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Androvett NewsWire: July 12,2012: Combating Heat | Oilfield Safety | Texas Patent Office
 
July 12, 2012 11:42 am

Combating Workplace Heat Starts With Employees
As the dog days of summer drag into weeks, it may be up to the employees who bear the brunt of the heat to remind supervisors about keeping common sense in mind when managing work, according to Dallas labor lawyer Matt Scott. "No labor statute requires additional breaks when the weather gets warmer," says Scott, who practices at the Kendall Law Group. "However, if employers are working employees into the ground, or to the point where they are getting ill, then you are facing a situation where a workman's compensation case is possible." Threatening a lawsuit isn't the most productive way to speak with an employer at a worksite, so Scott suggests workers should first make requests for additional shade, regular breaks for water and cooling down, and other reasonable accommodations aimed at combating the extreme heat. For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.

FRC Not Best Solution for Oilfield Workers
Because fires are one of many oilfield dangers, OSHA has pushed to require flame resistant clothing (FRC) for all oilfield workers on jobsites. However, labor and employment attorney Celeste Yeager of the Dallas office of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP cautions that FRC only protects against short-duration flash fires rather than sustained fires. "Despite OSHA's efforts to require all oil and gas employees to wear FRC, the benefits in the unlikely event of a flash fire are outweighed by the additional risks, including increased heat-induced illnesses such as heat stroke," says Yeager, who recently successfully overturned Wyoming OSHA citations against a client who was targeted after a crew member died in a fire while not wearing FRC. "Injuries from fires are better prevented through engineering, mechanical, and administrative controls rather than use of FRC as an additional item of personal protective equipment," Yeager says. For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Planning Can Help Avoid Tax Uncertainty
With promised gift and estate tax changes and the expiration of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption at the close of 2012, the well-to-do are turning to exotic techniques in a last-ditch effort to save their investments from the looming tax uncertainty, says Dallas attorney Dan Baucum of Shackelford Melton & McKinley. "Some families have tried to delay the inevitable death tax through provisions in their Last Will and Testament documents, and a few have created 'Family Limited Partnerships,'" says Baucum, a former special assistant to the IRS associate chief counsel. But for those with working assets, such as a family farm or business, these options won't work. Instead, they are opting for a "Defective Grantor Trust" where parents make a seed gift or sale to a trust with special terms that treat themselves as the owners. This gives them control, but gifts future appreciation to their heirs. "Generally speaking, property values are at or near their all-time lows. If you're going to 'sell or gift' to your heirs, now may be the time to do it," he adds. For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

$2.2 Million Award Sends Message to Caregivers
A recent $2.2 million jury award should send a strong message to retirement facilities across North Texas, says Tarrant County personal injury attorney Chuck Noteboom. A Fort Worth jury found that Parkwood Retirement Community in Bedford was negligent when it left an elderly woman lying on her bedroom floor for a full day after she fell. Edna Anderson was injured in 2008 after falling in her room at Parkwood. She attempted to contact staff members for help by activating an emergency call device in her room, but no one answered her repeated calls. The woman, now 99 years old, recovered after months of medical treatment. "This terrible tragedy didn't need to happen," says Noteboom, founder of Noteboom: The Law Firm. For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.

Don't Trust Repairs to Door-to-Door Help
Dallas homeowners trying to find an available contractor for roof repairs after recent hailstorms may be tempted by the "too-good-to-be-true" deals promised by workers who arrive on their doorsteps. While they may claim to handle all the insurance claim details as well as needed repairs, these contractors far too often are untrained and too inexperienced for the job at hand, says Dallas insurance attorney Marc H. Fanning, chairman of Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin. "Assigning part of your insurance claim to these so-called 'contractors' could be a huge mistake," he says. "Following any type of home damage, consumers need to contact their insurance agent immediately, then work with the adjuster assigned to the claim and gather estimates from licensed, reputable contractors. Working with a 'Chuck in a Truck' can jeopardize your ability to get your home properly repaired and the claim resolved in a timely fashion." For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Shale Plays Lead to Reliance on Arbitration
With a rise in the number of foreign companies seeking to invest in the nation's shale energy resources, the contractual agreements between foreign and domestic companies increasingly may be covered by binding arbitration clauses. "International investors often fear the costs and scope of litigation and discovery in U.S. courts," says Bill Katz from the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight. "Properly structured, arbitration can provide a quicker, more flexible, and less costly means of resolving disputes on a more neutral playing field." Katz says that the protections offered by arbitration and treaties may provide additional assurances for foreign investors that their investments in the U.S. will be adequately protected. "That comfort level can support the investment of financial capital needed by many U.S. companies to discover and produce shale oil and natural gas." For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Patent Office Unlikely to Impact Local Courts
The choice of North Texas as the location of one of four new U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices is expected to bring more than 100 jobs and solidify the area's reputation as a research and technology hotbed. But it may not result in more patent litigation in the Northern District's federal courts. "The focus of the office will be patent prosecution, but the location of the prosecution has almost no impact on a plaintiff's decision of where to file any litigation," says Max Ciccarelli in the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight. He notes that as the region's technology environment thrives, and litigants see how well Northern District judges manage patent litigation, more cases could be filed in local courts. "As the new office adds examiners and the backlog decreases, more patents may be issued and more litigation filed locally, but that will take some time." For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

FDA Recalls of Fresenius Dialysis Products
Late last month, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration declared a Class I recall of Fresenius Medical Care's GranuFlo and NaturaLyte dialysis products. The FDA action is the latest move in the ongoing controversy surrounding the nation's largest operator of dialysis centers. It was only after an internal Fresenius memo was leaked to the FDA earlier this year that the company warned customers that its products have been linked to elevated bicarbonate levels, a contributing factor in cardiac arrest. "Here is a company that thought it could get away with hiding the hard truth," says Houston attorney Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, which is investigating numerous claims against Fresenius. "Fortunately someone decided to stand up, do the right thing, and bring these dangers to light." For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.


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