October 15th Deadline: Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable (or Non-Creditable) Coverage

Medicare Part D notices (of either creditable or non-creditable coverage) are due for distribution prior to October 15th. Continue reading October 15th Deadline: Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable (or Non-Creditable) Coverage

Legal Issues for Creating and Maintaining Your Website

The reach and impact of the internet is well known and it provides a must-have medium to advertise, promote, and conduct business.  Setting up and maintaining your website may seem like a relatively straightforward process, but just under the surface lie a variety of legal issues and even potential minefields that should be taken into consideration in order to protect your business online. Continue reading Legal Issues for Creating and Maintaining Your Website

Attorney Elizabeth Latchana honored among Michigan’s ‘Women in the Law’

Elizabeth Latchana Honored by Michigan Lawyers Weekly

When the entire country was seeking to understand and respond to the myriad of employee benefit changes, mandates and associated penalties accompanying the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Fraser Trebilcock attorney Elizabeth Latchana stepped up to the challenge and became a leading advisor to employers of all sizes across the state of Michigan – and beyond.

“Her dedication to providing clients and the community with the most current information and updates has inspired one of the most active blogs for this legal practice in the state of Michigan,” said Fraser Trebilcock President Brian Morley. “With the proposed changes under the new administration and, for that matter, all future administrations that may aim to continue tweaking or outright changing the laws, Beth’s legal guidance and leadership will be needed for many years to come. We are grateful to have her experience on our side at Fraser.”

Beth found her niche in the transactional health and welfare employee benefits practice just a few years into her legal career.  “With the incredible training and assistance of my predecessor and others, I was able to learn, grow, and expand Fraser’s health and welfare employee benefits practice area, sevenfold, and am sincerely honored to have received some accolades along the way,” she says.

Selected in 2015 as “Lawyer of the Year” for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law in Lansing by Best Lawyers, the Genesee County native has achieved an AV Preeminent peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell, and continues to be selected by Leading Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Her most recent accolade is selection as one of the Top 30 “Women in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, and she will be among those honored at a Sept. 7 luncheon in Troy.

When the graduate of Alma College and University of Notre Dame Law School first joined Fraser Trebilcock as an associate, she set a number of goals, from hitting certain billable hour thresholds, to attaining shareholder status, to growing a client base and expanding her practice, to serving on the Board of Directors, all while volunteering in the community and raising a family.

“Nearly 19 years later, I’m happily still a member of the Fraser Trebilcock family, and I’m pleased to say I’ve met each one of my goals,” she says. “I’m proud of my longevity at this great law firm and happy to be of service to it.”

A vice president on Fraser Trebilcock’s Board of Directors, co-chair of the Employee Benefits practice, and an employee benefits coordinator, Latchana became a leading advisor to employers following the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

She recalls a tip from a senior associate in the early years: make the boss’ job easier. “It led me to focus on working as a team, not just completing a legally correct and hopefully impressively shiny project, but going the extra mile to reach beyond the assignment to simplify the shareholder’s own work,” she says.

“I’ve taken that advice to heart to this day, now with my own clients, helping navigate them through legal hoops and finding creative solutions while ensuring this is done in a way to allow them to focus on what’s most important to them, their own business. I’m able to use creative thought to develop solutions for clients while ensuring they are complying with the plethora of legal mandates thrown at them in the ever-evolving world of employee benefits.”

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The legal industry is one which focuses on serving others, which Beth feels drawn to.  Giving of oneself to the assistance and hopefully betterment of others is, she says, what life is all about.  “As lawyers, we are held to incredibly high ethical and professional standards, as well as displaying an excellent work ethic.  We have been trained this way, and it is ingrained in our very being.  Therefore, it’s almost impossible for these standards not to trickle over in one’s personal life and activities, and in all ways we serve.”

With her own legal practice in the health and welfare benefits arena, she is able to use creative thought to develop solutions for clients while ensuring they are complying with the plethora of legal mandates thrown at them in the ever-evolving world of employee benefits.  “My goal is serve my clients in a way that allows them to have full confidence in their benefit structure so they can focus on their own business…”

Personally, her practice has enabled her to balance professional life with things she enjoys outside of work.  A mother of three, Latchana serves as being a role model for youth and assists her community through activities including participating in alumni career fairs, coaching and managing youth in various recreational sports leagues, assisting with creating a community dog park, organizing and collecting donations for local shelters, or serving in leadership capacities of local non-profit organizations, most recently the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

And if Beth commits to something, she utilizes those high standards she was taught to ensure the task is completed to the best of her ability, no matter the subject.

Click HERE to sign up to receive updates and alerts on matters related to Employee Benefits Law. You can also learn more about the legal services provided by Beth and our Employee Benefits attorneys, in their own words:




Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

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NEW VIDEO: Employee Benefits Law Practice

With employee benefits constituting a large and growing segment of an employer’s total labor costs, it is crucial that employers get the most out of each dollar spent. Our attorneys help employers navigate the complex and frequently changing rules governing employee benefits.

We invite you to learn more about our practice in this new video:


Our lawyers at Fraser Trebilcock also devote substantial amounts of time to advising clients of legislative and regulatory changes in the employee benefits area, and frequently write and lecture on employee benefits topics. Click HERE to sign up to receive updates and alerts on matters related to Employee Benefits Law.


Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

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9 Legal Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask

Business Legal Compliance ChecklistAs a small business owner, you wear multiple hats. Making sure your business is compliant with laws and regulations is a top priority. These 9 legal questions every small business owner should ask will help you evaluate where your business stands in the current landscape:

1. Should I keep this on file?

If you are questioning whether to keep a file or piece of paper, you should probably error on the side of keeping it. Proper paperwork and records are key if you were to ever be sued. Examples include employee paperwork, financial documentation, and completed contracts. A typical timeline of keeping the items is around three years, but that will vary based upon the item.

2. Is our employee handbook up to date?

A second legal question every small business owner should ask relates to the employee handbook. Your employee handbook is not only an important reference for your employees but also for you as the employer. However the information can become out of date or inaccurate. Take time to review the entire handbook and make a note of anything that needs to be updated or added. Once updated, distribute the new document to each employee either by hand or on your internal portal as applicable.

3. Do we have the proper registration for expansion?

You filed the appropriate trademarks and other protections for your business, but now it’s time to expand. Do you have the proper registrations in place to expand and still be protected? Make sure you check your previous trademarks and other registrations to see if they need to be clarified or if new filings or approvals need to be filed.

4. Are we missing out on tax deductions?

Proper planning throughout the year will make tax compliance time easier. There are a number of tax-related legal questions business owners should ask. Have you looked at each item as a potential tax deduction? Regular communication with your accountant and attorney will save you time and money.

5. How can I protect my business name?

Many small business owners know to protect their business name, but what about your logo or other identifying characteristics? These questions are essential for small business owners to ask in order to protect your business and its intellectual property from competitors or infringement. Registered trademarks should be in place to protect your business and brand well into the future.

6. Is my business set to be passed down to my family?

You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your business. It is only natural to want to pass your business or the assets to your family once you are ready to walk away. The Boston Globe reports that 8 out of 10 family businesses have no family succession plan. Start with a conversation with your family to see if there is an interest in succession and then meet with an attorney to ensure the proper measures are in place to achieve those transition goals. For more on this topic, refer to our recent blog on Business Succession Planning.

7. What happens if my business is too successful or not successful enough?

Most business owners worry about what to do if their business doesn’t make it. However, a business owner should be prepared for both best-case and worst-case scenarios. Proper business planning can provide you and your business flexibility and protection in either occurrence. An attorney can help you select the appropriate options that are best for you and your business.

8. Am I compliant with recent Health Care legislation?

The Affordable Care Act and Health Care Reform regulations and restrictions continue to change. The complexities of these laws require businesses to remain engaged with their advisers in order to stay in compliance. Stay on top any changes in regulations by meeting with your benefits provider and attorney. If any adjustments need to be made, make sure proper communication is made to your employees.

9. How do I prepare my business for the future?

Does it look like growth or expansion is on the horizon? Make sure your business is ready and in compliance with legal real estate-related requirements. State and local requirements and compliance should be reviewed when entering a new jurisdiction.

These questions are a starting point for small business owners interested in legal compliance in the coming year and beyond. If you have specific legal questions for your small business, contact us. As a full-service Michigan law firm, our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of business law.


Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

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Fraser Trebilcock Hosts Ingham County Probate Court Summer Interns

On August 3, 2017, the Trusts & Estates Department of Fraser Trebilcock hosted a luncheon for 10 Ingham County Probate Court interns. Attorneys Marlaine C. Teahan, Mark E. Kellogg, Melisa M.W. Mysliwiec, and Shaina R. Reed lead discussions on:

  • future employment opportunities in the area;
  • differences among solo, small, medium or large firm practices;
  • life as a practicing attorney in the area of Trusts & Estates; and
  • benefits of a student membership in the State Bar of Michigan and the Probate and Estate Planning Section.

The interns explained their responsibilities at probate court and shared stories of participating in probate court hearings as both investigator and guardian ad litem. One intern found the probate court a thrilling place to learn. All agreed that their summer internship experience helped them grow, personally and professionally, and helped them learn more about what they want to experience in their future work as an attorney.

Fraser Trebilcock is proud to partner with the Ingham County Probate Court in informal gatherings with summer interns. Last year the interns met with the associates of Fraser Trebilcock to learn about life as a new attorney in a mid-size, full service Michigan firm. We look forward to future luncheons and wish this year’s summer probate court interns success as they return to school. Many thanks to Scott J. DeWeerd, Deputy Probate Register, for helping make this luncheon happen.


New Research Likely to Lead to Increase of Concussion Related Litigation

As sports concussion awareness continues to gain national headlines, so too will concussion related litigation.

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association made headlines recently for its findings relating to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former NFL players.[1] The research examined the brains of 111 deceased former NFL players and found evidence of CTE in 110.  Somewhat lost in the headlines was that researchers also examined brains of former football players at all levels, not just those who participated in the NFL. According to the study, evidence of CTE was found in three of the 14 brains of players who only played in high school and in 48 of 53 college players whose brains were studied. In total, of those examined, CTE was diagnosed in over 87% of former football players at all levels.

While this new research is certainly bound to affect on-going concussion litigation against the NFL and NCAA, expect it to also accelerate the trend of lawsuits against youth sport organizations and high schools relating to concussions and safety protocol.

Between 2009 and 2015, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed laws to address the issue of concussions in youth sports, mostly modeled on Washington State’s groundbreaking Lystedt Law. This new CTE research may lead to the enactment of stricter concussion protocols.  However, more stringent standards could actually contribute to an increase in concussion related litigation. Recently, the Supreme Court of Washington (the first state to enact concussion safety laws) ruled that the family of a deceased high school football player could proceed with claims against the high school and coach for violations of the legislation based on an implied cause of action theory.[2]

While participation in tackle football may be down in recent years, according to a 2016 survey published by the National Federation of State High School Associations, football remains the number one high school participation sport in the United States. This fact, coupled with the recent CTE revelations is likely to lead to an uptick in the amount of concussion related litigation.

To learn more, contact an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock at 517.482.5800 or by clicking here to fill out this form on our website.

[1] “Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football,”  Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 318, No. 4, Pgs. 360-370 (2017).
[2] Swank v Valley Christian School, — P.3d —- (2017); 2017 WL 2876139 (Wash. July 6, 2017).

7 Tips About Data Breach Prevention and Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

We see it in the news on a regular basis. Major corporations like Anthem, eBay, Sony Pictures, and Target have all suffered major data security breaches. But these breaches don’t only happen to major businesses. Companies of all sizes are targets. Sometimes, smaller companies are even bigger targets because protections may be lax.

So how do businesses of all sizes go about data breach prevention and cyber security? Here are seven tips to strengthen your business against a data breach.

1. Train employees and users on data breach prevention

Human error is often to blame for most breaches. The easiest way for a hacker to invade your network is by preying on an employee who doesn’t recognize the risk. Whether through a malware email attachment, or by downloading a document from an unreliable resource, there is a wide variety of easy phishing attempts that can lead to a data breach. The key to prevention is teaching your employees how to avoid making these common mistakes. Also, include a technology protocol section in your employee handbook where your team can easily access it. This section should cover proper steps to take to protect your technology, especially anything that could be considered a trade secret, or private customer/client information and data.

2. Store customer data in an encrypted database

Another tip for data breach prevention is to use a secure database and encrypt any items containing customer/client information or trade secrets. The encryption process converts that information or data into a code, which then works to prevent unauthorized access. A common example of this process is the one used when you make an online purchase. Once you enter your payment information onto an ecommerce website and it has been approved, your information is encrypted before it is stored on the website. When you later go back to the website to make another purchase from your account, your information is ready to use.

3. Improve cybersecurity with two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to logging into a website. After a user inputs the required login and password, an extra step is initiated to ask the user for another piece of information that only he or she would have. For example, a text message with a one-time code may be sent to the user’s phone, which is tied to the account. Two-factor authentication is very important for data breach prevention if your business has devices that go in and out of the office, such as tablets or laptops, making sure they are secure in the event they become lost or stolen.

4. Malware detection software on both servers and workstations

Each workstation inside your business, as well any servers, need to have malware detection software installed to help with data breach prevention. The detection software prevents malware from being installed. Malware can be hidden in a variety of formats, the detection software helps scan each item to ensure its safety. There are a variety of different software packages available for businesses, depending on the level of security needed.

5. Perform regular vulnerability checks

It’s critical that you perform regular vulnerability checks to minimize the risk and prevent data breaches. For example, it’s important that firewall configurations be reviewed regularly with penetration testing, to make sure only trusted networks are given access. Software updates may also vary with your malware protection software. There are programs that can run regular checks, or you can look to a third-party IT company for assistance. It’s also important that you continue to test and train employees through phishing emails to ensure they stay vigilant.

6. Require frequent remote data backups

Whether routinely completed on the cloud or on an external hard drive, remote data backups ensure that your data is stored securely. A routine backup allows you to have a reference point if your data is breached in the future. Most backup providers allow you to pick the frequency of the backup, time of day it occurs, and what level of information detail you would like to store.

7. Have a disaster plan ready in case of a data breach

Protecting your business against a data breach is an ongoing process. Under the Michigan Identity Theft Protection Act, in the event of a data breach that is likely to cause harm or result in identify theft, a business must provide a notice of the security breach to each affected Michigan resident, customers and vendors affected by the breach, as well as consumer reporting agencies. Keep in mind, the notifications must be precise and meet certain statutory requirements.

Unfortunately, even with planning, a cyberattack can still happen. Be prepared by having a disaster plan ready, and be sure to include the proper steps for employees to take both during and after an attack. Review the plan as an internal team frequently to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of timelines and responsibilities. Time is of the essence during a data breach, and having a disaster plan prepared will make that stressful time more efficient.

To learn more, contact an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock at 517.482.5800 or by clicking here to fill out this form on our website.


Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

Download the Checklist


Michigan Supreme Court Clarifies Eligibility for Charitable Property Tax Exemption

This week the Michigan Supreme Court in Baruch SLS Inc v Township of Tittabawassee (MSC Docket No 152047) clarified how the factors are to be considered in determining whether real property is exempt from taxation. Continue reading Michigan Supreme Court Clarifies Eligibility for Charitable Property Tax Exemption

How to Avoid Wrongful Termination Lawsuits in Michigan

In Michigan, employment is usually considered to be “at-will”. This means that either an employer or employee may decide to terminate employment at any time, with no reason needed. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule. Continue reading How to Avoid Wrongful Termination Lawsuits in Michigan