October 30, 2012 by Amy Hunt at 3:38:00 pm
When a character on a TV show signs a prenuptial agreement, it’s often portrayed as “an unbreakable vow” that leaves the less asset-rich spouse with no possibility of contesting it.
The truth is there are several circumstances in which a prenup, also called a premarital agreement, can be declared invalid. One of the primary ways a prenup can be undone is if one of the spouses was dishonest when the agreement was drafted, R. Scott Downing, a McCurley Orsinger partner, told the Reuters news service.
Mr. Downing told Reuters of a case in which his client was able to get a prenup thrown out “after a court ruled her husband had community property worth millions that he hadn't disclosed to his wife.”
One of the husband's downfalls was that he had given his wife a revised prenup on their wedding day. When she said she wanted to call her attorney, he lied, saying that her attorney had said it was okay to sign it.
"People need to know that if you're going to promise somebody a complete disclosure in a prenup, you'd better give it to them," says Downing.
October 30, 2012 by Robert Tharp at 3:30:00 pm
Teasing danger is certainly a big part of the allure of midway carnival rides at the State Fair of Texas and carnivals and fairs big and small across the country. As the rides have gotten bigger, faster and more sophisticated, the carnival ride industry has matured with better oversight and more safety protections for passengers.
But this year’s record-breaking State Fair of Texas points the need for more work to be done. On the same day that the iconic Big Tex was incinerated in a dramatic flash fire, riders on the already troubled Statosphere ride were left dangling nearly 200 feet in the air for more than two hours.
Meanwhile, another ride at the State Fair of Texas, the Techno Power(also known as Re-Mix II), was involved in a mishap at the 2011 San Diego County Fair. In that incident, the ride malfunctioned and started up as passengers were disembarking, throwing one passenger and seriously injuring a ride operator. Investigators were unable to pinpoint the precise cause of the accident, but the ride was rewired and allowed to go back in commission in advance of the State Fair of Texas. And earlier this year, a Houston man died when he fell from the Hi-Miler roller coaster at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The increased focus on amusement ride safety at the State Fair of Texas is in part a result of work by Dallas personal injury lawyer Frank L. Branson who represented victims of a 1983 accident involving the “Enterprise” ride at the State Fair of Texas in 1983, which killed one rider and seriously injured another. As part of a settlement in that case negotiated by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, fair officials agree to implement extra monitoring and safety measures.
"They've certainly changed for the better," Mr. Branson says. "There's still a lot of hazard out there."
October 29, 2012 by Robert Tharp at 12:00:00 am
Voters in some states have reported waiting as long as five hours to cast early voting ballots for the 2012 presidential election. With election day(November 6) fast approaching, some workers are no doubt wondering how they will find time to vote if they’re expected to put in a regular full day of work at their jobs. There’s even a movement afoot to make voting a national holiday or to move election day to a already designated holiday, such as the second Tuesday in November, Veterans Day.
Writes The Atlantic: The idea that voters shouldn't have to work on Election Day isn't a new one -- every four years, there are new calls, though none of them has been successful. We cast ballots on a Tuesday for outdated historical reasons. When the date of elections was fixed on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in 1872, Sunday was out of the question, as poll-related revelry would have fatally conflicted with the sabbath, and most people worked the other six days anyway. But since the establishment of the five-day work week, the placement no longer makes as much sense.
What many workers and some employers don’t realize is that state laws typically require employers to provide job-protected time off to vote, says Audrey Mross, who heads the labor and employment practice at Munck Wilson Mandala in Dallas.
"The Texas version of the law says employees get time off unless their schedule provides two consecutive non-working hours during the time the polls are open," Mross says. Some states, such as California, require workplace posters that inform employees of their rights as voters. Others prohibit discrimination against those who engage in certain political activities, such as running for office or working at a polling place.
October 16, 2012 by Amy Hunt at 5:08:00 pm
Distracted drivers of all kinds are a road hazard, but inattentive truck drivers are particularly deadly because of the size and speed of their rigs. According to the latest blog post by truck accident lawyer Frank L. Branson of Dallas’ Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, a recent collision in upstate New York was caused by a truck driver who failed to see prominent signs warning of road construction.
Six people died in the accident that police say was caused when truck driver James Mills Jr. slammed into a line of cars in northern New York. Among the victims were an elementary school speech therapist and her two teenage daughters, as well as the woman’s 69-year-old mother-in-law.
According to a report in the Plattsburg, NY, Press-Republican, Mr. Mills’ 18-wheeler was headed south on a slightly downhill stretch of highway when he slammed into an SUV, setting off a chain reaction. An investigator told reporters that the construction project was visible and that the signage was sufficient to alert drivers.
According to the news report:
The tractor-trailer is owned by MBM Customized Foodservice Distribution, based in Rocky Mount, N.C. A spokesman for the company didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Trucks operated by the company have been involved in 75 accidents over the past two years, including one crash that killed one person and 23 crashes that resulted in at least one injury, according to data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
October 11, 2012 by Amy Hunt at 3:36:00 pm
We’re not even mid-way through October, but the Dallas family lawyers at McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing L.L.P. say it’s not too soon for recently divorced families to start planning for the holidays.
The firm’s most recent blog post says some recently divorced couples may even want to continue celebrating some special events, such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas morning, together—assuming the ex-spouses are able to get along.
It’s probably not an ideal solution for the long-term, particularly if either spouse has or is planning to remarry, but it may help to ease the children’s transition for the first year.… Clearly, this is one of those ideas to be taken on a case-by-case basis because although it may work fine for one family, it may be disastrous for another.
Other tips include making an agreement about gifts and how those and other holiday costs will be paid for; finding new traditions; keeping some old traditions; and making a special effort to be civil with the ex.
“Holidays can be stressful even under ideal circumstances,” the firm writes. “Adding a recent divorce into the mix only compounds that stress.”
October 11, 2012 by Robert Tharp at 12:00:00 am
For veterans of the legal profession, the world has a way of feeling incredibly small at times. Law school roommates become judges. Former colleagues end up on the opposing side in lawsuits. In any given case, it can take a Venn diagram to detail the shared histories between opposing lawyers, judges, arbitrators and experts.
The age-old challenge is determining where to draw the line and when to disclose a potential conflict. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) tried to tackle the topic with new disclosure rules for arbitrators, but Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP partner Juan M. Alcalá of Austin says there’s more work to be done.
"With respect to an arbitrator's disclosure standards, there remains uncertainty as to what constitutes a circumstance worthy of disclosure,” says Alcalá, who co-wrote the chapter "Arbitrator Disclosure Standards in a State of Flux" in the International Centre for Dispute Resolution book, "ICDR Awards and Commentaries." “The uncertainty will continue until there is a uniform standard and rules for determining an arbitrator's disclosure responsibilities."
October 11, 2012 by Dave Moore at 12:00:00 am
The Boy Scouts of America is reeling in response to a court order to release a trove of closely guarded internal files documenting the group’s poor record of protecting young boys and adolescents from sexual abuse. Dallas trial lawyer Bill Chamblee says the experience of the BSA offers valuable lessons for organizations of any kind.
An Oregon court recently ordered the non-profit Boy Scouts organization to open its so-called “perversion files,” which detail sexual abuse at the hands of troop leaders and other adults affiliated with the organization dating back to 1965.
Based on preliminary analysis of these so-called “perversion files,” the Scouts in failed in many cases to report the allegations to police in an apparent effort to protect the Boy Scouts’ public reputation.
Writes the Los Angeles Times’ Carla Hall:
That pattern sounds horribly familiar. As with the sexual-abuse cases that rocked the Roman Catholic Church and the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State, here is another situation in which authorities, entrusted to care for young people, failed to deal properly with molesters in their institution, which led to more children and youths being victimized.
Adds Chamblee of Dallas-based Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson: "Any organization, especially those that deal with the mentoring or supervising of children, needs to conduct thorough background checks on individuals before putting them in positions of trust. If there are reports of abuse, organizations must act swiftly, not just to protect themselves, but also to prevent further abuse. As we've learned from the Catholic Church, any attempt to hide wrongdoing can make an organization a party to abuse."
October 9, 2012 by Robert Tharp at 1:32:00 pm
The billions of barrels of oil sitting in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas have generated a boom in oil and natural gas production and provided much-needed jobs and economic growth in those areas with underground energy reserves. But the most recent blog posting by the Law Offices of Frank Branson shows that this new and welcome prosperity comes with a tragic downside: a dramatic increase in deadly truck crashes.
According to an analysis by the San Antonio Express-News:
Since the beginning of the boom, accidents involving commercial vehicles [in McMullen county] have increased more than tenfold, from four crashes in 2008 to 46 crashes in 2011, according to crash data compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Neighboring La Salle County has had a 418 percent increase in that type of crash since 2008. . . .
The most frequently cited causes for McMullen County accidents were truck drivers ignoring signs in construction zones and defective headlights, according to the TxDOT data.
According to the Branson firm’s blog, not only do truck crashes cause fatalities, “but they also wreak havoc on nearby residents and make routine errands almost unbearable,” in addition to causing extensive damage to area roads.
October 4, 2012 by Dave Moore at 9:44:00 am
Most airline passengers’ knowledge of bankruptcy doesn’t extend beyond reading news accounts of the travails of the U.S. and global economy.
However, passengers of Fort Worth-based American Airlines seem to have found themselves in the middle of a bankruptcy-related power struggle between the airline pilots’ union and American’s parent company AMR. Recent developments include AMR’s threat of court action unless pilots end unnecessary flight delays. Some speculate that the pilots are delaying flights as payback to the airlines, which successfully fought in bankruptcy court to change the terms of pilot labor contracts.
“People don’t want to be dragged into a bankruptcy dispute,” Dallas bankruptcy lawyer Linda LaRue recently told KRLD-AM reporter Chuck Schechner. LaRue, who works in the Dallas office of Quilling, Selander, Lownds, Winslett & Moser, P.C., adds: "The airline and the union may argue over the facts underlying the delays and cancellations, but one undeniable point is that the continued loyalty of the customer base is necessary in order for the airline to survive. It doesn't matter what side the public blames for its inconvenience. The issue is whether passengers will take their business elsewhere and, if so, for how long.”
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