As Texas Fights Clergy Abuse The Catholic Diocese of Dallas Is Subjected To Police Search

Earlier this year, Catholic dioceses across Texas released the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing parishioners, many of whom were children. This list was released after public outcry when police arrested Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, a Conroe priest, for four counts of indecency with a child in September 2018. The release of names led to an investigation by Dallas police, which conducted a thorough search of a church and several offices just last week.

Dallas police executed search warrants at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, looking for diocese records. St. Cecilia Catholic Church is the same church in which a pastor was accused of stealing funds and sexually assaulting three teenage boys more than a decade ago. Arrest warrants were issued for pastor Edmundo Paredez for these allegations in September 2018. As police investigated Paradez, they uncovered allegations against four additional priests: Jeremy Myers, William Hughes, Richard Thomas Brown, and Alejandro Buitrago. Paradez and the other four priests were all named on the list of over 300 clergy members who were credibly accused of sexual abuse. While the Dallas police have been tight lipped about their investigation, it could lead to criminal charges filed against the priests and justice for victims.

However, the Catholic Church is not the only denomination facing clergy abuse allegations. Shortly after the Catholic dioceses released their list of priests accused of sexual abuse, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News revealed 380 Southern Baptist Convention church leaders and volunteers across the country have been accused of sexual misconduct. Over 220 of these individuals have been charged with sex crimes.

Texas Clergy Abuse Lawyers

While criminal charges can help provide justice for victims and prevent predator priests from targeting and hurting more victims, the criminal cases do nothing to offer victims compensation. Sexual abuse victims have the legal right to pursue civil lawsuits against their perpetrators. At Feldman & Feldman, we’ve helped clergy sexual abuse victims hold religious institutions responsible for failing to protect them. If you have been a victim of clergy sexual abuse, we know how challenging coming forward can be, but we promise to be with you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to learn your legal options.

Houston Law Firm Files Lawsuit Over Faulty Printer: Here’s What You Need To Know About Warranties

Picture this: you have a really important print job, but as you stand in front of your office printer it starts making strange noises. Before you know it, the printer is jammed and your print job isn’t happening anytime soon. This is a common scenario for anyone that works in an office, which can become incredibly frustrating, particularly if the printer is brand new and fails to operate properly at all. This was the case for a local Houston law firm who became so fed up with printer problems that they filed a lawsuit against HP, Inc. alleging breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of express warranty. While it’s unclear how this office drama will play out, it does serve as an important reminder to business owners about warranties.

According to the Houston law firm that bought an HP Color Laser Jet printer, the five-year warranty it purchased included promised in-person repairs, parts, and service “at your door the very same business day.” The firm claims the printer had problems since it was delivered, including constant paper jams and print jobs that would take hours. The firm tried to troubleshoot the issue with HP’s customer service call centers, but were unable to resolve the issue. The final straw broke when the firm needed several important printing jobs done, but the printer could only print one page every three to four minutes. Despite the promise in the warranty to send an on-site technician, the firm claims HP did not honor this promise and instead refused.

Like this Houston law firm, many businesses rely on technology and/or machinery to operate. In certain industries, when a business doesn’t have certain machines operational, everything comes to a complete stop, making warranties incredibly important. A warranty is a contract between two parties, so both are legally bound to uphold their end of the deal. When a breach of contract occurs – whether it is related to a warranty or not – businesses have the right to pursue legal action against the breaching party.

Houston Breach of Warranty Lawyers

The Houston breach of warranty lawyers at Feldman & Feldman understand how important warranties and contracts are to your business. That’s why we aggressively fight for clients who have faced financial consequences as the result of a breach of contract. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experience trial attorneys.

High-Speed Rail Facing New Legal Challenges

Texans have long hoped for a high-speed rail to make travel easier and quicker. High-speed rail projects have faced significant legal hurdles in past years, but one unique hurdle is halting the high-speed rail project to connect Dallas and Houston.

One of the biggest hurdles for high-speed rails across the country is they cannot run on the type of train tracks already present. This means new tracks have to be laid for high-speed rails, which led to the first legal hurdle. In order for new tracks to be laid, land on which to lay the tracks has to be acquired. While the government can use its eminent domain authority to take land, many landowners put up a fight. This is not uncommon for projects of this type, but landowners are trying a new argument that could stop the project in its tracks.

A judge in Leon County, Texas recently ruled that the company trying to build the high-speed rail is not railroad company, and therefore it cannot force landowners to sell their land to make way for its tracks. The company does not operate any railroads or own any trains, leading the judge to determine it does not have eminent domain authority. This is where the dispute becomes complicated. Companies depend upon eminent domain in order to develop tracks necessary not only for operation, but also to help them meet the legal definition of being a railroad company. However, eminent domain is not granted unless a company is already legally a railroad company.

What To Do When Legal Challenges Arise

The high-speed rail isn’t the only project facing nuanced legal challenges. Everyday business owners find themselves embroiled in legal disputes that hinge on hyper-technical legal definitions and court rulings. When these legal challenges arise, it takes an experienced business attorney to successfully navigate and resolve the dispute.

Texas Business Attorneys

At Feldman & Feldman, we’ve successfully handled many complex commercial litigation issues. We utilize our experience to find strategic solutions that work best for our clients. Whether we are representing clients in court or around the negotiating table, we aggressively fight to protect their interests. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of the Texas business attorneys at Feldman & Feldman, contact us today.

Was There A Breach In Fiduciary Duty In The Taco Cabana Empire?

When Felix Stehling opened the first Taco Cabana restaurants in 1979, he likely didn’t anticipate how quickly the restaurant would grow. While Stehling had a number of successful restaurants and businesses before Taco Cabana, the little taco shack would be the one that cemented him in the culinary history books. Sadly, the current status of the Taco Cabana empire is nowhere near what it used to be, and Stehling’s stepson alleges that’s due to a breach of fiduciary duty.

Stehling passed away in December 2012. At the time of his death, his assets were valued at approximately $20 million. Fast forward seven years, and there is little left. Stehling’s stepson and heir has filed a lawsuit against Stehling’s longtime investment advisor claiming the fortune was squandered by over-leveraging the assets to generate cash.

While the investment advisor has been accused of fraud and self dealing, he has pointed to other causes for empire’s decline. The planner blames the trouble on the 2008 financial crisis and poor investment decisions made by Stehling in the years leading up to his death. However, what makes this fiduciary liability case particularly interesting is an arbitration agreement over twenty years old.

When Stehling hired the investment advisor in the 1990s, he signed an arbitration agreement. The financial advisor has asked a judge overseeing the case to dismiss the claim stating all disputes must be resolved through arbitration as agreed to in the original contract. For his part, Stehling’s stepson has fought against arbitration proceedings because the agreement was only between the investment advisor and his stepfather. He never agreed to such an agreement.

Fiduciary Duty With Financial Advisors

Fiduciary duty has a broad and complicated legal definition. Because of this, disputes between financial advisors and their clients can be come complicated. Matters can be complicated further if the parties agree to arbitration agreements like the one used by Stehling.

If you believe your financial advisor has breached his or her fiduciary duty, do not wait to call Feldman & Feldman today. Our fiduciary duty attorneys are experienced trial lawyers and litigators that can help you hold fiduciaries accountable for financial losses they cause. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

New Apartments Fighting Condo Owners Associations

Houston is an unusual city for many reasons, but one of the most visibly apparent reasons is that there are no zoning requirements. This means that grocery stores can go up next to houses, but it also places a higher burden on homeowners and condo owners associations. Because there are no zoning requirements, these organizations are often the only thing standing in between a new development and residents. This is the case for the condominium owners association at the Cosmopolitan apartment complex, which is fighting the development of a 39-story building.

The Dinerstein Cos. is a development company in the process of building a 39-story luxury apartment building. The project, called Arise Post Oak, has been embroiled in litigation since its inception. When the project was first proposed, residents next door at the Cosmopolitan apartments objected to the building. Residents claimed the new building would be too high and wanted the building’s size to be cut in half.

The dispute between the condo association at the Cosmopolitan and Dinerstein reached a fever pitch in 2016 when Dinerstein asked a judge to declare its rights to develop the land. The condo association was claiming the building would be a nuisance. Under Texas law, both public and private entities can file a nuisance lawsuit if another building, company, or individual is interfering with their right to the use of and enjoyment of their property. The lawsuit has gone through a number of appeals and remains pending.

Business and condo owners associations can learn from the lawsuit that this type of litigation is not only extremely common in Houston, but is also incredibly complex. These legal battles can draw out for years and end up being extremely costly for both sides. Whenever these types of disputes arise, only experienced legal representation can help resolve matters quickly and efficiently.

Houston Commercial Litigation Lawyers

At Feldman & Feldman, we understand the complexities of commercial litigation. Our attorneys work closely with clients to understand their needs and protect their rights. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Houston commercial litigation lawyers to see how we can help.

Neiman Marcus Facing Creditors In Court

The cost of litigation is a huge challenge for businesses of all sizes. Large companies can threaten litigation in an effort to force opposing parties to drop claims against them. This is not only an extremely unfair practice, but it is against Texas law. Retailer Neiman Marcus has been accused by creditors of filing frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to stifle legitimate claims made by creditors.

Neiman Marcus is over five billion dollars in debt, which has created a contentious fight between the retailer and its creditors, specifically Marble Ridge Capital. Creditors have accused Neiman Marcus of moving around its assets to protect them from creditors. Marble Ridge Capital filed a lawsuit against the company, which in turn filed a countersuit claiming Marble Ridge was spreading harmful and incorrect information about the company. Now, both companies are waiting for a judge to decide whether or not Neiman Marcus’s countersuit can be dismissed under Anti-SLAPP laws.

Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to protect individuals and companies from frivolous lawsuits. What makes the lawsuits against Neiman Marcus and Marble Ridge Capital interesting is that their outcome could set a precedent for future creditors and debtors. If debtors are allowed to bully their creditors by filing additional lawsuits, it could give debtors an unfair advantage.

Getting Help With Anti-SLAPP Lawsuits

Anti-SLAPP lawsuits exist to ensure individuals and companies with more resources don’t trample over the rights of others. No one should be able to use his or her power and influence to deny someone else’s day in court. At Feldman & Feldman, our attorneys are experienced at helping individuals and businesses fight against larger adversaries. We use Texas Anti-SLAPP laws to dismiss frivolous lawsuits that were only filed to intimidate our clients.

If you or your business needs help with a legal matter, do not wait to contact one of our experienced lawyers today. We have extensive experience in a wide array of litigation matters, and we can protect your interests. Our attorneys can craft a personalized and efficient strategy to obtain a successful resolution for your case. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

New Law Could Prevent Crypto-Currency Fraud

The word “fraud” usually conjures up ideas of identity theft, writing bad checks, or selling a misrepresented item. However the reality is new types of fraud are constantly occurring in inventive ways. One of the most recent types of fraud is crypto-currency fraud; with the increasing interest in crypto-currencies, fraud is rising in this area. A new law aims to prevent crypto-currency fraud in Texas.

House Bill No. 4371 is relatively brief compared to other bills, but it could have huge implications for Texans. The bill, which was recently introduced to the Texas Legislature, would create new regulations for crypto-currency transactions. Specifically, the bill would require the identification of any individuals looking to send crypto-currency payment. This means anyone receiving crypto-currency would be responsible for verifying the identity of the sender.

This requirement might not seem like much, but it’s actually incredibly powerful. Imagine the login credentials for your bank account get stolen and the thief uses it to transfer money out of your account to another account. Sounds like a nightmare, but there are laws and procedures in place to identify, investigate and prosecute this crime. The same cannot currently be said of crypto-currency. Because it’s an extremely young form of currency, lawmakers have yet to catch up with the protections necessary to keep users safe from fraud when using crypto-currency as a payment option.

Getting Help After Fraud

While the new bill could help make crypto-currency safer, the reality is fraud still occurs. Businesses can be particularly susceptible to fraud, which can have monumental consequences. Business fraud occurs anytime an individual or company intentionally falsifies records or perpetrates lies with the intent to deceive. What makes fraud particularly devastating is the volume of victims involved. While victims of fraud might feel helpless, they can seek to protect themselves and pursue justice by filing a lawsuit.

Houston Fraud Attorneys

Many victims of fraud do not come forward because they are embarrassed, but there is no reason to put any blame on yourself. The Houston fraud attorneys at Feldman & Feldman can work with you to investigate the situation and file a lawsuit against the deceptive party to obtain compensation for the money lost and damages caused by the fraud. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, no matter what type, the Houston fraud attorneys at Feldman & Feldman are equipped to investigate your claim and pursue compensation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Google Ends Forced Arbitration For Employees

As one of the most prolific and important companies in the technology industry, Google’s actions are watched closely. Up until recently, Google (like many companies) was forcing arbitration agreements upon employees; the company recently decided to end this practice, giving rights back to its employees.

Arbitration agreements are a common occurrence in employment contracts. These force employees to resolve any lawsuits against the company in arbitration rather than in a public court. The main problem with arbitration? Since it is not a public process, the details of the lawsuit are kept secret. This secrecy helps protect companies from additional scrutiny, but can be extremely harmful to employees.

The practice of forced arbitration is facing a lot of criticism in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Because arbitration keeps matters of a lawsuit secret, companies can much better protect executives and both the individual’s reputation as well as the company’s image from criticism of the public at large. This in turn enables individuals who sexually harass other employees to continue their behavior without fear of repercussions. Last year, employees at Google were so fed up with the forced arbitration agreements they staged a walk out. The walk out gained national attention and put significant pressure on the tech giant. In response to growing pressure, Google announced its plans to get rid of arbitration agreements for all current and future employees. This will allow employees to settle any type of work dispute in a court if necessary.

Understanding Workers’ Rights

No one should be subject to discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Companies that use arbitration agreements are empowered to hide their wrongdoings in private arbitration proceedings, which take away workers’ voices. While Google has returned this power to employees, many companies still utilize arbitration agreements. Regardless of whether or not companies have arbitration agreements in place, workers still have rights and can seek compensation when these rights are violated.

Houston Employment Lawyers

At Feldman & Feldman, our attorneys have represented scores of victims who were subjected to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If you are experiencing discrimination or harassment, don’t wait to contact us. We can help you understand your rights and legal options. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Houston employment lawyers.

Southwest and Mechanic’s Union Nearing End of Six Year Long Negotiation Battle

It’s not uncommon for airlines to reschedule or cancel flights. For Southwest Airlines, however, some of the cancellation and rescheduled flights over the past six years stem from a dispute between the company and its Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. The contentious fight between Southwest and its mechanic’s union appears to be nearing its end according to both parties who have reached a tentative agreement.

The long-running dispute arose out of a failure to agree on a labor contract. While it is not unusual for unions to have disputes over wages and compensation with companies, the Southwest dispute resulted in two lawsuits. The company sued the mechanic’s union alleging the mechanics were flagging minor maintenance issues that caused planes to be brought in unnecessarily for maintenance. These maintenance issues caused many planes to be grounded, resulting in cancelled and rescheduled flights. In turn, the mechanic’s union filed a lawsuit against the company and its Chief Operating Officer claiming defamation.

The dispute was causing serious concerns in the industry and eventually caught the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA warned Southwest the contentious relationship between the company and its mechanics could undermine the company’s safety-management system. Feeling the heat from the FAA, both sides worked to reach a resolution. The tentative contract needs to be voted on by the mechanic’s union members, but if approved, the five-year contract would give the mechanics a 20% raise and $160 million in bonuses.

Representing Unions In Complex Disputes

Many people are unaware of how unions operate in the legal system and what rights both unions and their members are entitled to. Any legal dispute involving a union or other trade organization is very complex, and should only be handled by lawyers who have a track record of success in these matters. At Feldman & Feldman, our lawyers have successfully represented numerous unions, including firefighters unions and police unions.

If your union is encountering legal problems, do not hesitate to contact us. We can provide aggressive representation and innovative strategies to achieve a successful resolution. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

How A 2015 Texas State Law Could Allow The State To Takeover HISD

The Houston Independent School District has been subject to much criticism and controversy regarding the school board’s handling of underperforming schools. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has stated the school board needs to be taken over to replace ineffective leadership – and a 2015 state law could allow this to happen.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the state agency responsible for overseeing public schools. TEA has the authority to take over leadership of schools if the school has been labeled “improvement requirement” for five consecutive years. TEA has exercised this authority in the past in a number of ways.

In recent years, TEA has closed down underperforming schools and even entire school districts; however, the agency has never taken over a school board. Doing so would be particularly unusual because voters elect school board officials. In 2015, a law was passed that gave TEA the authority to impose sanctions on school districts with schools that are consistently not meeting state standards. If the TEA decided to take over the Houston Independent School District, the agency could control the school board for two years or even longer until TEA decides the school district has met academic standards.

School board officials have criticized the idea of a takeover and instead blame the district’s underperforming schools on a lack of funding from the state. It’s currently unclear whether or not TEA will takeover HISD, but current HISD board members would likely put up a legal fight if the agency did. Educational entities have certain protections from liability, which means any legal action taken against them quickly becomes complicated.

Understanding Lawsuits With Educational Entities

Because of local and state regulations regarding educational entities, any lawsuit involving an educational entity will hinge on understanding and applying them. At Feldman & Feldman, our attorneys have successfully represented educational entities in the past and we continue to provide unparalleled legal services to educational entities. Our attorneys understand the nuances and complications of lawsuits of this nature and can help educational entities navigate legal issues to a successful resolution. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.