Cattle v. Cowboys? Interlocutory Appeal of Order Denying Arbitration in Texas.

Very few things are more Texan than cattle and the cowboys who care for them. Texas history is full of disputes between cattle owners and those that harmed their cattle. In a battle between cattle owners and those who were hired to feed and care for them, the Supreme Court of Texas was asked to decide whether a party forfeited its right to challenge a ruling denying arbitration by opting to not pursue an interlocutory appeal of that ruling and challenging the denial after a jury verdict. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617 (Tex., June 26, 2020).

Bonsmara owned and imported the first full-blooded Bonsmara cattle from Africa intending to sell the beef at a premium price as “natural.” To finish and sell the beef, Bonsmara contracted with Hart of Texas Cattle Feeders to feed, provide vitamins, minerals, and medicine for the cattle at Hart of Texas’ feed lot. The parties stipulated that disputes would be settled through arbitration and was signed by Bonsmara, Chapman (a Bonsmara guarantor), and Hart of Texas. After shipping 12,500 cattle, the relationship broke down, Bonsmara and Chapman sued Hart of Texas and its three non-signatory owners alleging breach of contract, negligent feeding and care of the cattle. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617, *6 (Tex., June 26, 2020).

Hart of Texas moved to dismiss and compel arbitration, but the trial court denied the motion because the arbitration clause referenced the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (“TCFA”) arbitration rules and TCFA rules allow only TCFA members to arbitrate. Hart of Texas, Bonsmara, and Chapman were not members of TCFA, and the court held that the designated forum (i.e. TCFA arbitration) was therefore unavailable. Although entitled to, Hart of Texas did not timely challenge the denial through interlocutory appeal, and the court of appeals denied their mandamus petition to compel arbitration. A jury trial went forward on the merits and Hart of Texas and its three non-signatory owners were found jointly and severally liable for damages. From the judgment, Hart of Texas appealed.

The court of appeals heard the case and reversed stating that the arbitration agreement did not require TCFA to arbitrate only that TCFA rules be used. The court of appeals also held that Hart of Texas’ three non-signatory owners could compel arbitration to disputes related to the agreement. Bonsmara then appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617, *8-9 (Tex., June 26, 2020). Bonsmara argued that by failing to timely file the interlocutory appeal, Hart of Texas lost its right to challenge the denial of its motion to compel arbitration. Bonsmara also argued that the non-signatory owners of Hart of Texas could not compel arbitration because they were not a party to the contract.

The Supreme Court of Texas, in a 6-3 decision, affirmed the court of appeals decision and rejected Bonsmara’ s use-it-or-lose-it approach to interlocutory appeals. The Supreme Court of Texas held that interlocutory appeal statutes do not alter the principle that orders merge into and may be challenged on appeal from a final judgment and acknowledges that cost and other factors may play a part in a decision to not seek an interlocutory appeal.  The Supreme Court also noted that the interlocutory appeal statute at Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 51.014(a)(9) uses the language “may appeal” which creates discretionary authority or power and not a mandate. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617 *12-13 (Tex., June 26, 2020).

Regarding non-signatories compelling arbitration, the Supreme Court of Texas said that the language of the arbitration clause did not foreclose the application of direct-benefits estoppel. Texas law has long allowed that non parties may be bound to a contract under various principles and a person who has agreed to arbitrate disputes with one party may sometimes be required to arbitrate related disputes with others. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617 (Tex., June 26, 2020), citing, In re Weekly Homes, L.P., 180 S.W.3d 127, 131 (Tex. 2005) and Meyer v. WMCO-GP, 211 S.W.3d 302 (Tex. 2006). Because the arbitration clause did not limit estoppel, it was much more like the clause in Meyer which also did not preclude the use of estoppel to require arbitration with non-signatories. Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617 *33 (Tex., June 26, 2020).

Bonsmara elicited exceptionally strong language from the dissent not seen often on the Supreme Court of Texas. The opinion is a must read on enforceability of arbitration agreements, the use and timing of interlocutory appeals, and the ability to compel non-signatories to arbitrate. The dissent in Bonsmara centers on the fact that the Bonsmara opinion gives parties a second bite of the apple, endorses gamesmanship, and goes against the principle goals of arbitration to promote “efficiency by acting as a cost and time-savings mechanism, while safeguarding valuable and finite judicial resources.” Bonsmara Nat. Beef Co., LLC v. Hart of Tex. Cattle Feeders, LLC., ___ S.W.3d ____, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 617 *34-35 (Tex., June 26, 2020).

While this case seems to resolve this issue, the dissent on the Supreme Court of Texas, including the Chief Justice, will, in my opinion, seize on the next opportunity to limit Bonsmara. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggestions, or replies should be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com.

Substituted Service of Process Via Social Media Has Arrived In Texas

Texas, especially the Supreme Court of Texas, has been a leader in providing civil access to justice to so many by introducing common sense reforms and providing model forms to assist those in need or in rural areas where there are not enough lawyers. These reforms and procedures are simply an acknowledgement of the technology that now exists, attempts to make the system more efficient, a recognition of the problems rural counties face and the change in the way people communicate.

Effective June 1, 2020, Texas took another leap forward as Section 17.033 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code became effective allowing for substituted service to be accomplished through social media. Section 17.033 states, in part, as follows:

Sec. 17.033. SUBSTITUTED SERVICE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. (a) If substituted service of citation is authorized under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the court, in accordance with the rules adopted by the supreme court under Subsection (b), may prescribe as a method of service an electronic communication sent to the defendant through a social media presence. (b) The supreme court shall adopt rules to provide for the substituted service of citation by an electronic communication sent to a defendant through a social media presence.

Applicable to cases filed after June 1, 2020, there are no cases in Texas on this issue yet, but there are cases in other jurisdictions and an article recommended for your casual reading.  There is an excellent article in the ABA Law Practice Today dated January 13, 2017 by Amanda Sexton entitled “Service of Process via Social Media.” The link to Ms. Sexton’s predictive and useful article is https://www.lawpracticetoday.org/article/service-process-via-social-media/. Also, the Supreme Court of New York case of Baidoo v. Blood-Dzaku, cited by Ms. Sexton, can be found at 48 Misc.3d 309; 5 N.Y.S.3d 709 (March 27, 2015).

Service by social media is long overdue. While there are many due process hoops to jump through such as making sure the social media account is for the correct person, that it is currently being used and reliable so notice is provided, the enactment of Section 17.033 is an acknowledgement that people communicate differently and people may move around from place to place, but their social media account cannot be left behind as everyone wants to stay connected. In my opinion, substituted service via social media will be more effective than service by publication and much less expensive.

The opinions in this blog are the author’s and any comments, suggestions, or replies can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com.

Fifth Circuit Allows Snap Removal and Explains Forum-Defendant Rule Limitation

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently joined other federal circuit courts and addressed and upheld “snap removal” of cases from state court to federal district court. See Tex. Brine Co., L.L.C. v. Am. Arbitration Ass’n., Case No. 18-31184, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10849 (5th Cir. April 7, 2020). Snap removal is jargon for removal prior to service on all defendants. In Texas Brine, one defendant was served first and removed the case from state court to federal court before the other defendants were served. Plaintiff then filed a motion to remand because the named, but unserved defendants would have destroyed diversity jurisdiction.

A defendant may remove a civil case from state court to the federal district court in which the case could have been brought. 28 U.S.C. 1441(a). In diversity cases, there is a procedural limitation known as the forum-defendant rule that provides that a civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of jurisdiction may not be removed if any of the parties in interest “properly joined and served” as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought. See Tex. Brine Co., L.L.C. v. Am. Arbitration Ass’n., Case No. 18-31184, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10849 *6 (5th Cir. April 7, 2020).

The question before the Fifth Circuit was “whether the forum-defendant rule prohibits a non-forum defendant from removing a case when a not-yet-served defendant is a citizen of the forum state. See Tex. Brine Co., L.L.C. v. Am. Arbitration Ass’n., Case No. 18-31184, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10849 *6 (5th Cir. April 7, 2020). The Fifth Circuit analyzed the statute and holding that its prior decision to strictly construe the removal statute to favor remand did not apply, the court held that a non-forum defendant may remove an otherwise removable case even when a named defendant who has yet to be “properly joined and served” is a citizen of the forum state. See Tex. Brine Co., L.L.C. v. Am. Arbitration Ass’n., Case No. 18-31184, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10849 *10 (5th Cir. April 7, 2020), citing, Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281-282 (5th Cir. 2007).

The key fact in Texas Brine was the strict construction of the language of the forum-defendant rule that specifically required the parties in interest to be “properly joined and served” and the other defendants were not served so removal was proper. The court reached this result but expressly declined to reach the other issue of fraudulent joinder which has been a problem in the last few years. See Garcia v. Metro. Lloyds Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192955 (ND. Tex. 2015), citing, Martin v. State Lloyd Farms, No. 4:15-CV-397-A, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81584, *2-3 (N.D. Tex. June 23, 2015) (McBryde, J.) (noting twelve recent cases where claims adjusters were improperly joined).

The issue of snap removal and fraudulent joinder will continue to be litigated. For those attorneys in other circuits, the Second, Third and Sixth Circuit courts have also allowed snap removal and those cases are listed in the Texas Brine opinion. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggestions, or replies can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com.

 

Supreme Court of Texas Extends Deadlines for Filing or Service of Any Civil Case until June 1, 2020

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its “Eighth Emergency Order Regarding The Covid-19 State of Disaster.” Any deadline for the filing or service of any civil case is tolled from March 13, 2020 until June 1, 2020 unless extended further by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This tolling does not apply to any deadlines for perfecting appeal or for any other appellate proceedings, and requests for relief should be directed to the court involved and the Supreme could Order states that these requests should be”generously granted.” The Order can be found at: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446315/209051.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2PIey5jvmUdks4akNZbBW-hVp5V-xcbVCl9hYUMhafNScdijm_VGbbHsw

Stay safe!

Force Majeure Clauses and Contractual Impracticality in a Pandemic

For those of us who live near the Texas Gulf Coast, force majeure clauses get a lot of attention every hurricane season (June 1 to November 30 each year). However, all of us are now faced with issues of the covid-19 pandemic and each of us are dusting off research to see if the force majeure clauses are applicable to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent government orders that predetermine which businesses are essential and which are not under various mandatory “stay home, work safe” orders.

Courts and many commentators use “force majeure” and “act of God” interchangeably as a contractually agreed-upon excuse for performance when performance has become impracticable or the purpose of the contract frustrated. An “act of God”is generally defined as “an overwhelming, unpreventable event caused exclusively by forces of nature, such as an earthquake, flood or tornado” and in tort cases, it is an operation of natural forces so unexpected that no human foresight or skill could reasonably be expected to anticipate it. See Article: An “Act of God”? Rethinking Contractual Impracticality in an Era of Anthropogenic Climate Change. 67 Hastings L.J. 1551, 1570 (2016).

The scope of the force majeure clause really depends on the the specific language in the contract. See El Paso Field Services, L.P. v. MasTec N. Am., Inc., 389 S.W.3d 802 (Tex. 2012). Court’s look to the parties’ intent as expressed in the language and the party seeking to excuse its performance under a force majeure clause has the burden of proof to establish this defense. See Virginia Power Energy Mktg. v. Apache Corp, 297 S.W.3d 397, 402 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, pet. denied). Unlike many states, Texas courts do not imply an unforeseeability requirement into a force majeure event. See Sun Operating Partnership v. Holt, 984 S.W.2d 277 (Tex. App.– Amarillo 1998, n.w.h.)

The issue that is going to be litigated, in my opinion, is where the force majeure clause does not list a pandemic as a triggering event, but because national, state, county, and city governments have issued mandatory “stay home, work safe” orders. These government orders and the predetermined selection as to which businesses are essential (or not) so they can stay open and function normally is going to be an interesting question for the various courts to decide when determining if a force majeure event has occurred and performance is excused. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggested topics, or replies can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com. Be safe everyone and be kind! We are all in this together.

 

Use of Words “Time Sensitive Document” on Envelope Held to Violate Fair Debt Collections Practice Act

During these unusual political times, it is rare to talk about rational policy choices made by Congress. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit does just that in Preston v. Midland Credit Mgmt., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *;  ___F.3d ___; 2020 WL 290451 (7th Cir. Jan. 21, 2020).

The court in Preston was faced with the issue of whether sending a debt collection letter in which the envelope is stamped as a “Time Sensitive Document” violated Section 1692f(8) of the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act because it was language other than Midland’s (i.e. the debt collector) address on an envelope containing a debt collection letter. Preston also alleged that the envelope itself constituted a false representation of the character, amount, or legal status of a debt as well as a false or deceptive means to collect a debt. Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *4.

In response, Midland alleged that the complaint should be dismissed because the purpose of Section 1692f(8), as set forth in legislative history, was to prohibit debt collectors from using language or symbols that revealed that the letter concerned debt collection. Midland argued that it was not intended to “bar the use of harmless words or symbols.” Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *5. Midland also made reference to opinions in the Courts of Appeals for the Fifth (my circuit) and Eighth Circuits that adopted a “benign language exception” to Section 1692f(8)’s absolute prohibition of the use of any symbol or language on the the envelope of the debt collection letter. Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *5; see Goswami v. American Collections Enterprise Inc., 377 F.3d 488 (5th Cir. 2004) and Strand v. Diversified Collection Service, Inc., 380 F.3d 316 (8th Cir. 2004). Because “Time Sensitive Document” did not suggest that the contents involved debt collection, Midland argued that the benign language exception applied and there was no violation.

The district court agreed with Midland and dismissed the complaint by Preston relying on the benign language exception. Preston appealed to the Seventh Circuit and the Seventh Circuit reversed. In construing a statute, the Seventh Circuit held that one always begins with the language of the statute and if the statutory language is unambiguous and the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent, the inquiry ceases. Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *8, citing, Kingdomware Techs, Inc. v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1969, 1976, 195 L.Ed.2d 334 (2016) (quoting Barnhart v. Sigmon Coal Co., 534 U.S. 438, 450, 122 S. Ct. 941, 151 L.Ed. 2d 908 (2002).

Here, Section 1692f(8) prohibits “(8) Using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business.” Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *11. Rejecting adoption of the holdings by sister courts of the benign language exception, the Seventh Circuit held to a strict interpretation and stated that the meaning of Section 1692f(8) is clear that when a debt collector communicates with consumers through the mails, it may not use any language or symbol on the envelope except for its business name or address, as long as the name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business. Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *18. Because the language “Time Sensitive Document” appears on the envelope and does not fail within one of the itemized exceptions of Section 1692f(8) and is not language or symbol required for use of the mails (i.e. overnight mail, pre-printed postage or envelopes from postal service), the inclusion of the phrase ‘Time Sensitive Document” violates Section 1692f(8). Preston, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1775 *18.

The moral of this story is to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors should try and follow the plain language of the statute. Deviations to the itemized exceptions or taking a license to try and collect or indirectly mislead the consumer into thinking that they have to act now or lose the ability to ever act can only lead to trouble for the debt collector. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggestions, or replies can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com. Thank you to all the loyal readers of this blog. Happy Leap Year!

 

Inquiry Notice and Good Faith – You Cannot Hide Your Head in the Sand Anymore

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently asked for guidance from the Supreme Court of Texas on whether a transferee on inquiry notice of fraudulent intent can achieve good faith without investigating its suspicions. Without providing an exhaustive review of the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act’s good faith affirmative defense, the Supreme Court of Texas answered the question no. Janvey v. GMAG, L.L.C. et al, Case No. 19-0452, ___ S.W.3d ____ (Tex. December 20, 2019).

The Supreme Court restated that the purpose of the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“TUFTA”) is to “protect creditors from being defrauded or left without recourse due to the actions of unscrupulous debtors.” Janvey v. GMAG, L.L.C. et al, Case No. 19-0452, ___ S.W.3d ____ (Tex. December 20, 2019), citing, KCM Fin. LLC v. Bradshaw, 457 S.W.3d 70, 89 (Tex. 2015).  Creditors are allowed to invoke TUFTA to “claw back” fraudulent transfers from their debtors to third-party transferees. The ability to claw back can be defeated if the transferee can show that it acted in good faith and the transfer involved reasonably equivalent value.

In responding to the certified question, the Supreme Court held that when a transferee is on inquiry notice and attempts to invoke TUTFA’s affirmative defense of good faith, it must show that it investigated its suspicions diligently. Janvey v. GMAG, L.L.C. et al, Case No. 19-0452, ___ S.W.3d ____ (Tex. December 20, 2019). Recognizing that the investigation may not uncover additional evidence to impute to the transferee, it is still required once the transferee is on inquiry notice. Further, the investigation is a chance to demonstrate good faith and requiring proof of an investigation negates the incentive to remain willfully ignorant of fraud. Janvey v. GMAG, L.L.C. et al, Case No. 19-0452, ___ S.W.3d ____ (Tex. December 20, 2019).

This opinion by Justice Busby and the Supreme Court of Texas helps clarify the duties of transferees. Parties to a transaction have closed their eyes to examples of possible fraudulent intent to defraud a creditor for much too long. This opinion significantly strengthens the TUFTA which already provides its own eleven, nonexclusive indicia of fraudulent intent. See Tex. Bus. & Com. Code ch. 24. Also, this opinion along with the Supreme Court of Texas’ previous opinion on what constitutes “reasonably equivalent value” in Janvey v. Golf Channel, Inc., 487 S.W.3d 560, 566 (Tex. 2016) provides a comprehensive look at what is needed to raise or defeat the affirmative defense to TUFTA.

The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, suggestions, or replies can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com. Happy New Year to everyone!

 

Finality of Judgments in Texas

In one of her first opinions as a new Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, Justice Bland wrote an opinion for the court on finality of judgments. See In the Interest of R.R.K., a child, Case No. 18-0273, ____ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. December 13, 2019). In R.R.K., the issue was whether a memorandum order modifying possession and child support was final and appealable, rending the trial court’s later order void and the mother’s appeal untimely. Because the memorandum order lacked clear and unequivocal indicia of finality, the Supreme Court was required to examine the entire record to determine the trial court’s intent. Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 205-206 (Tex. 2001); In re Elizondo, 544 S.W.3d 824, 827 (Tex. 2018) (per curiam). In reversing the Court of Appeals decision and finding that the memorandum order was not intended to be a final order, it is important to review what should be done to ensure you have a final and appealable judgment in Texas.

The Supreme Court of Texas in Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191 (Tex. 2001) came out with what appeared to be a bright line rule that allowed the use of magic words to ensure that the judgment was a final judgment. The Supreme Court of Texas followed up Lehmann with In re Elizondo, 544 S.W.3d 824 (Texas 2018) and held that no matter what else the order says, if it says that “This Judgment is final, disposes of all the claims and all the parties and is appealable,” it is a final judgment for appellate purposes. According to the Supreme Court in Elizondo, those words were so “clear and unequivocal” that the Court’s review must stop there without reviewing the rest of the order in the interest of finality. Otherwise, finality phrases would serve no purpose. The Supreme Court further acknowledged that while this rule is inflexible, it is its inflexibility that makes the rule useful because it warns litigants that prompt action is required to challenge the final judgment.

There are a number of great articles on finality of judgments, but I want to reference one right off the bat should this issue arise in your case. Chris Dove wrote an article entitled Article: Crafting the Final Judgment, 30 App. Advoc. 423 (Winter 2018) that is excellent. When drafting a final judgment, my recommendation is to include a mother hubbard clause  that states “all relief not expressly granted is denied” along with the Lehmann/Elizondo magic words that “This Judgment is final, disposes of all claims and parties and is appealable.”

The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any replies, comments, or suggestions should be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com. Happy Holidays to you and your families!

 

Amendments to Residual Exception to Hearsay Rule

Federal Rule of Evidence 807 provides a method for admitting hearsay statements that would not normally be admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 803 and 804. Many commentators would argue that the residual exception has swallowed up the hearsay rule. See Sonenshein, David A, Fabens-Lassen, Ben. “Has the Residual Exception Swallowed the Hearsay Rule?”. Kansas Law Review, Kansas Law Review Inc. October, 2015: vol. 64(3). Rule 807 has been amended effective December 1, 2019 and the amendments make that proposition more true than ever. Previously, the  residual exception was considered something that would only be used in rare or exceptional circumstances. United States v. Reed, 908 F.3d 102 (5th Cir. 2018).

Under the new Rule 807, a hearsay statement is not excluded by the hearsay rule even if the statement is not admissible under a hearsay exception under Federal Rules of Evidence 803 or 804 if: (1) the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness – after considering the totality of circumstances under which it is made and evidence, if any, collaborating the statement; and (2) it is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts. See Proposed Amendment to Federal Rule of Evidence dated April 25, 2019. The residual exception still requires the proponent to give an adverse party reasonable notice of the intent to offer the statement – including its substance and the declarant’s name (but no address) – so that the party has a fair opportunity to meet it. The notice must be provided in writing before the hearing or trial, but upon a showing of good cause, the court can excuse the lack of notice.

The amendment moves away from the reliability standard of FRE 803 or 804 and requires the court to look at trustworthiness under the totality of the circumstances. It also removes the requirement that the statement be of a material fact as required in the old version of Rule 807 and eliminates the interest of justice and purpose of the rules standard for admission.

The amendment to Rule 807 is just another step in the continuing trend of courts admitting more and more hearsay. I suspect this trend will continue. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any replies, comments, or suggestions can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com. Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you to all the men and women who have served!