Most, if not all, cases brought today involve e-Discovery. Nearly everyone texts, emails, and uses ephemeral messaging apps. Think about how little you see people interacting face to face these days – not just because of COVID-19 but because of the tech boom, and our obsession with our cell phones. Now imagine getting sued – or suing someone else. Certainly, your adversary is going to want to look at your messages, and you’d want the same. Let’s narrow our focus to text messages for a second: think about the volume of messages you send on a daily basis – now double it because I can almost guarantee you’re underestimating.

How do you capture such voluminous data – and not only capture, but process, review, and produce it? With the assistance of an e-Discovery vendor. Even if you think the data set is relatively small, there are many benefits to using a vendor over trying to collect, process, and produce the data on your own. One advantage is efficiency. I often hear complaints about vendor costs but imagine the billable time you’ll spend attempting a production on your own. Importantly, you’re much more likely than a vendor to make a mistake necessitating a supplemental production. The time will add up and the headaches will mount.

Another advantage of using a vendor is that you can learn more about your data than you can with data directly collected by a custodian and reviewed outside of a specialized review platform. For example, Gmail recently added metadata fields that, when included as part of data processing, enable the organization of emails into the same unique threads Gmail users see within their inboxes. This Gmail linking process, called email threading, can only occur within a review platform. Analytical tools such as email threading, predictive coding/machine learning (to prioritize more relevant documents), and document workflow (automating document routing and distribution to streamline review) not only enable an accurate and efficient review – they also make it more likely that any “smoking gun” communications are found at the early stages of review. This will help you to better assess your legal claims, ask the right questions of your opponent at depositions and in written discovery requests, and evaluate the settlement value of your case.

In the e-Discovery space, we talk about forensically-sound collections.  By using a proper vendor with trained and certified analysts, you can trust that the data is whole and complete, avoid re-doing collections, and maximize the chance that you find the story in your documents early.

If you have a question about use of e-Discovery vendors specifically or e-Discovery generally, please contact Lydia A. Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or Gretchen E. Moore at gmoore@smgglaw.com or any of SMGG’s Litigation Practice Group attorneys.

By Lydia Gorba  and the eDiscovery Committee at SMGG:  Gretchen Moore, Lynne Hewitt, and Maryann Mahoney

Ephemeral Messaging Apps (“EMAs”) are a subset of Messaging Apps that allow users to cause messages (words or media) to disappear on the recipient’s device after a short duration. The duration of the message’s existence is set by the sender. Messages can last for seconds or days, unless the receiver of the message takes a “screenshot” of the message before it disappears.

Snapchat is by and far the most popular EMA. Those who know it, love it – and use it frequently. But you will want to give some thought to your messages before using EMAs personally or professionally. Here’s why.

When litigation is reasonably anticipated or ongoing, a party is generally obligated to suspend its routine document-retention-and-destruction policy and promptly place a litigation hold. During litigation, a party may seek to discover electronically stored information (“ESI”) that is relevant to a claim or defense. Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ESI must be produced in a form “in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(2)(E)(ii).

But how can a party reasonably comply with the rules governing ESI discovery and preservation and avoid sanctions if the information is, by its very nature, temporary? Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(b) provides that “[a] party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost.” Note also that the 7th Circuit’s Electronic Discovery Pilot Program provides that “ephemeral data” is among the categories of ESI that “generally are not discoverable in most cases.” Of course, “most cases” does not mean all cases and the court may still order production of EMA data. See Doe v. Purdue, et al., NO.: 2:17-CV-33-JPK (N.D. Ind. July 2, 2021) for one such case. In Purdue, a civil rights case, Plaintiff was sanctioned for misrepresenting to the Court that his Snapchat account contained no substantive data and for deleting 11 snaps that he had saved previously as “memories” within the Snapchat application.

Morals of the story: understand how EMAs work; when responding to discovery, determine whether there is relevant data saved within an EMA application; and when propounding discovery, remember to ask about EMAs if applicable to your case.

If you have a question about EMAs and the potential evidentiary issues they present or would like to discuss further, please contact Lydia A. Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or any of SMGG’s Litigation Practice Group attorneys.

At the end of April, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided whether no-hire, or “no-poach,” provisions that are ancillary to a services contract between business entities are enforceable under the laws of this Commonwealth. It held that they are not.[1]

Pittsburgh Logistics Systems, Inc. (“PLS”) is a third-party logistics provider that arranges for the shipping of freight with selected trucking companies. Beemac Trucking (“Beemac”) is a shipping company that conducts non-exclusive business with PLS.

In 2010, PLS and Beemac entered into a Motor Carriage Services Contract. It contained both a non-solicitation provision and the no-hire provision. While the contract was in force, Beemac hired four PLS employees. On November 29, 2016, PLS filed an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County against Beemac alleging breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, violation of the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and civil conspiracy.

The lower court opined that no-hire contracts should be void against public policy because they essentially force a non-compete agreement on employees of companies without their consent, or even knowledge, in some cases. The lower court felt that if an employer wants to limit its employees from future competition, the matter should be addressed directly between the employer and employee, not between competing businesses. The Superior Court affirmed, with a dissent,[2] and the issue was ultimately heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

PLS argued before the Court that arm’s-length contracts between sophisticated entities are presumptively enforceable and should not be ignored by the courts. Beemac argued that the Superior Court correctly applied Pennsylvania law regarding restraints of trade in holding that the no-hire provision violates public policy. It argued that PLS failed to explain why a company, already in a superior bargaining position when hiring and negotiating with employees, should be free to contract away the rights of its employees by way of contracts to which they are not parties and for which they receive no consideration.

The Court applied the reasonableness test that applies to ancillary restraints on trade. In so doing, the Court concluded that the no-hire provision was ancillary to the principal purpose of the shipping contract between PLS and Beemac and that it was a restraint on trade because the two commercial entities agreed to limit competition in the labor market by promising to restrict the employment mobility of PLS employees. It further concluded that PLS had a legitimate interest in preventing its business partners from poaching its employees, who had developed specialized knowledge and expertise in the logistics industry during their training at PLS. However, it determined that the no-hire provision was both greater than needed to protect PLS’s interest and created a probability of harm to the public.

The Court deemed it overbroad because it precluded Beemac, and any of its agents or independent contractors, from hiring, soliciting, or inducing any PLS employee or affiliate for the one-year term of the contract plus two years after the contract ended. The no-hire provision precluded Beemac from hiring or soliciting all PLS employees, regardless of whether the PLS employees had worked with Beemac during the term of the contract. Further, the no-hire provision created a likelihood of harm to the public, i.e., non-parties to the contract. The no-hire provision impaired the employment opportunities and job mobility of PLS employees, who were not parties to the contract, without their knowledge or consent and without providing consideration in exchange for the impairment. Balancing PLS’s interest against the overbreadth of the no-hire provision and the likelihood of harm to the public, the Court held that the no-hire provision was unreasonably in restraint of trade and therefore unenforceable.

This is a major development in the law and significantly impacts the enforceability of no-hire provisions, and potentially non-solicitation provisions as well.

Practice Note:

In practice, no-hire and non-solicitation provisions are often contained in Master Service Agreements or Consulting Agreements between companies, as well as certain Confidentiality Agreements between companies looking to enter into a transaction(s). The goal historically was to prevent the loss of workforce or the direct hire of employees to protect against the curtailment of services which were the subject of the underlying arrangement. The forgoing decision now puts into serious question the enforceability of such contractual provisions between companies in Pennsylvania.

If you have a question about the recent decision or would like to discuss further, please contact Harry F. Kunselman at hkunselman@smgglaw.com, Julie I. Kline at jkline@smgglaw.com or Lydia A. Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com.

[1] Pittsburgh Logistics Sys., Inc. v. Beemac Trucking, LLC, No. 31 WAP 2019, 2021 WL 1676399, at *15 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2021).

[2] Pittsburgh Logistics Sys., Inc. v. BeeMac Trucking, LLC, 2019 PA Super 13, 202 A.3d 801, appeal granted, 216 A.3d 1032 (Pa. 2019), and aff’d, No. 31 WAP 2019, 2021 WL 1676399 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2021).

In 1999, Gary and Mary Gregg enlisted the services of Robert A. Kovalchik, a financial advisor and insurance salesperson for Ameriprise Financial, Inc. As a result of misrepresentations made by Mr. Kovalchik, the Greggs ultimately filed suit against him and Ameriprise alleging – among other claims – an Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”) claim.[1]

It’s important to understand that a UTPCPL claim has teeth because – unlike common law claims – it allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees and treble damages. See Earl v. NVR, Inc., trading as Heartland Homes of PA: Werwinski is Dead. The UTPCPL is applicable to most consumer transactions including automobile transactions, home improvement contracts, home purchases, insurance contracts, leases, and service contracts.

The Greggs specifically alleged a violation of the “catch-all” provision of the UTPCPL which prohibits anyone who advertises, sells, or distributes goods or services from “engaging in any…fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding.” 73 P.S. § 201-2(4)(xxi). The Greggs’ UTPCPL claim proceeded to a bench trial and the lower court ruled in favor of the Greggs. Ameriprise filed post-trial motions arguing that the Greggs failed to establish that Mr. Kovalchik’s misrepresentations were negligent. In other words, it argued that the Greggs were required to prove a culpable state of mind in order to establish deceptive conduct under the catch-all provision. The lower court denied relief.

Ameriprise appealed the decision and, in 2018, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the lower court, holding that the test for deceptive conduct is whether the conduct has the tendency or capacity to deceive, without regard to the actor’s state of mind, i.e. strict liability.[2]

Ameriprise petitioned for allowance of appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the petition was granted. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, affirmed the Superior Court. The majority stated:

A plain language analysis of the relevant statutory provision leads inexorably to the conclusion that deceptive conduct under the CPL [UTPCPL] is not dependent in any respect upon proof of the actor’s state of mind. The Superior Court’s holding is consistent not only with the plain language of the CPL [UTPCPL], but also with our precedent holding that the CPL [UTPCPL] is a remedial statute that should be construed broadly in order to comport with the legislative will to eradicate unscrupulous business practices.

Gregg v. Ameriprise Fin., Inc., No. 29 WAP 2019, 2021 WL 607486, at *1 (Pa. Feb. 17, 2021).

This, like the Earl decision, is a major development in the law and significantly impacts claims brought under the catch-all provision of the UTPCPL.

If you have a question about the recent decision or would like to discuss further, please contact David A. Strassburger at dstrassburger@smgglaw.com or Lydia A. Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or any of SMGG’s Litigation Practice Group attorneys.

[1] Gregg v. American Exp. Financial Corp., 2014 WL 12854149 (Pa. Com. Pl. Civil Div. Dec. 18, 2014).

[2] Gregg v. Ameriprise Fin., Inc., 195 A.3d 930 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018), aff’d, No. 29 WAP 2019, 2021 WL 607486 (Pa. Feb. 17, 2021).

Like many Western Pennsylvania homebuyers, Lisa Earl was enticed by Heartland Homes’ billboards and post signs touting luxury finishes, timeless design, and quality architecture. Understandably, when she chose to build with Heartland Homes, she expected to receive a luxury home. Unfortunately, that’s not what she got. After dealing with a multitude of issues, she decided to pursue legal action against NVR, Inc., Heartland Homes’ parent company. She asserted – among other claims – an Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”) claim. It’s important to understand that a UTPCPL claim has teeth because – unlike common law claims – it allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees and treble damages. It also has a six (6) year statute of limitations as opposed to the two (2) year statute applicable to common law tort claims.  The UTPCPL is applicable to most consumer transactions, not just buying a home, including automobile transactions, home improvement contracts, insurance contracts, leases, and service contracts.

Now let’s travel back to 2002. In 2002, the Third Circuit decided Werwinski v. Ford Motor Co., 286 F.3d 661 (3d Cir. 2002). The Werwinski Court was tasked with deciding whether the economic loss doctrine[1] applied to claims arising under both Pennsylvania common law and statutory law. Because there was no Pennsylvania Supreme Court authority on the issue, the Court was forced to predict how the Supreme Court would rule. In so doing, the Werwinski Court held that the doctrine was to be applied broadly, i.e. it bars – or can bar – UTPCPL claims.

In reliance on Werwinski, the District Court in Earl held that Ms. Earl’s UTPCPL clam was barred by the economic loss doctrine and also the gist of the action doctrine.[2] Ms. Earl appealed to the Third Circuit challenging Werwinski’s continued validity in light of two (2) recent Pennsylvania Superior Court decisions. Remember, Werwinski was decided almost twenty (20) years ago.

On appeal, the Third Circuit in Earl explained that since its decision in Werwinski, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – though it hasn’t ruled on the specific issue at hand – has clarified that the economic loss doctrine gives way if there is a statutory basis to impose liability for economic losses. The Court noted that the UTPCPL does just that, it permits plaintiffs to recover for “any ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal.” 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 201-9.2. The Court also recognized that Pennsylvania has extended this logic via two (2) relatively recent Superior Court decisions.[3]

Based on these decisions, the Third Circuit in Earl set aside its decision in Werwinski “with respect to the economic loss doctrine’s application to UTPCPL claims.” The Court also held that Ms. Earl’s UTPCPL claim was not barred by the gist of the action doctrine.

This is a major development in the law and frankly, changes the game when it comes to new home construction suits – as well as automobile transactions, home improvement contracts, insurance contracts, leases, and service contracts. Until the Third Circuit abrogated Werwinski, the applicable law differed depending on where the suit was filed. In state court, plaintiffs were able to keep their UTPCPL claims (under Knight and Dixon) while in federal court, UTPCPL claims were routinely dismissed (under Werwinski). This recent, precedential decision brings the federal courts into alignment with the state of the law in Pennsylvania, which happens to be buyer friendly.

Though the Earl case deals with residential new construction, as noted above, the Third Circuit opinion has much broader implications. In other words, Earl provides just one example of the type of transaction impacted by the decision (Werwinski dealt with a vehicle lease). Under Earl, consumers get to have their cake (breach of contract claim) and eat it too (UTPCPL claim).

If you have a question about the recent decision or would like to discuss further, please contact Jordan Lee Strassburger at jstrassburger@smgglaw.com or Lydia A. Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or any of SMGG’s Litigation Practice Group attorneys.

[1] The economic loss doctrine states that “no cause of action exists for negligence that results solely in economic damages unaccompanied by physical injury or property damage.” Knight v. Springfield Hyundai, 81 A.3d 940 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2013). In other words, it prohibits plaintiffs from recovering in tort economic losses to which their entitlement flows only from a contract.

[2] The gist of the action doctrine states that “an alleged tort claim against a party to a contract, based on the party’s actions undertaken in the course of carrying out a contractual agreement, is barred when the gist or gravamen of the cause of action stated in the complaint, although sounding in tort, is, in actuality, a claim against the party for breach of its contractual obligations.” Dixon v. Nw. Mut., 146 A.3d 780 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2016).

[3] See Knight v. Springfield Hyundai, 81 A.3d 940 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2013) and Dixon v. Nw. Mut., 146 A.3d 780 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2016).

 

Envision this scenario: a civil action is filed in Delaware [the foreign action]. The plaintiff in the foreign action wants to subpoena documents from an entity located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Delaware court issues a Delaware subpoena [the foreign subpoena] directed to the Pennsylvania entity for said documents. But wait – the Delaware court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Pennsylvania entity, which means that you have to obtain and serve an Allegheny County, Pennsylvania subpoena [the local subpoena]. But how?

Like most other states, Pennsylvania – and Delaware – have adopted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (“the Act”), which governs the procedure for issuance of a local subpoena for use in a foreign action. The Act states in relevant part:

§5335. Issuance of subpoena.

  1. General rule.–To request issuance of a subpoena under this section, a party must submit a foreign subpoena to a prothonotary in the jurisdiction in which the person who is the subject of the order resides, is employed or regularly transacts business in person. A request for the issuance of a subpoena under this subchapter does not constitute an appearance in the courts of this Commonwealth.
  2. Duty of prothonotary.–A prothonotary in receipt of a foreign subpoena shall, in accordance with that court’s procedure, promptly issue a subpoena for service upon the person to whom the foreign subpoena is directed.[1]

42 Pa.C.S. § 5335.

Prior to the adoption of the Act, Allegheny County required the filing of a Miscellaneous Petition for Leave to Serve Subpoena for Use in a Tribunal Outside the Commonwealth pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5326 – the Act’s predecessor. The process was cumbersome.  Allegheny County required a local docket number and a presentation of a Motion for Leave to Serve Subpoena for Use in a Tribunal Outside the Commonwealth. The Motion was subject to the Allegheny County ten (10) day notice requirement for the presentation of motions. Additionally, because of the presentation aspect, out-of-state counsel had little choice but to seek the help of local counsel in carrying out this process.

Now let’s jump to the present – post-Act. One of the main purposes of the Act was to simplify the process and eliminate the need for local counsel. Let’s look back at the above-cited language: the requesting party must simply take the foreign subpoena, along with a draft local subpoena, to the Prothonotary who then issues the local subpoena to be served in accordance with local procedures.[2] While the language of the statute may seem clear, the process is not so clear.

Unlike other Pennsylvania counties, in Allegheny County, you purchase subpoenas, and you don’t typically have to request issuance. It follows that you’d just fill out the local subpoena that you probably already have at your office and serve it, along with a copy of the foreign subpoena. But that is not the case; you still have to file the petition in order to obtain a docket number. This docket number – not the foreign action docket number – will go on the local subpoena when it’s time to serve. Thankfully, Allegheny County has done away with the motions practice aspect.

In summary, here’s the process in Allegheny County: draft the petition – it can be brief; attach the original foreign subpoena and a draft local subpoena – identical to the foreign one except for the blank docket number; obtain your docket number; pay the filing fee; and you are on your way. Service in accordance with local procedures is another topic entirely.

If you have a question about the service of foreign subpoenas or any litigation matters, please contact Lydia Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or any of SMGG’s Litigation Practice Group attorneys or call us at (412) 281-5423.

[1] Note that the Act also describes in detail what must be included in the subpoena: “(c) Contents of subpoena.–A subpoena under subsection (b) must: (1) Incorporate the terms used in the foreign subpoena. (2)  Contain or be accompanied by the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all counsel of record in the proceeding to which the subpoena relates and of any party not represented by counsel.” 42 Pa.C.S. § 5335.

[2] Note that service is to be made in accordance with the local procedures, as if it were not for use in a foreign action. “§ 5336.  Pennsylvania rules applicable. The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and any statutes relating to service of subpoenas and compliance with subpoenas shall apply to all subpoenas issued under this subchapter. Such rules shall include, but are not limited to, the following: No. 4009.21 (relating to Subpoena Upon a Person Not a Party for Production of Documents and Things. Prior Notice. Objections). No. 4009.22 (relating to Service of Subpoena). No. 4009.23 (relating to Certificate of Compliance By a Person Not a Party. Notice of Documents or Things Received). No. 4009.24 (relating to Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena. Objection to Subpoena. Forms). No. 4009.25 (relating to Certificate Prerequisite to Service of Subpoena. Form). No. 4009.26 (relating to Subpoena to Produce Documents or Things. Form). No. 4009.27 (relating to Certificate of Compliance. Form).” 42 Pa.C.S. § 5336.

In Pennsylvania, the authoritative case on slip and falls is Martino v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.[1] The plaintiff in Martino slipped on a grape, fell, and sustained a broken leg while shopping at a self-service grocery store. The court held that the store could only be held liable if the plaintiff could prove that “he [it] knows, or by the exercise of reasonable care could discover, the condition which, if known to him [it], he [it] should realize as involving an unreasonable risk to them.” Id. at 233.

The court went on to state: “The mere presence of such refuse, as described, does not in itself show negligence, for this condition may temporarily arise in any store of this character, though the proprietor has exercised due care; and, if it appears that proper efforts are made to keep clean the passageways so they may be safely traversed, he is not to be held responsible if someone accidentally slips and falls.” Id. at 233-34.

Essentially, what Martino boils down to is that slip and fall liability is not strict in nature. Rather, a slip and fall case is a type of negligence action in which the existence of a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages must be proven for a plaintiff to succeed.

The existence of a duty is typically not an issue. A business generally owes a duty to its business invitees, i.e. its patrons. The issue of proof arises at the second step of the negligence action, as it did for Mrs. Martino who failed to meet her burden of proof.

If a potential plaintiff can surpass the breach hurdle, or in the terms of the Martino court, prove that the business knew or had reason to know of the hazard and failed to make the premises reasonably safe, a negligence action may be a good avenue of recourse.

Please contact Lydia Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or Matthew Marquette at mmarquette@smgglaw.com or call us at (412) 281-5423 should you have any questions.

[1] Martino v. Great Atlantic & Pac. Tea Co., 213 A.2d 608 (Pa. 1965).

When the weather cools down in Western Pennsylvania, it means one thing for sure: football season is about to begin. For many, Friday nights will consist primarily of sitting on those ice cold steel bleachers at the local high school football stadium. Despite the chill, the atmosphere will be warm, energetic, as the crowd cheers and chants. Usually, the most traumatic outcome of such an event is a tough loss suffered by one of the teams.

Unfortunately, though, injuries do occur, some of which are quite serious. Traumatic brain injury has been receiving a lot of attention recently as the litigation against the National Football League alleging, among other things, a purposeful ignorance to the consequences and seriousness of concussions, has been settled.[1]

Though this litigation is what has likely sparked a renewed interest in the topic of traumatic brain injury, it has been studied thoroughly and is a fairly well-researched topic. Traumatic brain injury comes in all shapes and sizes, quite literally. From athletic accidents to slip and falls to motor vehicle accidents, a traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone in just about any given context.

The pervasiveness of traumatic brain injury and its serious nature make it a topic worth discussing. Of course, it is not always the case that someone is at fault in creating such a devastating injury but many times there is a responsible party.

Please contact Lydia Gorba at lgorba@smgglaw.com or Matthew Marquette at mmarquette@smgglaw.com or give us a call at (412) 281-5423, if you should have any questions or if you wish to discuss this topic further.

[1] See https://www.nflconcussionsettlement.com/Documents.aspx for documents and other information related to this settlement.

There are many things one must do to effectuate a business name change. Some of the steps constitute formal requirements such as filing an Articles of Amendment form with the Department of State. Others however, are internal, business specific considerations such as changing the company’s letterhead and e-mail address.

Between the formal, the informal, and all of the considerations in between, it can prove difficult to cover everything. Though not all inclusive, this blog provides a starting point for those who wish to change their entity’s name.

As mentioned above, one must complete and file an Articles of Amendment form provided by the Pennsylvania Department of State.[1] The fee required to file this form is $70.

Whether or not one must apply for a new employer identification number (EIN) is dependent on the type of entity. For example, corporations do not need to apply for a new EIN due to a name change. All entities, other than corporations, should be sure to check the Department of State website to find out whether a new EIN is necessary.[2]

Upon confirmation of the change from the Secretary of State, one must inform the IRS of the name change. Similar to changing an EIN, the method by which one must inform the IRS depends on the type of entity.[3]

Aside from the formal requirements, entities should consider other entities and individuals that must be informed of the name change, such as those with whom the company has a service or other relationship. These may include landlords, licensing agencies, permit providers, phone service providers, banks, and credit card providers.[4]

Finally, entities should consider internal uses of the name that must be updated. For example, business documents such as Bylaws and letterhead. Also consider marketing materials such as a company website and business cards. Last but not least, consider contracts, loan agreements, and other business documents that must be updated. Importantly, each contract will need to be carefully reviewed in order to determine what type of notice the entity must give.

SMGG can help you navigate the name change process. If you have a question about the process, please contact Ena M. Lebel of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky in Pittsburgh at elebel@smgglaw.com or (412) 281-5423.

[1] The Articles of Amendment form, with instructions, can be found here: http://www.dos.pa.gov/BusinessCharities/Business/RegistrationForms/Documents/RegForms/15-1915_5915%20Art%20of%20Amnd-Dom%20Bus%20Nnprft%20Corp.pdf.

[2] Employer Identification Number – Understanding Your EIN can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1635.pdf.

[3] IRS – Business Name Change can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/business-name-change.

[4] If your entity is a non-profit corporation there may be additional entities to consider such as grant providers.