June 25, 2015 by Kaitlyn Piazza at 10:00:00 am
Cybercriminals are committing identity theft by targeting Americans' health records, which sell on the black market for 10 to 20 times more than credit card numbers. Houston attorney Mark Thibodeaux advises health care companies on cyberattacks in his role as deputy practice leader of the cybersecurity and privacy team at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.
• Politico Reports: “Over the past year, hacks of insurers Anthem, Premera and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and the CommunityHealth Systems hospital chain compromised about 95 million patient records. Crooks use medical records for identity theft, medical insurance fraud and plain old financial thievery. It’s believed that Chinese hackers have penetrated health care systems in search of valuable intellectual property concerning drugs and devices.”
• Long Island Business News Reports: “As hackers move stealthily from industry to industry, healthcare networks have swiftly jumped to the top of their list of targets. In addition to containing personally identifiable information, such as date of birth and Social Security number, medical records also comprise highly sensitive, protected health information, which may include, for example, psychiatry or HIV records.”
"In addition to the economic drivers, it appears that recent cyberattacks on health insurers and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are at least partly an effort to gather key information about government workers and possibly those with links to dissident movements in their countries," says Thibodeaux. "These attacks show signs of deep research, targeting those who might have access to important information the hackers want. Unfortunately, health records are often inadequately protected by outdated techniques and software. These recent attacks should encourage health care companies to dramatically improve their defenses."
June 24, 2015 by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 4:00:00 pm
Traffic Manager Christina DiPinto keeps the trains at Androvett Legal Media & Marketing running on time. With a birds-eye view of dozens of advertising and marketing projects, she ensures that both deadlines and quality standards are met. We asked this task-managing millennial how she keeps it all straight.
So what does a Traffic Manager do?
A little bit of everything. The main role of a traffic manager is project management - allocating resources, determining timelines and making sure task owners complete all items assigned to them. I also help out with printed projects, proofreading, a bit of e-announcement development and research.
And in any one week, how many projects might you be handling?
As of right now, I'm the lead project manager on 14 projects, but collectively, as a department, we have roughly 80 projects of various durations and complexities in the works. In some form or fashion, I will work on most of them.
As consumers we’ve become used to services being provided very quickly. What are the type of projects you deal with that just take time, and why?
We've recently had to complete several quick-turnaround projects, and I've been quite impressed with the team's ability to rally and get everything done on deadline. I would say anything involving commercial printing still takes time. Although digital printing has improved the timelines for some print projects, some things simply can’t be expedited; quality and accuracy require time.
As the tech-savvy millennial, what’s the latest technology that really impresses you?
I’m amazed by the tracking and analytical capabilities of various social, email and website platforms. For example, our e-announcement service allows us to see who opens our emails, who clicks which links, and where the emails are opened using what type of device. This feedback allows us to determine, among other things, which email layouts are most effective, which white paper topics garner the most attention, and how to phrase our subject lines. We can track similar statistics on websites and social media, and it’s very effective. If you’ve ever noticed those ads that pop up after you’ve done some online shopping, then you’ve experienced this type of data tracking.
Are there some basics from the marketing and branding perspective you wish that law firms would adopt more fully or consistently?
Yes. If you're marketing to everyone, you're marketing to no one. Find what you're good at, and let us help you get the word out.
What’s the hardest or most underappreciated part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is coming up with an answer to this question. I've had some pretty trying jobs in my life, so a bad day at Androvett is still pretty good.
What’s one thing that people don’t know about you?
I can juggle (literally, as well as metaphorically). I was the only child in a tennis family, and was frequently bored when others were playing, so one day I decided to pick up a can of balls and teach myself how to juggle. And here’s a bonus fact: my first language was German. Auf wiedersehen!
June 23, 2015 by Kaitlyn Piazza at 4:00:00 pm
Insurance expert Mark Kincaid is advising business owners to brace for battle when they seek payment from their insurance companies for flood losses. "Unfortunately, business owners sometimes assume they have coverage when they don't, or they find that what they've been told by an agent is not, ultimately, what is covered in their policy," he says. Kincaid, the former head of the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel, is now a partner in Austin's George Brothers Kincaid & Horton LLP.
- According to The Dallas Morning News: “Dallas reported about $50 million in storm damage. Carrollton, Garland, Grand Prairie and Irving each reported at least $2 million in losses.”
- According to ABC 13 Eyewitness News: “Experts say it's not a bad idea to wait for an adjuster, but not to wait too long. Flood insurance policies are written by many insurance agents, but almost all backed by the US Government through FEMA. As with any government program, not following the rules and complying with deadlines can lead to denials.”
- According to KRMG News in Tulsa: “If you had the foresight to enroll in the National Flood Insurance Program, it's important that you realize you only have a limited amount of time in which to file proof of loss. Consumers only have sixty days in which to file their flood loss claims.”
Kincaid advises business owners to notify their insurance agent and insurance company immediately about damage and losses and to be prepared for insurance company "traps" that cause some owners to give up on legitimate claims or settle for pennies on the dollar.
June 22, 2015 by Kaitlyn Piazza at 2:00:00 pm
The record rainfall and resulting floods that have plagued Texas and surrounding states in recent weeks should prompt business owners and managers to consider their bad weather policies and practices. "Employers may show a bit of a double standard if they focus on the hazards of driving to work in snow or ice, but negate the very real hazards of stormy weather," says employment attorney Mark Shank of Dallas' Gruber Hurst Elrod Johansen Hail Shank. "As we've seen, commuting in heavy rain can present its own set of dangers and delays for employees, and corresponding liability and morale risks for employers."
- Writes Houston Chronicle: “Generally speaking, companies don't have to pay their hourly wage workers for the time they don't work. But just following the letter of the law may not be the best approach to good employee relations during stressful weather disasters. That can be especially true when city and county leaders are advising residents to stay home to avoid the dangerous high water and residents are receiving frightening text messages about imminent flash flooding.”
- Writes U.S. News: “Your employer can require you to come to work despite severe weather. That said, a reasonable employer – and even employers that aren’t generally reasonable in other situations – will make allowances for employees who cannot safely make it in.”
Shank advises businesses to have a written, comprehensive plan for all types of weather emergencies that covers telecommuting, responsibilities for communication, and compensation. "In general a business can establish its own payment policies for inclement weather days, especially for non-exempt employees. But the key is having those policies communicated, followed and understood by all managers and staff."
June 16, 2015 by Kaitlyn Piazza at 2:00:00 pm
The nation’s unemployment rate continues to hover just over 5 percent, but one occupation is facing a growing demand and a shrinking workforce. The trucking industry has a current shortfall of some 35,000 to 40,000, a figure that could grow to as many as 240,000 drivers by 2022. One result of the shortage is increased costs for shippers as carriers step up efforts to recruit and retain drivers.
According to The Wall Street Journal: “Experts say there are many reasons behind the shortage, including more stringent work requirements as safety regulations have expanded and low pay that, despite recent gains, has made the tough working conditions tougher to bear. But trucking is also driving headlong into demographic reality: its workforce is getting older, and younger Americans are showing less interest in a career on the highway.”
“The industry is caught between the need for attracting new drivers and the need for experienced drivers,” says Dallas trucking defense attorney H. Peyton Inge IV of Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson. “Companies are increasing pay, expanding training programs, providing signing bonuses and looking for creative ways to address driver retention and satisfaction.” Inge notes that the shortage coincides with more stringent safety regulations and a rise in trucking-related litigation.”
June 9, 2015 by Kaitlyn Piazza at 12:00:00 pm
More than two weeks after the deadly biker gang-related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, a majority of the 177 arrested remain in jail with bail set at $1 million.Concerns about due process have risen to the point that the presiding administrative judge for Texas’ Third Judicial District, Billy Ray Stubblefield, expects to travel to Waco this week to meet with two district judges and brainstorm about ways to accelerate the bond hearings for more than 130 jailed bikers.
- Writes Texas Lawyer: “Before his trip, retired District Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, who still presides as administrative judge for the Third Judicial District, expressed disappointment about the weeks it has taken for the Waco courts to conduct bond hearings for the majority of the bikers. ‘Due process delayed is due process denied,’ Stubblefield said. ‘I would have been happier if this had been able to be accomplished more rapidly.’"
- Writes Dallas Morning News in a lead editorial this morning: “Three weeks have passed since the biker gang shootout in Waco that left nine dead and 18 wounded. Yet surprisingly little information has emerged to justify the incarceration of about 120 people, many of whom appear guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Without question, egregious criminal activity occurred outside the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Some bikers, mainly from the rival Bandidos and Cossacks gangs, appear to have arrived at the restaurant armed and ready to do battle.”
Dallas criminal defense attorney John Teakell of The Law Offices of John R. Teakell notes that police, prosecutors and judges are bound by the U.S. Constitution to ensure that there was sufficient probable cause for each individual arrest. The accused also must be promptly notified of the charges against them and bail amounts must not be set excessively high as a form of punishment.
“This was a horrific shooting and a fluid crime scene,” says Teakell, a former state and federal prosecutor. “But after more than two weeks, there is a real concern that innocent individuals remain in jail, awaiting a reasonable bail amount and a chance to know the charges against them so that they can defend themselves.”
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