Jacob Thomas to lead Collin County Bar Association’s Civil Litigation/Appellate Section for 2018-2019

Saunders, Walsh & Beard is very proud to announce that Jacob D. Thomas will be leading the Collin County Bar Association’s Civil Litigation/Appellate Section this year. Jacob, a Partner in the firm, will humbly endeavor to ensure the continued success of the Collin County Bar in serving its members and the Collin County community over the next year.

civil litigation, construction litigation, attorney, Collin County, McKinney
Jacob Thomas, Partner at Saunders, Walsh & Beard

Click here to read more about Jacob Thomas https://saunderswalsh.com/jacob/


City of Austin’s New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance May Apply to Collin County Employers

The City of Austin has become the first city in Texas to require private employers to provide paid sick leave to full time and part-time employees. By enacting a City Ordinance on February 16, 2018, Austin now requires most private sector employers to provide each worker up to 64 hours, or 8, eight-hour work days, of paid sick leave per year. Businesses with 15 or fewer employees benefit from a lower cap of 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Sick leave is accrued at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

You may say, so what, that is Austin. My business is not located in Austin, so the Ordinance does not apply to me. However, the location of your business is not the sole determining factor in whether the Ordinance applies to your business. If you have any employees, full-time or part-time, who work in Austin more than 80 hours per calendar year, the Ordinance applies to you and each employee working in Austin more than 80 hours per year will be entitled to paid leave.

Other key provisions of the Ordinance include:

  • Existing sick leave or PTO policies may satisfy the Ordinance so long as they provide benefits that are as generous as those provided in the Ordinance;
  • Employers are required to post notice of the sick leave accrual program; and
  • Retaliation against employees exercising their rights under the Ordinance is prohibited. program.

Because of this recently enacted Ordinance, which will take effect on October 1, 2018, any company with employees working more than 80 hours per year in Austin should seek counsel to ensure their current sick and PTO policies and practices fully comply with the new requirements.



Brantley Saunders Named 2016 Texas Super Lawyer


Congratulations to J. Brantley Saunders, a founding partner of Saunders, Walsh & Beard, for being selected for inclusion in the 2016 Texas Super Lawyers.

Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas through its patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation.

Brantley Saunders has been helping individuals and businesses solve legal issues for over 20 years. His experience in over 25 jury trials helps him to focus his clients on the important issues to attack. This deep experience allows him to “see the whole field,” address key issues early, and avoid litigation when possible. Quickly diagnosing the issues, then creating a plan for success in litigation or transactional work is his bread and butter. Real estate transactions, business entity formation, insurance, personal injury and mediation are his primary areas of focus.

When asked for comment, Mr. Saunders said “I am humbled by this honor…. does it come with a cape?”

Saunders, Walsh & Beard is a multi-practice business law firm located in McKinney, Texas.  Our AV Preeminent-Rated attorneys handle a broad range of civil litigation, business/commercial planning, real estate, construction, insurance, and personal injury cases.

For more information, please contact www.saunderswalsh.com.





Texans “Slap” Back

free speech

Freedom of Speech is Alive and Well in Texas.  The Texas Citizens Participation Act Strikes Again: This time in an HOA dispute.

If you run for office these days, you probably need to have pretty thick skin.  People have always “talked about” leaders, but now with the advent of community websites, neighborhood websites, and texting, information spreads like wildfire.  Even local positions, like little league President or Board Member of your Homeowners Association (HOA), can become hotbeds of controversy.  The information people spread should be relatively accurate (“substantially true” in legal terms), or you can be held liable for defamation of character.   Spreading lies, rumors, or innuendo can get you sued – and rightfully so.  However, I keep coming across cases where people get their feelings hurt over tiny things and they want to run to the courthouse to shut up their opposition; or as they see it “demand justice”- through intimidation. Said another way, they want to file “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (SLAPP).

      I just finished handling one such case where a couple of homeowners who were Board members of their local HOA took offense to people questioning their business judgment.   To stop the criticism, they decided to file a lawsuit against their fellow homeowners (and the HOA, and the past Board) for “defamation”, “slander,” and for “ruining their reputation”.

We represented the homeowner that was the alleged “slanderer.” He had disagreed with the approach taken by members of the Board who decided it was best to pay off or “settle” with people who had issues with the Board rather than fight them.  He wrote a strong, but professional letter to the community stating his position that he felt the Board was wasting their money and should be replaced.   This letter was the basis of the “slander” claim as alleged by the Plaintiff.

Unfortunately for the Plaintiff, the letter, while direct, was simply one homeowner exercising   his right of free speech to question the direction of the current Board.

For those of you who follow our blog, you might guess what happened next.   First, we nicely asked them to non-suit the case and pointed out their risks.  They refused to nonsuit (as I’ve found is common, “how could we be wrong?”), and instead demanded money.    I consistently find it revealing when someone who “stands on principle” wants dollars in exchange for his principle.    So we were then forced to ask the Judge to award our client all of his legal fees, costs, and sanctions under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (often referred to as the Anti-SLAPP statute).

We are proud to report, that once again, freedom of speech prevailed.    The   Ellis County Judge defended the right of Texas citizens to exercise their right of freedom of speech.  The case was dismissed and the Plaintiffs were ordered to pay our client’s attorneys’ fees of over $10,000.00 plus costs.  Further, the Judge ordered the Plaintiffs to pay “sanctions” to our client in the amount of $25,000 to deter the Plaintiffs from filing another lawsuit attempting to quash Freedom of Speech.  Hopefully, the Plaintiffs in that suit will reconsider before trying to SLAPP someone in the future; because they learned the hard way: Texans slap back.

The Difference between a Rule of Interpretation and a Canon of Construction

One evening, sitting by the fireplace, sipping on a cup of hot coco, I found myself musing on the subject of contract interpretation.  I was pondering various active cases and my fading memory of my first year of law school when I had two revelations:  1) I am getting old, and 2) I had no idea if “construe against the grantor” was a rule or a canon.  I suspected that I was not the first attorney to have this particular question, so I became determined to find the answer and share it with you.