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Androvett NewsWire: November 3, 2011: Sexual Harassment / Medicine Shortages / Coping with Holidays
 
November 3, 2011 6:00 am

Payoffs Common in Employee Harassment Complaints
As happened with presidential candidate Herman Cain in his prior role as head of the National Restaurant Association, businesses often provide confidential settlements to resolve employee complaints of sexual harassment. Frequently, these settlements are reached even when the claim likely never could be proven in court. "Company leaders are targets because of their power and the likelihood of harm to the company if these kinds of accusations become public, regardless of whether they're true," says executive employment lawyer Joe Ahmad of Houston's Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. "Most often, confidential settlements come about not because an executive did something truly illegal, but because there is an element of unflattering truth behind the complaint. Other times, real harassment occurred. Sometimes it's simply extortion." For more information, contact Mary Flood at 800-559-4534  or mary@androvett.com.

Medicine Shortages Loom Large
Aiming to solve the growing problem of vital drug shortages, President Obama this week signed an executive order that requires the FDA to broaden reporting of potential shortages, speed up drug production reviews, and report more information on possible collusion or price gouging. "If collusion causes a shortage of life-saving medicines, patients likely can bring federal antitrust and state unfair business practices lawsuits against the offending businesses," says Houston attorney Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm. "For more than 120 years, federal law has prevented large companies from fixing supplies, prices or market shares, and most states have similar laws forbidding unfair business practices," says Lanier, who has handled many of the nation's largest pharmaceutical cases. "Reporting possible price gouging and collusion certainly should help reveal to the American public the true cause of medicine shortages." For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

Court Rulings Take Heavy Toll on Troll
Since early 2010, copyright holding company Righthaven has filed 275 newspaper copyright infringement suits, but activity finally appears to be grinding to a halt. The company's recent court defeats include last week's court order requiring the company to pay former federal prosecutor Thomas DiBiase almost $120,000 in attorneys' fees, and earlier orders in other cases to pay legal fees ranging from $5,000 to $34,000. Adding to the pressure, U.S. marshals are helping collect some of the judgments. "The flaw in Righthaven's business model is that the company doesn't hold any exclusive rights under the copyrights for which it is attempting to sue," says Dyan House of Dallas' Munck Carter. Section 501 of the Copyright Act says that only the legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under copyright law may sue for infringement, she explains. "Righthaven simply lacks standing." For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534, or dave@androvett.com.

Tips for First Post-Divorce Holiday Season
Newly divorced parents may be anxious about their family's first post-divorce holiday season, so they should "rely on the three C's," says Dallas attorney Carmen Eiker, a partner in the family law firm McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, L.L.P. "First, cooperate with the other parent as much as possible to make the children's holiday time with that parent as good as it can be," Eiker says. "Second, communicate with the other parent, particularly if bad weather or delayed flights happen. With email and texting, it's easy for parents to work out the logistics of the hectic holidays. Third, stay calm. Avoid the tendency to overreact if things don't live up to what you think the holidays should be. No one's holiday lives up to that." For more information, contact Amy Hunt at 800-559-4534 or amy@androvett.com.

Texas Firm Completes Olympic Village Branding Deal
A management and branding deal for the two luxury hotels and a freestanding luxury spa in Sochi, Russia, that will anchor the 2014 Winter Olympic Village was completed this week by the attorneys at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP on behalf of The West Paces Hotel Group (WPHG). Gardere and WPHG worked with OJSC Krasnaya Polyana, one of the biggest developers of the Sochi Olympic Village and ancillary facilities, to finalize the Hotel Management Agreements and Centralized Service & Marketing Agreements for the Capella Sochi, Solis Sochi, and Auriga Spa Sochi. "Despite recent changes and reforms, doing business in Russia remains a challenge and this was a very complex project," says Cliff Risman, head of the Gardere Hospitality Industry Team. "It was closely watched by the Russian government and other parties involved in the 2014 Winter Olympics planning process." For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Sexual Assault Finding Yields $1.75M Judgment
A Tarrant County judge has ordered Rafael Guzman to pay $1.75 million for the past and future emotional distress he caused in repeated sexually assaults against his stepdaughter over the course of four years. The girl was 10 years old when the first assault occurred, according to court documents. Guzman was incarcerated on a related criminal charge when Judge Cosby handed down the civil judgment against him on Oct. 31. "This judgment shows that there are serious consequences beyond jail time for those who sexually assault minors," said Brian Butcher of Noteboom: The Law Firm, who handled the case on behalf of the victim and her mother. "As a part of the judgment, the court saw fit to include a $1 million award to punish Guzman for the malicious nature of the assaults." For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.

Idea of Eliminating Legal Education Rankles Ethics Expert
An opinion article published last week by The New York Times argues that legal education and licensing should be eliminated based on the idea that marketplace forces can identify the best legal practitioners and legal fees will be cheaper if there are no law school costs. Jonathan Smaby, executive director for the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, responded in a published letter to the editor, asking readers to imagine the resulting havoc if licensing were eliminated for other professions – such as doctors and engineers. "When the free market replaces law schools and bar exams, the incompetence of . . . new self-declared ‘lawyers' would be discovered only after thousands of unfortunate consumers learn the hard way that their legal rights are irretrievably lost," he wrote. For more information, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

Former U.S. District Judge Ward Joins Longview Firm
Former Judge T. John Ward of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has established a new mediation practice at Longview's Ward & Smith. Widely recognized for helping establish the Eastern District as one of the top intellectual property jurisdictions in the country, Judge Ward brings experience from more than 400 jury trials and 3,000 cases to his mediation practice, which includes complex business disputes, trade-secret litigation, intellectual property cases, and serious personal injury claims. "Mediation is a quicker, more effective way than trial to resolve many disputes," says Judge Ward. "Most copyright, trademark or patent disputes end up being settled, so mediation simply offers an alternative, and less expensive, way to achieve a resolution that's acceptable to all the parties involved." For more information, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.


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