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Androvett Blog

by Robert Tharp at 11:13:36 am

A handringing judge who popped OJ Simpson for nine to 33 years in prison last month described the former pro as "arrogant, ignorant or both." Sports Attorney Daryl K. Washington of Dallas' Shackelford, Melton & McKinley doesn't disagree with that assessment but adds that Simpson's' runaway ego and those of tainted sports stars like Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and Pacman Jones were not created without some help from others.  "Agents, fans, groupies, owners and even family members treat them as gods. That can turn an athlete into a monster," Washington says. "Athletes should be treated the same as any other person and the arrogance will come down several levels. When they are no longer put upon that lofty pedestal they will begin to realize they have received a blessing from God that is not to be taken for granted. Only then, will we see a change."

As ESPN.com writer Howard Bryant put the Simpson affair: No athlete in American history has ever suffered such a spectacular fall. Why Simpson chose such a clearly losing path -- in his remarks to the judge, Yale Galanter, one of Simpson's own attorneys, used the term "stupid" at least a dozen times for Simpson's dangerous, ill-conceived plan to recover items from former associates -- might always be an unanswerable question to anyone but him. Another unanswerable question is whether athletes will ever realize that accountability applies to them. 

Judging by the Plaxico Burress affair, it appears some still don't. Simpson should have provided the cautionary tale 13 years ago, and again today. As Glass pointed out so powerfully, Simpson could have killed someone, "an innocent tourist or worker." But O.J. Simpson believed in the protection that the hero always seems to get. "At Mr. Simpson's initial bail hearing, I didn't know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both," Glass said. "During this trial, I got my answer. It was both."

 To interview Mr. Washington about issues facing professional athletes, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 10:33:59 am

As lawmakers head to Austin in January, labor and employment attorney Audrey Mross says several important bills affecting businesses and workers alike will be up for

consideration. One proposed bill would help victims of crime by providing job-protected time off to seek medical, financial, legal and emotional support. Fortune has an excellent article about the complexites of domestic violence and its effects on the workplace in its November issue.

Another bill would put businesses on the hook for knowingly employing illegal aliens. Lawmakers will also consider whether to extend previous efforts to improve participation in jury duty by requiring employers to pay workers for the first day of jury service(the state already pays for subsequent jury duty days). Finally, the Lege will likely consider a bill that would prohibit businesses from requiring workers to donate to charities like the United Way. "Depending on how they vote, the Legislature has the power to change the way you do business. It's always in your interest to monitor what they do," says Mross, a shareholder at Munck Carter in Dallas. To speak with Ms. Mross about labor and employment issues, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 2:45:16 pm

A couple of recent studies confirm what many of us already suspected about the reach and heft of the Internet as a news and communication medium.

First off, the influence of online news spiked sharply in 2008. According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, the percentage of Americans getting their news online jumped from 24 percent to 40 percent in this year. And for the first time, more Americans are relying on the Internet for their information needs than

traditional print media.

For the under 30 crowd, the Internet now rivals TV as an information source. Nearly 60 percent of respondents under 30 use the Internet as a primary information source. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).

In an unrelated study by MS&L, researchers polled consumers worldwide with the question, "what defines a leading company?" More than half of the respondents in the U.S. indicated that they could judge a company's values by its online presence. Another finding: while price and quality are important, consumers believe that a company's values matter most in the long run. The findings are further proof that businesses of all types should be focusing on their on-line presence AND communicating their values in the digital medium. As Sally Falkow at The Leading Edge puts it: "If more than half of [consumers] judge you by your online presence, it's time to make that a PR priority."

by Robert Tharp at 1:24:33 pm

It's that time of year when people start talking about resolutions for the new year. So what's wrong with a little hope for 2009? Nothing, says life coach Mike McCurley,

but there's some strategies worth taking to make resolutions stickier.
McCurley, co-founder of Personal Enhancement Coaching, suggests taking a slightly different approach in increase the odds of staying focused on the really important goals. Among McCurley's advice:
Let the holiday season pass before committing to making an important change. With so much resolution-making during the holidays, it's too easy to commit and forget.
Take it slow. Trying to do too much too quickly is a prescription for failure. Instead, make a list of priorities and concentrate on what's most important first. Whether it's job, marriage or something else, it's not uncommon that improving one area has a positive spill-over into other aspects of your life.
Don't do it alone. Find someone to help, whether it's a coach, mentor or loved-one. Seek out people who you trust and respect.

These are just a few suggestions. More information is available at http://www.personalenhancementcoaching.com. To speak with Mike McCurley about personal enhancement coaching, please contact Alan Bentrup at 214-559-4630 (office), 713-553-3358 (cell) or alan@androvett.com

by Robert Tharp at 11:02:32 am

Dallas-based  Shackelford, Melton & McKinley, LLP, is making a move into Austin, tapping two public policy/finance and commercial litigation veterans -  Brian T. McCabe and Keith Ward. Mr. McCabe knows his way around the intricacies of public finance law and has advised state, county and local governments of all types on such matters. For more than two decades, Mr. McCabe has built a practice providing legislative consulting for governmental and private-sector clients in governmental affairs including finance, construction, procurement, housing and health care law.

Mr. Ward, meanwhile, handles general commercial litigation and transactional law on behalf of real estate developers, business owners and individuals. He is a licensed CPA who has worked with municipalities in areas such as code enforcement and bulding standards, as well as litigation related to sales transactions, tenant complaints, construction disputes and fiduciary matters.

The firm has grown steadily in size and expertise, and the Austin expansion provides a significant boost in the areas of public policy and public finance, says founding partner John C. Shackelford. Shackelford, Melton & McKinley, LLP, is a business and commercial law firm representing financial institutions, real estate owners and developers, automobile dealerships, and businesses in legal matters across the nation. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 4:22:01 pm

Between the demands of two long and protracted wars, the increasing reliance on private military contractors and the legal controversies involving treatment of wartime

detaines at Guantanamo, military defense lawyer Colby Vokey says the military justice system is experiencing a period of transformation. Vokey, A former lead Marine defense attorney now in private practice at Dallas' Fitzpatrick Hagood Smith & Uhl, has been involved in some of the highest profile military justice cases involving U.S. soldiers, as well as Guantanamo detainees. "Historically, we've seen the greatest stresses on military justice during times of armed conflict, and our experience right now is no different," says Vokey, who has a nationwide military justice practice and also represents clients in white-collar crimes, criminal defense and grand jury investigations. To speak with Mr. Vokey about military justice issues, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:34:41 pm

The Bernard Madoff financial fraud has been called the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Whatever you call it, this complex and rapidly evolving story has presented challenges for the mainstream and financial media around the globe. Securities fraud attorneys Jeffrey Zwerling and Robert Schachter at the New York securities c
lass-action law firm Zwerling Schachter & Zwerling quickly became part of the reporting and have been involved in much of the expert commentary, providing the kind of intelligent and nuanced insight needed to cover this amazing and complicated financial story. The two attorneys, who have extensive experience in such complex securities cases, have been quoted in reports by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, The Independent, The Financial Post and Reuters, among many others. The two firm partners have used their expertise in complex securities class-actions to describe the regulatory landscape, current investigations and possible recourse that Madoff's victims may have.

by Robert Tharp at 4:32:50 pm

There's an interesting balancing act occurring among directors of corporations that are teetering on insolvency right now. For companies operating in the black, corporate
directors are beholdened to shareholders. Rick Tulli of Gardere Wynne Sewell says such fiduciary duties don't disappear when a company goes insolvent - instead creditors replace shareholders as the beneficiary of the directors' fiduciary duties. But determining the exact point at which a company becomes insolvent is not so easy, creating the prospect for directors to have to simultaneously answer to shareholders and creditors. “Although that shift happens only upon insolvency, it is often difficult to determine when the insolvency occurred, and may really be determined only in retrospect. Because of this, directors seeing significant concerns with the business need to start balancing the interests of the creditors along with the shareholders, because they will face increased scrutiny of their activities.” To interview Mr. Tulli about fiduciary duty issues, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 10:32:28 am

Attorneys at New York-based financial securities and commercial litigation firm Zwerling, Schacter & Zwerling are representing at least four clients who may have lost hundreds of millions in Bernard L. Madoff's massive and still-unfolding Wall Street investment fraud. Attorneys Jeffrey Zwerling, Robert S. Schacter and their firm are actively

representing partnerships, individuals and companies that may have lost significant amounts of money in Mr. Madoff's scheme. The clients are based in Palm Beach County, Florida, and Long Island, New York. While focusing on Mr. Madoff's scheme and the losses he caused, the firm is probing how third parties, including financial firms and other institutions, may have played a role in the scheme.

"If this were a traditional bank robbery, the eyewitness reports would say that Mr. Madoff walked out with billions of dollars as someone held the door open for him," says Jeffrey Zwerling, a founding partner of Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling. "If it's true, it's just amazing in terms of the audacity, if nothing else."

For more information or to speak with Jeffrey Zwerling or Robert S. Schachter about the Madoff case, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 (office), 214-213-1754 (mobile) or mark@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:30:52 pm

There's no argument that Lori Drew's behavior was despicable. The Missouri mom created a fictitious MySpace account and "cyberbullied" her daughter's former friend before the heartbroken girl committed suicide in 2006. But there are real questions about whether federal prosecutors got it right when they used the Computer Fraud
and Abuse Act to win a conviction. The successful prosecution hinged on the argument that the woman violated the Myspace terms of service, which obligates users to provide "truthful and accurate" registration information. If role playing on the Internet is a crime, then our federal prisons will soon be overflowing. "A law that was created to protect federal and bank computers has now been expanded to include most computers and the Internet," says technology attorney Peter S. Vogel of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP. "Most courts accept a Web site's Terms of Service as a binding agreement even though few individuals ever read them, but this will be the first time that is tested in this type of criminal case." To interview Mr. Vogel about cyber contracts, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:02:26 pm

Zzzzz. Young doctors who work 16 hours straight should be allowed at least five hours of uninterrupted rest, according to new recommendations by the prestigious Institute of Medicine designed to improve safety in hospitals. The institute's recommendations come on top of 2003 reforms that limit workloads by doctors-in-training to
no more than 80 hours per week. But Ken Braxton of Dallas' Stewart Stimmel says the proposals would have little effect on medical errors. "We haven't seen an increase in legal claims or error reports associated with resident physicians during the past five years. We have seen a decrease in the number of cases they handle during residency, so hospitals have to more thoroughly screen these physicians for their specific abilities when applying for credentials." To interview Mr. Braxton about physician workplace issues, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 4:20:30 pm

While an increasing number of oil and gas companies are suffering in the tightening credit market, the industry's outlook remains robust, says Rhett Campbell of
Houston's Thompson & Knight. There are ready buyers for high-quality exploration and production assets that end up in Chapter 11 liquidation, Campbell says. "There are well-capitalized companies out there that are actively seeking bargains in oil and gas properties," he says."They view the current reality as temporary and are actively evaluating opportunities, particularly for United States and North American holdings, such as the Gulf of Mexico, the Rocky Mountain region, Texas and Canada." To interview with Mr. Campbell about energy industry bankruptcies, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:53:35 pm

Dallas attorney Darrell Cook says even in the best business climate,
submitting bills and collecting payments is a part of doing business that few enjoy. In the current economic downturn and credit crisis, business is brisk for law firms that handle collections for businesses.

Cook knows from experience that sending invoices and collecting from venders and customers can be so unpleasant that many businesses develop bad habits that actually increase the likelihood of bills becoming delinquent. Cook says a few basic habits can make the process much easier for all sides. One of the worst habits is simply procrastinating - failing to submit envoices in a fair and timely manner, sometimes waiting as long as three to six months after the delivery of services or goods before sending a bill. With such a delay between a provided service and bill, the customer will not likely even remember the service for which they're being asked to pay. Darrell offers the following tips on his Web site regarding the process of collecting on debts.

"Just because the economy is bad for everyone doesn't mean that the bills don't have to be paid," says Cook. "Companies are more focused than ever on making sure they collect what they're owed, whether it's a single mom with a sky-high credit card balance or a construction company that's behind on paying its suppliers." As evidence, Cook notes a recent published report showing that North Texas subcontractors and suppliers have filed 45 percent more legal claims against general contractors over unpaid invoices this year compared to 2007. To interview Mr. Cook about collections issues, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 4:14:38 pm

The Mumbai terrorist attacks were not just a wake-up call the Indian government. The brazen assault on Mumbai's tourist centers showed that high-end hotels can be high-value terrorist targets, says
hospitality industry attorney Richard Barrett Cuetara, Esq., of Dallas' Cowles & Thompson. If they haven't done so already, hotels must step up their security measures. "They must be vigilant and continue to require proper identification of all guests. It's a red flag if a guest cannot produce adequate identification or gets flustered at check-in," he says. To interview Mr. Barrett Cuetara about hotel security issues, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 11:57:36 am

Who isn’t conflicted by all of the lawyer rankings out there? There’s so many of these lists now that it’s just about impossible to keep up with them all. At the end

of the day, Super Lawyers has emerged as one of the most respected of the gang, in part because the staff does a good job of articulating its selection criteria and takes pains to make the list more than a popularity contest. With the Texas Super Lawyers balloting set to begin in February, we soldiered through a recent Super Lawyers webinar and 64-slide PowerPoint presentation so you don’t have to. Below are some of the highlights of the webinar, which was designed to demystify the selection process a little. For 2009, Texas Super Lawyers balloting starts February 6 and closes March 10.

I  Peer Nominations: As we know, the research staff monitors to make sure there’s not too much mutual backscratching. Additionally, to keep everything on a level playing field between big and small firms, the staff stops counting after a single attorney obtains 15 nominations(i.e. it’s pointless to get more than 15 votes). Additionally: Nominations should be based on first-hand observation. Self-nominations are not allowed. In-firm nominations count only if an equal or greater number of out-of-firm nominations are cast. Out-of-firm nominations carry a higher point value.
Informal nominations: The staff also welcomes informal nominations from people like us. These nominations have no point value, but it puts the candidate on the Super Lawyers radar.
Managing partner survey: Every managing partner of a law firm that’s on the SL data base receives an e-mail survey asking them to nominate the top 10 percent within their firm. The results of these surveys are not publicized.
Somebody in the audience asked whether the managing partners should bother nominating attorneys who have previously been named Super Lawyers, or instead use this as a vehicle to help others get on this list. The answer was that you should not assume that previous winners will automatically be on their radar, so nominate attorneys who most deserve to be on the list.
Other ways to get in the candidate pool: Besides peer nominations, informal nominations and the managing partner survey: SL researchers conduct a `star search’ designed to identify lawyers who might be overlooked by the balloting, such as lawyers with national litigation practices, lawyers in smaller firms or lawyers in less visible practice areas. For this reason, it pays to have a strong internet presence.
II  Once the candidate pool has been established: The SL research department begins culling through the candidate pool. This step is designed to keep the rankings from being solely a popularity contest. Evaluation is based on: verdicts and settlements, transactions, representative clients, experience, honors and awards, special licenses and certifications, position within law firm, bar or other professional activities, pro bono and community service, scholarly lectures and writings, education and employment background and other outstanding achievements.
SL database links directly with law firm Web site biographies and to lawyers’ records compiled by Westlaw’s `Profiler’ system, such as verdicts, dockets etc… For this reason, it’s crucial that law firm Web site bios are complete and up-to-date.
My.superlawyers.com: This Web site provides attorneys an opportunity to update their professional profiles and describe their practice. Make sure this profile page is complete and current.
Blue-ribbon evaluation: Peer evaluation is conducted in nearly 70 practice areas. The groups assign a 1-to-10 score to each candidate. Candidates are then assembled by firm size so that small, medium and large firms compete against themselves.
Vetting: Finalists are researched to make sure they are in good standing with no disciplinary problems. Candidates are also asked to personally verify their disciplinary history.
From there, Super Lawyers finalists are selected equally among small, medium and large firms until the list reaches 5 percent of practicing attorneys.

Super Lawyers contacts:
Research: Cindy Larson clarson@superlawyers.com
Editorial: Steve Kaplan skaplan@superlawyers.com

 

by Robert Tharp at 1:23:40 pm

We've all heard about how CEO's identify with sports coaches and borrow sports clichés ad nauseam. Here's an example of a big-time college program taking a page from the business world playbook.

University of Texas football coach Mack Brown apparently has no plans to leave any time soon. Obviously happy with Brown at the helm, the dilemma for UT has been how to retain highly regarded defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. The result was a page right out of the business school playbook and something called `succession planning," says labor & employment attorney Audrey Mross of Dallas' Munck Carter, P.C. To keep Muschamp, the university named him `head coach in waiting' and also gave him a hefty raise. In return, the school keeps a valuable coaching talent and provides peace of mind that the program is in good hands long-term. "The promise given to Coach Muschamp demonstrates what businesses will need to do to remain competitive -- attract and keep the best talent," Mross says. "It's no secret that the baby boomer generation is retiring in droves, so employers need to get creative to keep key players in place. However, the last thing an employer, or athletic director, wants to do is make these promises only to see employees get complacent, or lose ballgames, and be stuck with them or pay exorbitant buy-outs." For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or at alan@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 12:10:17 pm

For Barack Obama, the road to the White House was punctuated with lots of talk about shaking up the federal tax law. You know, things like socking it to the bloated oil
companies. But a funny thing has happened as inauguration day approaches and all eyes are on the new president's first 100 days: namely, seismic changes to the playing field.

Attorney Robert Van Amburgh of Dallas' Hiersche, Hayward, Drakeley & Urbach says history shows that a canddiate's plans can undergo significant changes both before and after being presented to Congress.  "Making predictions about tax law changes is even more difficult based on our volatile economic climate," he says. "For example, during the campaign Mr. Obama expressed support for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. But with the steady decline in oil prices since the summer, there may not be the pressure for this type of tax."

And by the way, any changes made will not apply until the 2009 tax year. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

 

by Robert Tharp at 4:47:40 pm

File this one under: painful medicine. The struggling domestic automakers are in such poor shape in competitive terms that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just might be
what it takes to make them more viable operations, says attorney attorney William L. Siegel of Dallas' Cowles & Thompson. We've all heard the staggering statistics about how much the automakers pay on healthcare and other benefits. Under Chapter 11, the companies could reject or revise collective bargaining agreements, retiree benefits and other unprofitable contracts. "No amount of money is going to change the fact that, as things stand now, the Big Three simply cannot compete with the foreign-owned automakers," he says. "They need to take the same medicine that some of our domestic airlines took in filing bankruptcy, and in doing so will come out leaner and more competitive." While the automakers might emerge a little leaner, they'll still have to work on building cars that people want to buy. For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or at rhonda@androvett.com

by Robert Tharp at 3:21:30 pm

The technology behind U.S. Patent No. 7,292,151 is pretty complicated stuff, but for Houston attorney W. Mark Lanier the issue at the core of a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the small patent holder against Nintendo is simple.

"Using someone else's technology without permission is theft," says The Lanier Law Firm founder. "Nintendo makes video games where you get to play a thief, but that doesn't give them the right to be one."

The patent in question, held by Ohio tech company Motiva, involves technology used to create a "Human Movement Measurement System" based on a handheld device. The Motiva lawsuit charges that Nintendo used the patented technology in the Nintendo Wii to reproduce users' movements on display screens. If previous cases are any indication, Nintendo may have a big target on its chest in this area. In May, the game maker was hit with a $21 million verdict in a similar patent infringement case. In that case, jurors found that Nintendo infringed several patents to produce the Wii remote control device.

by Robert Tharp at 11:56:56 am

Attorneys at Dallas-based Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured $16.5 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries Monday after arguing that drugmaker ignored serious risks assocated with the painkiller patch in order to reap profits.

Days after a 38-year-old mother of three died in 2004 while using a defective Durogexic painkiller patch, the woman's family received a letter in the mail from the pharmacy that

filled her prescription, warning that the drug had been recalled out of safety concerns. On Monday, a Chicago jury awarded more than $16 million to the family of Janice Dicosolo, who used the Duragesic patch for chronic pain associated with a neurological condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The patch is designed to give a slow, constant dose of the drug fentanyl, a powerful pain killer 100-times stronger than morphine.

Attorneys Jim Orr and Michael Heygood argued that Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. and ALZA Corporation(both Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries) knew about problems associated with the patches, which are known to leak fentanyl in amounts large enough to kill. "They knew this patch was dangerous and defective but they continued to seel it and make money, and that's the only reason Janice DiCosolo is dead," says Orr. Last year, attorneys with Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured a $5.5 million verdict for the family of a 28-year-old Florida man who died while using the patch for hip pain. As reported by Bloomberg today, the patches generated more than $1.1 billion in sales for Johnson & Johnson last year. 

by Robert Tharp at 2:04:44 pm

Can a lawyer inflate fees for obtaining an extraorindary result? What's the latest CLE event for appellate lawyers? These are just some of the topics up for discussion on a new blog about Texas appellate law by attorneys at Dallas-based Cowles & Thompson, P.C.. The firm's distinguished appellate practice group started the Reverse & Render blog to provide timely information and insight on significant appellate cases and other useful information. The blogging team was created by Byron Henry, certified as an appellate specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contributers include Mike Northrup, head of the firm's appellate practice and chair of the Dallas Bar Association's Appellate Law Section, and attorney David Oliveros.

by Robert Tharp at 3:52:47 pm

So you still think the `delete' button makes data disappear and what you type in text messages vanishes after you hit `send?' Who out there hasn't received the ubiquitous and unsettling mea culpa from an unknown business informing you that your personal information was on a data base that was stolen or somehow

 
comprised?

Welcome to the 21st Century, where there's hardly a civil case out there that doesn't involve the retrieval of electronic evidence from the myriad hardware we use these days to communicate, and CEOs stay awake at night fretting about computer security.

Computer forensics firm  Stroz Friedberg is capitalizing on the demand for its unique services and expertise, opening it's sixth office(this one in Dallas) along with a cutting-edge computer forensics lab. The growing firm attracts some of the brightest minds in the industry, almost exclusively from the ranks of former high-level prosecutors, federal agents and other industry leaders. Consider Erin Nealy Cox, who heads the Dallas office: a former federal prosecutor, Erin previously served as the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas - Dallas Division. She led major cyber-crime prosecutions across the United States as well as handling complex white-collar fraud, public corruption, intellectual property theft and child-exploitation cases. During her career with the Department of Justice, Ms. Cox also served as chief of staff and senior counsel for the Office of Legal Policy at Main Justice in Washington, D.C.

As the subpoenas fly related to the financial meltdown, the first step for many companies is to call such firms to determine where their data is and how to retrieve it. When firms are targeted by botnet attacks or malicious malware, Stroz Friedberg has the ability to get to the bottom of it. Stroz Friedberg helps clients in matters ranging from theft of intellectual property to lost laptops, click fraud to online review, load files to leaked confidential information, internal corporate data wiretapping to white collar defense investigations, database forensics to corporate hacking incidents, cyber-extortions to fabricated e-mails - and all other matters, digital and investigatory. The firm's broad client base includes public and private businesses, global corporations, law firms, government agencies and the courts.

by Robert Tharp at 9:09:30 am

It's been a long two years since a group of more than 2,000 former NFL players filed suit against the National Football Players Association, charging that the NFPA was

 
short-changing them out of lucrative royalties for electronic games, collectables and other merchandise. On Monday, the retired players scored a huge class-action victory in a San Francisco courtroom. Read more in the press release below:

McKool Smith Announces $28.1 Million Verdict In Retired NFL Players Lawsuit
Gridiron greats prevail in California class action claim against NFLPA
 
November 11, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 2,000 retired professional football players scored a major legal victory in a San Francisco federal courtroom today when jurors awarded a $28.1 million verdict against the National Football League Players Association and its licensing and marketing division.

The verdict reached before the Hon. William Allsup in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requires the NFLPA union and its subsidiary, Players

Inc., to compensate thousands of retired players. Jurors found that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to market retired players' licensing rights under a group licensing authorization contract covering the licensing of electronic games, collectables and other merchandise. The verdict included $21 million in punitive damages.

The jury of eight women and two men reached their decision following nearly three weeks of trial. The original claim was filed nearly two years ago with professional football legend Herb Adderley as the class representative.

Mr. Adderley and the victorious former NFL players were represented by attorneys from the national law firms of McKool Smith, P.C., and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The McKool Smith team included firm principal Lew LeClair, senior counsel Jill Naylor and associates Brett Charhon and Anthony Garza. The Manatt, Phelps group included firm partners Ronald S. Katz, Chad S. Hummel and L. Peter Parcher, in addition to associates Ryan S. Hilbert and Noel S. Cohen.

"This verdict is a great victory for the men who devoted their lives to building professional football," says Mr. LeClair of McKool Smith, attorney for the retired players. "We are thankful the jury decided to right this wrong."

During trial, several former NFL stars testified about the benefits promised by the union that were never received, and the difficulties in gaining information about the NFLPA's finances and licensing agreements.

McKool Smith has more than 95 attorneys in DallasAustinMarshallNew York and Washington, D.C., handling commercial and intellectual property litigation for national and international clients. The firm is recognized as one of the premier litigation law firms in the United States, having earned significant courtroom victories for clients such as American Airlines, BearingPoint, Ericsson, Electronic Data Systems, Medtronic Inc., and Sony Ericsson.

To interview Mr. LeClair about the verdict, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 office or 214-728-6747 cell.

by Robert Tharp at 4:11:31 pm

It's just irresistible to think about what might be on the top of the list for the Obama administration's first 100 days. The Honeymoon Period will be in full effect. Will there
be significant movement on health care? Military justice? Many think an important union-organization bill could be on the agenda. Labeled the `New Deal' of the 21st century, the Employee Free Choice Act is a bipartisan amendment to the National Labor Relations Act that would radically alter how unions are organized by bypassing the need for an election. Instead of a secret-ballot election, a majority of workers would simpy have to sign a card in order to unionize. "Obama has been a staunch supporter of the EFCA and there's no reason to believe it would not pass if reintroduced," says  Gardere attorney Celeste Yeager. "And if so, states such as Texas, where there has historically been little union activity, will prove to be fertile grounds for unionizing efforts. To prepare, employers need to make sure their management teams are properly trained and communication avenues remain open and non-combative." For more information, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:46:40 pm

For the first time in history, the U.S. government has seized control of a criminal gang's identity by taking control of its logo. As a result, those now caught wearing the Mongols motorcycle gang logos on patches, clothing, jackets etc... "shall surrender for seizure all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles ... or other materials bearing

the Mongols trademark, upon presentation of a copy of this order," according to news reports.

So if the government can seize the registered trademark of a biker gang, might it someday do the same in a case where it accuses a business of a crime? That's at least a possibility, says trademark attorney Dyan House of Munck Carter following federal indictments of 79 people accused of crimes associated with the Mongols motorcycle gang and the forfeiture of its mark. "Say a business is accused of wrongdoing as we investigate our nation's financial meltdown," asks Ms. House. "Might the government walk in and seize that business' trademark along with other assets?"

My question, what does this mean for all those bikers out there who no doubt have their gang logo tattooed somewhere on their bodies?

For more information, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.  

by Robert Tharp at 11:16:49 am

Workplace discriminaton attorney Stephen Drinnon: Rising EEOC complaints show that employers have room to improve
While President-elect Barrack Obama's election victory is historic and monumental, it's important to note that workplace discrimination and harassment complaints

continue to rise at alarming rates, says Dallas attorney Stephen Drinnon of The Drinnon Law Firm. EEOC complaints last year increased at the highest rate in more than a decade. Drinnon has secured numerous trial victories and settlements in such cases and is actively representing a Dallas man whose employer allowed co-workers to subject him to racial epithets scrawled on walls of his workplace, and terrorize him with a noose hung over his work station. "Discrimination and harassment take many forms and affect workers in blue collar jobs as well as executive positions," Drinnon says. "This is a particularly grievous case that goes beyond unfair treatment to threats of physical harm. Unfortunately, racial discrimination has not been eliminated but is on the rise." For more information, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or at robert@androvett.com.  

by Robert Tharp at 3:48:30 pm

What a year it's been for McKool Smith, PC. The big verdicts just keep coming. Just this week, the firm won a $59 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tokyo-

based electronics manufacturer Pioineer Corp. against Samsung. The lawsuit charged that Samsung infringed two Pioneer patents relating to plasma display technology, U.S. Patent Numbers 5,182,489 and 5,640,068.

Earlier this year, the firm won a $21 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tyler, Texas, based technology company Anascape against Nintendo in a fight over patents used in video game controllers like the Wii and Gamecube. In May, McKool Smith attorneys won a $250 million patent infringement verdict for Medtronic against Boston Scientific relating to a balloon catheter patent used in the surgical treatment of heart disease. In June, the firm reached an $83 million settlement for i2 Technologies in a patent dispute against SAP AG.

by Robert Tharp at 1:50:46 pm

Citizen journalists using blogs, Twitter posts and the myriad other social networking mediums are growing like crazy, and so are the number of libel and defamation
lawsuits against those who think such laws only apply to the media big boys. Already, juries have returned multi-million dollar verdicts over disparaging Internet postings by amatuer bloggers, and the risk continues to grow as everyone from CEOs to rank-and-file employees continue to jump into the online media mix. Some insurers now offer "cyber risk" polices to protect bloggers from such claims, and insurance expert and award-winning blogger DAVID WHITE says such insurance is something that bloggers should consider. "Anyone publishing online exposes himself to legal liability," says White, an attorney in the Dallas offices of Thompson & Knight. "Bloggers are not immune to defamation or copyright violation claims and should carefully assess both the content of their postings and their liability insurance coverage. Most corporate insurance and D&O policies exclude cyberrisks from traditional coverage." White's own blog www.lawandinsurance.typepad.com recently was named among the Top 50 Blogs for Insurance by LexisNexis. To interview Mr. White, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.  

 

by Robert Tharp at 1:47:03 pm

If any doubt remains that the financial meltdown is extending to Main Street, consider this recent sobering announcement: Circuit City is planning to

shutter 150 of its big-box stores. The electronics retailer joins a long list of retailers downsizing and leaving a nationwide glut of vacant real estate in their wakes, says John Busey Wood of Thompson & Knight's New York office. "More property will hit the market in the next several months than we've seen in 20 years," he says. "Our experience has shown the necessity of a prompt and coordinated response. You've got to look at reconfiguring existing spaces and the methods to dispose of unwanted properties or locations in creative ways. But many companies are going to be overwhelmed." To interview Mr. Wood, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 4:04:25 pm

Intelectual property attorney Dyan House: There's a lesson for everyone in the Harry Potter IP ruling
There's a teaching opportunity from the recent ruling against a Harry Potter fan who sought to publish a detailed guide to the works of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

In the Potter case, a federal judge in New York found that "The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials" violated Rowling's copyright because the guide used too much of Rowling's original material without attribution. The takeway, says intellectual property attorney Dyan House of Munck Carter in Dallas, is to be careful when using original material without attribution. "If you're creating a reference guide, using too much of the source work without the creator's permission is an almost sure way to find yourself in court," House says. To interview Ms. House, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.  

by Robert Tharp at 2:17:07 pm

To put the credit crisis in context you can consider the prospect of an entire nation like Iceland on the brink of collapse or individual homeowners here in Texas forced

into foreclosure despite the best efforts of mortgage companies to modify home loans and make them more affordable. Mark Cronenwett of Dallas' Cowles & Thompson, who represents mortgage companies, says it's in everyone's best interest to avoid foreclosure, and many mortgage companies have been working hard to modify loans and make them more affordable and avoid foreclosure. "Mortgage lenders want to prevent foreclosure if at all possible, and many are willing to rework the terms," Cronenwett says. "I've seen both sides working hard to modify a loan in more favorable terms, only for it to be sabotaged when the borrowers can't get a new loan in this economic climate." To interview Mr. Cronenwett, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 4:31:54 pm

Thompson & Knight oil and gas attorney Michael Byrd warns wildcatters to beware in states without production caselaw
Natural gas fever is rising in the most unexpected places, thanks to drilling technology that allows production companies to extract natural gas from shale. One of the

promising energy plays involves the Marcellus Shale in New York and surrounding states. But attorney Michael Byrd warns that there's reason to proceed with caution in this virgin territory. For one, these states don't have the case law established to provide guidance in the complicated land deals, transactions, production and marketing that goes along with the natural gas industry. "Companies doing deals in the Marcellus should consider a legal review of all documentation to clarify the meanings of all provisions. No one wants to be the guinea pig that helps the court system develop this body of law." To interview Mr. Byrd, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 2:42:29 pm

Thompson & Knight attorney Chris Schaeper says worldwide credit crisis affecting even the fiscally strong.
The U.S. and other countries may be pouring funds into the worldwide financial system, but so far the credit markets remain jammed. As a result, routine transactions that

companies rely upon in the course of daily business have stalled during the meltdown. Schaeper says even companies with the soundest balance sheets are facing a double whammy trying to get financing: deals are getting extra scrutiny, and there are simply fewer financial intermediaries willing to facilitate those deals in this climate. The bright side, Schaeper says, is that it's now a buyer's market for those with the capital available for a shopping spree. To interview Mr. Schaeper, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com

by Robert Tharp at 3:33:21 pm

Dallas attorney  Angel Reyes keeps a busy schedule. On top of a successful commercial litigation practice at Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei, Reyes is deeply involved in local government, serving on the DART board, among other things. Somehow, Reyes found the time to commute to Texas Tech University's Rawls
College of Business, where he has earned his MBA. As part of that program, Reyes co-authored an intriguing study using historic employment data to compare Hispanic employment rates against the larger workforce.

What he found is an eye opener when you consider that the Hispanic workforce is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the workforce. The analysis concludes that Hispanic workers are at particular risk during economic downturns, suffering negative effects sooner, more severely and for longer duration than their white counterparts. With such a large segment of the workforce at risk, the study concludes that it is extremely worthwhile for the sake of the broader economy to try to reverse these trends. Read more here.

by Robert Tharp at 11:30:59 am

Senior attorneys at Gardere Wynne Sewell quickly establish Financial Crisis Recovery Team 
While some would prefer to burry their heads in the sand until this epic financial turmoil is over, for an example of how some law firms are reacting nimbly, consider Gardere Wynne Sewell's creation of its multi-disciplinary Financial Crisis Recovery

 
Team. In business nearly 100 years, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP attorneys have seen their share of economic paradigm shifts. Taking a page from its playbook from the 1980s S&L crisis and the collapse of Enron, the firm quickly established a multi-disciplinary legal team to respond on behalf of businesses impacted by the credit crunch and market turmoil.

The firm's business and litigation attorneys are already working together on tasks including problem loans, debt restructuring, securities violations, tax issues, government contracts, employment law, breached contracts, and investigations and crisis management. Senior attorneys on the team are able to response to clients affected by the global crisis from every conceivable scenario. Cliff Risman, chair of Gardere's Business Department, notes that it's hard to understand the impact that this crisis on businesses and individuals. "This is more than a financial crisis - it poses fundamental challenges to the foundations and integrity of business operations," he says.

by Robert Tharp at 12:46:29 pm

Schlepping the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan to an angry electorate would be a chore for even the most capable p.r. maestro. By most accounts, Henry Paulson was hardly up for the p.r. job of connecting with the American people. Time has an insightful analysis of the p.r. missteps that failed to inspire the public and no-doubt led to the plan's initial defeat. The Time

piece is dead-on. Shoot, this is stuff any good trial attorney knows about explaining complex arguments to regular folks, things like making sure your message is specific and easily understood, personal, accurate and targeted.

The Time piece offers some suggestions to resell the bailout, including: Find a face: Human beings are not moved by numbers or by vague predictions of certain doom. They are moved by stories. "It's simple," says Dennis Mileti, an expert on risk communications who has studied hundreds of disasters of the more conventional kind at the University of Colorado. "You get one family in America. You go to their house. And you paint a picture of what their life is like one year from now. You describe a kid who can't go to college, the house that can't be sold, the inability of anyone to use a credit card. They need to get a camera crew and go to Omaha and find a family."
Rebrand the Bill: The phrase "bailout" is a deal-killer. "People feel the breaks are being given to financial institutions and not to the consumer," says Slovic. He recommends "Consumer Protection Act." It may be too late for this change to have much impact, but any change in language that acknowledges real people would be an improvement.
Shoot the Messenger: If you want people to support the radical idea of rescuing rich investment bankers, don't send a rich, former investment banker (Henry Paulson) to convince them. And don't send a discredited, lame duck President, either. As in normal life, people are more likely to believe the advice of someone they trust. There aren't many well-known experts in this field who aren't rich, but even Warren Buffet would have brought less baggage to the process than George Bush.
Be Specific: People need to know what will happen if they do nothing - or if they do something.

 

by Robert Tharp at 3:59:49 pm

In her latest Texas Lawyer commentary, Andrews Kurth attorney Kathleen J. Wu offers this important reminder: Sometimes it takes hitting the road to appreciate what

you've got at home. In Wu's case, it was a trip to China with her young son, where she saw first-hand the rapid pace of change that the country is going through. For Wu, the China experience offers insight into the state of law firm diversity and the glass ceiling.

Writes Wu: I know: It seems like we haven't made any progress. Women lawyers haven't achieved anything near parity in the partnership ranks at major firms. We only have one woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, down from two. To the naked eye, it can seem like we're actually moving backward. But we're not. Trust me. When Sandra Day O'Connor graduated No. 3 in her class at Stanford Law School in 1952, the only legal job offer she could get was as a secretary. In the 1970s, a group of women law students in Dallas had to sue even to get interviews at firms. When I started in the late 1980s, I wasn't allowed to wear pants to work.

Now, not only can I wear pants, but women are entering the profession at the same rate as men. Some of the largest firms in the world have had female managing partners. And while parity is a long way off, the percentage of female partners has inched up steadily over the years. The most encouraging trend I've seen, though, is the number of firms that have started meaningful women's initiatives and put real money and political support behind them. These firms are making an effort to recruit, develop and retain women lawyers. While they aren't always successful, and there are lots of structural and cultural hurdles to overcome before there's real parity, I have to remember that these things move in geologic time. Progress can't be measured in months or years. It has to be measured in decades and centuries.

The sticks that punish the legal profession for its resistance to change -- the flight of talented yet discouraged and overwhelmed women from the profession -- coupled with the carrots offered by clients demanding diversity in their legal service providers make progress as inevitable here as it is in China. It's going to take a while, but if the Chinese can keep fighting the good fight, so can we.

by Robert Tharp at 2:31:57 pm

When Dallas attorney James Craig Orr walked away with a $1.5 million verdict Tuesday on behalf of two Austin men who were seriously injured when an 18-wheeler crashed into their car, trucking company Celadon Trucking sought to mitigate the court loss with the following public statement: Celadon does not hire trainee drivers,

and has a very high safety standard relating to its drivers. We have won numerous national and regional safety awards. We are reviewing the jury verdict, and are considering our options regarding an appeal of the decision.

The Indianapolis Star, Celadon's home-town paper, faithfully included the company's statement in an Associated Press story of the court verdict secured by Dallas-based law firm  Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei. That's great, but we wonder how long it took the reporter to find this this contradictory tidbit in the very next paragraph that casts a little doubt on that sincerity of Celadon's response: In 2005, Celadon Trucking agreed to pay $1.25 million to the parents of a soldier who died when his car rear-ended a tractor-trailer that stalled along a Texas highway in 2002 after its brake hose failed. The husband-wife truck driving team in that case had tried to repair a high-pressure brake hose with a toothpick wrapped with tape.

The lesson for everyone: don't assume reporters will swallow your statement without a little fact-checking.

by Robert Tharp at 4:09:55 pm

Thompson & Knight attorney Roger Aksamit says IRS is offering some relief
For those rebuilding from Hurricane Ike, end-of-the-year federal income tax strategies no doubt fall somewhere near the bottom of the priority list. Houston attorney Roger Aksamit of Thompson & Knight's Houston offices says the IRS is offering some relief. Taxpayers in the 29 Texas counties declared as Hurricane Ike disaster areas may be able

to delay the filing of certain IRS returns until Jan. 5, 2009. The relief offered by the IRS is generally available to all individuals and businesses in those counties, as well as designated workers assisting with relief efforts. "The postponement applies to most scheduled tax return and tax payment deadlines, and the filing of other time-sensitive forms," he says. "There are also processes for eligible taxpayers to claim disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax returns, and deduct losses on personal property not covered by insurance or other forms of reimbursements." To interview Mr. Aksamit about IRS issues in the wake of Hurricane Ike, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 2:55:52 pm

The awards ceremony is still weeks away, but the cat's out of the bag. Dallas attorney Charla G. Aldous is the American Board of Trial Advocates' Trial Lawyer of the

Year for Texas. This is just the latest in a long list of honors for Charla. During her 23 years of practice, she has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. Charla, founder of the Aldous Law Firm, is routinely named among the most successful attorneys in practice. Says TEX-ABOTA president Dicky Grigg, "Charla is the epitome of those whom we seek to honor with the ‘Trial Lawyer of the Year' award. Her courtroom record is enviable, and she has unselfishly shared her leadership skills through public service to the legal profession and her community." 

by Robert Tharp at 11:02:40 am

MS Legal's Stacy Humphries: In-house experience increasingly helpful in job searches
Once upon a time, attorneys who left law firms for jobs as in-house counsel for companies and corporations did so with the understanding that they might have a difficult
time returning to law firm life. As the financial crisis ripples through the business world, in-house attorneys considering returning to law firms are finding that their business experience is viewed as an asset. "We're seeing more lawyers interested in returning to a law firm practice after a number of years of being in-house," says Stacy Humphries of Houston's MS Legal Search. Most law firms view attorneys with corporate experience as good sources of future business because they have direct experience dealing with business executives and often bring a referral network. "Moving in-house from a law firm used to be a one-way street, but no longer." .

by Robert Tharp at 10:30:02 am

Transportation attorney Mike Richardson of Dallas law firm Rose•Walker says other industries likely to follow.
It didn't take long for California safety regulators to ban cell phone usage by on-duty engineers following a deadly train collision in which one of the engineers was

 
reportedly text messaging at the time of the wreck. Twenty-five people, including engineer Robert Sanchez, died in Los Angeles-area crash. Attorney Mike Richardson of Dallas' Rose•Walker says others in the transportation sector may follow California's lead. Cell phone use played a part in a case Richardson won on behalf of a trucking company. "One of the things we saw was that the driver of the car that hit our truck was using her cell phone around the time of the accident," Richardson says. "I think companies would be wise to make the California cell phone ban company policy." To interview Mr. Richardson about cell phone usage in the transportation industry, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:05:06 pm

While debate over the proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout continues, class-action securities attorney Jeffrey Zwerling says shareholder lawsuits are almost certain to follow. Zwerling, of New York-based Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, LLP, says disgruntled shareholders who were misled by financial institutions will be filing litigation

trying to recover their substantial losses.

"Because the executives at some of these financial institutions, investment banks and mortgage houses were treating their businesses as if they were their own personal casinos, the investors didn't receive the value they thought they paid for," he says. "All they received was an illusion."

Zwerling is already actively involved in litigation related to the collapse of the auction-rate securities sector earlier this year. He represents the lead plaintiff in a securities class-action against Citigroup in auctions it managed. After the market for auction rate securities shut down early this year, investors were left with no access to their money. Since then, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has forced Citigroup and other institutions to make good on the auction rate securities, but still unknown is whether pension funds and the individual workers they represent will receive any money.

Zwerling also represents the Wayne County Employees Association in a class-action against MGIC Investment Corporation, a provider of private mortgage insurance. The lawsuit claims that MGIC failed to warn investors of large financial losses it was experiencing as a result of the worsening credit crisis and problems in the home mortgage industry.

For more information or to speak with Jeffrey Zwerling about the financial crisis, call Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 (office) or mark@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 11:00:17 am

Remember when e-mail first became popular and warnings abounded about the self-policing nature of the World Wide Web? Early e-mail spammers found their e-mail mailboxes crammed with hate mail from folks who wanted to keep commerce out of the ether. Regrettably, spammers won that battle, but Web 2.0 and its myriad social
media networks still have a Wild West feel, and cautionary tales are emerging for those who attempt heavy-handed solicitations.

Consider Twitter, an often maddening medium that gives you an opportunity to send out short messages accompanied with a Web site link to targeted groups. Seattle law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and their marketing firm suffered widespread wrath when they used Twitter in an attempt to recruit class-action plaintiffs for a case against Verizon Wireless. The blunder got the attention of the Wall Street Journal and many, many others.

While the ubiquitous `I'm stuck in traffic on the way to the airport' Twitter posts that I typically receive are about as useful as spam and good examples of useful Twittering remain rare, the takeaway here is to think a little before you step out and pursue Web 2.0 marketing. Legal blogger Kevin O'Keefe nailed it with his recent post, Be smart. Just because your law firm, marketing company, or PR agency heard of a new communication tool that others have found powerful, doesn't mean you should start using it tomorrow. You need to know how to use tools like Twitter. This means getting out and playing with Twitter. Use it for personal use. Look at how others are using Twitter. Twitter on training wheels if you will. Then start using Twitter in business settings - after you feel very comfortable with how Twitter works. If you don't feel comfortable, don't start.

by Robert Tharp at 2:29:57 pm

Lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Mark Lanier questions whether Rice University adequately screens its young athletes
A simple blood test by the Rice University athletic department would have revealed that a young football player should not have been given a nutritional shake containing

creatine, according to a lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Mark Lanier. Dale Lloyd II's 2006 death after drinking the shake during a conditioning workout is now putting a spotlight on whether college athletic departments are properly screening college athletes.

At issue is whether Rice coaches should have known that Lloyd had a blood condition common to African-Americans that placed him at greater risk of suffering from rhabdomyoloysis by injesting the shake containing creatine. Creatine is a naturally occurring organic acid that supplies energy to muscle and nerve cells, but it also causes dangerous side effects, including rhabdomyoloysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers that causes the release of harmful substances into the bloodstream. Medical literature has long warned about the increased risk of rhabdomyoloysis for those who use nutritional supplements and also have the trait for sickle-cell disease.

Lloyd collapsed after he was given a nutritional shake by Rice football coaches and ordered to finish a conditioning workout. Despite having trouble breathing and in obvious pain, coaches ordered other players not to help him and forced him to complete the workout, according to the lawsuit. Lloyd was hospitalized and never regained consciousness. Although African-Americans comprise a large number of student athletes at U.S. universities, very few schools test for the sickle cell trait, exposing thousands of young people to the conditions that lead to Lloyd's death. "If Rice University had conducted simple blood tests on African American student athletes, then they would have seen that Dale had the sickle cell trait and that he should never been given a creatine-based supplement directly before being forced to complete such a brutal workout," Lanier says.

 

by Robert Tharp at 11:50:24 am

Plaintiffs' attorney Mark Werbner dubious of pending Texas Surpreme Court review
As challenges mount to the 2003 tort reforms, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram outlines how backers of Texas tort reform are taking an unusual step and seeking out a direct appeal of a case to the Texas Supreme Court for a ruling on whether the reforms comply with the state constitution. Plaintiffs' attorneys like Mark Werbner of Dallas-based Sayles Werbner question the strategy used by supporters of tort reform, telling the Star-T that the unusual direct

appeal to the Texas Supreme Court appears to be an attempt to prevent other cases that promise a stronger challenge to the reforms. "This is another way to put more nails in the coffins of people who are dying because of medical malpractice," he says, adding that tort reform has created a system that has taken away the ability of most Texans to seek legal recourse for medical errors.

Supporters of tort reform, meanwhile, describe how changes in the system in Texas have made the state a more friendly economic environment for doctors.

The Star-T sums it up:  The debate pits two sides with starkly different takes on the effects of the cap. To the medical groups, the $250,000 cap on "noneconomic" or compensatory damages for pain and suffering has helped high-risk patients because doctors are now willing to accept complex cases. Proponents say the cap has also made it easier to recruit new physicians - Texas has almost 300 more licensed doctors than it did a year ago. What's more, medical liability rates have dropped by 26.6 percent overall since 2003, when the cap became law, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Critics say the cap dealt a crushing blow to patients' rights because many of those who suffered life-threatening injuries effectively have no legal recourse. That's because of the economics of the lawsuits.

by Robert Tharp at 10:20:51 am

Cowles & Thompson Antitrust attorney Jim Chester: curious timing for probe
It's become a toss up for many lately as to which monthly bill is more unpleasant to open...the electricity bill or the cel phone. For those who have embraced text

messaging, costs have doubled since 2005 to a whopping 20 cents per message. 20 cents here, 20 cents there...if you have a teenager, pretty soon you're talking about some real money(insert emoticon here).

The Dallas Business Journal analyzes the issue and efforts by Senate antitrust subcommittee chairman Herb Kohl to get some answers from the four major wireless phone companies. DBJ reporter Jeff Bounds explains in the piece that Kohl finds the hike curious because text messages cost little to transmit because they are small and that the four carriers each raised rates with identical spikes almost simultaneously. Kohl has asked the four carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and Nextel -- to justify their rates by Oct. 6.

Jim Chester, chairman of the international business and trade practice at Dallas' Cowles & Thompson, explains that politicians are obligated to enforce antitrust statutes, but he finds the timing of the probe _ at the height of the political season _ a little curious. 

by Robert Tharp at 1:55:19 pm

More than five years after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was created following a wave of major corporate scandals, whistleblowers have not received the protections that many
expected when SOX was first created. According to the Wall Street Journal, whistleblowers prevailed in only 17 of the 1,273 cases filed since 2002. The result: a chilling effect on whistleblower complaints and increasing boldness by employers facing such complaints, says attorney Wade McClure, who handles complex business litigation at Dallas-based Gibson McClure Wallace & Daniels. "The protections in Sarbanes-Oxley are minimal, and whistleblowers are suffering as a result," he says. "People are ‘blowing the whistle' thinking they will be protected by the Act, but instead they are terminated and ridiculed. They incur substantial time and expense only to be left with no remedy or recourse." To interview Mr. McClure about whistleblower trends and business litigation, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:18:46 pm

Young Dalton Sherman is on a roll. After winning the the 16th annual Gardere Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition with a speech about community involvement that ended with the closing line: "...a drum major with no band is just a

fool dancing on the football field," the Charles Rice Learning Center fifth-grader has already appeared on the front page of the Dallas Morning News and served as the warm-up speaker for Maya Angelou. His YouTube video has been seen more than 150,000 times, and he was tapped to give an inspirational speech for teachers and administrators at the Dallas school district's start-of-school pep rally at the American Airlines Center a few weeks ago. Now Dalton is set to appear on the Ellen Show this Thursday.

by Robert Tharp at 11:07:16 am

The number of immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship has plummeted in response to higher application fees, the economic downturn and efforts to toughen the
naturalization exam, says immigration attorney Irina Plumlee of Dallas' Gardere Wynne Sewell. Plumlee, who focuses on a wide range fo business and personal immigration issues, has strong opinions about the trend and says the country stands to suffer when its immigration population doesn't have a straightforward manner to achieve citizenship. "It's in everyone's best interest to fully integrate the immigrant population into our political and economic structures, but these changes are likely to impact the number of non-U.S.-born voters at the polls," she says. "Citizenship proceedings should be offered in a straightforward manner, without unnecessarily complex tests and burdensome charges." The number of applicants has dropped by about one-half since a 70 percent fee increase was instituted last year. To speak with Ms. Plumlee about immigration issues, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.


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