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Tilting the Scales

Business Issues with a Legal Slant

“Affluenza” Follow-Up

Posted in *BTW - Noteworthy

For those of you who took an interest in our Affluenza article from June, you may be interested to know that there are developments in the real-life story. Frederick Couch, the father of “affluenza” defendant Ethan Couch, was arrested for impersonating a police officer in North Richland Hills, Texas.

Thanks to NBC5′s Scott Gordon for the tweet – https://twitter.com/ScottGordonNBC5/status/501824529178443778/photo/1

Cyber Security: Forewarned is Fair-Warned

Posted in *Weighing In - IMHO, Legal Risk Management

When Wei Wong, owner of Sushi Mushi, a popular Japanese food bistro in Texas, installed a phone add-on to take credit and debit card payments straight from his employees’ phones, his revenues skyrocketed. Yesterday the Feds told him that his customers’ credit and debit card numbers were posted for sale on an underground website. Malware planted in his employees’ point-of-sale telephone systems snared over 10,000 card numbers, encrypted PINs, and CVV codes. Every hacker in the Ukraine now wants their own missile launch system. Is Sushi Mushi to blame?

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Open-Carriers Pose a Threat to Restaurants with Liquor Licenses

Posted in *Weighing In - IMHO, Constitutional Rights & Issues

Regardless of their personal stance on any hot-button social issue, most business owners do not want their place of business to be the focus of demonstrations on that issue – wisely so, because rarely does being the focus of a political demonstration go hand-in-hand with making money.  

However, recently some gun enthusiasts in Dallas put Chipotle in the spotlight by openly carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles – commonly known as “assault rifles” – into a downtown Dallas area Chipotle’s restaurant. Chipotle released a statement asking customers not to bring firearms into their restaurants, reading in part:  

Recently participants from an “open carry” demonstration in Texas brought guns (including military-style assault rifles) into one of our restaurants, causing many of our customers anxiety and discomfort. Because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.  Continue Reading

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Posted in *BTW - Noteworthy, Around the Holidays

Sure, fireworks are fun, but be cautious and careful.

Below are Texas’ Top 10 fireworks laws (but remember, laws may vary county to county) reposted from our July 2008 blog.

For a great Independence Day Parade, check out the Rotary Club of Park Cities 4th of July Parade for parade route and time.

Happy Independence Day to America, this July 4, 2014!

THE TOP TEN TEXAS FIREWORKS LAWS, HOW TO AVOID GETTING POPPED

  1. Ever notice how we don’t shoot fireworks off for Easter? Fireworks can only be sold from June 24th through July 4th and December 20th through January 1st.
  2. It is illegal to sell or shoot fireworks within 100 feet of a place where flammable liquids, flammable compressed gasses or fireworks are sold or stored. Makes sense to me!
  3. Despite what you may have seen in the movies, it is illegal to shoot fireworks from or towards a motor vehicle, including boats.
  4. It is illegal to shoot fireworks from a public roadway, public property, park, lake or U.S. Corps of Engineer Property. Would hate to set a lake on fire.
  5. The minimum age to buy or sell fireworks was recently changed from 12 to 16. Should probably be 26. Continue Reading

WARNING to Liquor License Holders – “Open Carriers” Can Cost you your Liquor License

Posted in *Way Out - Advice, Constitutional Rights & Issues

“Open Carry” advocates recently made the news by openly carrying rifles and shotguns into Texas businesses. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) issued a REMINDER to all those who hold a Liquor License that businesses licensed to sell or serve alcoholic beverages are prohibited by state law from allowing rifles or shotguns in the building.

Specifically, Section 11.61(e) of the Alcoholic Beverage Code says that TABC shall, after the opportunity for a hearing, cancel a permit if the permittee knowingly allowed a person to possess a firearm in a building on the licensed premises. Some exceptions include licensed concealed handguns and peace officers.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

If an individual carries a rifle or shotgun into a TABC-licensed business and the business owner knowingly fails to remove them, the business owner’s TABC license is at risk. The business owner should ask the patron to leave the premises. If the patron refuses, the permittee may contact the police and file criminal trespassing charges under Texas Penal Code Section 30.05.

If this is of interest to you, stay tuned for more next month.

Affluenza – Is It Contagious?

Posted in *BTW - Noteworthy, Family Issues, Legal Risk Management, Money

Taking advantage of his car dealership owning parents being on vacation in the Bahamas, Cache Bar, a minor, invites his high school buddies over to liberate his parents’ locked libation cabinet. Well lubricated, Cache builds quite the bonfire in the backyard knowing that no one in their hometown of Daughtry, Texas, can water their lawns because of the severe drought.  The bonfire consumes Cache’s backyard grass, and then spreads and destroys three million-dollar mansions on Cache’s street. When Cache is charged with intentionally starting a fire that recklessly damaged his neighbors’ homes, his parents scramble for a defense to help him avoid arson charges – a state jail felony. Cache’s parents read a news article about another Texas teenager who avoided jail by asserting an “affluenza” defense – that the teenager was the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for their son.  Will “affluenza” keep Cache out of jail? If so, does that affect his parents?

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Last-Minute Wills….What Counts?

Posted in *Way Out - Advice, Family Issues, Legal Risk Management

Monitoring his emails and gazing at the sights on Elafonisi beach in Crete, attorney Al B. Wise receives a desperate 4:30 a.m. (Texas time) email from his best client Betty Makit Williams – “Going under Slim Cutter’s knife in four hours for emergency surgery. No will. Can you get me one in case I don’t make it?” Sadly, Betty Makit did not make it. Did her will on a Post It?

Yes, at least in Texas. Knowing that a formal will was out of the question, Al B. Wise advised Betty Makit to write a holographic will – her last will and testament, completely in her own handwriting and signed by her. In addition to a will on a Post It note, Texas heirs have successfully probated wills written on a bedroom wall and on the fender of a vehicle. Even a Canadian will of a man trapped underneath was successful by probating the tractor’s fender as the will. About half of the states permit holographic wills.

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Online Reputation Protection and Repair

Posted in *Way Out - Advice, Legal Risk Management

Arriving at his warehouse last week Knott Faire, owner of Faire Carpet Cleaning, discovered yet another complaining critique posted on WELP: “Lots of hype, a mediocre cleaning and a hassle at the end. Don’t get tied up with Knott!” In over 75 previous reviews only 3 were slightly negative. Since the “hype” complaint, another dozen scathing complaints were logged. Believing that the negative reviews are from a competitor, not his customers, Knott called his trusty lawyer Icahn Ficksit for help. Icahn issued WELP a subpoena demanding production of identifying information and ISP (Internet Service Provider) addresses for the dozen offenders. Will Ficksit win? 

In Virginia, yes; in Texas, no. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that a Yelp reviewer is generally entitled to First Amendment protection if the reviewer is critiquing a business they patronized; however, [i]f the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; but is based on a false statement. Virginia only requires that Icahn Ficksit and Knott Faire show, among other things, that the WELP reviews “are or may be tortious or illegal,” or that Faire Carpet Cleaning has “a legitimate, good faith basis” to believe that they were the victim of actionable conduct.

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What and How You Sign a Contract Matters

Posted in *Way Out - Advice, Legal Risk Management

Needing a sales boost for his new line of fashion catheters, Sy Noff, owner and President of Med, Inc., retained advertising gurus Draper & Olson. Their contract provided for signature by Sy Noff as “President and CEO” of “Med Catheter Corp, Inc.”

After a three-martini lunch, Draper & Olson run up a $100,000 bill creating an instantly iconic advertising campaign featuring the Medicorp Man, a rugged rancher who isn’t afeard to proudly use Medicorp’s “Healthy Heartland”-brand catheter whilst cow-punching on the range. Despite the instantly iconic advertising campaign, Med’s business goes down the tubes. Sy and Med stiff Draper & Olson on their $100,000 ad bill. Noticing that the ad contract was signed by Sy Noff using the wrong company name, Draper & Olson’s diligent attorneys sued Sy Noff himself for Med’s debt because he did not disclose the true legal name of the company he was signing for. But surely,” Sy says, “I cannot be held personally liable for Medicorp’s debt simply because the company name was wrong on the contract!”

First, don’t call us Shirley. Second, you bet he can.

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