Betts & Associates is committed to providing each of our clients with top quality legal representation and achieving successful outcomes for their cases. We specialize in representing individuals and businesses in all areas of complex civil litigation matters. Our firm provides legal services with skill, strength, and integrity to residents all over the state of Georgia.

Betts and Associates offer a wide range of skills in almost all areas of the legal practice. Our commitment to growing a wide range of more discrete practice areas allows us to better assess client needs and provide prompt and effective legal solutions. Our firm was founded on the belief in providing personal service and valuable legal counsel that addresses our client's needs creatively. After a decade, that has not changed. We ensure that every client's case is carefully handled every step of the way.

If you need advice about the best way to approach and resolve your case, consider Betts & Associates. To request a legal consultation, contact our office at 404-577-8888 to schedule an appointment. We are proud to provide personal service and practical solutions for those with even the most complex legal concerns.

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Liquidated Damages

Parties to a contract may stipulate damages or contain a method for fixing damages but generally the contract cannot provide a penalty. However, a penalty provision will be valid and enforceable if, at the time of the contract, (1) damages are difficult to estimate, and (2) the provision is a reasonable forecast of possible damages. Whether a party suffers actual damages is irrelevant so long as the penalty is a reasonable forecast at the time the contract was entered into.

Expectation Damages

The general measure of damages for breach of an ordinary contract is expectation damages. This means that the injured party is entitled to recover an amount that would put him in as good a position as if the contract had been performed.

Employment Contracts

The measure of damages in employment contracts depends on whether the breaching party is the employee or the employer. Let’s say Matt Ryan contracts to work for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority as a spokesperson for 12 months for $85,000 to promote the building of a new Georgia Dome. If Matt Ryan quits after 4 days, and the Authority pays Joe Average $90,000 to replace him, then the Authority can recover $5,000 – the extra cost to replace Matt Ryan.

If however, the Authority wrongfully terminates Matt Ryan after he has worked for only four days, Matt Ryan could recover from the Authority the full contract price of $85,000 (minus any avoidable damages) for being Matty Iced out.


Land Sale Contracts

For land sale contracts, a party can elect to have specific performance and/or money damages. Let’s assume for now that money damages are sought. If a seller who has contracted with a buyer to sell land breaches, then the buyer’s damages are calculated by the difference between fair market value (“FMV”) and the contract price. Thus, if a piece of land has a FMV of $100,000 and a seller breaches a contract to sell the land to a buyer for $80,000, then the buyer’s damages are $20,000, the difference between FMV and the contract price.

Let’s say a seller contracts to sell land to a buyer for $80,000 and the land has FMV of $75,000. If it is the buyer who breaches, then the seller’s damages are measured by the difference between the contract price and FMV, or $5,000. This makes sense because if the contract had been performed, then the buyer would have paid $5,000 for the $75,000 piece of land; so, the seller would have the expectation of $5,000.

Keep reading below to find out how to calculate money damages for construction contracts and for more information.
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Even if you can make out the elements for a claim of premises liability (that is, you are an invitee, an owner/occupier owed you a duty to keep premises safe and/or to inspect and that such duty was breached because the owner/occupier knew or should have known of the danger, and that breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury), there may still be another hurdle for you to recover…

The most common defense owners/occupiers raise in claims of negligence based on premises liability is the defense of assumption of the risk. In order to establish the defense of assumption of risk, defendants must show that a plaintiff (1) had actual knowledge of the danger; (2) understood and appreciated the risks associated with such danger; and (3) voluntarily exposed himself or herself to those risks. Admiral Ins. Co. v. State Broad. Corp., 314 Ga. App. 648, 650, 725 S.E.2d 789, 791 (2012), cert. denied (July 2, 2012).

760413_danger.jpgOften patrons at amusement parks are said to have assumed the risk when they understand and appreciate risks associated with park rides and voluntarily expose themselves to the risk by going on the ride. However, this defense cannot overcome situations in which there are static conditions on the ride or premises nor can a judge grant summary judgment on issues such as how closely a particular retailer should monitor its premises and approaches.

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First, we hope everyone is keeping safe from the slick, rainy conditions outside! Today, we will continue our discussion on Premises Liability in Georgia by talking about the types of knowledge an owner/occupier must have to be liable in negligence.

How Can I Prove Premises Liability for Hazardous/Dangerous Conditions?

An invitee can recover damages in a slip and fall if she proves two things: (1) that the owner/occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and (2) that despite the exercise of ordinary care, the invitee lacked knowledge of the hazard due to actions or conditions within the owner/occupier’s control. Cocklin v. JC Penney Corp., 674 S.E.2d 48 (Ga. Ct. App. 2009). Absent knowledge of the dangerous condition, there can be no causation (an essential element to make out a claim in negligence).

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Let’s say you’ve recently suffered from a slip and fall accident at a Georgia business. Then, you’re probably wondering how and what you can recover for your injuries. During the next few days, this blog will uncover the basics of Georgia premises liability.

Trespasser, Licensee, or Invitee?

Whether you can recover from an owner or occupier of land in Georgia depends on your classification as a trespasser, licensee or invitee. Landowners and occupiers of land owe different duties of care to each respective class; thus, it is important to establish your classification in any premises liability case.

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Fraud & Deceit in Georgia: Employment Hopefuls Lured From Georgia By “Job,” Get Stranded In Missouri

WSB-TV and The Associated Press reported yesterday that dozens of workers had been scammed by a Georgia staffing agency through a Craigslist post promising two-year construction job positions in locations across the country. According to their stories, a new Marietta-based employment company called Everything Staffing assembled a group of prospective workers for subcontractor Black Sparta LLC on construction sites outside of Georgia. Black Sparta agreed to provide food, gas and lodging for all employees but when the workers started showing up for a job in Missouri, they were told they were no longer needed and forced to foot the bill. As a result, dozens of Georgians are stranded without hope and without the job they were promised; some do not have the means to make it back home to Georgia.

Everything Staffing intends to file a lawsuit against Black Sparta, but that won’t ease the immediate pain felt by these adventurous job seekers duped by what appeared to be a promising opportunity but turned out to be a fraud stranding these people in an unfamiliar city.

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What legal options do I have in Georgia when a person or business has been using my name, trade dress, brand, trademark, or logo for a long period of time without my knowledge? This is a question that we often hear from our business clients.

stock-photo-man-with-questions-symbol-on-a-white-background-121335376.jpgIn Georgia, the equitable doctrine of laches can be applied to bar claims for relief that the plaintiff has delayed brining or that fall outside of the applicable statute of limitations period. With respect to trademark infringement and unfair competition claims, however, neither the Lanham Act nor its state law counterpart found in the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA) contain specified limitations periods from which to judge which statute of limitations applies: the two-year statute of limitations period applied by Georgia courts to fill in statute of limitations where the legislature did not provide one (like in employment discrimination claims for relief) found in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-22; or the four-year statute of limitations governing injuries to personalty found in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-31. Another confusing aspect of claims for relief from infringement or unfair competition concern the legal theory to apply to determine when to begin measuring delay in some cases. Fortunately, there are some Georgia cases that shed light on both of these concerns.

The 11th Circuit first grappled with the issue of laches when a trademark owner has not learned of the infringement until after the statute of limitations has run on a claim for damages in 1997 when it decided Kason Industries, Inc. v. Component Hardware Corp., 120 F.3d 1199, 1203 (11th Cir.1997). In that case, the court borrowed from the closest analogous state law and held that the four-year period applicable to similar causes of action under Georgia’s UDTPA governs the inquiry in Lanham Act cases. Kason, at 1206.

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What can I do when my business relationship with another goes sour through no fault of my own? This is a question that many of our clients ask us.

Fortunately, there are at least two actionable tort claims available in Georgia for a plaintiff who has been injured by wrongful interference with a business relationship: tortious interference with contractual rights and tortious interference with business relations.

stock-photo-businessman-at-the-start-of-his-journey-making-difficult-decision-which-way-to-go-loose-artistic-85446772.jpgThese two distinct yet related torts require a plaintiff to show four common elements: that the defendant (1) acted improperly and without privilege, (2) acted purposefully and with malice with the intent to injure, (3) induced a third party or parties not to enter into or continue a business relationship with the plaintiff; and (4) for which the plaintiff suffered some financial injury. Chaney v. Harrison & Lynam, LLC, 308 Ga. App. 808, (2011); Gordon Document Products, Inc. v. Service Technologies, Inc., 308 Ga. App. 445 (2011). In Georgia, without privilege means that the defendant must be a stranger to the contract and the underlying business in order to be liable. See Carey Station Village Home Owners Ass’n, Inc. v. Carey Station Village, Inc., 268 Ga. App. 461 (2004) (homeowners association not stranger to contract between developer and certain purchasers of subdivision lots).

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Students are back in school after Christmas break and many parents are eager to see changes in their schools. Since the passage of the charter schools amendment Georgia voters approved last November and talks of new legislation that could give parents the option of having their schools changed from traditional public schools to charter schools, Georgia parents will no doubt want to get their legislators involved by taking action this session.

But will parent-driven changes actually lead to good outcomes for Georgia students? An article in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that an advocacy group rated Georgia’s school choice policies a D+, a low score compared to other states.

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Talk to an experienced education lawyer at Betts & Associates to see how you can make a difference in a Georgia school.

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A “trademark” functions as an identifier of goods or services, while a “trade name” primarily identifies the owner or operator of a business and may also be used to identify the goods handled by such owner. Stuart Enterprises Int’l, Inc. v. Peykan, Inc., 252 Ga. App. 231 (2001).

A person may acquire a trade name through long and extensive use of the name or through registering a business with the Georgia Secretary of State. However, if a person fails to register a trade name previously acquired, he will not be deprived of using the trade name if someone else does register the name. Giant Mart Corp. v. Giant Discount Foods, Inc., 247 Ga. 775 (1981); Pearl Optical, Inc. v. Pearle Optical of Ga., Inc., 218 Ga. 701 (1963).

There are numerous sources of protection for someone else using your trade name in the course of business. The Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (discussed in a previous post) is one of them. Other forms of protection come from Georgia common law.

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How can I protect my rights and reputation from deceptive business practices? What can I do to stop a business from wrongfully profiting off of my good will? These are questions our business clients frequently ask us.

stock_image_study-table-learn-quesitons.jpgWhat To Do If Someone Has Been Profiting From Your Brand Without Your Consent.

Monetary and injunctive relief may be sought under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), which generally proscribes “false designations of origin and false descriptions” of goods or services. U.S.C. § 1125(a). Claims available under § 43(a) also include a cause of action for trade dress infringement in Georgia. See, e.g., AmBrit, Inc. v. Kraft, Inc., 812 F.2d 1531, 1545 (11th Cir. 1986). See also, Kason Industries, Inc. v. Component Hardware Group, Inc., 120 F. 3d 1199, 1205 (11th Cir. 1997). A single deceptive or unfair act by a business can be enough to hold it liable in Georgia.