Category Archives: Longmont Business Attorney

Sewer Plant Construction Law Colorado

Bendelow Law Office recently represented a local municipality in Colorado on a four year battle with a developer over construction of a new sewer plant.  The developer wanted to prohibit construction of the facility so it could control development.  The Colorado town (left unnamed here for legal reasons), was facing regulatory penalties over an aged and non-compliant facility, sought to control its future in providing municipal services.  Through multiple judicial forums and administrative proceedings, we fought with court hearings, briefs and experts.  In the end, the plant was built and is operating as designed, in full compliance with all health and regulatory requirements.  Meanwhile, several members of the development group have asked to connect to the new facility.

Here, a win-win situation wasn’t possible, but the local Colorado town municipality overcame enormous opposition, not from the community, but from a development group who perceived its interests as different from the town.  I believe the opposition was misguided and not in its own long range economic best interest, but they certainly have the right to their own opinions and decisions.  Presented with the need to defend the town, I did so.  If we couldn’t negotiate, I was successfully able to litigate.

Small Business Development in Longmont

I represented a small manufacturer that was interested in opening a facility in Longmont.  On the other hand the community was obviously interested in providing local Longmont employment.  Local jobs build a stronger community; keep wealth closer to home with local purchases helping other businesses.  The community as a whole gains the taxes paid, both property and sales.  In short, it is a win-win for everyone.

The task is always to find the middle ground between incentives available from the community and incentives sought by the manufacturer.

Numerous communities, small, medium and large, are competing for primary employers.  On the other hand these communities need to make reasoned decisions about the incentives they can provide.

My goal was to find that middle ground and mold it into an agreement that was acceptable to all concerned.  I am not a contractor, or an economist, or a planner.  What I was able to do was assemble the necessary resources and with their input, forge a reasonable compromise.

I am pleased to report that we succeeded.  The community and the manufacturer reached an agreement, property was purchased and the stage was set for construction.  Now we have to wait for the economy to turn around so the building can be built, people hired and plans turned into reality.

History of Dealing with Legal Remedies for Property Owners with Polybutylene

Anyone whose business or interests lie in real estate would want to know about a product liability case that effected property values nationwide. It concerns the Qest Quik Sert plastic (polybutylene) plumbing system that was installed in the supply lines of a large number of single family homes condominiums, town homes, apartments, mobile homes, and manufactured homes throughout the United States. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 properties in Colorado have this system.
The plastic system is a component plumbing system which is manufactured from polybutylene and celcon resins (i.e. plastic). It is assembled with a combination of plastic tubing, plastic fittings, and metal crimp rings. The system was installed in homes built between approximately 1978 through 1993, however, in 1987, the plastic fittings were replaced by metal. Experts have testified that the system is defective (i.e. the fittings crack causing leaks, pipes and fittings pull apart, plastic resins chemically react to chlorine which causes the pipes to erode, continuously circulating hot water weakens the pipes causing leaks and under freezing conditions the pipe/fittings connections loosen).
The system was developed, manufactured, and marketed by U.S. Brass and Vanguard Plastics, Inc. in conjunction with Shell Oil Company, Hoescht-Celanese Corporation, and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. U.S. Brass, Vanguard and other manufactures designed, manufactured, and sold the polybutylene plumbing system. The system was marketed nationally to plumbing manufacturers and cities and counties were lobbied in order to put polybutylene plumbing systems on the list of approved products, despite knowledge of numerous failures and ongoing litigation involving the system. The plastic was marketed as a material suitable for use as fittings for plumbing applications, despite conclusive data that was available in the 1960s and 1970s that chlorinated tap water could erode the fittings. Juries in numerous court cases have found that the manufacturers sold the system despite knowledge of the problems and that they misrepresented their products, knowingly engaged in deceptive trade practices, and acted with gross negligence.
The system is identifiable by looking under a kitchen or bathroom sink, and/or at the plumbing leading to and from the water heater. The piping and fittings are light grey in color and the letters Q-E-S-T, or simply the letter Q are often embossed on a valve or fitting. The piping and fittings are connected with an aluminum, copper or brass crimp ring which is approximately one-half inch wide.
This plumbing has affected property value. Owners and realtors have had difficulty selling property because of the problems associated with the plumbing. Plumbing leaks have damaged and stained carpets, walls, and baseboards. Vinyl flooring curls up at the edges or the seam. Insulation, sheet rock, furniture, and rugs have been ruined. In some cases, ant, spider, roach, and termite problems have developed due to wood rot.
Other damages include the loss of personal time and wages to deal with plumbing problems. Some property owners have had to pay hotel bills while their tenants were turned out of their homes while repairs were being made to the property. Some people have experienced an increase in insurance premiums and utility bills. Many plumbers refuse to work on the polybutylene plumbing system.
In 1989, I became involved in litigation involving the system almost everywhere it was installed and became a national problem. This system was the subject matter of a “60 Minutes” segment in 1990 and was also highlighted on the “Good Morning America” show on March 11, 1993.
I researched and handled claims regarding serious problems with this defective plastic plumbing system for several years. After extensive negotiations with the manufacturers of this product we settled the claims of over 10,000 single-family home, town home, condominium, apartment, manufactured, and mobile home owners which were plumbed with the system throughout Colorado. We were part of a national settlement of $1.2 billion in 1993, the largest property settlement in history as of that time.

Business Law – Joint Owners

Capable. Lean. Agile.

It is a common practice when two folks start a business to decide on joint ownership. It might be as 50-50 partners in a partnership, or 50% ownership in stock, or as equal members and joint managers of an LLC. Let me suggest it is a recipe for major trouble, or a disaster.

[more…]

The problem comes when there is a disagreement. How do you settle it? Somebody has to concede, or there is no resolution–which is what commonly happens. Since neither party has a majority, either party can block a decision. The decision then gets made by a third party–either an arbitrator or a judge. That means you have turned your business and the resolution of the dispute over to someone you don’t know, who knows nothing about the nuances of your business, or the effect of resolving the impasse. His/her job is to resolve the dispute–that’s it.

Usually the dispute is over a big issue. Sometimes it is financial, sometimes it is emotional. Whatever the basis, it is obviously important enough to the parties to create this impasse and commonly means the relationship cannot continue.

As radical and unacceptable as this may sound, I suggest that someone has to have the final decision making authority, otherwise you are back to the judge or arbitrator. Remember that the decision maker has a fiduciary duty to the best interests of the business, not their personal interests.