Category: Publication

RON CROSS – BBKCC ATTORNEY TO LEAD INDIANA MUNICIPAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

At its annual meeting held June 21, 2018, in Noblesville, Indiana, BBKCC partner Ron Cross was elected by the Board of Directors of the Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association (“IMLA”) to serve as president of the IMLA for its 2018-2019 fiscal year. Ron is currently serving a second three-year term on the IMLA Board of Directors. The IMLA is an association of approximately three hundred fifty (350) Indiana attorneys whose practices entail to a significant degree the representation of Indiana cities, towns, counties or other such public bodies. Should you require consultation regarding legal issues facing such a public entity, please call Ron or any of the other members of the BBKCC municipal law group, Bob Bever, AJ Sickmann, Adam Forrest and Walt Chidester.

 

Bob Bever named into organization of “Lawyers of Distinction”.

Congratulations to Bob Bever with being named into the organization of  “Lawyers of Distinction”, a group that honors the top 10% of attorneys around the nation in their respective fields.  Bob’s honor fields are “Corporate law and Transactions”.

Member

Robert BeverCorporate and Transactional Law www.bbkcc.com

Robert L. (Bob) Bever is a partner with Boston Bever Klinge Cross & Chidester; is a 1975 graduate of DePauw University with distinction and a 1978 Graduate of Indiana University Law School, Indianapolis, Magna Cum Laude. His practice centers on business and commercial transactions; estate planning and administration; banking and municipal law. Clients include numerous local businesses (being involved in numerous multimillion dollar transactions), banks, civic organizations, and he represents BSN Sports, LLC, nationally in its business acquisitions around the nation. He also served as Richmond City Attorney from 1995 – 2003. Honors include being inducted into the Eastern Indiana Business Hall of Fame in 2016; being inducted into Whos Who in American Law; and is the recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Governor of Indiana. He has also served as President of the local Chamber of Commerce and as Chair of the local Republican party.

Welcome our new Associate Attorney, Michelle N. Kelly

Michelle was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio.  She attended the University of Cincinnati, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering Technology.  While at the University of Cincinnati, Michelle was active in the cooperative education program designing homes.  While designing homes, she encounter a lawsuit with a contractor and realized she could help people more in a legal capacity.  This passion for helping people led her to attend Valparaiso University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor degree.  During her time in law school, Michelle was an active member of the Moot Court Honors Society.  During her time with Moot Court, Michelle served as both Associate Justice of Finance and a coach for competing teams.  She was awarded best brief at the Luther M. Swygert Moot Court Competition and placed third in the country in the Sutherland Cup Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.  Michelle also holds a Masters in Business Administration from Valparaiso University.  She is a general practitioner with a majority of her practice focusing on the areas of civil litigation, family law, personal injury, estate planning, and real estate.  Michelle is a member of the Indiana Bar Association, the Wayne County Bar Association, and the National Association of Women Lawyers. 

 

BBKCC PARTNER THANKED FOR OVER FORTY YEARS OF SERVICE TO CLIENT

BBKCC partner attorney Ron Cross is pictured above as he is presented a plaque from Ms. Dixie Robinson, president of the Richmond Community Schools Board of School Trustees. The surprise recognition commemorated Ron’s more than forty (40) consecutive years of service as chief legal counsel to Richmond Community Schools. Ron began his representation of RCS in 1977 while then affiliated with the former Richmond law firm of Reller, Mendenhall, Kleinknecht & Milligan. Over the next forty years Ron estimates that he has attended more than 1,500 school board meetings and worked with more than 12 different superintendents. Ron’s representation includes almost all areas of law that impact public education from labor and employment law to aspects of regulatory compliance. For more than 12 years Ron served as the chief negotiator on the RCS collective bargaining team that negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the RCS teachers’ association. Ron continues to represent RCS and other school corporations in the Wayne County area. The attorneys at BBKCC are chief counsel for several school corporations in the greater Richmond/Wayne County area. Please contact them if you have any legal needs related to public education.

City of Richmond to Start 2017 with new attorney

City of Richmond to start 2017 with new attorney, Andrew J. Sickmann.

Rachel E. Sheeley , rsheeley@richmond.gannett.com 5:08 a.m. EST December 11, 2016

Walt Chidester – After 13 years as the City of Richmond’s attorney, Walter “Walt” Chidester is stepping down from the role.
His successor, hired at the Dec. 8 at the Board of Works and Public Safety meeting, will be Andrew J. “A.J.” Sickmann. Sickmann will begin his term as city attorney on Jan. 1.
Chidester and Sickmann are both members of the Richmond law firm, Boston Bever Klinge Cross & Chidester.
“Walt is sort of an icon figure of city government,” said Mayor Dave Snow. “We have been preparing for this for a while.”
Chidester will remain associated with the city, working with the Sanitary District. He also will continue his private practice. However, Chidester and his wife are planning to spend more time with their grandchildren and to do more traveling.
Chidester became city attorney under Democrat Mayor Sally Hutton and served with her during her three terms. When Hutton died in April, Chidester was one of those who eulogized her.
Snow, a Democrat who succeeded Hutton, asked Chidester to remain with the city one more year to ease the transition.
“My job has been made easier over the years by being surrounded by good people,” Chidester told the board of works.
Chidester expects the city to be well served by Sickmann.
“I’m exited, humbled, to serve the city I care so much about,” Sickmann said. “I will do my absolute level best.”
“I think A.J. is going to do a fantastic job,” Snow said.
Sickman is being hired by the city for a salary not to exceed $43,636, to be paid in monthly installments of $3,636.
A 2004 Richmond High School graduate, Sickmann graduated in 2008 from Ball State University and in 2011 from Valparaiso University School of Law. While attending law school, Sickmann worked as a summer associate for Boston Bever Klinge Cross & Chidester, which he joined after passing the bar exam.
Sickmann’s practice primarily includes family, municipal, commercial and criminal law. He has served as attorney for the towns of Milton and Spring Grove, and also as assistant attorney for Wayne County government.
He is licensed to practice law in Indiana, and in the U.S. District Court in both the Southern and Northern Districts of Indiana.
Sickmann is the president of the Wayne County Historical Museum board and vice president of the Whitewater Valley Pro Bono Commission. In 2014, Sickmann was honored with the annual Pro Bono Award for handling dozens of pro bono cases throughout the year. He also serves on the board of Communities in Schools for Wayne County.
Chidester is a graduate of Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, and received his law degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He began his law practice with Legal Services Organization of Indiana Inc. and was the managing attorney of the Whitewater Valley Office of Legal Services. He joined the law firm of Reller, Mendenhall, Kleinknecht & Milligan in 1981 and remained there until the formation of the law firm of Boston Bever Klinge Cross & Chidester in 1998.
In addition to serving as the city attorney since 2004, Chidester was attorney for the Wayne County Welfare Department for 10 years and served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.


 

Your Home is Your Castle–But Who is Tending the Drawbridge?

As I write this article, there is almost a foot of snow on the ground. The groundhog has seen his shadow. Cabin Fever is at epidemic levels in the area and we are all counting the days until spring. This is hardly the season to think about home remodeling. However, one good thing about Cabin Fever is that it forces all of us to take a good close look at the cabin. If significant home improvements are in your immediate plans, then this article is intended for you! Perhaps you just plan a spring makeover of a room or two in your home. Perhaps you are at a “transition point” in your life. The children are gone leaving you with the proverbial “empty nest” and the on-going burdens of nest maintenance. Maybe it’s time to sell the place, but before you do, you know that some major work is needed. Whatever your situation or motives, if you are considering significant home improvements, the issues raised in this article should help you avoid becoming a victim of the ever increasing phenomenon known as “Home Improvement Fraud”.

We have all heard that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” and that is certainly true in the context of planning and contracting for home improvements. A few simple suggestions, if followed at the early stages of a project, can save considerable heartache (and dollars) in the end. Consider the following points:

1.   Don’t overdo it! If your goal is to realize the most bang for your buck by improving your present home before selling it in the near term, then it is imperative that your planned improvements make economic sense. The addition of a new bath may be very cost-effective whereas other improvements may not yield a short-term return on the investment. It is always a good idea to check with a real estate professional (a sales agent, broker or appraiser) during the planning stages of a project to make sure that your intended improvements will make both dollars and sense.

2.   Do your homework! Once you have identified the scope of your project, then the most important part is the selection of a contractor to do the work. Here is where a little time invested on your part can save a lot of later hand wringing and gnashing of teeth. Get bids from several contractors, but don’t necessarily go with the lowest bidder before checking the references on that company or person – and don’t just accept the references that a contractor freely offers. Few contractors would give the name of a dissatisfied customer. Ask about recent work activity. Where was the company yesterday? Last week? Last month? Get the names of the owners of those projects and call them! Ask if they are satisfied with the job. Are costs estimates followed? Are timelines met?

Does the contractor devote on-going attention to the job? A slow job or one that comes in over estimated costs can be the result of an inexperienced contractor, or – worse yet – one that is over-extended or over-committed with other work. Don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Most reputable building contractors in our area are true artisans who are proud of their work. They will gladly share it with you.

3.   Know your rights! This point is critical. If you are generally knowledgeable of what rights the law affords you as a home improvement consumer, you will be in a better position to enforce those rights and avoid becoming a victim of home improvement fraud. Unfortunately, when you discover your rights after they have been violated, then you may find yourself dealing with the proverbial “pound of cure” that can be both expensive and ineffectual in producing positive results for you.

Indiana’s law on the subject of home improvements is generally divided into two distinct areas – (i) civil law and (ii) criminal law. Each area has a potentially different impact on you, the consumer.

As the name implies, the criminal statutes define certain offenses that have been criminalized in the home improvement arena. Those offenses are the typical ones that we normally associate with home improvement fraud. They include gross over-charging (a contract price that is at least four times the fair market value of the work that is done), misrepresentation of either the provisions of the home improvement contract or of the existing or pre-existing conditions of the property involved, false promises of performance or product performance that the home improvement supplier knows are false (such as misrepresenting the heat retention factor of insulation or quoting an unreasonably short “payback” projection for anticipated savings in utility expenses, etc.), or other acts that one would normally think of as fraudulent (such as using a false or fictitious name that is not duly registered to conceal the true identity of the supplier). The offenses range from Class A misdemeanors to Class C felonies, depending upon, among other things, the dollar value of the fraudulent contract. Since seniors have been particularly victimized by such scams, the offenses (and hence the potential punishments) are greater if the victim is sixty years of age or older.

As with any criminal prosecution, the initiating party must be the state of Indiana. Frequently, as part of the “plea bargaining” process, the prosecutor will attempt to obtain financial restitution for the defendant’s victims, but there is no guarantee that any perpetrator of such fraudulent schemes will have the financial resources to make such restitution. My own experience in representing clients in matters such as these is that the prosecutors are sometimes reluctant to initiate actions in the first instance because of the existence of the civil remedies that will be discussed below.

The second area of protection that has been legislatively afforded consumers is in the civil arena. Indiana has adopted a section of its Deceptive Practices Act that applies to home improvement contracts. A few of the act’s major provisions are:

  •  It applies to all consumers who own or lease residential property.
  • It applies to any home improvement contract having a price greater than $150.
  • It requires that the supplier of the home improvement contract provide the consumer with a fully completed written agreement, BEFORE signing by the consumer that includes, among other things, (i)  the name of the improvement supplier, its address and phone number and the names of any agents of the supplier to whom inquiries can be directed, (ii) a detailed description of the work to be done and, if specifications are not included as a part of the contract, a statement that the specifications for the work will be provided to the consumer before commencing the work, (iii) the approximate starting and completion dates for the project, (iv) a statement of any contingencies that would materially change the approximate completion date, (v) and the home improvement contract price. Finally, the contract must be in a form that is easily read and understood by the consumer.

A completely executed copy of the contract must be given to the consumer immediately after the consumer signs the document. Failure of the supplier to comply with those procedural requirements constitutes a violation of the act. Additionally, other parts of the Deceptive Practices Act define violations to include exceeding a cost estimate for the project by more than ten percent without first having obtained the approval of the consumer to the additional cost (and provided that the total cost for materials and services exceeded $750.00).

A person who has been the victim of a deceptive practice may recover the actual damages that were suffered plus reasonable attorneys fees. In this regard it is important to understand that, as the client, you will still be expected to pay your attorney from your own funds. However, any judgment for attorneys fees that the court might enter and that might ultimately be collected would go to reimburse you for those attorneys fees. Finally, if the victim is sixty-five years of age, or older, a court may order the recovery of three times the actual damages suffered in the case of a deceptive practice.

While all of that may sound comforting, the reality is that litigation in the area of home improvement contract law can be quite expensive, time consuming and very frustrating. The recommended “ounce of prevention” will always be preferable to the pounds of legal cure that are afforded under these laws. However, it is important to understand and exercise your rights should, despite your best efforts, you become a victim of home improvement fraud. After all, it is your castle!

The opinions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not intended to constitute legal advice as to any particular person or situation. The laws cited in this article contain both substantive and procedural nuances that require the submission of any particular case to competent legal counsel of your choosing.