News - Tag Archives: Charleston business law attorneys

Low Natural Gas Prices

The recent spike in natural gas prices may have helped numerous drilling companies avoid disaster. Often, natural gas companies involved in drilling in the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia lease mineral rights from landowners and sign contracts to provide natural gas to third parties. When natural gas prices are low, drilling companies may have difficulty seeing profit due to price suppression. Yet those companies may feel compelled to continue drilling and supplying natural gas based on their obligations under the contract.

Prophylactic Avoidance of Low Price Drilling

As mentioned, suppressed natural gas prices can damage the profitability of gas companies. Based on the economic law of supply and demand, natural gas prices will likely remain low for the foreseeable future. In January of 2016, the Washington Times reported that a single natural gas well in Ohio County, West Virginia produced enough natural gas to power over 24,000 homes in 2014. With the substantial amount of natural gas drilling along the Marcellus Shale, natural gas prices are likely to stay low.

A gas company seeking to avoid the risk of drilling for natural gas when it is not profitable may want to negotiate a price clause in the contract. That is, the company should stipulate that it will only drill if the market price stays above a set price. This would assure the gas company that it does not have to deliver natural gas when prices are too low, per a stipulation in the agreement.

Similarly, a gas company may want to condition delivery of natural gas upon a pipeline. Currently, in most instances in West Virginia, there is no widespread pipeline system that carries natural gas from the well to a refinery. Instead, after extraction from the ground, the people working the field load the natural gas into a tanker truck, which transports the natural gas to a refinery. If, instead of a tanker, a pipeline existed, the gas company extracting the natural gas would be able to cut out the tanker truck. By conditioning delivery on a pipeline when drilling is not profitable, a gas company would be able to prophylactically avoid this issue.

Contract Law

U.S. contract law provides for certain “defenses” when a party does not or cannot fulfill its obligation under a contract. Note that negotiating a bad deal does not remove one’s obligation under a contract.

One such defense to a contract is indefinite. This means that a court might find a contract to be unenforceable if that contract has an indefinite time frame. The argument is that a party can claim that the contract was not finalized as evidenced by at its lack of definitiveness. If a gas company has an indefinite term to provide a third party with, then this may be a good argument. The gas company would probably need to point to other contracts in the industry and the area. If those contracts do have a definitive nature then the indefinite defense may be compelling.

If you are in the natural gas business in West Virginia and have questions regarding certain contract requirements, contact the law firm of Hendrickson & Long, oil and gas defense specialists.

Hendrickson & Long pledges $25K to WVU Law School scholarship fund

More West Virginia University College of Law students will benefit from scholarship funding thanks to the generosity of two Charleston, W.Va., attorneys.

Lawyers David Hendrickson and Scott Long have pledged $25,000 to the College of Law Class of 1982 and 1983 Scholarship. Hendrickson is a 1982 graduate; Long earned his degree in 1983. They are partners in the law firm of Hendrickson and Long PLLC. Both made the gift in hopes of inspiring more giving to the WVU College of Law.

Hendrickson has provided support to the WVU Alumni Association, WVU Athletics and WVU School of Nursing in recent years, but now is eager to make a contribution to benefit WVU law students.

“Our firm is pleased to be able to help insure the ability of future WVUstudents to complete their law degrees,” Hendrickson said. “We hope this matching grant will encourage the law school classes of 1982 and 1983 to contribute to the same cause.”

This gift from Hendrickson and Long has been made to the fund formerly known as the College of Law Class of 1982 Scholarship. Alumni Charles “Chuck” Bailey of Bailey and Wyant Law Firm and Andy Richardson of Healthsmart Casualty Claims Solutions played an integral role in establishing the scholarship in 2002. The two have agreed to change the name to include 1983, the year of Long’s graduation from the WVU College of Law.

“The Class of 1982 is pleased to partner with the Class of 1983 to increase scholarship opportunities,” Bailey said. “The Class of 1982 long recognized the value of the education we received and wanted to share with others. The combination of the two classes will make our vision even more viable.”

The fund originally was established with a gift of $30,000. The new donors and Jennie
James, WVU College of Law assistant dean for development, hope the $25,000 gift will be matched by more alumni and friends to bring the total to over $75,000.

Hendrickson and Long PLLC was formed in July of 1994 in Charleston, W.Va. Attorneys of the firm have served as national counsel to Fortune 100 companies in industry-wide litigation and serve a broad range of clients, large and small, on a national, regional and local basis.

This gift from Hendrickson and Long was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

Court Decision Marks Important Change in Employment Law in West Virginia

The area of employment law is vast, and is often complicated and drawn out. As a result, lawyers who regularly practice in this field of law try to take advantage of every available nuance and piece of legal information at their disposal in order to benefit their clients, and make litigating an employment claim a smoother process for everyone involved.

Previously, some attorneys tried to achieve this by counseling their clients to include an arbitration clause in many of their agreements. While this advice was undoubtedly well-intended, there was a question about how it would play out as a practical matter in the West Virginia court system. As a recent article published by Legal Newsline reports, a number of decisions made by the West Virginia Supreme Court as of late will likely give new meaning to arbitration clauses.

Court Decisions

According to the article mentioned above, recent decisions by the West Virginia Supreme reflect the idea that, if an arbitration clause is carefully drafted within an agreement that otherwise complies with case law on the subject, courts are more likely to enforce the arbitration clause than they did previously. As a rule, parties must meet basic principles of contract law in drawing up the agreement, which generally include offer, acceptance, consideration, and performance.

The West Virginia Supreme Court took a position against plaintiffs in three separate cases since November 2013, ruling in favor of enforcing arbitration agreements in each case. In one case, the Court decided that, if a plaintiff assented to arbitration when she read an employee handbook that outlined the parameters of an internal dispute resolution program, and signed an acknowledgment form, the plaintiff was bound to the contract’s terms. In another case concerning a residential mortgage loan, the Court upheld an arbitration agreement signed prior to the enactment of a law which would have prevented it. In the third case, the Court upheld the terms of a contract where employees were offered participation in a short-term incentive program if they signed arbitration agreements.

Some legal authorities are saying these cases are an important change in West Virginia employment law, since the Court declined to enforce arbitration agreements in similar situations for the last several years. In light of these decisions, some speculate that many more attorneys will counsel their clients to accept arbitration agreements. When properly executed and enforced, such agreements will greatly benefit employers as a cheaper and more efficient process than taking their claims through the courts. In addition, it provides a benefit to employees in avoiding potentially expensive legal fees.

Employment Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is fighting an employment claim, or is simply looking for advice in this area of law, contact the experienced attorneys at Hendrickson & Long, PLLC today to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. Our office is located in Charleston, West Virginia.

Common Defenses to Foreclosure

With the current state of the economy, many homeowners are facing financial hardships, including the possibility that banks will foreclose on their homes. For those wishing to dispute the foreclosure and stay in their homes, consider hiring an attorney experienced in foreclosure defense. While the best strategy will vary on a case-by-case basis, some foreclosure defenses are used more frequently than others. The following are some common defenses raised in a foreclosure proceeding:

Lack of consideration. As with all contracts, mortgage contracts require consideration to be valid. If one can establish the deal lacked consideration, a borrower may be entitled to damages. If no funding was advanced in connection with the loan, the mortgage is invalid.

Failure to comply with notice provisions. Borrowers must receive written notice of noncompliance prior to the bank initiating a foreclosure. If no notice is given, the action could be dismissed.

Failure to comply with release provisions. This occurs when the lender fails to remove a mortgage lien from the property, despite an obligation to do so. This situation is common in construction loans that involve the sale of parcels or units.

Fraud. If a mortgage is procured by fraud, it is subject to cancellation. The borrower may either affirm the contract and claim money damages, or else rescind the contract.

Waiver of right of privilege. If, in the past, the lender acquiesced to a borrower’s failure to comply with a contract term, they might have forfeited their right to pursue a later claim for the same violation.

Statute of limitations. Foreclosure actions must commence within the applicable time frame allowed by law in West Virginia.

Unclean hands doctrine. If the lender is engaged in illegal or fraudulent conduct, a court may reverse or dismiss a foreclosure action, even if the borrower violated the contract’s terms.

Tender of payment. In some cases, if a borrower makes a timely and proper payment, they can satisfy their obligation to the mortgage holder. Depending on the stage of the foreclosure process, the payment may be a single mortgage payment, all past due payments, or the entire obligation.

Equitable defenses. This involves applying general principles of equity when dictated by justice or good conscience.

Foreclosure Defense Attorney

The attorneys at Hendrickson & Long PLLC are experienced in defending foreclosure matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Our office is located in Charleston, West Virginia.

Expert Employment Defense

At Hendrickson and Long PLLC, our firm defends West Virginia employers against charges of unlawful discrimination in the workplace. An employer’s discretion involving many aspects of managerial tasks is regulated by both state and federal law.

Certain Federal and West Virginia laws act to limit the basis for an employer’s decision. These statutes create protected classes of employees including characteristics like color, race, national origin, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, age or genetic trait. Additionally, some employment discrimination laws create protected activities including whistleblower shelters for filing claims or making reports. These legal shelters can give rise to retaliation claims should an employee experience an adverse employment action after engaging in a protected activity.

With decades of experience, our firm has established a sophisticated understanding of how to litigate allegations of discrimination and efficiently resolve disputes. Our team of experienced attorneys will act fast to promptly investigate the merits of any employment claim, and, should there be any, use well tested methods to ensure your business’s financial exposure is minimized.

Defense for Discrimination Claims Brought Under Federal Law

A series of statutes serve to create the layout of Federal Discrimination Laws. Hendrickson and Long PLLC offers scholarly counsel regarding any claim brought under any statute. Among them are:

        -Title VII of the Civil Rights Act;

        -The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);

        -The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA);

        -Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; and

        -The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Proper Preparation Can Be the Best Defense

Written workplace policies should be created consistent with existing laws and applied fairly across the board to prevent allegations of discrimination. Up-to-date legal advice is vital to designing proper hiring, discipline, promotion, and termination procedures that comport with the law. Additionally, workplace sexual harassment policies should be written and distributed to employees to avoid hostile work environment claims. Our firm offers expert advice on designing and implementing new policies, and will evaluate policies already in use.

Discrimination Claims and Defenses

Many different varieties of claims can be brought by employees, each with their own unique legal considerations and evidentiary burdens. Among the most often seen are disparate treatment, disparate impact, retaliation, and sexual harassment claims.

In response to such claims there are several legal defenses, besides demonstrating that the allegations are false, that are available to employers. These defenses include an expiration of the statute of limitations, poor work performance, failure to meet notification requirements, and bona fide occupational qualifications.

Employment discrimination law is a complicated sector of American jurisprudence. It takes a certain level of aggression and familiarity with the law to properly bring complaints to a satisfactory conclusion.

Hendrickson and Long PLLC represents companies of all sizes in state and federal court. We offer direction on compliance with the law and defend against any claims should they be brought despite your most conscientious efforts. Rely on our decades in business to guide you. Don’t hesitate to contact us at our Charleston office at 304-346-5500 and let us know how we can serve your legal needs.

Mine Regulation in West Virginia

The West Virginia economy was built on industry, and to this day mining remains a cornerstone of our way of life. In fact, West Virginia is coal mining country. Only Wyoming produces more coal per year than we do.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, coal was first discovered in the Mountain State 1742 in Boone County, forever changing the course of our history and the history of industry in the United States. Today over 30,000 West Virginians are directly employed in the coal mining in what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Along with big business comes regulation. With the goal of creating a safe working environment, federal laws were passed creating guidelines for best practices in the mining sector. Often well intentioned, mechanisms used to regulate industry can also be used for fraud by unscrupulous people.

In order to protect against false and frivolous claims, or claims that are unsubstantiated or inflated, effective and experienced legal counsel is available to evaluate the circumstances, provide advice, and to litigate if necessary.

Counsel seasoned and knowledgeable to the needs of the mining industry is a required tool in the contemporary business climate. A firm with years of experience investigating and litigating claims that raise red flags is a must have when even a fictitious injury allegation can cause reputational damage in the media. However, even if the threat of false claims didn’t exist, the regulatory landscape is a jungle in and of itself.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration

The MSHA was created by the Federal Mine Safety Act of 1977, and is the agency charged with enforcing health and safety laws within the mining industry. To further its mandate, the MSHA has authority to regulate and inspect both surface and underground mines. Beyond the administrative tasks required of mining companies to be compliant in their industry, companies also must be aware of the steep financial penalties for violations and potential criminal penalties for knowing and willful code violations.

Adding to this complicated regulatory scheme, Congress has recently passed more legislation increasing the administrative burden on mining companies. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (or MINER Act)  was passed in 2006. Besides increasing civil fines,  this new law created an affirmative duty to design emergency response contingencies and has provisions dealing with sealing abandoned areas and rescue teams.

State Regulations

West Virginia has its own series of regulations, further augmenting the requirements that the modern mining operation must be aware of and adhere to. Permitting and certification laws are yet another challenge to meet for the law abiding business person.

Rely On Our Firm to Protect Your Best Interests

Hendrickson and Long PLLC represents companies of all sizes and guides them to be compliant with regulation and to defend against specious injury claims. We’ve been around for decades and have established a well deserved name as advocates who will fight tooth and nail for our clients both before, during, and after trial. Don’t hesitate to contact us at our Charleston office at 304-346-5500 and let us know how we can serve your legal needs.