May 20, 2011 by Dave Moore at 4:22:55 pm Mavs-Thunder Series Reawakens 'Red River Rivalry'
It’s not easy to point to the signal conflict that spurred the feud between Texas and Oklahoma. Certainly, the well-documented 1931 border confrontation between Oklahoma Gov. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray and rifle-wielding Texas Rangers wasn’t a highpoint in interstate relations.
Fast forward to 2011, and football foes The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma now share ownership in the trademark for the term “Red River Rivalry.” As such, according to Munck Carter trademark attorney Dyan House, those schools have a mutual interest in protecting the trademark now that the Oklahoma Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks are trading baskets in the NBA Western Conference Finals.
“If the universities allow the unauthorized use of the ‘Red River Rivalry’ brand, it weakens the trademark," House says. House expects both schools to be on alert for unauthorized uses on hats, T-shirts, signs and other promotional materials, so they can take immediate action during the Mavs-Thunder playoff series.
While jointly enforcing a trademark doesn’t equate to Woodstock, it certainly is a step up from open hostility.
May 18, 2011 by Dave Moore at 11:06:14 am Another College Sickle Cell Death Leads to Lawsuit
This is how DeSoto Central High School (Mississippi) football coach Chris Purnell described Bennie (Buster) Abram in 2005: "Bennie is a quiet leader. He will lead by example and he'll work hard, but he doesn't do a whole lot of talking. He's certainly not afraid of anybody."
Abram’s hard work was evident when he joined the University of Mississippi football team as a walk-on defensive back. However, Abram died on the first day of spring practice at an Ole Miss practice field on Feb. 19, 2010.
An autopsy determined that the Southaven, Miss., native’s death was caused by complications from sickle cell trait with exertion and a contributing factor of cardiomegaly (inflammation of the heart). The sickle cell trait has been tied to more than 20 college athletes’ deaths in recent years.
Now, attorneys from the Houston office of The Lanier Law Firm and Jackson, Miss.-based Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, are representing the Abram family in a lawsuit against Ole Miss head football coach Houston Nutt, the NCAA, the university and others based on claims that the defendants ignored Abram’s sickle cell condition.
“Buster’s death is a tragedy that should have been prevented,” says The Lanier Law Firm’s Gene Egdorf. “Every sickle cell expert in the world will tell you that the only way this trait can cause a student-athlete’s death is when they are put through overly strenuous workouts like the one Bennie went through before he died.”
Egdorf represented the family of former Rice University student-athlete Dale R. Lloyd II in a landmark settlement with the NCAA last year that resulted in new policies requiring sickle cell testing for all college athletes.
May 13, 2011 by Dave Moore at 4:06:07 pm The $1.1 million apology
Most high schoolers (hopefully) can tell you that freedom of the press was one of the basic founding principles of the United States. Yet, that freedom – as all liberties – has its limits.
A Fort Bend County, Texas, jury recently meted out its own lesson on journalistic responsibility, awarding $1.1 million to an East Texas man who claimed that the Fort Bend Star newspaper defamed him and injured his reputation in a front-page story it published in 2003.
But the newspaper could have forgone the expensive tutorial had it only printed a retraction, says John Zavitsanos, of Houston’s Ahmad Zavitsanos & Anaipakos law firm, which represented the plaintiff.
Wade Brady sued the Star and journalist LeaAnn Klentzman about the front-page story that described alleged tape-recorded meetings between Brady's father, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Brady, and deputies involved in a traffic stop that ended with Wade Brady being ticketed as a minor in possession of alcohol.
Wade Brady’s libel suit followed, alleging that Klentzman’s story gave “a false and defamatory impression of the plaintiff" and injured Wade Brady's reputation. The complaint also alleged that Klentzman did not interview any of the three officers involved in the traffic stop, "fabricated many of the statements in the article," and purposely failed to note that Wade Brady was found innocent of the alcohol charge at a 2002 jury trial.
In the libel case, Wade Brady has already obtained a successful ruling at the appellate court level in a mid-case appeal. The defendants say they intend to appeal the matter further.
The Fort Bend County libel case could serve as a tutorial for any publication or journalist on the potential costs of journalistic irresponsibility.
May 13, 2011 by client-news at 12:28:34 pm Employment Lawyer Amy Davis: Social media can erode workplace civility
Just a few years ago, the Facebook term “unfriend” was named the New Oxford American Dictionary’s verb of the year, demonstrating the omnipresence of social media.
A more recent example of how that power can be abused was the firing of a Houston-area teacher who admitted that she created a false Facebook page to even a score with one of her co-workers.
Amy Davis, an employment lawyer at Dallas’ Rose●Walker law firm, says that the case of 26-year-old Spring ISD teacher Lily Chau should be a wakeup call to both public- and private-sector employers to develop and implement social media policies.
“Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from harassment in the workplace,” says Davis. “Unfortunately, the ubiquity of social media networks means that the boundaries of the workplace have expanded almost infinitely.”
It seems Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media have made the notion of boundaries seem as obsolete as the Edsel.
Mobile connectedness has a well-documented tendency to erode fundamental human courtesies.
Davis says that the dissolution of social boundaries and common courtesy can mean trouble for employers if a company knows, or knew, about harassment, but doesn’t take steps to stop it. That’s particularly the case if it involves sexually oriented content or is motivated by a person’s gender, race, religion or other protected status.
Perhaps when Facebook-fueled incivility dies down, employers can again “friend” social media.
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