Monday, May 25, 2015

Construction Claims: Should I Sue?

Whether you are a project owner, contractor, subcontractor, supplier, design professional or engineer in the construction industry, you expect to get paid for your work. What happens when there is a dispute or you do not get paid? You can pursue litigation, but before taking your claim to court, there are many factors to consider.
Q:       I finished constructing a homeowner’s porch and received no complaints – and no payment. Won’t the court automatically rule in my favor and make the homeowner pay me? 
A:        No. The law does not automatically award damages to the filing party if another breaches a contract, even if the breach is intentional. In more complicated cases, “legally recoverable damages” may not be enough to make you “whole” again. If, for example, the homeowner has no money, you may not be able to recover what is owed to you, even if you are in the right.

Q:           I’m a subcontractor. If a project owner or company fails to pay me and I sue, can I expect to get paid if I win my lawsuit?
A:            Not necessarily. Project owners and companies often protect themselves against any form of liability.  They may put property in trust or in the name of a limited liability company. For example, if you agree to do subcontract work on a building owned by a limited liability company, that company may purposely operate with minimal assets to avoid being forced by a court to pay you.

Q:       A small company hired me to remodel its office space. Before I was completely finished, the company went out of business. I want to get paid for time and materials. Should I sue?
A:        You must fully satisfy the contractual duties in the project. You may also be legally responsible for other parties such as a subcontractor, so make sure those parties also complied with the terms of the construction project. If not, you may not win your suit. Even if you have been wronged, anything you may have done wrong will affect the outcome of your suit.

Q:       How do I know whether or not I should sue? 
A:        Ask yourself why you want to pursue your case. Is it a business decision, or do you feel you have to stand up and make a point in the industry? Also, you must determine whether enough money is in dispute to make it worth paying your lawyer to pursue litigation. Will the potential award outweigh the emotional burdens and resources spent on litigation and a possible wait of one or more years for a trial verdict or settlement? 

Q:       How can I prove my case?
A:        Consider these questions: Is there documentation to back up your story? Are witnesses available who will testify in your favor? Do you know who and where all of the potential defendants are? What causes of action can you pursue in court? Even if you are sure you have been wronged, you still have to prove your claims before you can recover any damages through the court system.

Q:       Could I be risking my business if I sue? 
A:        If you intend to have a future business relationship with the potential business(es) you want to sue, ask yourself if it’s worth risking future loss of business for this one lawsuit.  You may also be risking future business from affiliates of the business you want to sue.

Q:       Is there an alternative to bringing suit? 
A:        Arbitration and mediation are two forms of dispute resolution to consider in place of litigation. Check your construction contract. Some contracts require the parties to pursue mediation or arbitration before any suit can be filed. 
Mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution process, meaning all participants must consent and work toward a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediation is not binding. 
In arbitration, a neutral party (i.e., the arbitrator) hears a dispute between the parties, and after considering all relevant information renders a final decision in favor of one of the parties. Arbitration decisions may be either binding or non-binding.

Q:       Do I need an attorney?
A:        When considering whether or not to sue, you should know as much as you can so you can make the best decisions, and protect and defend your rights. It is a good idea to contact an attorney who has knowledge of and experience in construction law matters.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Andrew L. Smith, a senior associate attorney in the Cincinnati office of Smith, Rolfes & Skavdahl Company, LPA. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

How Do Ohio Courts Decide What Happens to Minor Children Following Divorce or Dissolution?

            In a divorce or dissolution action, or in the case of unmarried parents, parental rights and responsibilities for minor children must be allocated. Custody can be allocated in two ways: sole custody can be given to either parent, or shared parenting can be given to both parents. Decisions for minor children are then made based on how parental rights and responsibilities are allocated.

Q:       How does the court decide custody issues?
A:        Custody determinations are governed by Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code, Section 3109.04). The court must consider various factors as the law requires. These factors include (but are not limited to) the wishes of each parent, the wishes of the children, the ability of the parents to communicate, the distance between the parents’ residences, the children's adjustment to the community and school with either parent, and the children's interactions with either parent and other family members.

Q:       What is sole custody?
A:        The parent who receives “sole custody” becomes the child’s legal custodian and will make decisions about non-urgent medical care, schooling, religious training, discipline and extra-curricular activity involvement. The sole custodian must keep the non-custodial parent advised about all matters involving the children, but will be able to make these decisions even if the non-custodial parent disagrees. The non-custodial parent will have parenting time with the children, including holidays and vacation time. Also, the non-custodial parent will have equal access to medical and school records. 

Q:       What is shared parenting?
A:        The court cannot grant shared parenting unless one or both parent(s) files a motion with a proposed shared parenting plan. If the court orders shared parenting, both parents are designated legal custodians of the minor children and must make all decisions together. These decisions will be outlined in a shared parenting plan that is filed with the court. The children may attend school in either parent’s school district. The parents must communicate to further the best interests of their children.
            Neither parent can make unilateral decisions for the children in a shared parenting arrangement. If the parents are unable to agree on decisions about the children, they will be required to attend mediation sessions before they can file motions with the court. Generally speaking, Ohio courts favor shared parenting because it is thought that children benefit when both parents are involved in childrearing decisions. In some cases, however, shared parenting is not appropriate. For example, when there is a history of domestic or substance abuse, shared parenting may not be in the best interests of the children. 

Q:       Do I have shared parenting if I have my children 50 percent of the time?
A:        It is often thought that having a 50/50 parenting schedule means that the parents have “shared parenting.” While parents who share equal time with their children often have shared parenting, it is not required. Even when the court allocates sole custody to one parent, both parents may share parenting time equally.

Q:       What is a parenting schedule?
A:        In addition to issuing a custody allocation, the court will also order a parenting schedule, which determines how much parenting time each parent has with the children. A parenting schedule is different from custody. For example, even if parents do not have equal parenting time, they can have shared parenting for decision-making purposes. 

Q:       If I have shared parenting, do I have to pay child support?
A:        A common misconception is that if the parents have shared parenting of their minor children, then neither parent will be required to pay child support. Various factors are taken into account when determining child support, which is done on a case-by-case basis. 

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by attorneys Trista Portales Goldberg and Maggie M. Nestheide of Beth Silverman & Associates. The column offers general information about the law.  Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Is A Revocable (“Living”) Trust Right for You?

Q:       What is a trust?
A:        A right of property held by one party for the benefit of another, usually in writing.

Who are the parties?
       A:        The person creating the trust is called the grantor (or sometimes the settlor, trustor or creator), and the other party is known as the trustee. A beneficiary receives benefits from the trust created by the grantor and administered by the trustee. The trust may, and usually does, provide benefits for more than one beneficiary. Sometimes, the same person may be grantor, trustee and a beneficiary.

Q:       What is a revocable trust?
       A:        A revocable trust, commonly known as a “living” trust, is the most popular kind of trust. During the grantor’s life, the trust is “living,” and the grantor can add to it or subtract from it at any time, for any reason. The grantor may also amend, restate or revoke (cancel) the trust. When the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable. 

Q:       What is the purpose of a revocable trust?
A:        Probate avoidance is one major purpose. Others include privacy, more efficient administration of the grantor’s affairs after death, ongoing financial management of trust property, and ultimate disposition of the balance of trust property.  For example, trusts are often created by parents for the benefit of their children. The trustee has discretion to pay the children’s college expenses and, if funds remain, pay the balance to the children as they mature.

Q:       What is trust property?
A:        The grantor transfers assets to the trustee, including cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, CDs, brokerage accounts, insurance policies and personal property. By doing so, the grantor converts “probate” property (governed by the will) to trust property (governed by the trust).

Q:       What is probate?
A:        “Probate” describes the process of proving a will. In each Ohio county, a probate court oversees the proving of wills, the gathering of assets, the payment of expenses and distribution of the balance to those named in the will. If there is no will, Ohio law governs the administration of a decedent's estate. While it is sometimes slow and expensive, the probate court serves as an overseer to protect and safeguard the decedent’s beneficiaries.

Q:       Will I save estate taxes by creating a revocable trust?
A:        No, but Ohio repealed its estate tax on deaths after December 31, 2012. Under current law, unless your property (including trust property) is worth more than $5,430,000 in 2015 (adjusted for inflation in future years), federal estate tax will not apply. 

Q:       Will I save income taxes by creating a revocable trust?
A:        No. A grantor is considered the owner of the income from the property that is held in trust and is reported on the grantor’s personal income tax return. Upon your death, the trust usually transfers its income to the beneficiaries. In turn, that income is taxed to the beneficiaries at their personal income tax rates.

Q:       What are the advantages of a revocable trust compared to probate?
A:        Privacy. A revocable trust is a private agreement between the grantor and trustee and is not subject to public scrutiny after the grantor’s death. Probate matters are reported to probate court after the grantor’s death and are open to public review.
            Control. A trustee of a revocable trust has more independence, flexibility and control than an executor of a will because a trustee does not file reports and accounts with a court, although the Ohio Trust Code requires the trustee to provide mandatory financial reports to beneficiaries).
            Lower Costs. A revocable trust avoids probate costs, which typically include court costs, appraisal fees, bond premiums, and executor commissions.   Attorney fees are usually less.
            Efficiency. The trustee may distribute trust property to beneficiaries soon after the grantor's death.
            Avoidance of Multiple Probate Proceedings.  If real estate is owned in other states, a revocable trust may be used to avoid separate probate proceedings in those other states.

Q:       What are the disadvantages of a revocable trust?
A:        Initial Cost. Education, preparation and implementation of a revocable trust will be more expensive than creating a will. 
            Absence of Court Review. Because probate court does not oversee the administration of a revocable  trust, the risk of error, whether intentional or unintentional, may be greater than the probate of a will.
            Longer Statute of Limitations. A challenge to a revocable trust must be made within two years, whereas someone wishing to challenge a will must do so within three months.

Q:       Who should prepare my revocable trust?
A:        You should consult with a lawyer skilled in probate, estate planning and tax matters. Be wary of creating a revocable trust without consulting directly with a lawyer first. 

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Paul S. Klug, a partner with the Cleveland firm, Ziegler Metzger, LLP. The column offers general information about the law.  Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Properly Managed Community Gardens Benefit Neighborhoods

Q:       I want to become a member of community garden. Where do I begin?
A:        Many community gardens are run by local non-profit organizations, sometimes in connection with a local university or the local municipality’s community development department. For more information, check the websites of organizations such as Civic Garden Center in Cincinnati, Get Green in Columbus and Green City Growers in Cleveland.

Q:       If I want to start my own community garden, how can I obtain land?
A:        Some municipalities allow gardeners to lease land directly from the city, as municipalities benefit by putting vacant plots of land to use. These programs may allow the gardener to obtain title to the land after they revitalize the plot for a certain number of years. You may also lease land from a private individual (via short-term lease agreements), or purchase your own plot. Some cities may even provide you with a grant to subsidize these initial costs. 
            While gardening is a low-risk activity and injuries are infrequent, both private parties and cities may require you to buy insurance for liability arising out of the garden’s operations, and to agree that the owner will not be responsible for such liability, as a condition of the lease.  

Q:       What should I consider when searching for a suitable plot of land?
A:        First, you will want to make sure the land is properly zoned. Plots of land are generally divided into residential, commercial and industrial uses. These may not permit community gardening activities, depending on the city. And even if permitted, each zone may restrict the activities. One zone may restrict the height of structures/vegetation, while another may restrict how close structures/vegetation can be to neighboring properties. Check with your city to ensure that your garden will comply with its zoning requirements. Even if the prospective land is not ideally zoned, however, you may be able to obtain a variance (or exception) from the local building department for your specific use. Additionally, if your garden is in a suburban environment, you should be aware of any relevant homeowner’s association regulations. 
            You should also make sure the plot of land contains no environmental hazards, especially in urban areas. Prior activities on the land, or activities on land surrounding your plot, may have left behind contaminants. This is particularly important if you plan to buy the land, because responsibility for such hazards will fall on you if the local municipality becomes aware of them. Try to find out how the plot was used in the past, and check with those in the community about the condition of the land. You might also contact the community’s building department or the local EPA district office to inquire about testing the property’s soil. 

Q:       How should I manage the garden?
A:        Some gardens operate as community endeavors, in which no one member has claim to any particular plot or plant, and all members are responsible for the whole garden. Others assign individual plots to specific members. Some gardens are open to the public, while others are “closed-gate” and open only to members. How your garden operates is up to you.
Before starting a garden, you should draft a model gardening agreement that each member must sign. The agreement should address the manner of the garden’s operation, pertinent rules and regulations (including rules required by local ordinance on plant and structure height, location, etc.), the election or appointment of officers who will lead the garden’s operations (e.g., a president and treasurer), assignment of a particular plot to each member (if applicable), indemnification of the landowner, and responsibility for supplies. It should also address the consequences of taking produce from another member without permission. Such an agreement will help members understand their role in the garden and will help resolve any disputes that may arise, which will allow the garden to operate efficiently.  

Q:       What should I know if I want to sell the products of my garden?
A:        You are more likely to encounter issues if you sell your products by setting prices and making profit, as opposed to covering costs through donations. It would be wise to contact the local municipality to inquire about a license/permit before trying to sell your garden’s products on your own. You may also be able to sell your products at a local farmers’ market, though you will likely have to pay a small fee to help cover the market’s costs. 

Q:       How will a garden benefit my community?
A:        Properly tended community gardens are easier on the eyes than unkempt vacant lots, and will provide air quality and health benefits to your community. In addition, studies have shown that the presence of community gardens helps to strengthen ties among the community, which, in turn, helps lower crime rates in their neighborhoods. 

This “Law You Can Use” consumer information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Cleveland attorney Justin D. Stevenson, Esq. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Know Legal Consequences before Forming a Business in Ohio

So, you have a new business idea and you are excited to set up shop and make it big. Before you start selling your product and service, be sure to stop and think about the legal consequences of your business formation. This is a crucial step in creating a successful business in Ohio.

Q:        Should I incorporate?
A:        Absolutely. Forming either a corporation or an LLC allows you to protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or claims against your business. You will also be able to limit your liability for any outstanding business debts and obligations. When starting a business, be sure not to put your personal assets at risk. In the event you are ever sued and you have not incorporated, your home, bank account, and all other assets can potentially be exposed should you receive a court judgment against your business. By incorporating your business, you create a wall between the business assets and your own personal assets. Another benefit of incorporating is that it makes your business more credible to consumers. Just seeing “Inc.” or “LLC” behind your business name adds instant legitimacy. Further, incorporating protects your brand and business name. Finally, incorporation gives your business flexibility and tax benefits.

Q:        I’m thinking about going into business with a friend. What should I consider?
A:        Depending on the corporate formation you choose, you could very well be liable for your own debts and actions in addition to those of your business partner, over whom you have no control. Think long and hard before committing yourself to such a situation. To help alleviate personal risk in a partnership setting, consider speaking with an attorney or other professional with business start-up expertise who can walk you through this complicated situation and consider options such as placing assets in trust or in another’s name.

Q:        A friend told me I should set up an LLC. How do I know if that’s the best choice for me?
A:        A limited liability company is the most popular business entity. Like a corporation, an LLC limits your liability, but is treated, for tax purposes, like a partnership. Consult with an attorney, however, before deciding whether an LLC is the best option for you.

Q:        What are the differences between an S-Corporation and a C-Corporation?
A:        A C-Corporation is legal entity separate and distinct from its owners. The corporation issues ownership interests (“shares”) to “shareholders.” The shareholders elect the board of directors.  The directors, who are entrusted with managing the corporation, elect the officers. The officers operate the corporation under the board’s direction. The shareholders, the directors and the officers are generally not responsible for the debts and obligations of the corporation. The corporation’s profits are distributed to the shareholders in the form of dividends.
            A C-corporation is taxed twice: first, at the corporate level, when income is received, and second, when income is re-distributed to shareholders. Finally, a person who is merely a shareholder of the corporation will almost always be absolved of liability.
            An S-Corporation is similar to a C-Corporation, but it is taxed as a “pass-through entity” meaning that the owners pay taxes on all business profits on their individual tax returns (i.e., the business income “passes through” the business to the owners’ personal tax returns and business profits are not “double taxed”). To become an S-Corporation, a business must have fewer than 100 shareholders, all shareholders must be people (no estates, trusts, etc.) who are not nonresident aliens, and the corporation can have only one class of stock.

Q:        How do I create a legal business in Ohio?
A:        Surprisingly, it is very easy to set up a corporation, LLC, or other business formation. You simply have to complete a small amount of written paperwork and pay a filing fee. You can get the necessary papers through the Ohio Secretary of State website at You may also draft an operating agreement or other document depending on the business form you choose. For instance, to create a legally binding LLC, you merely have to submit a two-page online Articles of Organization and send the Secretary of State a check for $99. This is a very small price to pay to avoid personal liability for your business’ debts and actions. You may wish to consult with an attorney to help you choose a business entity and draft an operating agreement.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Andrew L. Smith, a senior associate attorney in the Cincinnati office of Smith, Rolfes & Skavdahl Company, LPA. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Law Provides for Child Support Establishment and Enforcement in Other States

Q:       How does the law handle paternity and child support issues among various states?
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides a way to establish paternity and/or child support obligations and to enforce child support responsibilities across state lines.

Q:       I moved recently from California to Ohio. I want to establish paternity to prove that my ex-boyfriend is the father of my two-year old son so I can start receiving child support. My ex still lives in California. What should I do?
A:        Complete an IV-D application with your local child support agency to receive services. Services are free and available to everyone. 
Your local agency will have you complete a UIFSA petition. The petition includes a “General Testimony” questionnaire that asks for information concerning your household makeup and your financial situation. Completing the General Testimony will make it possible for you to avoid having to attend hearings in California. 
            Your local agency will mail the UIFSA petition to California. California will then attempt to establish paternity and/or child support. Your local agency will be your point of contact during the process. If genetic testing is required to establish paternity, you and your child will be tested where you live in Ohio. If a child support order is established, then money collected by California will be forwarded to Ohio Child Support and then disbursed to you. 
Q:       I completed a UIFSA petition, which my local agency sent to Florida to establish that my child’s father owes child support. A hearing has now been set in Florida, and I want to participate via telephone. How do I go about that? 
A:        Let your local agency know that you wish to participate via telephone. Your agency will relay the information to the local child support office in Florida. The original version of UIFSA did not require courts to permit telephonic testimony, while later amended versions of UIFSA do require courts to permit telephonic testimony. It will depend on what version of UIFSA Florida is operating under as to whether you will be permitted to participate via telephone. 

Q:       I have a child support order from Nevada. I just received notice that Ohio is going to “register” the Nevada order here in my local county. What does that mean? 
A:        Registration is the process by which a child support order is filed in the local court where the obligor (the one who owes child support) lives. Ohio then collects on the order. This usually happens when the obligor to an order has moved from the state that issued the order. Except in limited circumstances, Ohio cannot modify the order. However, Ohio can take enforcement actions such as driver’s license suspension and incarceration. After the registration process has been completed, you will pay through Ohio, and Ohio Child Support will forward the payments to Nevada. 

Q:       My Idaho child support order was just registered here in Ohio. My child and his mother live in Idaho. I want to establish parenting time. Can I file for that in my local court?   
A:        No. UIFSA only deals with paternity and support issues. It does not allow for courts to establish and/or enforce parenting time orders.

Q:       I have a child support order from Kentucky ordering my ex-wife to pay me child support. She has moved to Illinois, and I have moved with our children to Ohio. I want to adjust the order because of a change in my financial circumstances. Can I file a request for this here in Ohio? 
A:        Under UIFSA, because  neither you nor your ex-wife now live in Kentucky, the state that issued the support order,  then the state of the non-requesting party (meaning your ex-wife’s current residential state, Illinois) will have jurisdiction to modify the child support order.
To request a child support adjustment, you will first need to apply for services with your local agency by completing an IV-D application.  Your local agency will then have you participate in completing a petition.  The petition will include a “General Testimony” questionnaire, which will ask you for information about your household makeup and your financial situation. Providing this information will mean that you can avoid having to attend hearings in Illinois. Your local agency will request certified copies of your child support order from Kentucky Child Support along with a pay history. Your local agency will then send the petition to Illinois asking that state to register and modify the Kentucky order.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Montgomery County CSEA Senior Staff Attorney Thomas E.A. Howard. The column offers general information about the law. Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Reading the Fine Print: Who Owns What on Popular Websites

Q:        Facebook changed its terms of service in January 2015. How does this affect me?
A:        Most terms impacting the average user have not changed. Facebook has tried to simplify the language and has introduced a guide (“Privacy Basics”) to help users with privacy settings. The new terms explain more about how Facebook uses your information (such as your location) with its family of companies and advertisers. But be cautioned: your control over information you provide is limited.

Q:       I took a funny photo and posted it to Facebook. Now it’s being used for a local company’s billboard ad. Is that legal?
A:        Probably not. According to the law, the local company can’t use your photo for an ad without your permission. The 1976 Copyright Act gives you exclusive rights to original works including the rights to reproduce them, display them publicly and perform them in public, whether or not you register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.
However, photos, stories and even secrets are now being broadcast to the world through popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Most site users don’t read the “terms of service” to learn what rights they have and what rights they may have given to website owners. If you read the terms of service, you may discover that you have granted these sites the right to license your photos to others without having to compensate you. Even if they have a right to do this according to the terms of service, they may not have done so. Most sites will offer to help you reach the person who appropriated your picture without your permission.

Q:       What permission did I give Facebook?
A:        You may have given permission for a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use … content you post,” which essentially allows Facebook to distribute your information for free to other users and to Facebook’s business partners, who develop games and advertisements you might see on the pages. These various users can reformat or modify your material for use with their systems. If you have an image or video that you may want to sell, it would be wise not to post it on a site where you have granted permission to use your material without paying you for it.

Q:       If my privacy settings only allow pictures and videos to be shared with close friends, will they be protected from use by strangers?
A:        Not necessarily. For example, if the privacy setting of one of your friends allows public sharing, then your information also may be shared with the public. One key point of Facebook’s terms is that its license with you ends only when you delete your account. If you see that something of yours was shared without your permission after you closed your account, that could be a violation of the Facebook agreement.

Q:       Can social media sites remove things I post or remove something if I object to the posting?
A:        Google, Facebook and Twitter reserve the right to remove content, as do many other service providers. Facebook has expanded the list of content it has the right to remove. This now includes content that is “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic, incites violence or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” Following deadly attacks in France incited by satirical cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammad, the Turkish government asked Facebook to block content that depicted Mohammed disparagingly. The company agreed. Most social media sites also warn you to be careful about believing what you read and see on the sites. Twitter says, “We do not endorse, support, represent or guarantee the completeness, truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of any content or communications.”

Q:        Can a social site post be used against me in a legal proceeding?
A:        Possibly. Parties have successfully used information gathered from social media sites in court.  In a 2010 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, 81 percent of divorce lawyers said they have increased their use of social networking to gather evidence. The U.S. Department of Justice provides guidelines to law enforcement on using social networks to investigate crimes and the American Bar Association endorses the right of trial lawyers to use the social media content of potential jurors to determine whether to select a person as a juror.

Q:        Can I sue a social media site if someone posts an untrue or hateful statement about me?
A:        Yes, but you probably won’t win your case. Most social media sites include “terms of use” language that says the sites are not responsible for what others post. Also, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which governs most of the conduct of website hosts regarding posted comments, says, “…no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This means that, although you may be able to sue the person making the comments, you cannot hold responsible the owners of the site where the comments were posted.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association.  It was prepared by Dan Trevas, a Columbus attorney and former news reporter for print and online news services.  The column offers general information about the law.  Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a legal problem.

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