Why Sexual Assault Victims Should File A Civil Lawsuit

There are few things in life as violating as a sexual assault. Victims not only suffer physical injuries, but also suffer from extreme mental turmoil. Emotions and memories from the event can haunt victims for the rest of their lives and affect every relationship they have or try to establish. While nothing can take away the physical and emotional pain from the assault, victims can pursue compensation in a civil lawsuit, allowing them to take back control of their lives.

Criminal Charges Against Offenders

The criminal justice system prosecutes individuals who commit sexual assaults. This helps take dangerous criminals off the streets and prevents criminals from engaging in additional illegal activity. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not designed to compensate victims for their injuries. Even after their attacker has been put in jail, victims still need help.

Filing A Civil Lawsuit

For victims of sexual assault, facing their attackers in criminal court is extremely challenging. Many victims don’t pursue charges against their attackers because of the pain of reliving the harrowing event in front of a judge and jury. While standing up to an attacker in court is difficult, doing so can do more than obtain justice. When sexual assault victims file a civil lawsuit, they can receive compensation that can relieve financial burdens so victims can focus on recovering. Compensation can also help cover the cost of mental health treatment and therapy so victims can work through their emotions.

There May Be More Than One Party At Fault

There are some instances when more than one person may be at fault for an attack. Obviously an attacker is responsible for his or her actions, which is why they face criminal prosecution; however, there are instances in which another person’s negligence can contribute to the situation. For instance, if a company fails to perform a background check on a newly hired employee with a criminal record, and this employee goes on to sexually assault another employee, the company can be found responsible because they should have known about the criminal record. Additionally, certain properties, such as apartment complexes and parking garages, have a responsibility to visitors and tenants to provide adequate security that protects them from harm. When they fail to do so, victims can hold them accountable.

Helping Sexual Assault Victims

Feldman & Feldman has extensive experience helping sexual assault victims. We fight for victims to obtain compensation that can help them put their lives back together. If you are a victim of sexual assault, contact us immediately. We can explain your legal options. You can trust our fierce advocacy to represent your best interests, so you can focus on recovery.

Texas Supreme Court To Hear Dallas Police and Firefighter Pension Case

Feldman & Feldman is currently representing Dallas firefighters and law enforcement officers in a lawsuit regarding cuts to Dallas police and firefighters’ pension program. We have fiercely advocated for these heroes in court proceedings for many years, and now the Texas Supreme Court will hear their case.

In 2014, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System amended its combined pension plan to reduce the interest rate on Deferred Retirement Option Plan (“DROP”) balances from the previously promised 8 – 10% per year to a possible low of 0%.

DROP is a service retirement benefit offered to police and firefighters, allowing them to place their pension payments into a DROP account and accrue interest on those amounts while continuing to work as first responders and into their eventual retirement. This benefit was offered to incentivize experienced police officers and firefighters to continue working after reaching retirement eligibility. For police and firefighters, the change in the DROP interest rate represents a reduction in the benefits they were promised when choosing to continue to work even after they were eligible for retirement.

Our trial lawyers argue that this reduction in benefits amounts to a violation of the Texas Constitution. In 2003, amendments were made to the Texas Constitution that protected first responders’ retirement benefits from reduction or impairment.

Feldman & Feldman strongly believes our police and firefighters deserve the benefits they were promised when they signed up. We continue to fight the pension system, as we allege they had no right to reduce benefits already granted. We will be fiercely advocating for Dallas first responders in front of the Texas Supreme Court to uphold their rights under the Texas Constitution.

The experienced trial lawyers of Feldman & Feldman have also proudly represented other first responders, including representing Houston firefighters to earn equal pay.

Feldman & Feldman: A Formidable Force Fighting For Your Cause

At Feldman & Feldman, all of our attorneys are aggressive advocates for our clients. We work to protect our clients’ constitutional rights and to pursue justice. There is no adversary too big. Contact Feldman & Feldman today if you need our help.

Duties Business Partners Have To Each Other

Starting a business is incredibly exciting, but many first time business owners don’t anticipate the many responsibilities involved with running a business. When partners form a business, they must fulfill certain duties to each other. When one or more partners fail to fulfill these duties, partnership disputes arise and can jeopardize the whole business.

Partnership Duties

Partners must always put the interests of the business ahead of their own personal interests. This non-delegable duty can be broken down into several specific duties:

  • Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing – Partners must always act honestly and fairly regarding the business. Deception or misrepresentation violates these duties, and partners can be held responsible for their actions.
  • Duty of Loyalty – Partners owe a loyalty to the business. This means partners cannot engage in self-dealing and must avoid conflicts of interest. If there is a conflict of interest, the affected partners must immediately inform the other partners.
  • Duty of Care – Partners will make many business decisions, some on a daily basis. When making decisions, partners are expected to act reasonably and with care.
  • Duty of Full Disclosure – Every partner has a right to certain information regarding the business and the other partners. Partners must disclose to other partners information such as potential business opportunities, contracts entered into, finances, and operations.

Resolving Partnership Disputes

Partnership disputes are very delicate legal matters. If not resolved quickly and efficiently, these disputes can snowball out of control and destroy a business. The best way to preserve a business at the heart of a partnership dispute is to work with an experienced business attorney. A partnership dispute lawyer will be able to assess the situation and devise a strategy for resolution that protects the hard work partners have put into the business.

Houston Partnership Dispute Lawyers

If you are facing any type of internal conflict, don’t wait to get the help of a Houston partnership dispute lawyer. The sooner you involve an attorney, the better you can protect your business. At Feldman & Feldman, our business minded lawyers understand each dispute is unique. Not all partnership disputes are destined for the courtroom. We create unique action plans to resolve business disputes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Houston partnership dispute lawyers.

What Type Of Business Should I Form?

Starting a business is incredibly exciting, but few people understand how the type of entity they form can affect them later on. Deciding what entity to form can have beneficial or catastrophic consequences for not only your business, but for your own personal finances. While there are many types of business entities, the business lawyers at Feldman & Feldman see the following most often:

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Limited Liability Companies or LLCs do just that – limit liability. When you form an LLC, your business assets and debts are separate from your personal finances and assets. This means the assets of the business are exempt from the owners’ creditors. LLCs allow creative allocation of the profits and losses incurred by the business among the owners. LLCs also have flow-through income taxation, meaning the income generated by the business is filed as part of the owner’s personal income, preventing the profits from being taxed separately.

Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorships are relatively easy to form and operate and do not require state filings; however, the owner remains personally liable for any lawsuits or debts against the company. Many people opt for sole proprietorships when they are starting their businesses because they are less expensive to form, but this could leave business owners vulnerable to more costly situations in the long run. People considering a sole proprietorship need to really consider whether the risks make this entity choice worthwhile.

C Corporations

Similar to LLCs, C Corporations can limit the individual liability of directors, officers, shareholders, and employees. Owners also have the ability to sell stock, which can help attract investors. One big downside of a C Corp is the possibility of double taxation, where business profits are subject to taxes and the dividends paid to the shareholders are subject to taxes. C Corporations are subject to lots of regulations and complicated tax filings, so many will require the help of a skilled business accountant to file taxes.

S Corporations

S Corporations provide the same limits to liability and investment opportunities as C Corporations, but without the double taxation. Owners of S Corporations report their share of profits and losses on their personal tax returns and the income is only taxed once. Not every business qualifies to be an S Corporation, as only legal U.S. citizens or permanent residents can own them. Additionally, S Corporations also limit the number of shareholders to 100, which can limit growth potential.

Partnerships

Partnerships are a popular entity choice for small businesses because they are easy to form and operate; however, partners remain personally liable for company liabilities and business debts, even those incurred by another partner. Partners can help protect themselves by adopting a partnership agreement, but many business owners rush into formation before creating one.

Speak With A Business Lawyer

Before forming a business, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced business lawyer at Feldman & Feldman. The implications for each entity are incredibly complex, and only a lawyer will be able to evaluate your situation and advise you on the best type of entity to meet your needs. We can also assist with filing the necessary paperwork for formation, drafting partnership agreements, and advising on any business law matters. Schedule an appointment today to speak with one of our attorneys.

Common Election Campaign Legal Issues

Running for any public office comes with many strict regulations and guidelines. These regulations are put in place to ensure a fair election and to preserve democracy. Unfortunately, these restrictions only work if those involved with election campaigns abide by them. Election campaigns run into a variety of legal issues involving federal and state regulations, sometimes unintentionally, but other times with the hope their violations will go unnoticed.

Some of the most common election campaign legal issues include:

  • Misappropriation of funds – Campaign funds cannot be spent on just anything. These funds should only be spent on the campaign and are not available for personal use or to purchase things like property or pay interest.
  • Failure to submit reports – Election campaigns must file financial reports with the Texas Election Commission, even in non-election years. During an election year, candidates for office are required to submit four reports throughout the year.
  • Not disclosing advertising – Under Texas campaign law, certain campaign advertising must include a disclosure statement explaining the advertising is “political advertising” or “pol. adv.” and include the name of the person who paid for the advertising, the political committee authorizing the political advertising, or the candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate.
  • Accepting funds or making an expenditure without a treasurer – Any campaign that receives contributions and/or makes expenditures must first appoint a campaign treasurer and file the necessary paperwork.
  • Accepting funds from prohibited organizations – Candidates cannot accept contributions from everyone. In Texas, candidates cannot receive contributions from organizations like labor unions and most corporations.
  • Accepting out of state contributions – Before accepting any out of state contributions, candidates need to obtain and file required paperwork.
  • Accepting contributions during a legislative session – Most offices in Texas do not allow candidates to accept contributions during a period that begins 30 days before a regular legislative session convenes and ends 20 days after final adjournment

Experienced Election Campaign Lawyers

Failure to abide by election laws could not only jeopardize a candidate’s entire campaign, but it could also cause candidates to face civil lawsuits or even criminal charges. At Feldman & Feldman, our election campaign lawyers are well versed in Texas election laws. We can advise campaigns and help establish procedures for compliance with regulations.

Everything You Need To Know About The Texas Whistleblower Act

As a government employee, what do you do if you discover your employer, a government agency or organization, is breaking the law? While you might feel compelled to report your employer to the authorities, you may be equally worried it could cost you your job. Fortunately, government employees who alert authorities to wrongdoings by their employers are offered numerous protections under the Texas Whistleblower Act.

Blowing the Whistle on an Employer

There are numerous wrongdoings a government agency or organization might engage in, including violating the Texas Open Meeting Act or the Texas Public Information Act, safety regulations, or committing an illegal activity. Unfortunately, blowing the whistle on a government employer comes with many risks. Employees or whistleblowers could lose their jobs and be blacklisted in their respective fields; but, retaliation of this type is also illegal under the Texas Whistleblower Act

The Texas Whistleblower Act

To encourage employees to report illegal activity by government agencies and organizations, state legislators passed the Texas Whistleblower Act in 1983. Under this Act, public employees are protected from various forms of retaliation by employers, including suspension, termination, or any adverse actions against the employee. It is important to note the Texas Whistleblower Act only protects public, and not private employees, with some exceptions. Certain healthcare professionals that report abuse can seek protection under the Texas Whistleblower Act. Additionally, employees reporting violations of the Hazard Communication Act or certain types of discrimination can also be protected from retaliation.

Why You Need A Lawyer

Whistleblower laws in Texas can be complex, and some government agencies and organizations will blatantly violate them. When this occurs, an experienced whistleblower attorney can help victims seek compensation for back pay, benefits and seniority, and other damages. If you work for a public entity and suspect the government agency or organization you work for is committing wrongdoing, you should contact a lawyer immediately. By partnering with an experienced lawyer, you will be able to protect yourself from retaliation. It is also important to work with a lawyer because you need someone who is looking out for your best interests. Law enforcement agencies will work to get justice, and this can sometimes cause the whistleblower to suffer collateral damage. An attorney can protect you and your best interests at all times.

At Feldman & Feldman, we have worked with numerous whistleblowers in Texas as they courageously stand up to government agencies committing wrongdoing. It is our pleasure to serve Houston and the entire state of Texas by supporting and protecting citizens who report government abuses.

What Citizens Should Know About The Texas Public Information Act and The Texas Open Meeting Act

As Texans, we have the right to know what is going on with governmental entities. This not only helps ensure a system of checks and balances, but also serves to keep officials and appointees accountable. However, many Texans are completely unaware of their rights and do not exercise them.

About The Texas Public Information Act

The Public Information Act states “Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.” Essentially, this means Texans have a right to access most government records. Additionally, Texans requesting records cannot be asked why they are requesting them. Because we elect many of our officials, we have a right to review the work they perform on our behalf. Without this transparency, democracy cannot exist.

The Texas Opening Meetings Act

The Texas Open Meetings Act dictates that governmental bodies must hold open meetings unless there is an authorized reason for a closed session, also known as an executive session. The Texas Open Meetings Act applies to many organizations, like commissioner courts, city councils, school boards, and nonprofit organizations that provide public services or spend taxpayer money among others. Meeting dates and times must be posted at least 72 hours in advance so interested citizens can participate in the meetings if they so choose.

Violations of The Texas Public Information Act and The Texas Open Meetings Act 

Sometimes violations of the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Opening Meetings Act are simply due to carelessness. Some officials may be unaware of the nuances of the laws, but other times there are specific reasons for violations. There are instances when officials don’t want to share information because it could be incriminating, or at the very least, unflattering. However, restricting this information infringes on the rights of Texans to know what goes on in their government and community.

At Feldman & Feldman, we fiercely protect Texans’ right to information. We will take on local and state agencies to make sure they comply with the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Cris Feldman Reaches Settlement For Neighborhood In White Oak Music Hall Lawsuit


Houston is notorious for its lack of zoning laws and while makes our neighborhoods unique, homeowners in the Houston Heights have been suffering from the lack of rules. The White Oak Music Hall, a popular music venue, is disturbing homeowners up to half a mile away who say the venue’s loud noises rattle their windows and awaken their sleeping children. Feldman & Feldman filed a lawsuit against the venue in 2016 to help homeowners get some peace, and now Cris Feldman has successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of these homeowners.

White Oak Outdoor Shows Cause Problems

In April 2016, the White Oak Music Hall began holding outdoor shows and performances, causing its residential neighbors to begin filing noise complaints. Residents made noise complaints with the Houston Police Department, but the disputes stalled in municipal courts and nothing was ever done to stop the noise.

Cris Feldman of Feldman & Feldman stepped in and filed a lawsuit against the venue in December 2016. The lawsuit also named the City of Houston as a defendant after the city failed to respond to numerous resident complaints. In early 2017, Feldman & Feldman successfully obtained an injunction restricting the number of outdoor shows the venue could hold. In addition, the venue had to install sound monitors and submit weekly reports of sound readings.

Successful White Oak Music Hall Settlement For Greater Heights Homeowners

The Greater Heights homeowners’ settlement with White Oak Music Hall includes limitations on when and how long shows can be held at the venue. The music venue is limited on the number of outdoor shows it can hold and shows on school nights can’t last past 9:30 p.m. The venue is also prohibited from holding any outdoor concerts during state STAAR testing.

In addition to these limitations, the venue must also set up a sound monitoring system showing real-time sound levels. To ensure there is no tampering with the sound monitoring device, the venue must also set up a camera to record activity around the monitor. If White Oak Music Hall violates any of these conditions, the venue can be fined up to $15,000 per violation.

Feldman & Feldman: Representing Houstonians

Cris Feldman and the entire legal team at Feldman & Feldman are proud to represent residents of their local Houston community. While we have high hopes the White Oak Music Hall settlement will bring peace to the neighborhood, we will also work to ensure White Oak Music Hall complies with terms of the settlement.

Feldman Fights for Houston Fire Fighters

Houston Firefighters’ Union Claims City Is Refusing to Verify Petition for Equal Pay (Houston Press):

The April petition that’s apparently standing in the way of the firefighters’ equal-pay initiative is problematic for several reasons, Lancton claims. The petition was filed by the outside political group Texans For Local Control — which is based in Austin, according to campaign finance records — and it pushes for 401(k)-style pension reform. The problem with that, argues former city attorney David Feldman, who now represents the firefighters union, is that the Legislature already passed Mayor Turner’s pension-reform solution during the regular session, thus making this petition moot.

Feldman said the state, not city governments, has the final say on pension policies — which makes it highly unlikely that even if Texans for Local Control’s petition was verified by August 21, placed on the ballot and approved by voters, it would even matter much. That’s because the Legislature would then need to tackle Houston pension reform all over again after this year’s long slog working with Turner and the city to address it.