Founder’s Franchise Rights
Jake and Chaz represented the founder and owner of the largest California-based franchise of a national rental car agency in a trademark and franchise dispute against the new corporate owner of the rental car company. After two jury trials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and two appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the trial court’s ruling that the client maintained the right to operate an exclusive, royalty-free franchise in territory spanning the greater Los Angeles area was upheld. See Schwartz v. Rent-A-Wreck of Am., Inc., 468 Fed. Appx. 238 (4th Cir. 2012), and Schwartz v. Rent-A-Wreck of Am., Inc., 603 Fed. Appx. 142 (4th Cir. 2015). When the same corporate owner continued to interfere with the client’s L.A. franchise, Jake and Chaz obtained a civil contempt judgment against the same corporate owner. The long-running dispute then shifted venues, to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, where the corporate owner had initiated bankruptcy proceedings. Jake and Chaz were instrumental in having the bankruptcy case dismissed, with the judge finding that the petition filed by the corporate parent was in bad faith and was intended to wrongfully single out and terminate the client’s exclusive L.A. franchise. The judge’s opinion was a landmark bankruptcy ruling and was widely reported by national law outlets including the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News. See In re Rent-A-Wreck of Am., Inc., 580 B.R. 364 (Bankr. D. Del. 2018), and Schwartz v. J.J.F. Mgmt. Servs., 922 F.3d 558 (4th Cir. 2019).
Proprietary information and trade secrets
Jake and Chaz represented a medical device manufacturing company in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland in a dispute with the founder’s estate over the ownership of the company’s valuable trade secrets.
Successful Contract Defense
After their client was sued in the Circuit Court for Washington County despite his efforts to seek an amiable resolution to a business relationship, Chaz and Shawn and Chaz entered their appearance on behalf of the Hagerstown resident and asserted a counterclaim seeking to confirm the client’s ownership stake in an insurance agency for which he had provided start-up capital. At trial, the client prevailed, winning a favorable declaratory judgment confirming their client’s ownership interest. The client was also awarded a monetary judgment for substantially all of the attorneys’ fees incurred by him in defending the lawsuit and asserting his own successful counterclaim.
Chaz assisted a local photographer whose copyrighted works were being published without consent or authorization, convincing an area business to cease displaying the protected images.
Punitive Damages Against National Franchiser
A Baltimore County man who contended he was defrauded by an auto repair shop was successfully represented by Jake in a civil case brought on the client’s behalf in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Jake sued a national auto repair service center and a local franchisee for fraud and consumer protection violations after misrepresentations were made to the client regarding the type of replacement parts used in making repairs to his vehicle. The judgment obtained on behalf of this client at trial included an award for compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
Debt Collection Defense
Jake has represented numerous individual homeowners against a company that describes itself as a “national purchaser, asset manager and servicer of real estate loans,” in disputes where the company had acquired the right to pursue personal deficiency judgments against individuals whose homes had previously been targeted for foreclosure.
Consumer Product Repair Fail
Jake and Chaz successfully represented a local businessman against a national office supply and technology retailer on his claims for damages after the store lost the client’s laptop (and its valuable data) after being entrusted to perform maintenance and repairs. Notably, Jake and Chaz litigated and resolved the case locally, thwarting the store’s attempt to enforce a forum selection clause in the parties’ contract that would have required the parties to litigate in Florida.
Hotel Premises Liability
After a hotel chain failed to properly supervise its employees and secure a patron’s room, Jake represented the clients who had been harmed by the hotel’s negligence.
Corporate Control, Formation, & Operations
Corporate Control Dispute
Chaz and Shawn achieved a successful resolution to litigation between the majority and minority owners of a limited liability company that owned an historic art-deco skyscraper in Baltimore located at 10 Light Street in the heart of downtown. The case involved allegations of self-dealing and other fiduciary duty breaches during the course of a multi-million-dollar renovation to convert the landmark property to predominantly residential use.
Capital Raise Gone Awry
Shawn and Chaz litigated a case against nationally recognized restauranteurs in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York as counsel for the plaintiff, who had been denied an equity stake in a new venture that sought to identify, acquire and develop distinctive restaurants on the East Coast after the client led efforts to raise capital for the acquisition and expansion of highly-regarded restaurant properties.
Partners at Odds
Jake and Chaz represented two capital partners against a minority interest holder in a dispute involving claims of fraudulent representation relating to the financing, purchase and development of properties acquired by the partnership.
Business Acquisition Battle
Shawn and Chaz came into a case as successor counsel on behalf of a client who had purchased a financial services practice in Montgomery County. Disputes arose between the buyer and the prior owner relating to the acquisition, including over the non-compete and non-solicitation provisions in the sale contract. Shawn and Chaz achieved a settlement favorable to their client in that case and then, in a related action, increased the financial return for the client by negotiating a settlement of the client’s legal malpractice claim against his former counsel.
Advice and Counsel for Local Businesses
Chaz and Shawn have provided outside general counsel services to numerous area businesses, including WLR Automotive Group (The Lube Center, The Auto Spa), South Mountain Creamery, Wright Manufacturing, Royal Aircraft Services, IGM Innovative Solutions, Atlas Home Energy Solutions, and Shower Door Experts, among others.
Asset Purchase Agreements
Shawn, Jake and Chaz have each assisted clients in negotiating and finalizing the sale and purchase of local businesses. Most recently, Shawn assisted a client in selling its interest in a local HVAC, plumbing and electrical services company to a larger, regional buyer as part of a multi-million-dollar transaction.
Commercial & Residential Property Law
Chaz assisted a local client who had purchased property in Frederick County with the intent of basing his business there, only to discover after closing that key facts about the property had not been disclosed by the seller and certain third parties involved with the sale, while other key information was misrepresented or concealed. Chaz was able to stay the pending foreclosure on the property, and then later to obtain a resolution favorable to the client on his affirmative fraud claims.
Family Property Partition Battle
Chaz successfully represented three siblings against the fourth in a case in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland concerning a partition and auction of inherited real property.
A married couple, homeowners, who were locked in a dispute with their contractor over the handling of a large rehabilitation/renovation project following a fire at their house, obtained a successful result after Chaz became involved as successor counsel.
Damages for Breach of Commercial Lease
A commercial landlord whose tenant had abandoned the property with several years remaining on the lease prevailed on summary judgment in a case headed up by Shawn. The client was awarded damages not only for the breach of the lease by the commercial tenant (as well as the personal guarantor(s)), but treble damages were also granted by the Court pursuant to a lease provision that penalized the tenant for failing to keep up the rental property.
Commercial Real Estate
Chaz has represented a well-respected local commercial landlord in various lease negotiations and related collections efforts.
A Hagerstown-based aircraft maintenance company retained Shawn to renegotiate a lease extension for space it had occupied at the Hagerstown Regional Airport. With Shawn’s assistance, the company was successful in obtaining more favorable terms from the Washington County government on a long-term extension to its original lease agreement.
Shawn and Jake have previously represented commercial and residential landlords in various disputes relating to failures to pay rent, security deposits, tenants holding over, and physical damage to leased property.
Shawn and Jake represent a number of homeowners’ associations (HOAs) throughout Maryland in matters ranging from the collection of assessments, to enforcement of community covenants and general governance issues.
A local dog boarding business cited for zoning violations that threatened to force the long-time family business to close down retained Shawn and Chaz to assist. They obtained a zoning variance that allowed the business to operate lawfully and prevented it from having to shut its doors.
Unconstitutional Local Ordinance
Shawn represented a local small business owner and successfully lobbied the City of Frederick to repeal a local ordinance that impermissibly limited a local business owner’s right to free speech. Within months, the Mayor and Board of Alderman unanimously voted to repeal the ordinance.
Labor and Employment
Jake successfully resolved a claim filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland on behalf of a client who sued her former employer, a large national pizza chain, for violations of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) arising out of the employer’s termination of the client after she took short-term family leave to assist her ailing parents.
An employee of a national insurance company received a substantial severance package after he was forced to leave his employment after having been targeted by co-workers on the job. Jake assisted in preparing a demand package and was able to achieve a successful resolution without extensive litigation.
Employment Contract Negotiation
Chaz successfully negotiated an employment agreement and related profit-sharing agreement for a new executive at a Florida-based media technology company.
Shawn prepared an employment manual for use by a shipping company with offices in several states, including Maryland.
Alternative Dispute Resolution / Additional Practice Areas
Shawn is a certified mediator in the State of Maryland and has experience serving as a neutral mediator in various civil disputes.
Expert Witness Services
Shawn has been qualified as an expert witness on the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees by both the Circuit Court for Montgomery County and the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.
Shawn assisted a local parent in her efforts to challenge mandatory assessments testing, with the Board of Education for Frederick County ultimately agreeing to implement a policy allowing students to refuse testing.
Shawn has assisted clients in certain estate planning projects ranging from simple wills and trusts to advanced health care directives and related powers of attorney.
Chaz successfully litigated to resolution a civil assault case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In the case, Chaz successfully obtained partial summary judgment on the question of the defendant’s liability to the client, the plaintiff. See King v. Barbour, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141534 (D. D.C. Aug. 21, 2019), and King v. Barbour, 240 F. Supp. 3d 136 (D. D.C. 2017).