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Hearing Scheduled for June 9, 2020 in Lawsuit Against Governor Sununu Over Shutdown

Today, the Merrimack County Superior Court scheduled a hearing for June 9, 2020, at 11 a.m., on hair salon owner Mary Rivard’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order enjoining Governor Christopher T. Sununu’s Executive Order 2020-08 and Emergency Order #40, which extended New Hampshire’s state of emergency for a second 21-day period and extended the shutdown of “non-essential” businesses through May 31, 2020.  (This past Friday, May 15, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-09, which extended New Hampshire’s state of emergency a third time for another 21-day period, through June 5, 2020.  That Executive Order, and any future orders extending the state of emergency declaration will be made part of the June 9 hearing.)  The Honorable Richard B. McNamara neither granted nor denied Ms. Rivard’s request for a temporary restraining order but had requested a hearing be scheduled “at the Court’s early convenience.”  That hearing is now scheduled for June 9. In the first lawsuit filed in mid-March challenging the shutdown, the same Court denied a similar emergency request within 24 hours and then dismissed the case. Last week, we filed a lawsuit on Ms. Rivard’s behalf challenging Governor Sununu’s orders.  Like other lawsuits elsewhere in the country, we filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order requesting that the Court conclude Governor Sununu’s orders are void because he lacked the authority under the applicable statute to continue renewing New Hampshire’s “state of emergency.” Governor Sununu’s original shutdown orders in March 2020 were designed to “slow the spread” of the Coronavirus so New Hampshire’s healthcare system would not be overwhelmed.  Over a month later, there was no question New...

Court Orders Hearing Scheduled in Lawsuit Against Governor Sununu Over Shutdown

This morning, the Merrimack County Superior Court directed the clerk to schedule a hearing on hair salon owner Mary Rivard’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order enjoining Governor Christopher T. Sununu’s Executive Order 2020-08 and Emergency Order #40, which extended New Hampshire’s state of emergency for a second 21-day period and extended the shutdown of “non-essential” businesses through May 31, 2020.  Interestingly, the Honorable Richard B. McNamara neither granted nor denied the request for a temporary restraining order but requested a hearing be scheduled “at the Court’s early convenience.” In the first lawsuit filed in mid-March challenging the shutdown, the same Court denied a similar emergency request within 24 hours and then dismissed the case. This past Monday, we filed a lawsuit on Ms. Rivard’s behalf challenging Governor Sununu’s orders.  Like other lawsuits elsewhere in the country, we filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order requesting that the Court conclude Governor Sununu’s orders are void because he lacked the authority under the applicable statute to continue renewing New Hampshire’s “state of emergency.” Governor Sununu’s original shutdown orders in March 2020 were designed to “slow the spread” of the Coronavirus so New Hampshire’s healthcare system would not be overwhelmed.  Over a month later, there was no question New Hampshire’s hospitals had never reached capacity: in a press conference on April 29, 2020, Governor Sununu explained just 10% of the COVID-dedicated beds in New Hampshire’s hospitals were occupied (approximately 100 of 1,000 beds).  Indeed, we explained in Ms. Rivard’s Complaint that data from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services supported Governor Sununu’s statement and showed New Hampshire’s hospitalization rate...

Fojo Law Files Lawsuit Challenging Governor Sununu’s Shutdown Order, Requests Emergency Order Lifting Shutdown

Early this morning, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of hair salon owner Mary Rivard (of New London, New Hampshire) challenging Governor Christopher T. Sununu’s Executive Order 2020-08 and Emergency Order #40, which extended New Hampshire’s state of emergency until June 15, 2020, and extended the shutdown of “non-essential” businesses through May 31, 2020.  The lawsuit also includes an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order enjoining the Governor from enforcing these orders. Contact us for a FREE consultation! The principal argument underlying the lawsuit is that the purpose for, and supposed “emergency” underlying, Governor Sununu’s original shutdown orders in March 2020 was that New Hampshire needed to “slow the spread” of the Coronavirus so New Hampshire’s healthcare system would not be overwhelmed.  Over a month later, there was no question New Hampshire’s hospitals had never reached capacity: in a press conference on April 29, 2020, Governor Sununu explained just 10% of the COVID-dedicated beds in New Hampshire’s hospitals were occupied (approximately 100 of 1,000 beds).  Indeed, data from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services supported Governor Sununu’s statement and showed New Hampshire’s hospitalization rate was dropping.  Hospitals have also furloughed numerous employees.  In other words, New Hampshire’s curve had “flattened” and had never really spiked at all. Despite these facts, Governor Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-08 on April 24.  A “state of emergency” automatically terminates after 21 days.  A Governor may “renew” is if he or she finds it “necessary to protect the safety and welfare” of New Hampshire citizens.  Although New Hampshire’s curve was “flat,” Executive Order 2020-08 renewed the “state of emergency” a...

Federal Judge Denies Motion to Compel Arbitration Filed by New York Life in $14 Million Lawsuit By Former Agent

Last week, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire denied a motion to compel arbitration filed by New York Life (and two related companies) in a lawsuit filed by Ketler Bossé, a former soliciting agent and district agent for the company. The case will now proceed in court, and the parties will soon begin discovery. Factual Background Mr. Bossé engaged Fojo Law, P.L.L.C. and filed a Complaint in January 2019, asserting various federal and state employment-related claims against New York Life, including claims for discrimination and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, conspiracy to interfere with civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and breach of contract under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and various state law claims, including claims for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, wrongful termination, tortious interference with economic advantage, violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act (RSA 358-A), breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, conversion, defamation per quod, and defamation per se. Mr. Bossé alleged that, despite excelling as an agent for New York Life and the many accolades he earned during his 14-year affiliation with the company, New York Life terminated him because he is black and then defamed him and appropriated his clients. He alleged he is owed over $14 million in lost commissions, residual commissions, override commissions, and other compensation and expenses. The Parties’ Arguments New York Life filed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that, under an employment agreement Mr. Bossé signed in 2004 (which was then terminated in 2005), Mr. Bossé’s claims must be dismissed in favor of arbitration...

10 Things to Know About New Hampshire Defamation Law

New Hampshire defamation law can often be a confusing area to learn about and understand.  People say and write things about other people and topics on a daily basis without so much as thinking about the consequences of stating something that is false.  Despite the rapid flow of information online and in social media, people should often pause and reflect on what they intend to say or publish online to ensure it is fact-based or a true opinion.  To that end, the following list identifies and explains 10 things to know about defamation law in New Hampshire (and elsewhere). Contact us for a FREE consultation! 10 Things to Know About New Hampshire Defamation Law 1) What is Defamation? The term “defamation” refers to any statement that hurts someone’s reputation.  If the statement is in writing, it is known as “libel.”  Statements made on social media fall within this category.  If the statement is spoken, it is known as “slander.”  Defamation is considered a tort, which is a civil wrong.  A person about whom a defamatory statement is made may sue the person who made the statement. 2) How do you prove defamation? To prove defamation, you must demonstrate the following elements: (a) a statement was made; (b) the statement was false; (c) the statement was published to a third party; (d) the statement caused you to suffer damages; and (e) there is no privilege that excuses you from the defamation. Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail. 3) Statement It goes without saying that there must be an actual statement that was spoken or written, or otherwise...

How to Get an Annulment of a Criminal Record in New Hampshire

Many people leaving school and preparing to enter the work force worry about mistakes they made in their past – mistakes that left them with a criminal record – and they wonder how they can get an annulment of their criminal record in New Hampshire.  They worry about how to explain, in a job application or an interview, a misdemeanor for shoplifting, for example, from when they were in high school, or a drug possession charge from when they were in college.  The good news is that, in certain circumstances, you can annul (i.e., expunge, remove, erase) your criminal record.  The process is straightforward, but there are pitfalls you need to look out for and avoid, and you should always consult an attorney for guidance and assistance. Contact us for a FREE consultation! How Can You Annul Your Criminal Record In New Hampshire? To annul your criminal record in New Hampshire, you need to ask the court where you were convicted, or where the case was resolved or dismissed, to remove it.  Again, consult an attorney first!  After you have done that (and hopefully engaged an attorney), you must file a petition to annul your record and pay the filing fee.  That is how you get the process started. The petition is a basic form that the court provides you.  You will have to prepare one petition for each arrest or conviction you want annulled.  On each petition, you must list the case name, case number, your name and information, the arrest/conviction and statute number that corresponds to the crime for which you were arrested or convicted, and information...

6 Reasons Why a Limited Liability Company Needs an LLC Operating Agreement

Business owners often (rightfully) decide to form a limited liability company (LLC) through which to conduct their business. LLCs offer many advantages for business owners. However, while these individuals will file the necessary incorporating documents with the state to form their LLC, many of them forget to prepare a critical internal document: the LLC operating agreement. Many states do not require LLCs to prepare or file an operating agreement. (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Florida do not require operating agreements, but, for example, California and New York do.) Even if your state does not expressly require an LLC operating agreement, however, business owners should still consider preparing and executing one for several reasons. What is an LLC Operating Agreement? An LLC operating agreement is a contract between the members of an LLC. It sets forth specific terms and guidelines for the operation of the business, the distribution of profits and losses, the addition and withdrawal of members, how the business will be taxed, and other internal issues. 6 Reasons for an LLC Operating Agreement 1) Business Owners Can Avoid Disputes The greatest advantage of an LLC operating agreement is that it allows business owners to set clear expectations and guidelines for their business, and those expectations will help them avoid disputes. Partnership disputes can be nasty, exhausting, and cost a business and its owners a lot of time and money. The benefits that follow, below, all help business owners outline, in as much detail as they want, how they will conduct themselves and their business. The best operating agreements leave no stone unturned and contain few, if any, areas of ambiguity....

5 Things Businesses Should Know About Their Legal Duty to Preserve Documents

Many businesses have policies and practices in place for preserving documents and information. After all, it is good to err on the side of caution and retain important documents, records, and other information. Given the amount of information that is generated today, however, preserving every bit of it indefinitely is impractical. Thus, businesses often implement document retention policies, whereby after a certain period of time, certain categories of documents are destroyed. There are circumstances, however, when a business has a legal duty to preserve documents and other information because it might be relevant to a lawsuit. The actual preservation of information for this purpose is called a “litigation hold” or “legal hold.” What is a Litigation/Legal Hold? A litigation hold, or legal hold, is a process used by a business to preserve forms of relevant information when litigation (a lawsuit or arbitration) is reasonably anticipated or has already commenced. Usually, a business’s attorney will initiate the legal hold with a notice or communication to the business that requests the suspension of the business’s normal document retention or disposition policy as to documents that are potentially relevant to the lawsuit at issue, or otherwise requests that the business stop disposing of such documents. A business will then communicate the same information to relevant employees. Must a Litigation/Legal Hold Be Communicated in Writing? Yes. A business should always ensure the legal hold process is communicated to its employees in writing. Likewise, an attorney should communicate the same to the business in writing. This ensures a business can prove it satisfied its legal obligation to preserve information. Why Does a Business Need...

7 Ways a Lawyer Can Help Your Business

Businesses and people often treat lawyers like plumbers or firemen: you only call when there is a problem. This is an understandable reality: Whether you are starting a business or operating a business on a day-to-day basis, many other tasks require attention (and money), like marketing, sales, staffing, and other administrative matters. The last thing a business owner often wants to think about is a lawyer. Smart business planning, however, should include calling and using a lawyer to prevent problems. A lawyer can help a business protect itself from a variety of problems (like partnership disputes and lawsuits). Businesses often do not realize that spending a little time, effort, and money on an attorney to identify and resolve potential problems could save that business numerous headaches (and a lot of money) down the road. Here are 7 ways a lawyer can help a business protect itself from trouble. 7 Ways a Lawyer Can Help Your Business 1) Incorporation Individuals often incorporate and start their businesses themselves without the assistance of an attorney. While that may be fine for a simple business (such as a single-owner LLC), it may not be ideal for a business that has multiple owners or transacts business across state lines. In these situations, a lawyer can help a business owner choose the right corporate structure (LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp), choose where to incorporate (in your home state or in Delaware), understand whether by-laws or other documents are needed, and – for multi-owner companies – understand the need for an operating or partnership agreement. Generally, the more complicated the business, the more likely an attorney should be...

9 Ways Businesses Can Ensure Their Non-Compete Agreements Are Enforceable

A non-compete agreement is an effective way for a business to protect its intellectual property, client information, and other confidential information. It generally restricts an 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. For a non-compete agreement to be effective and serve its purpose, however, it must be enforceable. These agreements are generally governed by state law. In New Hampshire, the law that applies to non-compete agreements has evolved over time. Certain types of employer-friendly agreements (and the restrictions they contain) used to be enforceable in New Hampshire. But over the past 10-15 years, the law has trended in the other direction and become more employee-friendly. This does not mean, however, that businesses cannot continue to protect their interests. They can certainly do so. They just have to ensure that they take certain steps to craft a non-compete agreement that adheres to recent trends. Below, I identify and explain 9 ways businesses can ensure their non-compete agreements are enforceable. 9 Ways Businesses Can Ensure Their Non-Compete Agreements Are Enforceable 1) The Non-Compete Agreement Should Generally Restrict the Employee From Soliciting Current Clients, Not Prospective Clients New Hampshire courts generally disfavor non-compete agreements because they restrain free trade and markets. However, they will enforce these agreements if they protect a “recognized legitimate employer interest.” Courts have found that a legitimate interest that businesses may protect is their current client base. This makes sense because businesses should be able to prevent employees from taking advantage of the goodwill and relationships they develop with customers and clients....