May 28, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 4:58:50 pm
Attorneys for the Jackson, Miss.-based civil trial law firm of Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy LLP made a significant ripple last week with what courthouse insiders described as the first take-nothing defense victory in such a case in memory. The lawsuit involved a 73-year-old man who asked jurors for $4.5 million in damages, charging that his lung disease was caused by products made by three companies between 1964 and 1995.
One key to the case's outcome: attorneys made brilliant use of a database developed by the firm that tracks area residents who have filed similar silica-exposure claims. Writes The AmLaw Litigation Daily:
What was the secret to the victory? It might have had something to do with a database of mass tort plaintiffs maintained by Kurtz's firm. During jury selection, Judge Lamar Pickard allowed Kurtz access to the last four digits of potential jurors' social security numbers to see if they or their family members had filed claims similar to Westrope's. The database identified four members of the jury pool (none of whom had mentioned their claims on a jury questionnaire). Kurtz was able to argue against putting them on the jury. "If we didn't have the database . . . we would have had four in the jury pool who could have been on the jury in this case," Kurtz told the Clarion Ledger.
The Forman Perry defense team representing Clemco and Precision was led by name partner Fred Krutz, along with partner Edwin S. "Win" Gault Jr., and associate Jennifer Jones Skipper. Lone Star was represented by David Barfield and Kimberly Mangum of Madison, Miss.-based Barfield & Associates. The firm represented represented Washington, Mo.-based Clemco Industries Corp. the world's largest manufacturer of air-powered blast cleaning equipment, and Little Rock, Ark.-based Precision Packaging, a packaging services company.
May 26, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 2:27:52 pm
Few presidential duties generate the kind of passionate interest as the task of filling a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Such scrutiny is not surprising,
"These nominations are always very high-profile, mainly because the tenure of a justice lasts so much longer than the term of the president," Levinger says. "Being President Obama's first, it's watched even more carefully."
Levinger notes that Sotomayor's nomination is shrewd in that she has a proven track record, an inspiring personal background and has already been nominated by President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton for lower court positions. "Judge Sotomayor's nomination is a relatively safe thing to do because she has a proven track record," Levinger says. "I believe if this nomination is successful, then the next one may be a little more non-traditional...I'm pretty confident that she's going to be confirmed. She's already run the gauntlet twice." To speak with Jeffrey Levinger, please contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or Robert@androvett.com.
May 21, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 10:18:59 am
Meanwhile, McKool Smith the Dallas-based firm that represented i4i and secured yesterday's stunning victory continues its head-turning winning streak. Just last month, the firm was part of a legal team that obtained a $19 million patent infringement verdict against Apple Inc. relating to rights to technology owned by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Opti Inc. for technology found in Apple hard drives and iPods. A few weeks before that, attorneys in the firm's New York office obtained an important partial summary judgment and injunction against New York-based Liz Claiborne Inc. and its subsidiary, Los Angeles-based Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. In the ruling(available here), the court found infringement against the Lucky Brand entities over their sale of garments bearing the unauthorized "Get Lucky" mark. The firm already enjoys the distinction of having more National Law Journal Top 100 verdicts for 2008 than any other firm in the country.
May 19, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 2:49:14 pm
Andrew Derman, leader of the international energy practice group at Dallas' Thompson & Knight, says that while Chavez has the right expropriate such property, there is also an obligation on his government's part to pay fair market value for the seized equipment and assets. "These most recent seizures will result in arbitrations that Venezuela will lose," Derman says. "This move underscores Chavez's desperation in trying to sustain oil production and revenue as the nation slides into a recession." Chances are slim that Venezuala will prevail in international courts, Derman says, adding: "As a consequence, Venezuela and those countries following Venezuela will begin thinking twice before expropriating property." To interview Mr. Derman on international energy issues, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 19, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 1:17:44 pm
May 19, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 9:54:36 am
Antitrust attorney Gregory Huffman says administration's position borne out of Great Depression post mortem
Last week's message from the Justice Department's antitrust chief Christine A. Varney regarding antitrust enforcement was
As reported by the New York Times and others: Ms. Varney blamed the Bush administration for antitrust policies that "lost sight of an ultimate goal of antitrust laws - the protection of consumer welfare" and "allowing all but the most bold and predatory conduct to go unpunished and undeterred."
Ms. Varney indicated that the administration is rejecting the impulse to go easy on antitrust enforcement during weak economic times. "We must change course and take a new tack," she said, adding, "Vigorous antitrust enforcement must play a significant role in the government's response to economic crises to ensure that markets remain competitive."
Antitrust attorney Gregory Huffman of Dallas' Thompson & Knight says the administration's position is likely borne out of history, particularly the government's soft-handed approach during that Great Depression that is widely believed to have prolonged that economic downturn. "Some might argue right now that preserving jobs at large companies is more important than challenging the companies in court," Huffman says. "However, research shows that attempts in the 1930s to preserve employment by cutting back on antitrust enforcement actually extended the Great Depression by up to seven years." Huffman notes that Council of Economic Advisors chair Christina Romer and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke are both students of New Deal policies. "Given their backgrounds and positions, the shift toward restored antitrust scrutiny was almost inevitable." To interview Mr. Huffman on antitrust matters, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
May 18, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 4:36:38 pm
A small, Texas-based software company that does business as FirePond has filed an ambitious class-action suit, taking on Internet behemoth Google for its practice of
selling trademarked words and phrases through it pay-per-click AdWords service. The suit charges that Google infringed on its trademark by allowing competitors to purchase the word "FirePond," which effectively drives potential customers to competitors' services. While individual companies like American Airlines and Geico have filed similar complaints, Trademark attorney Dyan House of Dallas' Munck Carter says this litigation stands out because it attempts to gain class-action status. "Potentially, that makes it a much bigger case, but I doubt the court is going to certify this as a class," Ms. House says. "Still, the underlying issue of whether an enterprise's trademarks can be sold by another as an Internet search keyword that links to competitors is commercially very important."
May 15, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 1:26:41 pm
Cym Lowell, an international tax attorney at Gardere Wynne Sewell, says the tax proposal will hurt the U.S. companies' competitiveness abroad and will not likely have the intended effect. "U.S.-based companies already face a higher tax rate when they enter the global marketplace and this would further penalize them," Lowell says. "To wrap these proposals in the swaddling cloth of ‘protection of U.S. jobs' is dangerously simplistic." Gardere partner Mark Martin agrees, "Obama needs to be sensitive to the ability to be competitive. It is attractive political rhetoric to call for higher taxes for big business, but the reality is not nearly so obvious." To interview Mr. Lowell or Mr. Martin, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 8, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 4:09:37 pm
Pity RealNetworks. The plucky technology firm is facing an uphill battle - and mounting legal costs - as it goes up against the Motion Picture Association of America
Cnet reports: Legal fees also took a major toll. Since late last year, RealNetworks has been embroiled in a legal battle over its RealDVD software, which can rip a digital copy of commercial DVDs onto a personal computer. Hollywood, courtesy of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has sued RealNetworks to prevent the company from selling the program. Since 2008 RealNetworks has shelled out $6 million in legal fees and associated costs to defend RealDVD.
Technology litigation veteran Ted Stevenson of Dallas' McKool Smith says if history is any indication, RealNetworks is facing difficult odds. "In 2004, a court in the Northern District of California ruled that DVD-copying software from 321 Studios violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," he says. "That software was sold to ostensibly permit consumers to back up their DVD purchases, but 321 Studios lost because its product had no safeguards to prevent copying of borrowed or rented DVDs. Like that case, a key fact in this case is whether RealNetworks' accused product contains adequate safeguards." To interview Mr. Stevenson, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
May 6, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 11:05:58 am
The Texas Supreme Court has further expanded employers' ability to enforce non-compete agreements with workers, and the result will likely be even greater use and
Shanks says the ruling opens the door for even more reliance on these agreements in Texas. "A natural result may be that businesses become more aggressive in trying to tie up lower-level employees with these types of covenants." But businesses should be concerned that overuse of non-competes could dilute their power. "You can diminish the value of these agreements by applying them too broadly or by taking a one-size-fits-all approach with your workforce."
May 5, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 4:30:44 pm
Originally released in March of 2006 for DVD and online sales, "The Secret" uses a documentary format of interviews and dramatized sequences to present what is called the "Law of Attraction." Embraced by many self-help experts and the subject of extensive media coverage, the film teaches that thoughts and feelings attract real events into individuals' lives, creating a basis for a higher sense of personal and spiritual fulfillment.
Attorneys Mark Werbner and Darren Nicholson from Dallas' Sayles Werbner represent Mr. Heriot. "We know 'The Secret' would never have existed if not for Mr. Heriot's contributions," says Mr. Werbner. "His ownership rights in the creation of these materials should be upheld." To interview Mr. Werbner about the case, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 5, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 2:20:12 pm
Vogel Alcove provides a range of free services for homeless infants, preschool children and under privileged families in North Texas. McKool Smith has been a proud sponsor of the organization for 15 years. The Vogel Alcove is the only comprehensive early childhood education program in the city of Dallas whose primary focus is to provide free services for homeless children who face multiple developmental risks. Because of the Alcove’s 21-year legacy providing quality, licensed childcare and social services for children victimized by homelessness, 18 area affiliated homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and housing programs depend on the Alcove to provide services to the homeless families at their shelters.
"We are privileged to support an organization that serves such a vital role in helping those in our community who are perhaps least likely to have means to support themselves - the children of homeless families," says Mike McKool, co-founder of McKool Smith. Tickets for tonight's concert are still available through the TITAS box office at 214-528-5576 or through the Vogel Alcove Web site, http://www.vogelalcove.org/.
May 5, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 1:37:11 pm
Even though the swine flu so far is not as virulent as feared, it is having an enormous effect on businesses, workers and their families. In light of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's disaster declaration linked to swine flu, employment attorney Audrey Mross of Munck Carter in Dallas says employers should have a plan for responding to personnel complications from the spread of the virus. "The list of questions for employers to answer is fairly long," Mross says. "If you've got a slightly sick employee, do you have the ability for him or her to work from home? If you have a healthy employee who isn't comfortable coming to work, what do you do? Do you continue wages and salary during these absences or ask employees to use paid time off? There are all sorts of dilemmas that come up." To interview Ms. Mross about swine flu and the implications for employers, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
May 5, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 11:30:18 am
The child's attorney, Steve Briley of Banner Briley & White LLP in Wichita Fallas, says insurance companies are to blame for inexplicably putting up a roadblock to the release of the funds by contesting the type of annuity the family wishes to use to safeguard the money for the child. To interview with Mr. Briley, please contact Rhonda Reddick at 1-800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 4, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 4:59:43 pm
May 4, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 11:25:34 am
Attorney Jared Woodfill: BNSF intentionally mislead government inspectors about scope of contamination
A third-party industrial waste cleanup worker who was asked to clean up toxic contamination on the grounds of a railroad tie treatment plant operated by Burlington
As reported by The Eagle in Bryan/College Station, Mike Zientek told jurors on the second day of trial testimony that the plant failed to adequately clean up a 1,000-gallon chemical spill and that plant supervisors scoffed at the idea that creosote and other solvents used to treat railroad ties posed a danger to workers or Somerville residents. An earlier witness in the trial, Dennis Davis v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway underway in Caldwell, Texas, testified that plant supervisors advised him that creosote, a known carcinogen baned in Europe and Canada, was not dangerous and was good for clearing up sinuses.
Lawsuits filed by hundreds of
May 1, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 2:02:13 pm
Most recently, the firm obtained a $19 million patent infringement verdict against Apple Inc. relating to rights to technology owned by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Opti Inc. The
Last week, attorneys in the firm's New York office received a partial summary judgment and injunction against New York-based Liz Claiborne Inc. and its subsidiary, Los Angeles-based Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. In the ruling(available here), the court found infringement against the Lucky Brand entities over their sale of garments bearing the unauthorized "Get Lucky" mark. The court further ruled that the infringement constituted unfair competition under federal and New York laws, including violations of New York's General Business Law. The court also found that Lucky Brand breached a 2003 settlement agreement between the parties governing the use of the "Get Lucky" mark. The court's ruling permanently enjoins Lucky Brand from ever using Get Lucky on apparel, fragrances and accessories.
Marcel Fashion and Get Lucky are represented by lead trial counsel Ann Schofield Baker, a principal in McKool Smith's New York office, and Lawrence I Fox, a New York partner in McDermott Will & Emery.
For verdict information, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or email@example.com.
May 1, 2009 by Robert Tharp at 9:43:01 am
Attorney Jared Woodfill to shine light on Burlington Northern's dark secret about cancer clusters, toxic pollution in Somerville, Texas.
The first full day of testimony is underway today in a major toxic contamination trial against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Lawsuits filed by hundreds of
Scientific and medical studies suggest that toxic pollution from the railroad tie treatment plant has caused a serious health problem in Somerville. Lawsuits charge that the company's negligent use of toxic chemicals caused widespread environmental contamination that has sickened employees, their families and town neighbors.
Among other things:
• A recently completed epidemiological study has found that the rates of cancer in Somerville are 10 times greater than a similar small Texas town used as a control group. Additionally, the overall rates of cancer, and specifically colorectal and stomach cancers, are far greater than the National Cancer Institute's SEER stats project for such populations.
• Independent scientific analysis shows that Somerville residents continue to be exposed to high levels of harmful dioxins, chromated copper arsenic(CCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAH's) like pentachlorophenol(PCP) and benzo(a)pyrene.
A jury of nine women and five men has been seated in the case of Dennis Davis v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The first witness in the trial, former tie plant employee Robert Urbanosky, testified Thursday that employees expressed concerns about the safety of creosote more than 20 yeras ago and were reassured that the carcinogenic chemical posed no health risks.
"He told us all creosote would do is open up your sinuses," Urbanosky said.
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