When President Joe Biden expressed his concerns about children’s Internet usage during his 2023 State of the Union address, Louisiana certainly agreed with that concern. On June 8, 2023, the Louisiana legislature enrolled for Governor John Bel Edwards a bill intended to extend parental consent requirements on social media use by children under the age

The attorney-client privilege ranks among the oldest and most established evidentiary privileges known to our law. This privilege allows clients to communicate freely with legal counsel without worry of disclosure through discovery or at trial. Moreover, the joint defense privilege has been recognized as an extension of the attorney- client privilege which gives attorneys and clients alike additional room to share privileged information to third parties without creating a waiver. However, since its recognition, use of the joint defense privilege has created questions in the legal community regarding the discoverability of such information for use against a party to the joint defense in litigation.

In general, the joint defense privilege “extends the attorney-client privilege to any third party made privy to privileged communications if that party ‘has a common legal interest with respect to the subject matter of the communication.’’’ Aiken v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co., 151 F.R.D. 621, 624 (E.D. Tex. 1993) (citing In re Auclair, 961 F.2d 65, 69 (5th Cir. 1992)). Moreover, the joint defense privilege “encompasses shared communications between various co-defendants, actual or potential, and their attorneys, prompted by threatened or actual, civil or criminal proceedings, ‘to the extent that they concern common issues and are intended to facilitate representation in possible subsequent proceedings’ … ‘or whenever the communication was made in order to facilitate the rendition of legal services to each of the clients involved in the conference.’” Id. at 624.Continue Reading The “Joint Defense” Privilege

New parents have to make a number of adjustments to their lives. From dealing with diaper rash to sleep deprivation, they have a lot to deal with. But parenting duties are not limited to physical care of a child. There are numerous financial parenting tips that every new parent must consider. This article is intended to hit the high points on the list of financial and estate planning tasks that every new parent should consider.

1) Adjust Income Tax Withholdings.

The easiest and quickest way to get extra cash into a new parent’s hands is to adjust their income tax withholdings as soon as possible. A new child should allow a new dependency withholding exemption, assuming the child qualifies as a dependent of the parent. A taxpayer qualifies for a dependency exemption in the year of the dependant’s birth and for so long as the dependent continues to satisfy the definition of a “dependant” under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 152. The additional dependency exemption should work to reduce a parent’s required tax withholdings from his or her paycheck.

The parent should adjust his or her withholding certificate as soon as possible to take advantage of the new withholding exemption. The IRC allows for almost immediate adjustment to an employee’s withholding certificate. The IRC even allows prospective adjustments to withholding calculations if furnished before December 1 of the prior year under IRC § 3402(f)(2)(C). The sooner a parent’s withholding certificate is adjusted, the sooner his or her take home pay gets a much needed bump.

2) Identify Applicable Tax Breaks.

The IRS grants taxpayers several child related tax breaks, in addition to the dependency exemption under IRC § 151. Every parent should examine these tax benefits in calculating their income tax liability.

First, parents are granted a child tax credit of $1,000 under IRC § 24. The child must be a qualifying child under IRC § 152(c), but this definition should cover almost all children living with the parent and less than seventeen years old. The credit is allowable against the alternative minimum tax, but begins to phase out for joint return filers making more than $110,000. For single parents, the phase out starts at $75,000. The phase out is complete at $130,000 for joint filers and $95,000 for individuals. In limited cases, the credit can be refundable under IRC § 24(d).

Parents with less than $15,000 in adjusted gross income are entitled to a tax credit for amounts paid to care for children, if such expenses allow the parent(s) to continue gainful employment. This credit is equal to thirty-five percent of the expenses incurred in caring for a child, up to a maximum amount of $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for two or more children.

Adoptive parents of special needs children also have a special tax break designed solely for them. Under IRC § 23, adoptive parents of children who are less than eighteen years old and physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves are entitled to a tax credit for adoption expenses of up to $10,000. This credit is subject to a phase out for high earners.

3) Review or Create an Estate Plan.

Most new parents don’t have an estate plan because they’ve never thought they needed one. In a sense they are right. Louisiana law generally provides a spouse substantial rights in the community property of a decedent during the surviving spouse’s lifetime if the couple has no children. For single people, property usually stays within their family at death. But, when children arrive, a will is a must.Continue Reading Financial Planning for the Growing Family – Seven Important Tips for New Parents

Hydraulic fracturing involves injection of large volumes of fluids at high pressure into a well to create fractures in the source rock formation. This technique was designed to improve oil and gas production. Hydraulic fluids that are used in this technique are a mixture of water, chemical additives and proppants (small spheroids of solid material).

On February 10, 2014, the Treasury Department released final regulations on the employer mandate provisions under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). While the final rules retain much of what was outlined in the proposed regulations issued in December 2012, the most significant news is the additional one-year delay for certain covered employers with respect

The Supreme Court of Louisiana, in Ogea v. Merritt, 2013 WL 6439355 (La. 12/10/13), provided guidance regarding the personal liability of members of an LLC, reversing a lower court decision and finding a member of an LLC not personally liable for damages resulting from that member’s performance of a contract in the name of the LLC.

Travis Merritt, the sole member of Merritt Construction, LLC, signed a contract with Mary Ogea to build a home on an undeveloped parcel of land owned by Ms. Ogea. After problems with the foundation became apparent, Ms. Ogea filed suit against the LLC and against Mr. Merritt individually. Following trial, the district court rendered judgment against both Mr. Merritt, personally, and the LLC “in solido” for various items of damages. The district court found that Mr. Merritt personally performed some of the foundation work and failed to properly supervise the subcontractor who actually poured the concrete, providing grounds for Mr. Merritt’s personal liability. The court of appeal affirmed, but the Supreme Court then granted a writ to address the extent of the limitation of liability afforded to a member of an LLC.Continue Reading Personal Liability of Members of an LLC – Louisiana Supreme Court Provides Guidance

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a writ application to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in Watkins v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et. al.—an action involving plaintiff’s damages from decedent’s potential NORM (i.e., naturally occurring radioactive material) exposure. The central issue before the court is whether the one-year period to bring a survival action

In its most recent decision regarding Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) coverage, namely New Orleans Depot Services, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, 718 F.3d 384 (5th Cir. 2013) (en banc), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals defined “adjoining” as used in the LHWCA to mean “bordering on or contiguous with navigable waters.” In doing so, the Court expressly overruled its own precedent found in Texports Stevedore Co. v. Winchester, 632 F.2d 504 (5th Cir. 1980) (en banc), and the Court adopted the interpretation of the statutory language proffered by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Sidwell v. Express Container Services, Inc., 71 F.3d 1134 (4th Cir. 1995).
Continue Reading The Fifth Circuit’s Latest Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Ruling

In cases where punitive damages have been claimed and could potentially be awarded defendants should be aware of whether, and to what extent, their wealth and financial data is subject to discovery. Louisiana courts seem to be in agreement that when punitive or exemplary damages are claimed, a defendant’s financial status is discoverable since such information is relevant to the subject matter of the action. See Lacoste v. Crochet, 99-0602 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1/5/00), 751 So.2d 998, 1005. However, it is not clear as to the extent to which a party may conduct discovery into the wealth and financial matters of a defendant when dealing with a potentially viable punitive damages claim.
Continue Reading Limiting Discovery in the Punitive Damages Context

Through House Bill 589 of the 2013 Regular Session, the Louisiana legislature amended article 966 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which, as of August 1, 2013, requires additional legwork by practitioners who seek to obtain a ruling or dismissal by summary judgment. The new rule requires the moving party to formally admit its evidence into the record for the purposes of that particular summary judgment motion. Thus, unlike in years past, the practitioner may no longer rely upon evidence “on file” in the record or evidence simply attached to the motion itself. Even under the 2012 amendments with similar language to HB589, at least one circuit recently held that the movant must formally admit its evidence in support of the motion at the hearing on the motion.

Article 966(B)(2) now states in pertinent part:

(2) The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with the affidavits, if any, admitted for purposes of the motion for summary judgment, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact, and that mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law (underlined language is added by HB589).Continue Reading Louisiana Legislature Amends Article 966 of the Code of Civil Procedure Requiring Additional Legwork by Practitioners Seeking Summary Judgment