Androvett Newswire

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April 15, 2010: Androvett NewsWire: Lexus Scrutiny / False Patent Marking / Medical Fraud
 
April 15, 2010 6:00 am

Do Toyota's Problems Go Beyond Sudden Acceleration?
A recent decision by a federal panel to rename litigation against Toyota allows plaintiffs to address the automaker's alleged concealment of vehicle defects. The request to change the name to "Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation" came from noted Houston attorney Mark Lanier. "This is far from merely a mechanical problem," said Lanier. "We intend to show that the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles is almost certainly the result of electronic problems that Toyota failed to disclose for years." The cases have been consolidated in the California court of U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, who is currently presiding over Beard, et al. v. Toyota Motor Corp., et al., which was brought by The Lanier Law Firm. To interview Mr. Lanier, contact Mike Androvett at 800-559-4534 or mike@androvett.com.

Previously Untarnished Lexus Taking Hit Over Safety Issues
Lost in the intense scrutiny of Toyota is the fact that its Lexus brand accounts for a significant portion of recalled vehicles. In fact, federal records show that on a per-vehicle basis, Lexus vehicles are responsible for more reports of unintended acceleration than Toyota, says Corpus Christi attorney Bob Hilliard, who is handling several lawsuits against Toyota. "Somehow the Lexus brand hasn't been tarnished as much, but there is no doubt that those cars and SUVs are every bit as dangerous," says Hilliard. This week the company halted sales of a Lexus SUV after Consumer Reports gave the vehicle its "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" designation. "As in previous instances, the dangers of this Lexus SUV were uncovered by a third party, not by the company or federal regulators. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the company can't be trusted when it comes to vehicle safety." To interview Mr. Hilliard, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

Avoid Becoming The Next False Marking Defendant
Manufacturers who mark their products with false or expired patent numbers may find themselves a target for enterprising plaintiffs' lawyers looking to file false marking lawsuits, says Dan Venglarik of Munck Carter. False marking lawsuits have become all the rage since a 2009 federal appellate court decision helped make them more lucrative, and sometimes involve products that carry patent numbers even though the patent protection has expired. Venglarik says to defend against such actions, companies need to review all products they mark and remove marks from products with expired patents. "They also need to plan for the future," he says. "Set up some sort of system that recognizes what products you mark and when those patents expire." To interview Mr. Venglarik about the false marking lawsuit trend, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.  

Houston Doctors Should Be Wary of Local Medical Fraud Investigations
Recent fraud charges against Houston area medical professionals should be a wake-up call for doctors, says Houston criminal defense attorney Dan Cogdell. During the last few weeks, separate investigations of a local doctor and medical equipment provider are the latest involving the year-old federal Houston Medicare fraud task force known as HEAT. "With the continuous controversy over rising health care costs, doctors and healthcare providers are under intense and increased scrutiny looking for fraud," says Cogdell. "HEAT investigations often take very draconian steps, such as investigators doing a complete asset freeze of all personal and medical assets before the doctor has had a chance to state their case." Cogdell currently represents Dr. Kiran Sharma, who is scheduled for trial later this month in one of Houston's largest medical fraud cases in recent years. To interview Cogdell regarding medical fraud, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

Environmental Scrutiny Increases for Shale Operators
The rapid growth in natural gas shale plays has been made possible, in part, by advances in hydraulic fracturing. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to conduct a comprehensive study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment. This study comes on the heels of the EPA's announcement that the agency will focus its enforcement efforts for the next three years on the energy extraction sector, including shale play operators. "Companies operating in shale plays will likely face increased pressure to ensure that they are complying with environmental laws and regulations," says Jim Morriss of the Austin office of Thompson & Knight. "It is vital that such companies know the law, understand their potential liability for violations of environmental laws, and establish systems to assure compliance." To interview Mr. Morriss, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Judge Finds Dallas County Violated State Purchasing Law
On Monday, State District Court Judge Bruce Priddy granted a temporary injunction after finding that Dallas County failed to follow a state-mandated competitive bidding process in awarding a seven-year, $17.3 million contract. The ruling effectively stops the county from performing any further work under the contract, awarded last year for the restoration and preservation of some of the county's oldest paper records. The lawsuit, originally filed in December 2009, alleges the county tried to justify bypassing state law by "piggy-backing" the contract on an unrelated national purchasing agreement. "It's apparent that Dallas County officials either willfully disregarded the law or were misled about how the contract was awarded," says attorney Michael Hurst of Dallas' Gruber Hurst Johansen & Hail LLP. "Based on the ruling, we hope the county will cancel the existing contract and follow Texas law." To interview Mr. Hurst, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.  

Gardere Attorney Named To Atmos Customer Advisory Board
Dallas environmental attorney Fran Phillips, a partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, has been named to the Customer Advisory Board of Atmos Energy Corporation's Mid-Tex Division. Established in 2004, the CAB provides community guidance about customer issues. "This board was created to better understand the needs of its customers in order to enhance that vital business relationship. It's a testament to Atmos' focus on customer satisfaction that it turns to business and community leaders to help determine what practices will serve them best," says Phillips. "It's an honor to be considered for a place on this board." Phillips served more than 15 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and served as deputy regional administrator for Region 6 in Dallas. She currently serves as president of Keep Dallas Beautiful. For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Meyerson Named Leader in Firm's Houston Office
Alfred M. Meyerson has been named as Office Leader for Thompson & Knight in Houston. A 26-year veteran with the firm, Meyerson focuses his practice on all areas of commercial real estate and currently serves as leader of the firm's Real Estate and Banking Practice Group. "This represents a tremendous professional opportunity for me to reinforce Thompson & Knight's role in the diverse and dynamic Houston economy," he says. "This office serves as the centerpiece for the firm's comprehensive energy practice, as well as our expanding responsibilities for clients with interests in Latin America, and I look forward to a number of exciting challenges in supporting all of our clients, attorneys, and staff." With 70 attorneys, Houston is the second largest office for the 350-attorney firm. To interview Mr. Meyerson, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.


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