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How to Respond to a Third-Party Subpoena for Documents

In litigation, a party will often use a third-party subpoena to obtain documents from individuals, businesses, or other entities that are not parties to the lawsuit. Many individuals and businesses have received a third-party subpoena and wondered whether they should respond, how to respond, what, if any concerns they should have, and what, if any, precautions they should take. The following guidelines and steps explain how to approach responding to a third-party subpoena for documents, and highlight issues you should consider when responding. (In a future article, I will address some additional considerations for responding to a third-party subpoena for testimony.) 1. Initial Steps to Take When You are Served with a Third-Party Subpoena for Documents When you are served with a third-party subpoena for documents, there are several critical steps you should take to ensure you will comply with the subpoena and its corresponding requirements. a. Consider Engaging an Attorney If you are a business and do not have an in-house legal department, or if you are an individual and do not have an attorney, you should consider engaging an attorney. An attorney will help guide you through the process, including many of the items and steps in this article. For instance, an attorney would be helpful if the subpoena requests a large number of documents. An attorney will also help you understand whether you have any legal exposure you should worry about. It is not uncommon for a party in litigation to use the subpoena process to obtain information regarding a non-party for purposes of determining whether it should file a lawsuit against that non-party. There is...

How to Navigate the New Hampshire Tax Abatement Process

New Hampshire’s heavy reliance on property taxes – which are among the highest in the United States – often produces significant tension with respect to the New Hampshire tax abatement process. Every year, residential and commercial property taxpayers file tax abatements in the hopes that they can reduce their property tax burdens. Not surprisingly, municipalities will typically find reasons to deny tax abatement applications or ignore them altogether. The New Hampshire tax abatement process is a very mechanical procedure with specific requirements and deadlines. It can be complex and confusing. These difficulties often dissuade many taxpayers from submitting a tax abatement application altogether. Those who do submit an abatement application without the assistance of an attorney often receive denials and do not know or understand the basis for the denial or how to address or challenge it. Taxpayers can, however, take advantage of this annual opportunity to reduce their tax burden. To do so, they must gain an understanding of how the New Hampshire tax abatement process works, how to determine if a property is over-assessed, how to address an over-assessment, and what to do if the municipality denies an abatement application.  The following information will hopefully simplify the New Hampshire tax abatement process and help taxpayers navigate its many twists and turns. Overview of the New Hampshire Tax Abatement Process Under New Hampshire law (RSA 76:16), municipalities may abate property taxes and interest accrued on such taxes “for good cause shown.” “Good cause” can be established by showing an error in the assessment value of the property, a disproportionate assessment, or other grounds (such as poverty or an inability...

5 Reasons A Business Should Sue A Former Employee Who Violates A Non-Compete Agreement

Many businesses require their employees to sign a non-compete agreement or covenant not to compete either upon their hiring or as a condition of continued employment.  A non-compete agreement generally places certain limitations or restrictions on a former employee’s ability to work for a competitor or to start a competing business following that employee’s departure from his or her former employer.  There are often specific guidelines on how these non-compete agreements must be presented to employees.  (In New Hampshire, for example, businesses must present their employees with the non-compete they are required to sign either with an initial job offer or an offer of a change in job classification.) When an employee leaves his or her employer and takes a job with a competitor in violation of his or her non-compete agreement, a business often believes it has a difficult decision to make: sue the former employee and spend money on attorney’s fees, or save the money and risk that the employee harms the business’s interests by working for a competitor. This choice, however, does not have to be perceived as a no-win situation. Rather, a business should use these situations as opportunities to protect its interests and bottom line.  Although it may sound harsh to sue an individual who is merely looking for a job, or seek a temporary restraining order or injunction preventing that person from working for a competitor, the reality is that today’s market is a competitive, cutthroat environment.  A competing business will look for every advantage possible, including poaching an employee whose talent will strengthen its performance and whose absence might weaken his or her former...

New Rules Modernize New Hampshire Civil Procedure

New Hampshire’s Proportional and Automatic Discovery Rules (the “NH PAD Rules”) went into effect for civil and equity cases on March 1, 2013. The NH PAD Rules have been in effect as a pilot program in Carroll and Strafford counties since October 1, 2010, and in Hillsborough County since October 1, 2012. The following summarizes the most significant changes to New Hampshire civil procedure from these new rules. If you are involved in litigation in New Hampshire, you and your attorney should be aware of these rules and the strict requirements they impose. Brief Overview of the NH PAD Rules All New Hampshire Superior Court rules that do not directly contradict the NH PAD rules will remain in effect. The Superior Court rules that do contradict the NH PAD rules will eventually be amended. Some are exempt from the NH PAD rules, including notice of bond claims, petitions for the return of property, petitions to confirm an arbitration award, zoning board appeals, and planning board appeals. Exempt cases will continue to follow the traditional Superior Court Rules. A full list of exempt cases may be found here. The NH PAD Rules – The Biggest Changes The following is a list of the biggest changes imposed by the NH PAD Rules. 1) A Complaint, Not a Writ of Summons (NH PAD Rule 1) The NH PAD rules abolish the Writ of Summons and replace it with a complaint and answer consistent with the federal pleadings system. The complaint must set forth a “claim for relief,” including a statement of the material facts, a showing of entitlement to relief, and a demand for judgment for the type...