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Stephen Patrick Hoffman

Stephen Hoffman’s Answers

7 total

  • Can a 16 year old choose to live with her grandma?

    Can a 16 year old choose to live with her grandma if she dosent want to live at her dads house or her moms house? Her dad and mom are verbally abusive to her and she wishes not to live with either of them. But her grandma is very nice and this 16 ...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Generally, the right of a parent to parent the child is legally protected in Minnesota, at least to the extent that it doesn't endanger the child. However, since 2002, Minnesota law has statutorily treated third-party custody situations like this (where the person seeking custody is neither the child's father nor mother) under the same "best interests of the child" analysis as for normal custody matters.

    One factor the courts take into account (and give significant weight to) is where the child wants to live, so it will depend on how the other factors come out (e.g., the mental/emotional state of the parties, the relationships with the child, who the primary caretaker is, etc.). Be aware that if you are actively seeking third-party custody, you must follow a specific process to bring the issue in court. See Minnesota Statute 257C.03 for more information.

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  • My ex employer is with holding my last check because i owe him some money i did not give him permisson is this legal

    I worked at a cafe put my two week notice and worked the first week but when i went to get my check he said i owe him money so i dont get a check i worked for 5yrs at the cafe

    Stephen’s Answer

    You may be able to take him to court and recover some or all of your wages.

    Under the general rule, an employer must pay the employee's wages by the next regular payday after the employee's final work day. Where the final day is within 5 days of the next payday, the employer gets a little more time but must still pay within 20 calendar days. The employee can demand immediate payment in writing if he doesn't pay by then and, if the employer still doesn't comply, he's liable to the employee for up to 15 days' worth of additional wages.

    Where an employer withholds wages in good faith, he'll only be liable for more than he paid if the employee takes him to court and wins a greater amount. In that case, the employee can also recover interest and legal costs.

    If your employer says you owe him money, find out why he thinks that. In most cases, he's still required to pay you. He can't deduct your wages to recover what you owe unless you voluntarily authorized him to do that in writing, or otherwise if a court holds you liable for the debt. If neither of those happened, he's also liable for twice the amount that he withheld.

    I'd recommend contacting an attorney if your ex-boss continues to refuse to pay you.

    (I've also changed the Practice Area on this question from "Banking" to "Employment/Labor" to help you get more responses.)

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  • Can I get my license to sell life, property and casualty insurance if I have a pending misdemeanor theft charge?

    I was charged with misdemeanor theft about a month ago due to a misunderstanding. My attorney Is very confident that I will not be convicted but will need to do a diversion program for the charge to be dismissed. I am applying for a resident p...

    Stephen’s Answer

    The pending theft charge shouldn't prevent you from getting licensed.

    Minn. Stat. § 60K.43 gives the possible reasons that the Commissioner can deny an insurance producer's license. Under Subsection 6, being convicted of or pleading guilty/no contest to a misdemeanor could be a valid reason, but only if it's a crime "involving moral turpitude, including, but not limited to, assault or similar conduct."

    Whether your theft charge constitutes a crime of moral turpitude will depend on the specifics, but simple theft is generally not enough. The Commerce Department's Insurance Division can provide you with more information on licensing requirements.

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  • We own a small kitchen cabinet business and have a customer that refuses to pay us $850. What should we do next?

    I posted this question previously but forgot to include pertinent info. We did a kitchen remodel project for a customer and he still owes us $850 but refuses to pay. His excuse is that the cabinets are not the quality he expected. He saw the ca...

    Stephen’s Answer

    It depends on whether suing him is appropriate in your circumstances.

    First, make sure that filing a lawsuit would be appropriate. If you use any sort of purchase agreement, order form, or form invoice with your customers, you may want to look at that first. If these agreements were well-drafted, they probably contain a clause stating where a party can sue (e.g., in what state, county, type of court) or even if you can sue at all. Some agreements, for instance, contain a mandatory arbitration or mediation clause that requires the parties to use those avenues prior to filing any lawsuit. Lawyers usually include these types of clauses in contracts for the same reason you posted your question: so the parties (or their attorneys) can be certain of which law applies and where they can seek any remedies. Courts generally defer to these provisions as long as they are reasonable, so failure to comply with such a clause might get your suit dismissed before it even begins.

    Also, you might also want to examine the agreement for any language regarding the buyer's satisfaction. These "satisfaction clauses" must be explicit in the agreement to be applicable, so if the agreement does not provide any guarantees of satisfaction, you generally won't need to worry about this. Typically, goods (such as cabinets) only need to satisfy a reasonable person, so even if the buyer was not satisfied, he may still be required to pay for them if a court finds a reasonable person would be satisfied with them. However, if the agreement allows the buyer to refuse payment because he is not *personally* satisfied--as long as his dissatisfaction is in good faith--you could probably only recover the cabinets, not payment for them.

    Second, after determining that a lawsuit would be appropriate, I would recommend suing in the small claims court of the county or municipality where your injury occurred (e.g., where your business is located). The Ohio Supreme Court has a pamphlet on suing in small claims court, which I've included in the links below. You don't need to file suit in the county in which he lives or works, but filing where you live may present problems if he decides to fight the lawsuit. In contrast, if you decide to file suit where he lives, that would be fine, but filing in the jurisdiction where the transaction took place (presumably where your business is) will likely be the most convenient and best choice.

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  • How long before personal belongings are considered abandoned, and able to be removed?

    we asked a roommate to move out. it has been more than thirty days since he has. he left no phone number or forwarding address. he never gave us personal contacts for us to call and get him a message.

    Stephen’s Answer

    The answer to this question might depend on your lease.

    The best course of action would likely be to just inform your landlord that your roommate moved out over a month ago. Under Minnesota law, however, the landlord probably won't be able to remove the abandoned property for another month. Minnesota Statute 504B.271 allows a landlord to remove abandoned property either:
    1) 28 days after the landlord receives notice of the abandonment; or
    2) 28 days after it reasonably appears to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the premises;
    whichever occurs last. As a result, unless the landlord knew that the tenant was moving out or it was reasonably evident the tenant moved out to the landlord, he can't really do anything with the property for 28 days.

    The reason for notifying your landlord and letting him deal with it is that he has a statutory right to dispose of the property. In general, tenants have no such rights unless the co-tenant specifically grants them that right either by words or conduct, and merely leaving the property in the apartment is not enough. Therefore, if you tried to move or store your former roommate's property, he could likely sue you or possibly even bring criminal charges, particularly if any of the property gets damaged. Due to the problems you and your co-tenants have already had with him, he might even do it simply out of spite. You'll probably agree that you don't need those kinds of headaches.

    Be aware, though, that the 28 day period is the mandatory minimum requirement--the lease agreement could provide for additional time (e.g., 60 days) before property will be deemed abandoned, but it's unlikely. Check your lease for your landlord's particular requirements, but know that the landlord cannot make it less than the period listed in the statute.

    As an additional caveat, understand that residential leases may contain clauses requiring that the landlord be given notice whenever a tenant moves in or moves out, and this generally applies to co-tenants as well. As a result, failure to inform the landlord that your roommate moved out within a certain period of time may constitute a breach of the lease agreement. I'm not saying you will be evicted or anything like that--in fact, your lease might not have such a clause--but you should be aware of it as a possibility. Be sure to check your lease.

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  • Correct country of origin labeling ("Made in ___") for a new product

    Hello, We are manufacturing the individual parts of a fitness product in two countries, as follows: DVD, manual, packaging, printing: USA Exercise equipment and bag: China Assembly of everything (pick and pack) into one set/package: USA ...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Marking requirements for imported goods can be complex, especially where the countries involved are subject to additional trade agreements. Since China and the U.S. are both WTO Members and China does not receive special tariff rates from the U.S. (e.g., under a trade agreement or preference system), the WTO non-preferential rules of origin and markings apply.

    The goal of marking is to ensure that the ultimate purchaser of the goods is aware of where they came from. This can become very difficult where raw goods from one country are used in production in another country, or in similar situations where they are transformed or combined with other goods in different places.

    There are two primary methods for determining origin under the non-preferential rules of origin. The general rule for origin markings for goods imported into the U.S. is that an article originates from the country where it was wholly grown, produced, or manufactured. This is the "goods wholly obtained" method.

    The second method is where the goods consist either wholly or in part of materials from other countries and they have been substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce which has a name, character, or use distinct from its original article(s). This method is known as the "substantial transformation" test. This would be most applicable in your case. The "substantial transformation" test can be hard to satisfy absent production or manufacture of raw materials into a finished product, but it's not impossible.

    Determining the required markings can be very fact-intensive, and I don't have enough information to give you a more definitive answer. However, placing incorrect markings on the articles can be very costly, both in terms of time and money. I would strongly recommend either speaking with an international trade lawyer or, at the very least, requesting a ruling letter from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol regarding classification of the imported product compared to your final product. (A change in the tariff heading between the two would help establish there has been a "substantial transformation," thus allowing you to list the country of origin as the U.S.)

    Note: Personally, I would have recommended consulting a lawyer before undertaking a manufacturing agreement with a Chinese company due to import duties and tariffs, not to mention labor standards.

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  • Naming my business

    I wanted to know if I could name my business the same name as another company if they have and inc. and I want to have a LLC. and the business are two different types of business in different towns?

    Stephen’s Answer

    Yes, you should be able to use the same name based on your information.

    In general, a business can register any name not prohibited by law or where the name is trademarked or would be otherwise misleading. For instance, you probably would not be able to register a business named "Coca-Cola LLC" since it uses a registered trade name. You also probably couldn't register "Acme Inc., LLC" since the "Inc." would likely be misleading as to the actual form of the entity.

    If your proposed business name doesn't violate those basic rules or rules promulgated by the Secretary of State for the state where the business will be registered, you should be fine. As an example, see the included links to the Oklahoma Secretary of State's website--both Acme Construction, LLC and Acme Construction, Inc. are registered by different agents.

    The Secretary of State reserves and registers business names, so you should confirm that your name (as an LLC) is still available and submit the proper registration documents. If you believe that the LLC name might be registered by someone else before you file your registration, you may want to reserve the name. There will likely be a fee to do so.

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