Staff. Focusing on real-time trends, obstacles, and opportunities within the REO Special Asset Space, topics include:

  • Valuation Trends
  • Tax Appeal Process Dos and Don’ts
  • Declarant Rights
  • Insurance Liability Issues
  • Auctions as a Sales Tool
  • The Capitalist Buyer Perspective
  • Future Market Direction

Thursday, September 13, 2012
9 AM – 12 PM
Marriott Atlanta Gwinnett Place
1775 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096

Reservations Required, Limited Seating.
(770) 718-5109
lglaze@nortonnorthga.com

Join us for Pig Gig! – Sept. 22, 2012

New Location. New Time. Same Great Cause.

Please join us for an afternoon “tailgate” picnic for a great cause. A $20 donation gets you all you can eat and drink with all proceeds benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. We’ll have plenty of hamburgers and hotdogs, games, football, and more. Plus, $5 raffle tickets for chances to win some great prizes.

Bring your family and friends!

Saturday, September 22nd

1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Simon’s Backyard
917 Highland Terrace

R.S.V.P. 404.577.7710 or e-mail pedwards@bloom-law.com

Lawyer balances roles of firm owner; volunteer

June 1 – 7, 2012 By Dave Williams Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Simon Bloom’s workload increased dramatically five years ago when he left the security of a big Atlanta law firm and went out on his own. But the extra hours he puts in running the law firm he founded back in 2007 haven’t forced him to dial back his commitment to volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlanta.

Bloom’s secret? What leisure time he has he devotes to hanging with the kids.

“You can only hit so many golf balls or go to so many cocktail parties,” said Bloom. “The real joy for me is to be playing flag football or bumper pool.”

Bloom started volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs in 1997, when he was working for Powell Goldstein LLP. By the time he left a decade later to start his own firm, he was the head of Powell Goldstein’s real estate and construction litigation team.

“It was without even a close second the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “We had unwavering support from then-clients and future clients. It’s been incredible rewarding.”

Read the full story.

Did you know?

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May  2012 (The Atlanta Lawyer) – The Bloom Law Firm celebrated its fifth anniversary by unveiling a change in the firm name incorporating all three partners, Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman and Stephanie Everett. The  firm will be known as Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP. Founded in 2007, the firm is a civil litigation trial boutique with a variety of practice areas including real estate, employment, workout/lender liability, restrictive covenant, product liability, and partnership disputes. The team of litigators represents developers, builders, brokers and corporations throughout the Southeast.

Read the full story.

Five Years Later and It Changes Its Name

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May 2, 2012 (Bisnow Atlanta The Deal Sheet) – Five years later and it changes its name. We caught Skip Sugarman, Stephanie Everett, and Simon Bloom, partners at the newly renamed Bloom Sugarman Everett LLP firm, a civil litigation boutique that recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. Simon left Powell Goldstein’s real estate group in 2007 to start up the Bloom Law Firm.

Read the full story.

The Bloom Law Firm Marks 5th Anniversary with Major Announcement

ATLANTA, May 02, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The Bloom Law Firm celebrated its fifth anniversary today by formally unveiling a change in the firm name. The firm will now be known as Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP. This move incorporates all three partners — Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman and Stephanie Everett

Founded in 2007, Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP is a civil litigation trial boutique with a variety of practice areas that includes real estate, employment, workout and lender liability, restrictive covenant, product liability, and partnership disputes. The firm’s experienced team of litigators represents developers, builders, property owners, brokers and leading corporations throughout the Southeast.

A New Name at Bloom Law Firm

By Jaclyn Hirsch

A Poncey-Highland law firm is celebrating their fifth anniversary with a name change.

Bloom Law Firm, located at 977 Ponce de Leon Ave., will now be known as Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP, according to an announcement at their anniversary party on April 27.

The group decided to change the name to include all partners of the firm — Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman and Stephanie Everett.

The civil litigation firm focuses on a variety of practice areas including real estate, employment, workout and lender liability, restrictive covenant, product liability and partnership disputes. They represent developers, builders, property owners, brokers and leading corporations throughout the Southeast.

“Today represents a milestone for our firm,” Bloom said in a statement. “I am extremely pleased with the growth we have experienced these last five years.”

The firm has 12 lawyers and seven staff members.

Bloom left his post as leader of the Real Estate and Construction Litigation Group at Powell Goldstein in 2007 to found The Bloom Law Firm.

He has been named a Georgia Super Lawyers’ Rising Star for four consecutive years, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40,one of 12 lawyers “On the Rise” by the Fulton County Daily Report, and Georgia Trend magazine’s Legal Elite.

The Bloom Law Firm Marks 5th Anniversary with Major Announcement Firm Will Now be Known as Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP

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April 26, 2012 (Atlanta, GA) The Bloom Law Firm celebrated its fifth anniversary today by formally unveiling a change in the firm name. The firm will now be known as Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP. This move incorporates all three partners – Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman and Stephanie Everett.

Founded in 2007, Bloom Sugarman Everett, LLP is a civil litigation trial boutique with a variety of practice areas that includes real estate, employment, workout and lender liability, restrictive covenant, product liability, and partnership disputes. The firm’s experienced team of litigators represents developers, builders, property owners, brokers and leading corporations throughout the Southeast.

“Today represents a milestone for our firm. I am extremely pleased with the growth we have experienced these last five years,” said Simon Bloom. “By adding Skip and Stephanie, two proven and accomplished attorneys to the firm’s name, we want it to be widely known our practice encompasses a wide range of civil litigation. We cover multiple practice areas for a broad range of clients. As we continue to provide a high level of personal attention to our clients as a trusted business advisor with a thoughtful and aggressive approach, I believe we will significantly contribute to our clients’ long-term success.”

Skip Sugarman focuses his practice on sophisticated business litigation in a variety of areas. He has nearly 15 years experience handling complex cases in federal and state courts throughout Georgia and the United States representing both companies and individuals involved in many different types of litigation. He has served as lead counsel in cases involving breach of restrictive covenants, misappropriation of trade secrets, and business torts and numerous cases involving statutes such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Sugarman served as a law clerk for the Honorable Jack T. Camp of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and then for the Honorable Frank M. Hull of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. After his clerkships, he practiced law with the Atlanta law firm of Alston & Bird LLP where he focused on employment litigation. Georgia Trend magazine recently named Sugarman as one of the state’s Legal Elite.

As Founding and Managing Partner of the firm, Stephanie Everett is experienced in handling a broad spectrum of complex commercial and contract litigation, and has particular experience in land use and real estate litigation. She represents real estate developers, builders, owners and brokers throughout the Southeast in areas including lender liability, lease disputes, commission disputes, land use, eminent domain and confirmation actions. When it comes to defeating confirmation actions, Everett is well-versed in the defenses afforded her clients and ensures that creditors meet their heavy legal burdens throughout the foreclosure process. She is also extremely knowledgeable in appraisal methodology. She is Past President of the Georgia State University College of Law Graduate Leadership Council and has been named a Georgia Super Lawyers’ Rising Star three separate times. Everett is active in her community and serves on the Board of Directors for the Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation, a national foundation that provides leadership programming for women, scholarships and supports play therapy for hospitalized children.

In 2007, Simon Bloom left his post as leader of the Real Estate and Construction Litigation Group at Powell Goldstein to found The Bloom Law Firm, so that he could provide the same high quality service from a more specialized platform. Lately, his practice has focused on negotiating and counseling borrowers and guarantors through workouts with and litigation against their lenders. Among many distinctions, he has been named a Georgia Super Lawyers’ Rising Star for four consecutive years, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40, one of 12 lawyers “On the Rise” by the Fulton County Daily Report, and Georgia Trend magazine’s Legal Elite. He frequently writes and teaches about trying cases and real estate litigation at seminars and Continued Legal Education (CLE) classes throughout the Southeast. As an adjunct professor at Emory University, he helps teach the pre-trial litigation clinic. Additionally, Bloom is a two-time appointee to the Governor’s Commission for Public Service & Volunteerism. Governor Deal appointed Simon to the State Board of the Department of Community Affairs. He is a longtime volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and serves on its corporate board of directors.

The firm has 12 attorneys and staff of seven. You can learn more information about the firm atwww.bloom-law.com or by calling 404-577-7710.

Bloom Law Firm now Bloom Sugarman Everett

By  Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Bloom Law Firm LLP celebrated its fifth anniversary this week with a new name.

The Atlanta civil litigation firm will now be known as Bloom Sugarman Everett LLP, a move that incorporates all three partners:Simon Bloom, Skip Sugarman and Stephanie Everett.

“We want it to be widely known our practice encompasses a wide range of civil litigation,” Bloom said. “We cover multiple practice areas for a broad range of clients.”

Skip Sugarman focuses on sophisticated business litigation and has extensive experience in complex cases involving state and federal law.

Stephanie Everett, founding and managing partner of the firm, specializes in land use and real estate litigation.

Bloom left Powell Goldstein LLP, where he led the real estate and construction litigation team, to found The Bloom Law Firm. Lately, he has focused on counseling and negotiating on behalf of borrowers and guarantors involved in disputes with their lenders.

Read the full story.

Lawyers debate limits on buyers of debts

Legislation would protect developers who sign personal loan guaranties
By Kathleen Baydala Joyner, Daily Report

Behind the scenes of a bill that would limit how much secondary loan purchasers can collect from failed commercial projects are attorneys for dozens of developers fighting collection suits and a slew of creditor’s rights lawyers on the opposing side.

“The bank lobbies are trying to distribute [the message] that this is to benefit a few fat cat developers. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Bloom said.

Senate Bill 448, known as the Small Business Borrower Protection Act, would change state law so that any entity that acquired debt obligation through assignment, sale or transfer may recover only what it paid for the debt, plus interest. The legislation would shield individuals who guaranteed the loans from collection efforts by secondary loan purchasers.

SB 448 is sponsored by Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, a Waffle House executive who chairs the powerful Rules Committee. Balfour’s position makes him the gatekeeper for bills looking to reach the Senate floor.

Balfour’s bill breezed through the Senate last month, but it brieflystalled in the House Banks and Banking Committee. Twice this week, the committee delayed a hearing on the bill. When the panel finally took testimony on Wednesday, it didn’t allot enough time to hear from all the parties that had signed up, and the committee didn’t take a vote.

Despite the best efforts of creditor’s rights attorneys and banking organizations that opposed the legislation, the committee approved a version of the bill late Thursday afternoon. Committee Chairman Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, was not available to explain what had changed in the bill.

Several committee members expressed concern during Wednesday’s hearing with whether the bill would withstand legal challenges and appeared sympathetic to its opponents.

“Why is it that the first notice I got was from community banks calling to say, ‘You must oppose this bill?’” asked Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, during the hearing. “I have yet to have a bank ask me to support it.”

The bill is focused on commercial loans, such as those sought to develop subdivisions or retail centers, said Simon H. Bloom III, founding partner of Bloom Sugarman Everett, a civil litigation boutique that is pushing the legislation. The firm, which has represented dozens of developers sued by debt holders, “has witnessed first-hand how third-party investors have bought notes from banks for pennies and then sued the guarantors for the notes’ face amount and racked up huge profits,” according to a statement from the firm.

The bill would not apply to entities with federally insured deposits, and so most banks that purchase debts from other banks wouldn’t be affected, Bloom said.

“The bank lobbies are trying to distribute [the message] that this is to benefit a few fat cat developers. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Bloom said. “I think Georgia is a state that for many years has been creditor friendly. This is to level the playing field among creditors and debtors. The federal government has bent over backward to prop up the banks, and we’ve seen rampant abuse in the banking industry in the last 10 years with little to no repercussions for the banks. The only parties left holding the bag are builders and developers that have built thousands of houses and millions of square feet of commercial space and employed tens of thousands of people.”

Banks often require officers of development companies to sign personal guaranties when their companies take out multi-million dollar loans for large projects. And banks often sell those loans on the secondary market, especially if the ability of the companies to pay off the loans seems shaky. The entities that purchase the loans typically do so at a deep discount, knowing they will turn a profit from the capital or the interest.

The problem, according to developers and their attorneys, is that the successor creditors can then sue the guarantor as well as the borrowing company for the balance.

“The original bank has every right to sue,” Balfour argued during Wednesday’s hearing. “A new buyer who bought the loan for 20 cents on the dollar? I have a hard time understanding how he could sue for $1 when no one required him to buy it [the loan]. There are predators out there making huge profits that hurt community banks and small businesses across the state.”

Opponents say the bill would hurt big banks and community banks that package bad debt and sell it on the secondary market.

“It will eliminate or significantly reduce their pool of potential purchasers if the secondary purchasers cannot turn a profit because the bill renders the guaranties of the loans essentially worthless,” said Beth E. Rogers, a creditor’s rights, litigation and real estate attorney in Atlanta. The inability to sell off bad debt also may mean banks would be less able to issue subsequent loans, she added.

One “unintended consequence,” Rogers said, could be that lenders may be less willing to issue loans as a result of the bill because “part of the underwriting and origination of a loan is the strength of the guarantor.”

Another controversial aspect of the bill is that it would apply retroactively to any sale of a loan. Creditor’s rights attorneys have questioned whether that provision is constitutional.

Article 1 Section 10 of the state’s Constitution prohibits passing retroactive laws, said Harriet C. Isenberg with Isenberg & Hewitt.

“Laws cannot be passed that will impair obligations of contracts,” she said. “People promised to pay, and now they don’t have to pay what they promised if the paper is sold at a discount. … My point is that people are free to contract, and each party must meet the obligations of the contract.”

Rogers added the bill “would revoke the Uniform Commercial Code which provides, among other things, that notes and guaranties are freely transferable, and the purchaser of the loan steps into the shoes of the original lender and has the same rights and remedies, including, enforcing the guaranty to the full amount owed on the loan.”

But not all lawyers said they feel the legislation would be unconstitutional on its face. Statesboro attorney B. Franklin testified Wednesday that there have been some court-recognized exceptions that have allowed the application of retroactive statutes, such as those that “address procedural issues or remedies.”

Still, legal analysts and policy advisers have said the retroactive aspect of the bill likely would be challenged in court.

“Without question, the bill, if passed, will launch a host of lawsuits as courts try to sort through thousands of contracts the bill will affect,” according to a recent legislative analysis written by Russell K. Paul, a senior policy adviser with Arnall Golden Gregory.

With just three legislative days left in the General Assembly’s session, lawyers on both sides say they will continue working diligently to sway lawmakers.

SB448 Limits Recovery Amounts for Guarantors

The Georgia Legislature is considering a bill that would dramatically change the landscape of the current lending environment and creditor litigation. Last week, the Senate passed SB 448 by a vote of 45-0. Known as the Small Business Borrower Protection Act (the “Act”), the Act limits the amount successor creditors can recover from guarantors. This has the potential to signal a sea change in the way certain creditors pursue and prosecute note obligors. Bloom Sugarman Everett is at the tip of the spear of this legislative initiative.

The Act defines a “successor creditor” to mean any person who did not originally enter into a debt, but has acquired the debt obligation by assignment, sale, transfer or some other means. The Act then caps the amount a successor creditor may recover from a guarantor of the debt at the actual amount the successor creditor paid for the debt plus interest.

The Act is retroactive and applies to all transfers of debts and judgments regardless of when the debt was originally incurred or the transferred occurred. The Act does not apply to institutions with federally insured deposits. As a result, it will not apply to most banks who purchase debt from other banks.

While the Act makes great strides in protecting Georgia’s business owners, certain language is not as clear as it could be. For example, the bill’s retroactivity language references the timing for judgments, but fails to specifically state that the Act applies regardless of when the debt was incurred or when the successor creditor purchased the debt. The Act also does not require the creditor give the guarantor credit for the collateral’s value or for any amounts collected from the borrower.

The Act is currently before the House of Representative’s Banks and Banking Subcommittee. BSE Partner Simon Bloom will testify before the committee and is working with House members to craft and refine the bill’s language.

For the past five years, BSE has remained the leading law firm in the areas of workout and lender litigation. We have witnessed first-hand how third-party investors have bought notes from banks for pennies and then sued the guarantors for the note’s face amount and racked up huge profit. Like in the courtroom every day, BSE will use this opportunity before the Legislature to fight for our clients and prevent successor creditors from unfairly targeting our clients.

Please reach out to your state house representatives and encourage their support for this monumental piece of legislation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Simon, Skip, or Stephanie with questions or for more info.

Three Bloom Sugarman Everett Attorneys named Georgia Rising Stars

Stephanie A. Everett, Troy R. Covington and Ariel D. Zion have been named to the Georgia Rising Stars list as three of the top up-and-coming attorneys in Georgia for 2012. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are based on a combination of a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

Bloom Talks About What Every Attorney Needs to Know about the Rules of Evidence

No case can be won on sheer brilliance alone. Evidence is the backbone on which effective advocacy is borne. No one knows this better than Simon Bloom. Leading two sessions in the NBI Seminar, “Applying the Rules of Evidence: What Every Attorney Needs to Know” on Friday, March 23rd, Bloom spoke on “Hearsay Objections and Exceptions” and “Authentication, Exhibits and Courtroom Presentation.”

Friday, March 23, 2012
9 AM – 4:30 PM
Cobb Galleria Centre
Two Galleria Parkway

For more information or to registers, click here.


Defeated a commercial real estate broker’s attempts to secure summary judgment from the DeKalb County Superior Court for the alleged breach of a commission agreement. The judge also ruled that because the broker had no right to commissions, the client’s counterclaim for slander of title survived and could proceed towards judgment.


Aggressively defeated litigation filed by a third party to prevent a property sale, allowing the sale to proceed to the closing table.


Assisted a power generation company in protecting against the misappropriation of its trade secrets related to the design of a steam-power generation plant.


Prosecuted false advertising claims relating to medical devices on behalf of a consumer products company against a competitor.

Bloom Speaks about Trial Practice Strategy

In a special “CLE By the Hour” series on December 7th, Simon Bloom spoke about “Trial Practice Strategy”. Sponsored by the Atlanta Bar Association, the seminar also covered topics such as Maintaining Professionalism in Judge’s Chambers, Digital Discovery Issues and Legal Hot Topics and Trends. Attendance can be in person or via live webcast.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

9 AM – 5 PM
2 PM, “Trial Practice Strategy”, Simon Bloom

For additional information, visit atlantabar.org.

Jury: Tavern didn’t racially discriminate

The Fulton County Daily Report
September 19, 2011

A federal jury in Atlanta took just 20 minutes Friday to decide that managers of a Buckhead restaurant hadn’t discriminated against a former professional basketball player and an attorney, both African-Americans, when they were ordered to leave after refusing to surrender their seats to two white women.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the outcome,” said Atlanta attorney Simon H. Bloom, general counsel for The Tavern Corp. and CentraArchy Restaurant Management Co., the firms that own and manage the Tavern. “But it is a hollow, Pyrrhic victory because of what the family has had to go through and the money they have had to spend to defend what has now been confirmed by the system as a frivolous lawsuit.

“If a 20-minute decision after five days of testimony does not confirm what I’ve said all along—that this case has always been meritless—I do not know what does,” Bloom said.

The companies, owned by Greg Greenbaum, own and manage nearly two dozen restaurants throughout the Southeast, including three in Atlanta.

Bloom credited the defense trial team—including Greenberg Traurig attorneys Ernest L. Greer, David W. Long-Daniels (chairman of Greenberg’s labor and employment practice), and Stephanie L. Oginsky and Michael Ross of Taylor English—with winning a favorable verdict for the Tavern.

Jurors skipped lunch to deliver the quick verdict, Bloom said.

“I’ve never seen that happen in my career. It is just resounding corroboration that the suit had no merit, and the events were really not about race,” he said.

Read the full story.
https://www.dailyreportonline.com/Editorial/News/singleEdit.asp?l=100379410971

ESPN Radio Sports Duo Mason and Ireland talk to Simon Bloom about the jury decision that the Tavern didn’t racially discriminate.

Part 1, Mason & Ireland discuss Joe Barry Carroll suing the Tavern at Phipps and accuses the restaurant of discrimination. Is chivalry dead or alive?
Listen to Part 1

Part 2, Mason & Ireland talk to general counsel for CentraArchy Restaurant Group Simon Bloom defending The Tavern at Phipps against Joe Barry Carroll.
Listen to Part 2

Part 3, General Counsel for CentraArchy Restaurant Group Simon Bloom talks about the jury deciding that his client didn’t violate the civil rights of Joe Barry Carroll.
Listen to Part 3

Bloom Speaks about Contracts in the Age of Foreclosure

Simon Bloom was among the speakers at this day-long event around contract litigation presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE). Bloom’s topic was “All Hope is Not Lost: Contracts in the Age of Foreclosure”.

Thursday, August 25th
State Bar of Georgia
104 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA

For more information https://iclega.org/programs/7727.html.

Bloom Talks Confirmation Action Strategy at Real Property Foreclosure Seminar

Simon Bloom talked about “Strategies and Defenses Related to Confirmation Actions – Litigation” at the Real Property Foreclosure Seminar on November 4, 2011. The all-day seminar, presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE), also covered such topics as Borrower Representation, Fraudulent Conveyances and Short Sale Issues and Strategies.

Friday, November 4th
Georgia Broadcasting Studios
260 14th Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia

For additional information and to register for this program, visit www.iclega.org/satellite.html.

Suit claims Suwanee mayor blocked land sale to Notre Dame Academy

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | June 17, 2011

The owners of a 36.5-acre piece of property in Suwanee have filed a lawsuit against the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and one of its top officials, accusing them of undermining an agreement to sell property to a private Catholic school.

The suit says Nick Masino, mayor of Suwanee from 1999 to 2007, advised city officials in February 2008 to block the relocation of Notre Dame Academy in Duluth to the property in the Moore Road area of Suwanee. Then serving as vice president of the Economic Development and Partnership Gwinnett, Masino allegedly told Suwanee officials that residents “would probably go nuts over” a school being located on the property.

Notre Dame Academy eventually backed out of the contract with Settles Bridge Farm, LLC, after the city ordered a moratorium of building permits in February.

Attorneys for Settles Bridge estimate that the collapse of the deal cost their client as much as $4 million.

“We’re in one of the toughest real estate markets in history,” said Simon Bloom, attorney for Settles Bridge. “And here we have a guy who wanted to exercise his power and influence to intentionally and maliciously block the project. There’s no other way to decipher what happened.”

Read the full story.

Bloom Sugarman Everett Celebrates the Boys & Girls Club

Thanks to our sponsors and the over 150 folks who attended the annual Pig Gig event on Saturday, May 21st, Bloom Sugarman Everett raised more than $10,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. For 11 years, the Pig Gig has been a staple in Founding Partner Simon Bloom’s backyard, complete with beer, BBQ, raffle prizes, and music from the Boo Hoo Ramblers. Bloom has been a long supporter of the Boys & Girls Club, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors.

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11th Annual Pig Gig

Saturday, May 21st at 4 p.m.

All you can eat, drink and dance for $20 with all proceeds benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. We’ll be serving up meats, sides and some sweet music from our friends, the Boo Hoo Ramblers. Don’t miss this fun afternoon, complete with “kid friendly” zone and $5 raffle for some great prizes!

Please join us for this annual celebration!

396 Lakeshore Drive
(Lake Claire/Candler Park)
Atlanta, GA 30307

Learn more at www.piggig.net.

Bloom Named Super Lawyers Rising Star for 5th Consecutive Year

Simon Bloom was selected as one of Super Lawyers magazine’s 2011 Rising Stars. This marks the 5thconsecutive year that Bloom has been part of this prestigious listing.

Each year, Super Lawyers employs a multi-step selection process to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource to assist attorneys and consumers in the search for legal counsel. Honorees are selected based on peer recognition and professional achievement.


Successfully represented an agent before an arbitration panel that found BSE’s client, who performed all the work to locate a property only to have the buyer strike a deal with a new agent and cut the client out of the commission, was the procuring cause of the sale and awarded the full commission to him.


Defended a buyer’s broker against an action brought by the original listing agent and demonstrated to the judge that the original selling agent’s contractual rights had expired and that the agent’s actions did not rise to the level of a procuring cause. As a result, BSE’s client retained the full commission.


Successfully represented the tenant when a real estate broker claimed entitlement to the commission for the tenant’s leased space. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, making the case the seminal authority on the procuring clause doctrine in Georgia.


Defended the developer, MARTA, and the City of Atlanta against challenges to the decision to re-zone the land for the development of the new Lindbergh mixed-use MARTA station project.


Successfully represented a national corporation in re-zoning property from residential to commercial in DeKalb County, despite neighborhood opposition and a previous rejection by the county of the requested rezoning.


Successfully negotiated title insurance coverage with the title company, resolving a boundary line dispute through a mutually agreeable settlement.


Won $1.1M in damages and secured valuable property for a beach-front condo owner’s association against a developer who attempted to defraud the condo owners by removing the beach lot from the association’s common property without their knowledge. The case was appealed and the First District Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s opinion in full.


Successfully negotiated a resolution of a buyer’s claims against a seller for failure to disclose dangerous and uninhabitable property conditions, resulting in completion of the sale.


Represented the landlord in a dispute over the renewal rate stated in the lease. The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed with the landlord’s interpretation of the lease and held that the landlord was entitled to a writ of possession, an award of past due “holdover” rent, and attorneys’ fees.


Successfully defended two key employees against allegations by a former employer of unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, and tortious interference.


Successfully defended a Georgia financial corporation against claims for injunctive relief based on allegations that included claims of tortious interference with contract. BSE continues to represent the company in what is “bet the company” litigation against its primary competitor in a case that also involves significant antitrust claims.


Successfully negotiated that the condemning authority moves its proposed building to another piece of our client’s property and thereby significantly reduced the negative impact on the client’s more valuable tract.


Successfully negotiated that the condemning authority alter its routing decision to significantly reduce the negative impact on the client’s commercial traffic flow and also increase the “just compensation” awarded to client.


Successfully defended a local corporation from discrimination claims involving allegations about the employment of undocumented aliens.


Conducted a full-scale audit of the overtime policies and practices for a large international company in the systems-engineering business.


Successfully defended, and ultimately settled on favorable terms, a former high-level executive in the package industry from multi-million dollar claims regarding the alleged violation of restrictive covenants.


Preemptively sought judicial determinations regarding enforceability of restrictive covenants in many cases on behalf of employers seeking to hire key employees subject to such covenants.


Negotiated the departure of several highly successful insurance executives from their prior employer and successfully resolved issues regarding post-employment covenants.


Defeated claims by estate to set-aside lifetime gifts to the decedent’s daughters in both probate court and Georgia Superior Court proceedings.


Enforced a textile company’s patent rights by obtaining a favorable claim construction of the asserted patent terms and later a ruling that the patent was enforceable, valid, and infringed.


Obtained reversal of finding of fraud on the patent office for holder of food technology patent.


Enforced the trademark rights of a major financial services company by obtaining a preliminary injunction prohibiting the use of an infringing mark, and then obtained summary judgment of infringement, which was affirmed on appeal.


Defended manufacturer of high vacuum metallizers against claims of patent infringement.


Defended multiple clients against allegations of copyright infringement made by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA).


Defended a manufacturer of ice vending machines against allegations of patent infringement.


Enforced patents related to Support Vector Machine technology on behalf of a biotechnology company involved in the discovery of biomarkers for use in the treatment of disease.


Defended a medical device manufacturer against allegations of trademark and trade dress infringement and false advertising.


Enforced the copyrights of a major supplemental health insurer by obtaining a preliminary injunction prohibiting the sale of infringing insurance policies.

Three BSE Attorneys Named Among Georgia’s Legal Elite

Three Bloom Sugarman Everett Firm Attorneys were named among Georgia’s 2010 “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Simon Bloom and Skip Sugarman were selected by their peers for this year’s list, which is featured in the December issue of Georgia Trend magazine. Thousands of attorneys respond each year, nominating attorneys whose work they rate as the best in the state in a variety of practice areas. Bloom was recognized for their accomplishments in General Practice/Trial Law, and Sugarman was featured in the area of Taxes/Estates/Trusts.

Real Property Foreclosure

Live, Friday, November 12, 2010

Rebroadcast, Thursday, November 18, 2010
6 CLE Hours

This full-day seminar presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE) will feature Simon Bloom speaking about “Strategies and Defenses Related to Confirmation Actions – Litigation”.

To register or for more information, click here.

Court Orders Developer to Convey Beach Property to Condo Owners

Bloom Sugarman won a major victory for a beach-front condo owner’s association against a developer who attempted to defraud the condo owners by removing the beach lot from the association’s common property without their knowledge.  First, Bloom Sugarman secured a victory before the trial court when the Judge declared that the condo owners were the rightful owners of the beach and entitled to over $1.1 million in damages.  Then, we successfully defended the decision on appeal to the First District Court of Appeals, who affirmed the lower court’s opinion in full.  To watch Simon Bloom during the oral arguments before the First District Court of Appeals, click here.

Bloom Named to State Board of Georgia Department of Community Affairs

August 25, 2010

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney Simon H. Bloom III has been named to the state board of the Department of Community Affairs, Governor Sonny Perdue announced Friday. Bloom will represent the 5th Congressional District on the Board, which includes Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties.

“I’m honored at the Governor’s appointment, and I look forward to working with this important Department, which does vital work on behalf of counties and municipalities throughout the state, particularly in our rapidly growing area,” Bloom said.

BSE Makes a Move!

After three years at our downtown location, we’re moving to new digs on Ponce de Leon Avenue. The new office has more space to better accommodate our clients’ needs, as well as our growing team. Built in the ’30s, this beautiful two-story, brick building is located in the heart of the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and appreciate your continued support.

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The BSE Team and friends celebrate our upcoming Summer move to 977 Ponce de Leon Ave.

Bryan M. Knight Joins Bloom Sugarman Everett

July 15, 2010

Bloom Sugarman Everett is pleased to welcome Bryan M. Knight to its practice.

Mr. Knight brings a wide range of commercial litigation experience, specifically in the areas of contract disputes, landlord/tenant, construction, title disputes, zoning, employment disputes, noncompete covenants and business torts, all of which fit perfectly in Bloom Sugarman Everett’s sweet spot. Hailing most recently from Schreeder, Wheeler & Flint, he’s also represented individuals and businesses in trade name infringement, trademark infringement, personal injury and ad valorem tax appeals, as well as both lease and contract drafting and negotiating.

Mr. Knight received his Juris Doctor from Wake Forest University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clemson University, where he graduated cum laude.

9th District Candidate, Majority Leader Denies Bank’s Claims in Loan Dispute

May 28, 2010

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Built in 1978, the [Oglethorpe] Inn is at the heart of a lawsuit Bartow County Bank has filed against 9th District congressional candidate Tom Graves and state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. The bank alleges the two Republicans owe $2.2 million on a loan that is now in default. Graves and Rogers, according to the lawsuit, guaranteed that loan so a company called Tich Hospitality LLC could buy and renovate the inn.

The lawsuit also alleges Graves was “insolvent” in June and that he fraudulently transferred two properties to a trust to frustrate the bank’s efforts to collect on the debt. An attorney for Graves denied the bank’s allegation of fraud, asserting the properties Graves transferred were not used as collateral for the loan. “Any transfers that were made by Mr. Graves were done completely within the confines of the law, consistent with estate planning and with no intent to defraud anyone at any time,” said Simon Bloom, Graves attorney.

Read the full story.

10th Annual Pig Gig

Saturday, May 22nd at 4 p.m.

Please join us for all you can eat, drink and dance for $20 with all proceeds benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Enjoy some delicious meats and sides. Hear wonderful music from the Boo Hoo Ramblers. And don’t miss the “kid friendly” zone and $5 raffle!

396 Lakeshore Drive
(Lake Claire/Candler Park)
Atlanta, GA 30307

Learn more at www.piggig.net.

Half Million Dollar Victory for Local Builder

May 11, 2010

Fulton County Daily Report
When an agreement to construct a nearly 19,000-square-foot luxury home costing more than $3 million soured, a local builder sued when it wasn’t paid for some of its work. Three years later, a Fulton County Superior Court jury agreed, awarding more than $506,000 in damages and $70,000 in attorney fees and expenses to counsel for plaintiffs, Simon H. Bloom and others at Bloom Sugarman Everett.

Bloom defends discrimination allegations against The Tavern at Phipps

April 15, 2010

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In an interview, Simon Bloom III, outside general counsel for the Tavern’s management company, strongly disputed the accusations. “The plaintiffs’ allegations about racial discrimination are unfounded, unsubstantiated and specious,” Bloom said. “I can unequivocally say that the Tavern operates a color-blind business. It does not take race, color or creed into account for any aspect of its operations.” What led to the lawsuits, he said, was a color-blind practice “focused on hospitality, gentility and good manners.”

Read the full story.

Builder Opportunity Breakfast

Everything You Need to Know About Restructuring Your Loans
April 14, 2010, 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
The Housing Center
1484 Brockett Rd., Tucker, GA

Informal speaker on a specific topic and a positive round table discussion between builders to talk about issues they are dealing with in today’s economy. Come hear builders share what opportunities, business strategies, loan workouts and ideas they have tried; what worked and didn’t; how they handle the stress it has put on their businesses and families; and what they are doing to stay focused on the positives and the opportunities this economy is providing.

Simon Bloom, speaker

Real estate lenders face fierce litigation

April 12, 2010

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It was in court that Frank Norton Jr. first saw Atlanta attorney Simon Bloom III at work. “He was very effective, as well as tenacious,” said Norton, president of the Norton Agency. “I said I want him on my side; someone to go to the mat for me.” Now commercial developers are feeling the pain. In fact, foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta jumped to a record high in March. Foreclosure, however, doesn’t always end a borrower’s troubles. Sometime a lender will sue for the balance owed, and that’s where Bloom comes in.

Read the full story.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

February 19, 2010

Foreclosure does not end rights of tenants. Managing Partner Stephanie Everett says, “It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing — while the landlord’s offer now may appear to be a great deal, the tenant could be left with nothing after the foreclosure sale.”

Read the full story.

Shawn Kalfus and Amanda Wick Join Bloom Sugarman Everett

February 16, 2010

ATLANTA, GA (February 16, 2010) – The Bloom Law Firm is pleased to welcome two new attorneys, Shawn N. Kalfus and Amanda Schlager Wick, to its practice.

Download PDF

Bloom Sugarman Everett Firm Attorneys Recognized as Rising Stars

February 25, 2010

ATLANTA, GA (February 25, 2010) – Super Lawyers Magazine has announced its 2010 selection of Rising Stars, and Bloom Sugarman Everett is honored that three of its nine attorneys have been included in the publication’s upcoming edition. We congratulate this year’s Rising Stars – Simon H. Bloom III, Stephanie A. Everett, and R. Kyle Williams.

Download PDF

Land Use Law: Current Issues in Subdivision, Annexation and Zoning

National Business Institute
December 9, 2009
Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA

For attorneys, city and urban planners, local zoning and land use officials, developers, and engineers looking to learn how to confidently navigate the subdivision, annexation and zoning processes, and avoid legal entanglements to make sure every transaction is smooth and successful.

Take a Comprehensive Look at Land Use Law
Simon Bloom, speaker

For more information or to register, please visit nbi-sems.com.


Tampa Bay Trends Conference

Urban Land Institute
December 4, 2009
Renaissance Vinoy, St. Petersburg, FL

Annual event comprised of land developers, home builders, commercial developers and capital markets to learn about hot and upcoming trends in real estate. Major topics include residential development, commercial development, capital markets, major trends, mega projects, restructuring deals.

Restructuring Deals
Simon Bloom, panelist

Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association

November 10, 2009
The Housing Center, Tucker, Georgia

Professional trade association that strives to address issues unique to the various professionals within the organization. For builder members including developers, custom and speculative builders, multifamily builders, manufactured housing companies, residential remodelers and general contractors, as well as trade contractors, building material manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, real estate companies and more.

Lender Negotiation and Workout Strategies
Simon Bloom, speaker

3rd Annual Forum on Reducing Legal Costs

American Conference Institution
November 19 – 20, 2009
Union League, Philadelphia, PA

Uniquely tailored to provide in-house counsel and legal sourcing managers, as well as private practice attorneys and law firm marketing/business development specialists guidance on the complexities of keeping legal department costs in check.

The View from Outside Counsel: Law Firm CEOs and Managing & Founding Partners Speak Out on How to Control Costs, Increase Value, and Improve Satisfaction for Clients
Simon Bloom, panelist

For more information or to register, please visit americanconference.com/LegalCosts.

Southeast Distressed Real Estate Conference

InterFace Conference Group
November 4 – 5, 2009
The InterContinental Buckhead, Atlanta, GA

Offers an integrated view of distressed assets and financing challenges from the perspectives of owners, investors and developers, banks and lending institutions, the FDIC and the government, receivers and servicers, asset managers and opportunity funds, and legal and tax advisors.

Bankruptcy/Foreclosure, The workout didn’t work, now what? What are the legal and tax options, risks and implications to different exit strategies?
Simon Bloom, panelist

For more information or to register, please visit
interfaceconferencegroup.com.

John Marshall Law School

November 2, 2009

Overview of the Atlanta Beltline Project and our experience as General Counsel for the Northeast Corridor. Topics covered include eminent domain, nuisance law, environmental issues, and easements, among others.

Simon Bloom, speaker

Atlanta Business Chronicle

October 9, 2009

Georgia’s 20 Under 20 were selected by the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 40 Under 40 alumni, including our own Simon Bloom who was also on-hand to help present the awards to this outstanding group during its annual ceremony.

Download PDF

Atlanta Intown Paper

July 1, 2009

Simon sings about the joys and importance of giving back to the community.

Download PDF

Trial Practice Seminar

December 2, 2008

Simon Bloom spoke at the Atlanta Bar Association’s “Trial Practice” seminar held on December 2, 2008 at the State Bar of Georgia.

Breakfast Seminar

November 14, 2008

On November 14, 2008, Bloom Sugarman Everett conducted a breakfast seminar for its builder and developer clients and friends entitled “Fasten Your Seatbelts: Turbulent Air Ahead.” Over 50 of Atlanta’s top real estate professionals joined us at the Druid Hills Golf Club for the seminar. Please feel free to contact Iris Harrison at iharrison@bloom-law.com for materials from the seminar.

Fulton County Daily Report

October 20, 2008

Simon H. Bloom was mentioned in the Fulton County Daily Report in the article regarding his work negotiating with and litigating against lenders on behalf of his builder and developer clients.

Download PDF

Land Use Seminar

October 14, 2008

Simon Bloom presented the topic “Take a Comprehensive Look at Land Use Law” during the National Business Institute’s upcoming seminar entitled “Land Use Law: Current Issues in Subdivision, Annexation and Zoning.” This event was be held at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Horse Barn Owner Forced To Shut Down

August 27, 2008

“The Buckhead Barn, an 11-acre horse facility in the middle of an upscale Atlanta neighborhood, has shut down after the operator pleaded no contest to operating illegally.”

Read the full story.

National Business Institute Seminar

August 26, 2008

F. Skip Sugarman presented the topics “Maintain an Ethical Practice from Start to Finish” and “Examine Selected Issues and Answers for Success in the Federal Court System” during the National Business Institute’s upcoming seminar entitled “Rules and Procedures for Federal Court Success.” Skip is scheduled to begin his presentation at 2:15 p.m. The event will be held at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Boys and Girls Clubs Corporate Board Election

June 19th, 2008

On June 19, 2008 Simon was elected to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta’s Corporate Board as one of its youngest members. This Board oversees twenty four clubs in Metro Atlanta and is one of the premier boards in the City. Its members include the CEOs and Leaders of the largest companies in the City and region.

Zoning and Land Use Seminar

June 18th, 2008

Simon H. Bloom presented the topics “Challenging a Rezoning Decision” and “Appealing an Administrative Zoning Decision” during the upcoming National Business Institute’s seminar, “Practical Guide to Zoning and Land Use Law” on June 18, 2008. The event was held at Cobb Galleria Centre.

Lake Spivey Action Delayed

March 24th, 2008

Simon H. Bloom was mentioned in the Clayton News Daily in the article County delays action on Lake Spivey Development.

Lawyers Clean up from Tornado

March 18th, 2008

The Bloom Sugarman Everett firm was mentioned in the Fulton Daily Report in the article Lawyers clean up from tornado.

Pig Gig

May 16, 2009

Bloom Sugarman Everett is proud to once again sponsor the 8th Annual Pig Gig. This annual event takes place in Simon’s back yard and features tons of great food, music, and fun. Not only is it a great time for our friends and clients to gather together and kick back, but all proceeds of the event support the Boys & Girls Club of West End Atlanta. Join us for this year’s extravaganza on May 16, 2009. www.piggig.org

Real Estate Litigation

May 8th, 2008

Simon H. Bloom presented the topic “Real Estate Litigation” during the Residential Real Estate session at the Real Property Law Institute. This year’s event was held at Amelia Plantation, Amelia Island Florida from May 8-10, 2008. This event was sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia.

Boundary Disputes

April 1st, 2008

Stephanie Everett presented the topic “Finding the Solution to Unresolved Boundaries” during National Business Institute’s Seminar on Boundary Disputes: Resolving Client Conflicts at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Lake Spivey Development

March 14th, 2008

The Bloom Sugarman Everett firm was mentioned in the Clayton News Daily in the article Lake Spivey Development Leaves County in Legal Quandary.

Survival of the Fittest

March 4th, 2008

Simon Bloom served as a moderator for the Urban Land Institute’s “Survival of the Fittest” program on March 4, 2008.

Drafting Commercial Real Estate Leases

August 16th, 2007

Simon H. Bloom held a seminar on Drafting Commercial Real Estate Leases: The Ins and Outs of Protecting Your Interests.

Protecting Residential Landlords from Civil Liability

July 12th, 2007

Stephanie Everett presented the topic “Protecting Residential Landlords from Civil Liability Seminar” at the National Business Institute’s seminar at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Growth Management in Georgia

June 22nd, 2007

Simon H. Bloom held a seminar on Growth Management in Georgia at the Cobb Galleria Centre (directions). The event was sponsored by Lorman Education Services.

2007 Real Property Law Institute

May 3rd, 2007

Both Simon H. Bloom and Stephanie Everett spoke at the 2007 Real Property Law Institute. That year’s event was held at the Hilton Sandestin Resort in Destin, Florida on May 3-5, 2007. The event was sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia.

Ex-big Firm Partner Blooms in his Own Shop

February 13th, 2008

The Bloom Sugarman Everett firm was featured in the Fulton Daily Report in the article In The Trenches: Ex-big firm partner blooms in his own shop.

BSE Attorneys Named “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars”

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Congratulations to our three “Super Lawyers” and two “Rising Stars”. Simon H. Bloom, Stephanie A. Everett, and F. Skip Sugarman have been selected to the 2014 Georgia Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than 5% of the lawyers in the state are selected. Additionally, Ariel D. Zion and Troy R. Covington have been selected to the 2014 Georgia Rising Stars list, comprised of no more than 2.5% of the up-and-coming lawyers in the state.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made through a multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

Arbitrator Awards $800K in Software Dispute

Skip Sugarman says his clients won right to control use of their software. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report

Skip Sugarman says his clients won right to control use of their software.
Photo by John Disney/Daily Report

Gwinnett Plaintiffs happy with their win despite a long and expensive battle with their business partners

By: 

A three-year battle between owners of a Gwinnett County software company concluded last month with the payment of $800,000 in attorneys’ fees to the side that made the best case to the arbitrator. But the whole episode cost all the parties together well in excess of $3.5 million in legal expenses, plus about $150,000 in arbitration costs, according to the attorneys.

“I point this case out as an example when clients say arbitration is cheaper and faster,” said F. Skip Sugarman of Bloom Sugarman Everett. His clients, Gwinnett County businessmen Kenneth Shumard and Kenneth Shumard Jr., won the $800,000 attorneys’ fee award. The Shumards were pleased because they won on the issue that started the dispute in 2010—the right to control the use of medical billing software that helps doctors get paid for their services, particularly when insurance claims are delayed or denied. The software is a valuable product that could be worth tens of millions in sales, Sugarman said. The Shumards didn’t ask for any monetary damages in the dispute, which only involved control over the software.

The victory came at a high price. The Shumards own a software company with a group of partners based in St. Louis. In addition to the $800,000 the Shumards collected from their St. Louis partners, they also won an award of $400,000 in attorneys’ fees from their own company. But they can’t collect the $400,000 because their company doesn’t have the cash to pay them, Everett said.

Even after all the fighting, the Shumards and the St. Louis group remain partners. “It’s like a messy divorce, without the divorce,” Sugarman said.

When they formed the partnership in 2007, their contract included a clause that required disputes to go to arbitration rather than trial. It’s a fairly standard clause, popular in many industries, including construction and brokerage, according to Thomas Tate of Andersen, Tate & Carr, who represents the St. Louis partners. Large corporations often rely on the expectation that arbitration will save them time and money.

“The thing that came out of this is arbitration is not always faster or cheaper,” said Tate.

When the dispute arose in 2010, the Shumards sought a temporary restraining order in Gwinnett County Superior Court to stop their partners in St. Louis from using their company’s billing software for products made by other companies. Then the Shumards filed a lawsuit to make the temporary restraining order permanent. The partners fought back. Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor referred the dispute to arbitration, as required under the contract.

Both sides filed thousands of pages of briefs to the arbitrator, Henry Abelman. They met together in a conference room at the American Arbitration Association off Interstate 85 near the North Druid Hills exit for a total of 25 days over a three-month period in the summer of 2012. Some of the witnesses testified for days at a time. When that was over, the arbitrator ordered a post-trial briefing. Work on those briefs continued through the end of the year.

In January 2013, Abelman issued his 110-page order, finding for different parties on different points and awarding the Shumards the $1.2 million in legal fees and the control of the medical billing software.

The finality of arbitration is one of its selling points. Still, Tate’s clients, the St. Louis group, went back to Gwinnett Superior Court with motions to dismiss and vacate the arbitration award. The same judge, Batchelor, denied those motions and granted the Shumards’ motion to confirm the arbitration award in October.

Sugarman said he was surprised when he finally received the $800,000 payment in November from the St. Louis partners, which will go to reimbursing some of the legal fees his clients, the Shumards, already paid.

The lack of appeal options makes arbitration “scary,” according to Tate. “Legal precedent does not apply,” he said. Arbitrators aren’t bound by the same rules as judges and don’t have the safeguard of the appellate courts to review their decisions.

Tate said his advice to other lawyers is, “Don’t assume arbitration is the way to go.” However, he concedes that placing a long, complicated, nuanced business dispute in front of a judge and jury for months is not an appealing option either.

“Let’s face it, nobody really enjoys long, drawn-out litigation,” Tate said. “Not even lawyers.”

Tate sees the middle ground, and perhaps hope, in the growing trend of forming business courts to handle such matters. There, the parties can expect to find a judge with expertise in business disputes who will preside over a bench trial. The bench trial can speed up the process somewhat and avoid putting a jury through weeks of tedious testimony, as well as the cost of arbitration.

The case is Shumard v. Michael Barnell, Precision Practice Management Inc. and Practice Administration, No. 10-A-09098-6.

Read the full story: Arbitrator Awards $800K in Software Dispute

BSE Partners Named Among Georgia’s Legal Elite

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BSE is pleased to announce that three of its partners have been selected in Georgia Trend’s 2013 Legal Elite. The 11th Annual listing ranks Georgia’s top attorneys who are selected by their peers, who are asked to nominate the most effective attorneys in 10 different practice areas.

Congratulations to:

Simon H. Bloom
Business Law and General Practice

F. Skip Sugarman
Labor and Employment

Stephanie A. Everett
Business Law

Simon Bloom’s “Amazing Ace” caught on film while playing a round of golf with clients at Headwaters Golf Course in Cashiers, NC.

Real Estate Lawyers Target Closing Vendors

May 16, 2013 By Greg Land Staff Writer – Daily Report Online

‘Witness-only’ closings break unauthorized practice rules, suits claim; defenders say their clients comply with the law

Real estate closing attorneys around the state are battling companies that hire Georgia lawyers to preside over closings just long enough to see that the documents are signed and witnessed.

The fight over these practices has grown from legislative debates into two suits in federal court. The cases, on behalf of a potential class of 3,000 property buyers, take on two practices that have alarmed closing attorneys and the State Bar of Georgia: so-called “witness-only closings,” during which a licensed attorney serves only to present closing documents to the borrower for signature; and corresponding claims that such closings constitute the unauthorized practice of law by national closing companies.

Attorneys for the defendant companies and lawyers argue that the suits will fail because, among other problems, there is no private right of action a plaintiff can bring against someone engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

However the suits fare in court, the controversy has momentum to stay.

“What you’re seeing is the culmination of a big grass-roots effort to get witness-only and unauthorized practice of law closings stopped in Georgia,” said William Phalen, a real estate attorney and president of the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association. The organization is not a party to the litigation, but its website prominently hosts a “Plan of Action” crafted by the members of the bar’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee to combat such closings. It also supports a proposed bar advisory opinion stating that an attorney “may not ethically conduct a ‘witness only’ closing.”

Phalen said that the practice exploded after the housing bubble burst, as large national banks took over collapsed smaller banks’ portfolios, often stuffed with residential mortgages.

“These were national operations, and they wanted a one-stop shop to get these things closed and off the books,” Phalen said. “So you had these companies that Bank of America and Wells Fargo could call to do all the paperwork for closings anywhere in the country.”

Phalen said he estimates 20,000 witness-only transactions occur a year in Georgia. “It’s gotten to be big business.”

In 2003, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed UPL Advisory Opinion No. 2003-2, which declared the preparation and execution of a deed by anyone other than a licensed attorney to be the unauthorized practice of law.

In 2012, state lawmakers passed an amendment to O.C.G.A. § 44-14-13, Georgia’s Good Funds Law, making it a misdemeanor for anyone other than an attorney or lender to collect and disburse funds in finalizing a residential real estate settlement.

Those issues are raised in the suits filed by Bloom Sugarman Everett attorneys Simon Bloom, Stephanie Everett and Meredith Ragains, along with R. Clay Milling of Henry Spiegel Milling and outside attorneys from New Orleans, Philadelphia and Alexandria, Va.. Originally filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the cases were recently removed to Atlanta’s federal court.

“The issue really starts with Georgia law requiring real estate closings be conducted by Georgia lawyers,” said Bloom. “There’s a lot more to that than just showing up and presiding over the signing,” he said. Those duties include researching and verifying the title, ensuring that the deed is unencumbered and properly describes the property, and depositing and disbursing settlement from an attorney’s trust account, among many others.

“We know for a fact that, with these defendants at least, Georgia lawyers are not performing these functions,” Bloom said. “We understand that some of these lawyers, who are really serving as nothing more than witnesses, do five or six or more of these things a day, traveling from Starbucks to Burger King to somebody’s living room long enough to have the documents signed.”

An analysis of the issue by Phalen says that Georgia attorneys traditionally take control of the real estate transactions, but in a witness-only deal, “a non-attorney entity controls the transaction with little or no meaningful involvement by a member of the Bar.”

The first suit, filed March 29 on behalf of plaintiff Patricia Clements, names as defendants LSI, a division of Florida-based Lender Processing Services. It is a “vendor management company,” or VMC, described as “independent, third-party, title insurance company-affiliated or lender-affiliated providers of real estate closing services.”The VMCs are regional or national operations that employ “large networks of third-party vendors” including “title examiners, document preparation companies, signing services, notaries and settlement agents whose role is limited to attending the witness-only Ceremonial Signing” finalizing the transaction, the suits says.

That suit also names Atlanta attorney William Fair III and his practice, along with 15 “John Doe” defendants described as “LSI Scheduling Firms [that] are other unknown law firms engaged by LSI to perform scheduling and witness closings” in Georgia.

The second suit, filed on behalf of Richard Busbee on April 9, names Michigan-based Title Source Inc.; Norcross firm Cook & James and its principals, A. Kara Cook and Heather James; Michelle Ruff, described as Title Source’s in-house counsel; and five John Doe defendants, again described as law firms hired to schedule and witness closings.

Both suits assert that the companies and the lawyers they hire engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by allowing all of the pre-closing work to be done by outside agencies and then having the lawyers sign off on the settlement. Each suits claims a potential class of more than 3,000 homebuyers per year are affected by such closings.

The suits also allege violations of the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, which relates to federally guaranteed loans, and Georgia law barring fee-splitting. The suits say that the borrowers were charged “settlement” or “closing” fees of hundreds of dollars each that were divided among the companies and attorneys.

“[The companies] provided no actual services related to the closing of the loan and, as a result, its portion of the Settlement or Closing Fee is unearned,” says each complaint. “Since the conduct of a closing or settlement in Georgia by anyone other than a Georgia attorney is illegal under Georgia law, [the companies’] provision of these services cannot constitute the performance of ‘actual services,’” and they are “not entitled to take any split of the fee paid for the rendering of such services.”

The companies “contravened RESPA by hiring (and sharing a fee with) a lawyer who posed as a closing attorney even though said attorney provided no legal services related to the residential real estate closings as required by law.”

The companies are accused of violating Georgia’s Good Funds Law because they are not members of the Georgia bar and are not orlenders “regularly engaged in making loans secured by mortgages or deeds to secure debt on real estate.”

Both suits also claim unjust enrichment and violations of Georgia racketeering law because the defendants “knowingly made deliberate misstatements, misrepresentations or omissions during the mortgage lending process” constituting “numerous acts of racketeering activity over a number of years affecting all class members.”

Carlock Copeland & Stair partner Johannes Kingma, who is representing Fair and his practice, said that his client had complied with all applicable law and expected the case to be dismissed.

“Bill Fair has been in practice for awhile, and he denies—and we deny—any wrongdoing,” said Kingma, who is working the case with partner John Rogers. “We are going to be filing a motion to dismiss, and we suspect that it will be successful.”

“The thrust of this litigation seems to be the unauthorized practice of law,” Kingma said, “and there is not a cause for private action for the unauthorized practice of law in Georgia.”

Kingma pointed to an effort to create just such a right for an individual suit over the unauthorized practice of law during the 20102 General Assembly. Although Senate Bill 365 ultimately passed, it was gutted and used as a vehicle for unrelated legislation by the time lawmakers finished with it.

Kingma added that in the suit naming his client, the allegations of fee-splitting or that was overcharged were inaccurate.

“Our understanding is that this was a refinance and that she paid nothing at closing and got charged zero interest,” he said.

Similar arguments were raised by Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz partner L. Clint Crosby, whose firm represents the defendants in the Title Source case.

“The allegations are very broad and are centered on the unauthorized practice of law claims,” he said. “There is no private right of action for that in Georgia, and this appears to be an attempt to take a claim for that and couch it in all these different claims.”

“We’re in compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements,” said Crosby, “and we think once a federal court takes a look at it, we’ll be successful in defeating the claims or getting it dismissed on summary judgment.”

Alston & Bird partner Teresa Bonder, who represents LSI, did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this year, the State Bar of Georgia’s Executive Committee assigned a task force to examine the problem of witness-only closings and come up with recommendations to address an increasing number of concerns being raised by the bar’s real estate practitioners.

“They kept saying ‘this is a growing problem,’ and it got our attention for many reasons,” Georgia Bar President Robin Frazer Clark said. “Of course, we’re concerned about protecting the public, and there’s also the concern that these witness-only closings mean those funds aren’t going through lawyers’ IOLTA accounts.”

The out-of-state and Internet companies handling such transactions, she said, are “running millions of dollars through their accounts that are not going through Georgia escrow accounts. That’s money that should trickle down to Georgia Legal Services and Atlanta Legal Aid.”

The task force recommended a 12-point “plan of action” authored by Patrise Perkins Hooker, a member of the bar’s Real Property section and current general counsel to the Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

In addition to pushing for approval of proposed Formal Advisory Opinion No. 10-R2, which specifically states that no Georgia lawyer may ethically conduct a witness-only closing, the recommendations urge the bar to contact solicitors and prosecutors to seek criminal prosecutions of UPL and Good Fund Law violations, along with racketeering charges if applicable.

The recommendations also say the bar’s UPL Committee should consider filing suits against third-party entities engaging in or abetting the unlicensed practice of law.

“Borrowers are being hurt because these lenders have closed tens of thousands of loans,” said Perkins-Hooker. “Just one of them testified that they did 9,000 a year.”

She said the deals suffered from unexamined titles, undiscovered liens, loan rates being incorrectly reported and locked in, and attorneys unable to answer even basic questions about the closing or law.

“Real estate lawyers have been pushing this for years, because we’re the ones cleaning up the mess,” she said.

Perkins-Hooker said she ran into the problem first-hand when her mother-in-law was closing on a house.

A man showed up with seven closing packages he was handling that day, she said. “No notary, no witness. I told him, ‘You’re violating the law,’ and he said, ‘I’m a lawyer, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

“He was in gross violation of the law,” she said, adding that the closing went through only because she served as her mother-in-law’s attorney.

The cases are Clements v. LSI, No. 1:13-cv-01468, and Busbee v. Title Source Inc., No. 1:13-cv-01596.

City’s Iconic Buildings Face Wrecking Ball

May 11, 2013 By Bill Torpy – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Development fells historic structures. Preservationists sound alarm over city’s preservation law.

It was a hard, bleak winter for historic preservationists in Atlanta, a city already infamous for not saving the sign posts of its past.

In December, the McCord Apartments, a three-story building on Seventh Street designed in the 1920s by Atlanta neo-classicist architect Neel Reid was devoured by an excavation machine. A Youtube video shows the wrecker saving the building’s ornate doorway for last, just before delivering the coup de grace.

In February, the 1951 Gulf Oil Building, a sleek two-story building on Ponce de Leon Avenue designed by internationally known modernist architect I.M. Pei, disappeared to make way for apartments.

But what most alarmed local preservationists was a move early this year by the city to settle a lawsuit and allow the Georgia Tech Foundation to tear down most of the Crum & Forster building, built in 1926 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, after a nearly five-year battle to build a technology center.

Preservationists worry the city’s decision to allow the foundation to tear down most of a building designated by the city as a landmark sets a precedent that weakens the entire preservation ordinance and allows further destruction of historic structures.

“The Crum & Forster decision was devastating to the preservation community,” said Regina Brewer, a historic preservation consultant and former chair of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. “We lost it despite the fact that every single (city) board upheld the ordinance to keep that building intact. The Crum & Forster decision says you make all the laws you want but if the city doesn’t fight for it, then (the ordinance) doesn’t mean anything.” 

The recession, and Atlanta’s head-long rush to constantly rebuild itself, allowed preservationists time to take stock in remaining historic structures and reach out to property owners to see if they will work with the groups in preserving or donating their structures to the public for tax breaks. But with the real estate picture improving, the wreckers are back in force.

May is National Preservation Month and local groups are plotting ways to get out their message and slow the pace of destruction.

Impact overstated

Boyd Coons, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, said the
Crum & Forster decision was so detrimental that the group is considering putting the entire Atlanta preservation ordinance on the his organization’s “most endangered” listing, which is normally reserved for structures facing extinction.

“Crum & Forster was landmarked, which is the highest level of local preservation,” said Coons. “This puts into question every building.”

Simon Bloom, an attorney who represented Atlanta in the lawsuit filed against the city by the Tech foundation, noted the landmark designation came after the foundation started the process to demolish the building in 2008. In essence, he said, the rules of the game changed against the foundation.

Bloom said preservationists are overstating the effect of the consent decree, which allows the demolition of most of the building. The foundation has said it will retain the facade of the structure that stands at 771 Spring Street.

Asked if the case weakens the law, Bloom said, “Absolutely not. The preservation ordinance is completely intact.”

He said the case should spur a rallying cry: “If anything, it should create more of an imperative to move more quickly to designate buildings they want to protect. Don’t wait until someone takes action.”

Read the full story.
https://www.ajc.com/news/news/citys-iconic-buildings-face-wrecking-ball/nXnSW/

Simon Talks Trial Lawyering to a Boys & Girls Club Youth

Bloom to Speak About The Rules of Evidence – May 23, 2013

Simon Bloom will be speaking about Understanding Hearsay during The National Business Institute’s (NBI) Seminar, The Rules of Evidence. Continuously analyzing and applying the rules of evidence to cases can be an onerous task. The seminar offers attorneys the fundamental knowledge and practical skills to make the best use of evidence and testimony, including gathering and working with expert witness testimony, e-mail/ESI and the technicalities of hearsay. Specifically, attendees will:

  • Gain veteran tips on applying the rules of evidence at each stage of the litigation process, from discovery to trial.
  • Explore hearsay in depth and get a concrete understanding of what constitutes hearsay.
  • Find out what red flags to look for when handling email and other ESI.
  • Be prepared to argue relevance and get experts and evidence admitted (or excluded) in court.

Thursday, May 23, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

To register or for more information, click here.