Legal Practice Areas

Eminent Domain/Zoning  | Fairness in Marcellus Shale Dealings  | Non-Compete Agreements  |  |Fraud / Breach of Fiduciary Duty / Unfair Competition|Other Practice Areas

Eminent Domain/Zoning

Challenging the abuse of power.

Eminent domain and zoning today mean more than just valuing property or getting building permits.  Local boards and officials have long used these powers to extract expensive concessions from landowners and those wishing to make lawful use of existing facilities.  Municipalities demand improvements to streets, intersections and landscapes even beyond the boundaries of the property in question. They are also increasingly using these extraordinary government powers to serve private rather than public interests, and control the public’s access to specific businesses. Zoning is being used to end-run legal protections for politically unpopular businesses,  such as the First Amendment for adult uses and preemption laws for firearms-related businesses.  With the shale-gas boom, the threat of eminent domain has been used to intimidate landowners into entering into contracts allowing gas and oil development on their land.

Under the rubric of “economic development,” municipalities are taking homes, farms and small businesses – the cores of people’s lives – and transferring them to large, private developers.  These perversions of the power to regulate land use implicates important civil rights, beyond merely the right to be paid for condemned property.

In addition to litigating zoning issues and valuation proceedings, we have challenged these abuses to assure our clients are not required to surrender property other than as required under the Eminent Domain Code, and that they obtain full value for their land.

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Fair Dealing in Obtaining Oil and Gas Rights

Were you cheated out of your gas and oil rights?

When it was discovered the removal of natural gas and hydrocarbon liquids from the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale layers was commercially viable, it touched off something of a “gold rush.” Of course, companies in the oil and gas industry became aware of the commercial value of gas rights at the levels of Marcellus and Utica share had value long before landowners. This prompted many representatives of gas companies to exploit their superior knowledge to obtain rights to the gas at a small fraction of their true value.

So what’s wrong with that?  It depends.

Having superior knowledge in a business transaction does not oblige the person with more information to disclose what he knows. However, where one possessed of superior knowledge misrepresents the situation it may be possible for a landowner to rescind the resulting agreement and either renegotiate the contract or deal with someone else.  We have assisted landowners in getting a fair deal when then have initially been lied to be the “land man.”

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Non-Compete Agreements

Balancing Protection of Investment with Job Mobility

“Non-compete” agreements and confidentiality agreements serve a legitimate function.  They protect the investment an employer may make in an individual.  Quite often, however, employers want to “over draft” their restrictive covenants. They attempt to impose restrictions which serve no legitimate protective function, and serve only to interfere with a departing employee’s ability to make a living in his and her chosen field.

While this is obviously bad for the employee, it is also bad for the employer.  Such overreaching by employers will often lead to the invalidation of the entire restriction, causing the employer to lose even that protection to which he would otherwise be entitled.

We help employers and employees find the right balance.

Watch Peter talk about he can help you with your Right to Work:

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Fraud — Breach of Fiduciary Duty — Unfair Competition

Betrayal of trust in business can have particularly dire personal and financial consequences. For this reason, there are especially powerful remedies in the law to deal with those who would intentionally deceive their business partners.

Of course, those who engage in these practices tend to be good at covering their tracks and, when exposed, hiding their assets.

We are practiced in dealing with fraud and other breaches of trust. We can invoke a wide range of remedies and solutions to assist clients victimized by dishonest vendors, real estate and home improvement cheats, oppressive majority shareholders, and self-dealing attorneys and agents. We know how to control economic damage, dig out the evidence to prove what happened, and help our clients recover.

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Other Practice Areas

  • Contract Disputes
  • Wrongful Discharge/Termination
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Corporate Governance
  • Individual Tort / Personal Injury
  • Warranty Claims
  • Corporate Indemnification
  • Driver’s License Issues
  • Business/Corporate Disputes
  • Automobile Lemon Law Claims

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