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Androvett NewsWire: September 27, 2012: Carnival Safety | American Delays | Los Angeles Law Office
 
September 27, 2012 11:42 am

Vigilance Needed to Keep Carnival Riders Safe
When The State Fair of Texas kicks off tomorrow, fairgoers again will have a chance to enjoy one of the largest collections of thrilling midway carnival rides anywhere. While the hair-raising mechanical rides are an important fair tradition, ride operators must be vigilant to ensure that fairgoers are safe from injury, says Dallas attorney Frank L. Branson, who represented parties in a deadly State Fair ride accident in the early 1980s. Records show that amusement ride injuries throughout Texas jumped 18 percent in the last two years, including reports of broken teeth, whiplash and contusions, and often involved young riders. "These rides are an important State Fair tradition, and history shows that they can be safe – provided that they're operated in a responsible way," says Branson. "But just one injury is too many, especially when it involves a young rider. Operators must be committed to safety." For more information, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

Delays Test American Airlines' Flier Loyalty
Few thought that the bankruptcy process would test the loyalty of American Airlines' customers, but that might now be happening with the legacy carrier, according to Dallas bankruptcy attorney Linda LaRue of Quilling Selander Lownds Winslett & Moser PC. American recently accused its pilot union of causing unnecessary flight delays and cancellations as retaliation after the pilots lost a fight in bankruptcy court to preserve many terms of their labor contract. "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," says LaRue. "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." For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.

Judge Wainwright's Resignation, Replacement
Last week's resignation of Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright will create the seventh opportunity for Gov. Rick Perry to appoint a justice to the nine-member court. "The governor has no real deadline or timetable to appoint a new justice to finish Justice Wainwright's unexpired term," says Richard Phillips in the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight, who notes that any appointment is subject to Senate confirmation during the 2013 legislative session. "For political considerations, the governor likely will want to move quickly in making his choice to allow the new appointee to establish a record and broader name recognition before the 2014 election cycle, when Justice Wainwright's term expires," says Phillips, co-author of the Texas Appellate Watch blog (www.texasappellatewatch.typepad.com). Wainwright, who resigned effective Sept. 30 to enter private practice in Austin, was the third longest-serving justice on the current court. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Plentiful Federal Plea Bargains Skew System
Plea bargains are soaring in the federal criminal justice system, with 97 percent of federal criminal cases ending in pleas last year, up from 84 percent in 1990, according to a report this week in The Wall Street Journal. Houston trial lawyer Andy Drumheller of Rusty Hardin & Associates says that's a troubling trend. "Plea bargains are supposed to be based on sentences lawyers expect from trials. If only a fraction of cases are tried, then the system spirals into a parody, like the stock market reacting to itself rather than to the real-world value of companies," says the former prosecutor. "A lack of trials and actual experience testing juries' and judges' reactions to disputed issues leaves the accused in the dark and the system drinking its own Kool-Aid." For more information, contact Mary Flood at 800-559-4534 or mary@androvett.com.

Boy Scouts Scandal Lessons for All Groups
Dallas trial lawyer Bill Chamblee says any organization can learn from the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Boy Scouts of America. The non-profit organization faces extensive litigation now that an Oregon court has ordered the group to release reports of sexual abuse at the hands of Boy Scout troop leaders going back to 1925. "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," says Chamblee of Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson. "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." For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.

Falling Financial Fortunes
Dallas bankruptcy attorney Frances Smith says the financial difficulties facing former University of Texas football great Vince Young should serve as a cautionary tale of how cash windfalls can lead to ruin if recipients don't play it smart. Media reports indicate that Young is virtually penniless only six years after the Tennessee Titans awarded him a $26 million contract to be the team's starting quarterback. "Great wealth is a tremendous magnet for scam artists, pie-in-the-sky schemes and a carefree financial attitude," says Smith, a partner at Shackelford, Melton & McKinley. "Worst of all, a sudden influx of wealth also allows individuals to accumulate massive debt just as quickly," she says, adding that individuals must pay extremely close attention to the details of their finances after receiving such windfalls or risk losing everything. For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534, or dave@androvett.com.

Uncertainty Remains Over Arbitrator Disclosure
As the legal universe becomes increasingly smaller, it is not uncommon for attorneys, judges and arbitrators to cross paths during the course of their careers. Not all the meetings are memorable though and are frequently forgotten, but should it preclude arbitrators from hearing a case involving someone they may have once known or with whom they unknowingly shared business interests? Recently revised United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) rules on disclosure tried to provide some clarity, but Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP partner Juan M. Alcalá of Austin says, "With respect to an arbitrator's disclosure standards, there remains uncertainty as to what constitutes a circumstance worthy of disclosure. The uncertainty will continue until there is a uniform standard and rules for determining an arbitrator's disclosure responsibilities." Alcalá co-wrote the chapter "Arbitrator Disclosure Standards in a State of Flux" in the International Centre for Dispute Resolution book, "ICDR Awards and Commentaries." For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Thompson & Knight Opens LA Office
Thompson & Knight already has offices from Austin to Algiers, but next week marks the opening of the 125-year-old firm's first office on the West Coast. Noted litigator Bruce Zabarauskas, who recently joined the firm from Crowell & Moring LLP, will team with veteran firm partner Shelly Youree to launch the Los Angeles office, effective Oct. 1. "The opening of a California office, coupled with the addition of Bruce, further strengthens our geographic reach, enhances the services we provide, and demonstrates our commitment to current and prospective clients located in or doing business in California," says Emily Parker, Managing Partner at Thompson & Knight. As lead partner of the new office, Youree will serve as relationship manager for clients while continuing to represent clients in tax, executive compensation, and employee benefit matters both within and outside of California. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.


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