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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What To Do If Someone Steals Your Business Invention or Idea: How Can I Protect My Business Trade Secrets In Georgia? This is a question clients oftentimes ask us.

While many business lawsuits involve disputes between businesses against businesses, there are also actions for which individuals can bring against other persons or businesses in Georgia. Today’s post will discuss how to recover under The Georgia Trade Secrets Act upon someone misappropriating or stealing your trade secret for his or her improper gain.

637885_-top_secret-.jpgThe Georgia Trade Secrets Act

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See this video of Cobb County Commissioner Gail Downing about some important changes going into effect on March 1, 2013 regarding your vehicle tag and title taxes.

 Please contact an experienced attorney at Betts & Associates if you have questions about these new laws and how they can affect you starting March 1st.

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The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in early December over the wrongful death civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Melvin Williams, a man who was fatally shot by an East Dublin police officer on May 14, 2010.

The incident happened after Williams was stopped and confronted by East Dublin police officer, Jeffrey Deal, after he allegedly ran a stop sign. There is no visual evidence of this moving violation though despite the presence of a police video that has been released to the public. Moreover, it was revealed after the shooting that Officer Deal had not attended the state’s mandatory training on use of deadly force and therefore had lost his power to arrest when the incident occurred.

What the video does show is Officer Deal driving his police car to an East Dublin residence and aggressively approaching Williams who was standing next to his parked vehicle. A fight ensued between Williams and Deal, with Williams asking the officer repeatedly, “What’s wrong with you?!” As the fight escalated, Deal drew his side arm and shot and killed Williams who was unarmed.

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Federal and state authorities are still conducting an investigation over widespread reports of abuse and violence in various Georgia prisons. One case in particular focuses on an inmate, Terrance Dean, who was beaten while handcuffed on December 16, 2010 by seven prison guards at Macon State Prison and had to be hospitalized with life threatening injuries as a result.

The beating ensued after a fight broke out on December 16 between Dean and a guard during an inmate protest over better prison conditions. This resulted in an emergency response team being called in to diffuse the situation. However, after the officers broke up the fight they then handcuffed Dean and led him into the prison gymnasium where they allegedly beat him to the point where he fell into a coma.

Macon State Prison authorities also have been accused of covering up the incident after it happened. For example, Dean’s family was not notified by the Georgia Department of Corrections that Terrance was in the hospital until nearly two weeks after the assault occurred. The family initially found out what happened through an illegal cell phone call that came from inside the prison to Dean’s brother. And Dean’s mother did not get to actually visit her son until January of 2011.

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Much of the 2012 Presidential Election has been focused on women’s issues. In particular both candidates alluded to the Lilly Ledbetter Act during the second Presidential debate at Hofstra University. But what are the terms and conditions of the Lily Ledbetter Act? And what sort of rights and protections does it give women in the workplace?

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2009. The Act amends Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice.” In other words, any employee shall not be time barred from filing a law suit around unlawful discrimination as long as they file that suit within 180 days of the last paycheck where they believe such discrimination has, and continues, to occur.

This piece of legislation stemmed from the 2007 Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter, had worked for many years in Alabama as a production supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant and was paid less than her male counterparts who had identical job titles and responsibilities. Ledbetter sued Goodyear when she was about to retire, alleging that the company had based this pay disparity on gender discrimination.

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In recent years the federal government and many states have begun to crack down on business owners who misclassify their workers as “exempt employees” and/or “independent contractors.” Such misclassifications are illegal and an injustice to workers, particularly low-wage and immigrant workers, as it denies them basic rights afforded by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

One of principal benefits of the FLSA is that it requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage and paid overtime (one and a half times your regular hourly rate of pay) for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a week.

When business owners misclassify their employees as being “exempt” then they can require them to work much longer hours for way less money since they do not have to pay overtime. Moreover, if they classify their workers as “independent contractors” they not only save money on overtime but also on contributions they would normally have to make to Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance (i.e., the payroll or withholding tax).

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The United States Supreme Court began its 2011-2012 term on October 1 and is expected to make some historic rulings on major laws pertaining to Immigration, Civil Rights, and Affirmative Action over the next few months.

One of those cases will address the Court’s interpretation of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As over 26 states have passed strict voter identification laws, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued on the grounds that these laws violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is now poised to make a judgment on this contentious issue.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires states and voting jurisdictions with a clear history of voter discrimination get federal approval from the DOJ before they can implement any new voting practices or procedures. In other words, the states have a burden to prove that these new practices will not have a discriminatory purpose or effect on voters.

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A Georgia law passed earlier this year requiring all applicants to prove legal residency in order to obtain a professional license has created a major backlog for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and is delaying the issuance of the licenses to Georgia residents who have done everything correctly.

The professional licensing renewal process that covers over 200 professions (e.g., nurses, hair stylists, plumbers, pharmacists, etc.) and over 475,000 workers used to just take just a few days, but now because of this new proof of legal residency requirement the waiting period can take up to several weeks. And for new applicants the amount of time could stretch out for several months.

This is proving to be a challenge for Georgia workers looking to stay at their job, not to mention large and small business owners alike who want to keep their trained workforce in tact without an interruption in service.

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According to the United States Census Bureau, large numbers of foreign-born Georgia residents are taking the necessary steps to become naturalized United States citizens. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on October 9 this appears to be a direct result of Georgia’s new, strict immigration law as the state has seen an increase in over 43,000 naturalized citizens between 2010 and 2011. That is a jump of 13% overall.

This increase in naturalization is logical given the harsh consequences of Georgia’s new immigration law and the flexibility local law enforcement officers now have to enforce its terms. For example, local law enforcement officers have the authority to check the immigration status of virtually every suspected non-citizen or legal resident who cannot provide identification upon request. Such inquiries had been handled exclusively by federal immigration authorities in the past, but under Georgia’s new law local authorities can now pursue matters of immigration on their own.

Moreover, strict penalties have been proposed to any business owner who does not verify their current workers’ and new hires’ legal authorization to work. This requirement is burdensome to companies and has reportedly resulted in a diminished labor pool in vital areas of Georgia’s economy such as farming and agriculture.

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When a manufacturer makes a product, they must consider the risks and harms that the product could cause. They do this because if a person is injured because of a defective product, the manufacturer will have to pay for the injury.

This has not always been the case. For a very long time, the “general rule” was that a manufacturer could not be sued, even for negligence, by someone with whom he had no contract. This was called the “rule of privity,” and it was most famously set forth in an 1842 case Winterbottom v. Wright. This rule existed for many decades. See this article for more information about the history of product liability.

The law and its assumptions began to change in the middle of the 20th century. Many people consider Ralph Nader the true pioneer of Product Liability. According to his bio, “The crusading attorney first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and a series of automobile safety laws passed in 1966. Since 1966, Nader has been responsible for: at least eight major federal consumer protection laws such as the motor vehicle safety laws, Safe Drinking Water Act; the launching of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Administration; the recall of millions of defective motor vehicles; access to government through the Freedom of Information Act of 1974; and for many lives saved.”