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Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A. is pleased to celebrate the conclusion of the first year of the Palmetto Propeller initiative. Palmetto Propeller is designed to help South Carolina start-up and small businesses achieve success by providing needed legal services at no cost. For nearly 90 years, Turner Padget has been serving small businesses in South Carolina, and has been a small business itself. Their lawyers know South Carolina business, and, as a full service law firm, they know how to meet small business needs with practical, straightforward advice and strategies to propel businesses forward.

“At Turner Padget, we are strong supporters of the small business community,” said R. Wayne Byrd, Chief Executive Officer of Turner Padget. “The Palmetto Propeller project is our way of helping start-ups and small businesses and thanking them for all they do for our state, our firm, and our communities. Turner Padget committed $1,000,000 in free legal services over five years for this project to help companies capitalize on their entrepreneurial spirit and expand. The first year has well-surpassed our expectations.”

In the first year, over 40 applying businesses have been accepted into the program – more than two-thirds of all who applied. These businesses are located in all regions of the state, including the Upstate, Grand Strand, Lowcountry and the Pee Dee. More than 15 different referral partners, such as business incubators and small business development centers, have successfully encouraged their clients to apply and be accepted. continue reading

A recent, very debtor-friendly decision of the South Carolina Court of Appeals essentially put most routine retirement account contributions beyond the reach of creditors seeking to satisfy past judgments. The court made clear its strong stance toward protecting individuals’ retirement accounts and, for one of the first times, explicitly said that funds deposited into retirement accounts generally can’t be undone as fraudulent transfers.

The debtor in the case, First Citizens Bank v. Blue Ox, signed a confession of judgment after his LLC had defaulted on loan payments owed to its bank. After failing to pay the judgment, the debtor contributed money to his retirement accounts as well as a 529 college savings account. The bank contended that it could attach these post-judgment contributions because they were fraudulent transfers and therefore not subject to protections otherwise provided to retirement accounts under Sections 5-41-30(A)(13) and (14) of the South Carolina Homestead Exemption Act. Rejecting the bank’s claims (and reversing the lower court), the Court of Appeals ruled that Statute of Elizabeth, which generally prohibits fraudulent conveyances, did not apply because the movement of money did not transfer ownership from the debtor but rather converted the funds into protected assets that still belonged to him.

The Court of Appeals further noted that while there were several “badges of fraud” present, on balance there was no fraudulent intent because the “contributions were limited in amount, were not secretive in nature, and most tellingly, were in line with [the debtor’s] long-standing pattern of investing in his retirement – conduct that is encouraged by the very existence of [protections typically afforded to IRAs and 401(k) accounts under the Homestead Exemption Act].” continue reading

South Carolina now mandates the use of mediation as a way to help resolve certain workers’ compensation claims. These are defined in 67-1802 of the state Workers’ Compensation Commission Regulations, but generally, they are cases that would be litigation-intensive and highly contested – e.g., occupational disease, contested death and mental injury claims.

The goal of promoting timely and cost-effective resolutions largely is being achieved. Practically speaking, there are several aspects of mediation that make it a good alternative to a hearing before a commissioner of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Historically, most workers’ compensation cases have been decided by one of the state’s seven commissioners. While the commissioners are experienced and more than able to render fair decisions, time factors often limit the ability of attorneys and claimants to fully explain their respective positions. In 2017, the Commission had 10,458 cases docketed for a hearing. A normal case is scheduled to last from one to two hours. Once docketed, on average the case may take at least three months to actually be heard. After the hearing, commissioners often must review reams of evidence before a ruling is made. Although the ruling is binding on the parties, there is always the potential for appeal, thus extending the process and increasing costs. The hearing also submits all issues to the interpretation of one person. By contrast, mediations often last for an entire day giving the parties time to fully explore and present their respective positions. continue reading

An increasingly divisive political climate has put the exercise of constitutional freedoms in the spotlight. While the First Amendment states, in relevant part, that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” the First Amendment’s restrictions do not apply to private-sector employers. In other words, an employee’s freedom of speech and expression can have limits and repercussions in the private-sector workplace.

The polarizing political discourse has been on display along NFL sidelines since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. Hundreds of NFL players and other professional athletes have joined the protests, and others have followed in solidarity.

At the beginning of the NFL season, President Donald Trump urged league owners to fire players whom he said showed a “total disrespect for everything we stand for.” But is it legal for an employer to fire employees for expressing their political opinions?

South Carolina is an “employment at-will” state, which means that either an employer or an employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, if such termination is not in violation of state or federal law. Private sector employers always will have a certain degree of control over employees’ speech. For instance, it is appropriate for a company to prohibit employees from discussing trade secrets or revealing confidential information. Employers also can prohibit harassing speech or conduct in the workplace. continue reading