Thursday, January 26, 2012

Buying or Selling a Business or Commercial Property?

In Connecticut, owners and prospective purchasers of businesses or properties where businesses now operate or have operated in the past, need to be aware of Connecticut General Statutes, Sections 22a-134 through 22a-134e, known as the “Transfer Act” or “Transfer Law.” The Transfer Act requires the disclosure of certain environmental conditions when properties or businesses which are defined as “establishments” under the terms of the Transfer Act are transferred.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) developed its Property Transfer Program to implement the Transfer Act.

For purposes of the Transfer Act, any piece of property or business on or from which, at any time on or after November 19, 1980, there was generated 100 or more kilograms of hazardous waste in any one month; or any property or business on or at which hazardous waste from another location was recycled, reclaimed, reused, handled, stored, transported or disposed of, will be considered to be an “establishment” (although there are some exceptions)  Additionally, any property on which, after May 1, 1967, dry cleaning or furniture stripping was conducted, or on which a motor vehicle body repair facility was located, will be considered to be an “establishment.”

A transfer will usually mean any change in ownership of an “establishment.” Depending upon the type of property and/or entity which is being transferred (land, business, assets, or a combination of these) and whether a release of any hazardous substance has occurred at or on the property or business, one of several different Property Transfer Forms, published by the DEEP, must be completed and signed, and a copy provided to the DEEP. 

In all transfers governed by the Transfer Act, an investigation of the property will need to be undertaken by a qualified environmental professional, in accordance with standards and guidelines promulgated by the DEEP.  If a hazardous substance has been released on the property, the parties to the transfer will be required to determine which one will agree to investigate and remediate any pollution which has resulted.

For more information about the Transfer Act and the Property Transfer Program, visit the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s website at:

Have questions or comments?  E-mail Attorney Tony Stevens at wstevens@bpslawyers.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Police Can’t Use GPS Monitoring Without A Warrant

A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down yesterday in US v.Jones ruled against a joint FBI/D.C. police team that illegally monitored nightclub owner Antoine Jones’ jeep with a GPS device for 28 days.  The GPS tracking device led the joint team to discover Jones at a house with 100 kilograms of cocaine and $850,000.00 cash. Jones was convicted of conspiring to sell cocaine and sentenced to life in prison. The court ruled that GPS monitoring without a warrant constituted an unconstitutional search under the fourth amendment. Based on the illegal search, Jones’ conviction was overturned.

Image by J_Alves; used pursuant to Creative Commons license.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action – All in a Criminal Courtroom

People arrested for the first time may believe that they have a right to be shielded from the media’s flashbulbs and camera lenses when inside of a courtroom attending a hearing, including at their first court appearance, legally known as an “arraignment.”  As made clear in a recent Connecticut Law Tribune article, however, in Connecticut this is not true.
Beginning January 2012, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has instituted an expansive set of new and revised rules governing media attendance at state court criminal proceedings.  See Practice Book §§ 1-10A, 1-10B, 1-11.  The breadth of the change in the Judicial Branch’s policy is evident from the fact that the old rules stated that courts should prohibit media from broadcasting criminal proceedings, whereas the new rule explicitly provides that “[t]he broadcasting, televising, recording or photographing by the media of court proceedings and trials in the superior court should be allowed,” subject to certain restrictions.  Practice Book § 1-10B (a).  The new provisions also contain procedures for the media to file a request to attend a defendant’s arraignment and to have one still photographer, one cameraman and/or one audio recording device record the proceeding.  Practice Book § 1-11A.  The new rules, however, do not apply to certain types of cases, such as juveniles or sex crimes.  Practice Book § 1-10B.  For the time being, those defendants retain a right to privacy inside of a courtroom.
If a person commits a crime, they should now expect the media to be present not only at their front door or the door to the courthouse but also inside the courtroom, capturing every minute of what for most people are the worst moments of their lives.

Questions or comments? Contact Attorney Cantor.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Wikipedia has instituted a 24 hour black out as a means of protesting two online piracy bills that have been introduced in the US House of Representatives and US Senate. The bills, dubbed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), are intended to hamper the rampant online piracy perpetrated by foreign websites, but the bills’ opponents claim they violate the first amendment and are little more than internet censorship.

The White House has spoken out against the bills, and with all the negative attention they are garnering, passage in their current form seems unlikely.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Your Hacked Email Account Can Come Back to Haunt You

Changing email addresses is a part of life – what was a cool email address in high school or college often becomes undesirable as an adult or professional email address.  People also change email providers over time, such as from Yahoo! to Gmail.  What people usually fail to do, however, is to delete or close old email addresses/accounts.  Why does this matter?  It matters because people regularly use weak passwords to protect their email accounts, rendering them easy to hack and enabling scammers to co-opt unused email accounts as part of “phishing schemes.”
Phishing schemes often occur in two forms.  The first is when scammers send out emails that appear to be official communications from banks, financial institutions or e-commerce websites such as Amazon or E-Bay, asking users to confirm some of their account information, such as social security number or password.  When people click on the link in the email they are taken to a spoofed website that looks just like the real logon page for Bank of America or Amazon.  Users then enter their personal information, which is collected or “phished” and forwarded to the scammer’s email account(s).  Another type of phishing scheme is when scammers hack an email address of someone you know and trust and use that account’s address book to send you and other people emails asking for financial assistance or other personal information.  The second type of attack occurred just recently when an Ohio politician’s email account was hacked and messages were sent to individuals in her address book asking them to wire her money in England, where she was allegedly stranded after being mugged.  Needless to say she was not stranged in England and luckily no one wired any money.
As part of both phishing schemes scammers use hacked email addresses to either entice victims or to hide their location and identity.  This is where legitimate but unused email accounts come into play.  By allowing your old email account to remain active and unmonitored, hackers and phishers can use it as part of their illegal activities.  When police or other authorities begin tracking down the scheme’s perpetrators, the innocent owner of the email account, whose information is on file, risks becoming embroiled in the investigation.  Indeed, help forums for many popular free email services reveal dozens of postings by users worrying that their account has been hacked and used for a phishing scams.  Just as people should not leave their passwords lying around, they should also not leave unused email addresses active and unmonitored.  Take a moment today and close unused email accounts.
If you suspect your email account has been hacked, the following resources are available:

For Hotmail users - http://explore.live.com/windows-live-hotmail-hacked-account-faq
For Gmail users - http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=50270

Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.

Connecticut Residents Eligible for Storm Credit from CLNP

CLNP is extending a credit of up to $200.00 for customers out of power during the October Nor’easter, also known as Winter Storm Alfred. All customers without power after noon on Saturday November 5, 2011 are eligible to apply. The credit is a minimum of $100.00 and can go up to $200.00. The actual amount will depend on the number of customers who apply for the credit. For more information visit CLNP’s website. Customers can apply online. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on January 31, 2012.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Connecticut Businesses Must Now File Annual Reports Online

All Connecticut businesses will now be required to electronically file their annual reports with the Secretary of State. The new online requirement went into effect on January 1, 2012 with the passage of Public Act No. 11-146. The new law also requires businesses to provide an email address to the Secretary of State so that email notifications and reminders can be sent.  Annual reports for registered business entities are due by the end of the month that the entity was incorporated. Reports can be filed online at http://www.concord-sots.ct.gov/CONCORD/index.jsp

 According to a press release from Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the online requirement is expected “to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, streamline and improve customer service, and eliminate the use of at least two tons of paper processed by the Secretary of the State’s office every year.”

Questions or comments? Email Attorney Regina von Gootkin at rvongootkin@bpslawyers.com.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beware: Ridiculous Lawsuits

When does a wrong or injury merit bringing a lawsuit for compensation?  While speaking with a qualified and experienced attorney can help you come to a conclusion about the merit of a potential court case, some cases would strike almost any person as obviously frivolous.  In an effort to bring to light some of the many frivolous and egregious lawsuits clogging the American judicial system, Faces of Lawsuit Abuse.org recently released the results of its readership poll for the most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011.  Viewers voted the winner of the most ridiculous lawsuit of 2011 to be a suit in which “[a] man who kidnapped a couple at knifepoint while he was running from the police is now suing the victims, claiming that they promised to hide him in exchange for an unspecified amount of money.  The plaintiff, currently in jail, is seeking $235,000 for the alleged ‘breach of contract.’”  Also included on the list of ridiculous lawsuits of 2011: Children suing their parents for not including money when sending cards, a 300-pound man suing White Castle restaurants for not having booths available to accommodate persons of his size as well as a New York mother suing her four year-old daughter’s private preschool for using a curriculum the mother claims has damaged her daughter’s chances of attending an Ivy League university someday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Divorced Parenting During the Holiday Season

As the holiday season comes to an end, many are reminded of the stress that can accompany all of the joy and celebrating.  There are often additional challenges during the holiday season for families who have been through a divorce.  As recently reported in the Huffington Post, parenting during the holiday season for divorced parents can be particularly stressful.  However, the article notes that flexibility is crucial to minimizing that stress.  Divorce typically entails the processes of restructuring of families, redefining relationships, and developing new traditions.   Remaining flexible can help with these processes at all times but particularly during the holiday season.  Parents should try to be flexible with their traditions, dates of celebrations, as well as who is in included in their traditions and celebrations.  This flexibility may be the key for some to making the holiday season more enjoyable for all.