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Some “Oh, yeah?” Facts about Houston

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in History | 0 comments

Here are some interesting facts you may want to know about Houston, aka Space City.

Origins

Houston is almost 179 years old. The Allen brothers (Augustus Chapman and John Kirby) bought 6.6 hectares of land off the banks of Buffalo Bayou (which is today the center of Houston where Interstates 45 and 10 intersect) on August 26, 1836 to establish a new city. This was shortly after the Texas Revolution, and Augustus’s wife Charlotte suggested to name the future city after General Sam Houston. They did just that, and on August 30, 1836, the city of Houston was born.

Economics

It is good to live in Houston because of the low cost of living. Housing is 21% cheaper than the national average. It ranks first in job creation and adjusted pay among 20 of the most populous cities in the US. There are jobs available from the 26 Fortune 500 companies headquartered there and 63 with branches in the energy industries, aeronautics, and technology. There are also 92 consular offices. The ports also do brisk business; the Port of Houston tops the list in waterborne tonnage in the US.

Entertainment

Houstonians eat out more often than any other US city. This is not surprising, as New York Times has dubbed Houston as “one of the country’s most exciting places to eat.” There are more than 11,000 restaurants in Houston. It has the second highest concentration of theater seats in the US, next only to New York, and it has a wide range of museums, art and cultural institutions, and galleries. It is also home to the world’s largest livestock show, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Population

In 1850, Houston had 2,396 residents. As of 2013, there are nearly 2.2 million, and it is the largest city in Texas. It can fit in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. It has one of the youngest populations in the US, with a vigorous mix of 90 different cultures, most of it Hispanic in origin. There are more than 40 institutions of higher education in the city.

Things You Need to Know If You’re Trying to Sell Your Mineral Rights

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Mineral Rights | 0 comments

Selling your mineral rights in Texas does not have to be complicated. You can always find a reputable listing company that will handle it for you, such as an auction for mineral rights. That way you can get the best possible price the market can handle for your mineral rights. However, there should still be some things you need to know if you’re trying to sell your mineral rights.

You have to own it

You may not know it, but you may not even own the mineral rights to your land! You could own the property but someone else may own the sub-land mineral rights. In the US, ownership of the property can be separated from ownership of the mineral rights. You may not know about it because your grandfather may have done the severance, or by someone who owned it long before. The only way to find out for sure is to check with the office of the county clerk where all deeds are stored, or you can pay to have a private abstract office do it for you.

You have to know its worth

A landman may come to your property and offer to buy your mineral rights for a certain amount. The offer will most likely be lower than the fair market value, especially if the buyer is a speculator hoping to sell it for more to a developer. You need to have a ballpark figure for what your mineral rights are worth so that you don’t lose out during negotiations, in case you decide to sell it on your own.

You should know what to expect

When you sell the mineral rights on property that you live on, you need to know that you are granting the buyer rights of access to your property. The minerals are underground, so the only way to get at them is to dig. This usually means that they will have to use a certain portion of the surface land to setup their mining or drilling operations. You cannot deny them that.

Bankruptcy: It’s Not the End of the World

Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Money | 0 comments

It is easy to conclude bankruptcy as complete and utter failure. Nobody wants that. That is why a lot of people would rather face the music of debt collectors ringing up their phones into the wee hours of the morning or risking foreclosure of a home they may not even want anymore. Their car could be repossessed but perish forbid they file for bankruptcy. Little do some people know that filing for bankruptcy could actually settle your debts in a more efficient manner, allow for you to keep the assets you want and pay your creditors in a manner that better fits your lifestyle, and even allow for you to reestablish your credit. Filing for bankruptcy could end up saving you a lot of the trouble you would have swallowed down rather than admitting you had to file for bankruptcy, which isn’t really as bad as the connotation makes it out to be.

Filing for bankruptcy, however, is quite a complicated thing to get into. It isn’t as simple as boarding up your walls and doors and declaring yourself as absolutely bankrupt and then going homeless. That isn’t really an ideal situation anyway – and could actually mean legal charges for then creditors could claim you as evading your debts. And as long as you are alive, you have something valuable left to lose.

Fortunately, there are bankruptcy lawyers who are in a position to help you. According to the website of Erin B. Shank P.C., some lawyers who practice in this field are people who have had to file for bankruptcy themselves. Having had gone through a similar ordeal can offer a heap of comfort for someone who’s just about to file for it, giving the client some sense of security in knowing that they will be properly represented by an expert who has firsthand experience at being on the other side of the bench.

If you or someone you know if deliberating on ways to achieve financial freedom, why not suggest a bankruptcy lawyer to help aid you or someone else into making the right kind of financial plan that is just right?

Identity Theft in Dallas

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Crminal Law | 0 comments

There has been a number of identity theft rings operating out of luxurious Dallas hotels that have been busted by police, revealing the extent to which these criminals have put the identities they stole to effective use. They used the identities that they acquired through smash-and-grab operations or through associates working in agencies that handle identity information to gain control of bank accounts or to withdraw money using stolen checks. In one case, the ring defrauded banks of an estimated $1.3 million.

Identity theft is defined under Texas Penal Code §32.21 as the unauthorized use or fraudulent possession of information used for identification. This is an automatic state jail felony with a minimum 180 days imprisonment and fines (plus restitution) and can go up to a life sentence. The leader of one identity theft ring in Dallas is facing such a sanction.

These are serious consequences, as confirmed on the LOMTL website, but you take the risk when you engage in criminal activity. However, there are instances when you may not even be aware that you are committing identity theft. There is a recent twist in the plot called synthetic identity theft in which various components of several identities are melded together to create a new identity which can then be used to get loans and credit cards, receive benefits, gain employment, and so on.

In most instances, the users of the new identity know what they are doing, but not in some. For example, a credit repair company scams you into paying for a credit profile number (usually a child’s Social Security number) which they combine with your own information, essentially creating a new identity for you and hey presto! You now have an unblemished credit history, as well as bonus liability for a crime. It would take an expert to untangle you from such a mess if you get caught using the fake identity.

If you are charged with identity theft, you will need a fully experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you no matter the circumstances. Consult with one in your area at the first opportunity.

Some Facts about Medical Malpractice in the United States

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Personal Injury | 1 comment

Medical malpractice is when a medical or healthcare professional breaches its duty of care to a patient which leads to injury or death. The purpose of medical malpractice litigation is to protect the rights of the patient, to keep healthcare professionals on their toes when it comes to patient care, and to hold negligent practitioners accountable for their actions.

There are many types of medical malpractice cases. The most common basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2012 was related to diagnosis (33%) followed by surgical errors (24%) and related to treatment (18%).  The states with the most number of medical malpractice cases were New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, and Florida.

Many people believe that medical malpractice is a good way to make lots of money when a doctor has a bad day at the office, and indeed in 2012 the medical malpractice payout nationwide totaled $3.6 billion. A majority of this (93%) was as a result of a settlement rather than a court judgment (5%), and more than 30% was as compensation for a death. In New Jersey, a little over $206 million was paid out in medical malpractice claims.

However, medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult to win at trial, which is usually before a jury, and they take twice as long as other personal injury cases (about 5 days versus 2 days). This is because medical malpractice cases are often highly technical and complex, according to the website of Pohl and Berk. It is estimated that in general, plaintiffs win in less than one-fourth of all medical malpractice cases (23% in 2005), although the payouts in case of a win are significantly larger compared to other types of personal injury cases for the plaintiff (59% in 2005). Medical malpractice cases have high risk associated with them, as a loss can be incredibly costly.

If you are considering suing a healthcare professional or hospital for medical malpractice, make sure that you engage the services of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to increase the chances of success. Check on the lawyer’s reputation and track record, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your lawyer should be prepared to answer your questions and help you gather all the evidence you need to boost your chances of having a successful case.

The Trouble with Prozac

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Personal Injury, Product Liability | 0 comments

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the autobiographical bestseller Prozac Nation, described depression as she experienced it with great clarity. A particularly revealing quote in the book explained the complexity of the disorder: “That’s the thing I want to make clear about depression: It’s got nothing at all to do with life.” People with depression don’t just snap out of it. It is not a mood, but a mental disorder that is difficult to treat without pharmaceuticals. One of the most successful, and well-known, of these treatments is the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) drugs, most particularly Prozac.

Prozac was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an antidepressant in 1987. It is also used to treat panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, post traumatic stress disorder, binge-eating, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It has been marketed as safe for adults, children and pregnant women. Fluoxetine, the active component of Prozac, helps to keep serotonin levels high in the blood. Serotonin is believed to greatly improve a person’s mental balance.

However, studies have found a link between SSRI intake and increased violence, suicide, and birth defects in patients. This has led several class action suits to be brought against the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them for failing to provide adequate warning of the potential harm of taking these drugs, failing to warn pregnant women about possible birth defects, or for unscrupulous marketing strategies. Eli Lilly and Company has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits for Prozac, mostly for inducing violent behavior and suicide; however, it has yet to be designated for a class action lawsuit for causing birth defects. According to the National Injury Law Center website, birth defects include autism, congenital heart problems and lung abnormalities. Eli Lilly has settled numerous suits since 2000, but more is expected to be filed, especially for birth defect cases.

Wrongful Death Laws

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in Personal Injury, Wrongful Death | 0 comments

According to the website of Nashville personal injury attorneys Pohl & Berk, LLP, the laws governing wrongful death in the US vary from state to state. In New Jersey, wrongful act litigation is embodied in the New Jersey Statutes – Title 2A Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice – 2A:31-1, known as the Survival Act and 31-4, known as the Wrongful Death Act. These sections spell out who can sue for wrongful death [PDF], who can benefit and how the award is distributed.

Under the Survival Act, it states that even if the decedent (person who died) was able to recover damages for his or her injury that eventually led to death before dying, it does not preclude the survivors of the decedent from suing for damages for the wrongful death. For example, if Joe becomes paralyzed because of the tortious act of Kelly i.e. drunk driving, Joe sues Kelly for personal injuries and wins. After two years, Joe dies from complications arising from his injuries. His wife or children can sue Kelly, this time for wrongful death. This includes funeral expenses, loss of future wages, loss of any future services of the deceased, and loss of companionship. These kinds of things can be difficult to monetize, but are obviously worth a great deal, as losing a loved one has drastic effects on your life and your future.

Under the Wrongful Death Act, the statute specifies who are entitled for any amount recovered from civil litigation. The surviving spouse is definitely entitled even if the spouse is not a dependent i.e. has an independent source of support. Children are only fully entitled if they are dependent on the decedent because of age, or physical or mental ability. If there is a spouse but no children, the spouse is entitled to the entire award.

Parents who are dependent may not be entitled to any amount unless the decedent has no spouse or children. Amount recovered in civil litigation is not part of the decedent’s estate and is not affected by the terms of the decedent’s last will and testament, if any. Live-in partners are not considered legal spouses and are not entitled to any awards.

A peculiar aspect of New Jersey law for wrongful death is that survivors may not be awarded any amount for emotional pain and suffering unless the plaintiff was present during the incident and witnessed the actual death. Witnessing a loved one die is especially traumatic, but that doesn’t mean you don’t experience pain or suffering if you are not present for the death.

Premises Liability for a Porch Collapse

Posted by on Oct 19, 2013 in Personal Injury, Premises Liability | 0 comments

Porches are high-traffic areas, and are often used during social gathering. The fact that porches are usually just extensions of the house and may not have the same load-bearing capacity as the house itself may be the reason why there have been numerous instances of a porch collapse causing serious injuries and even fatalities.

A case in Illinois where two porches collapsed under the weight of about 30 people, leaving 13 dead and the rest injured, is said to have been caused by structural weaknesses in the porches rather than neglect or lack of maintenance. There have been some questions as to whether the city inspectors’ lack of citations regarding this structural issue could be one of the reasons for the collapse. However, the courts did not give this theory any credence, and the landlord of the apartment complex bore the brunt of the premises liability awards via the building’s insurers.

Premises liability in a porch collapse has been clearly established in that case as accruing to the landlord, notwithstanding structural issues, because the landlord had control over the use of the structure. Under normal use, the porch collapse would not have happened if the social gathering had not been allowed by the landlord.

This is a case of the landlord had known, or should have known that there was a risk of harm if the porches had been subjected to loads beyond what they can safely bear. If such an event had occurred in a single-family dwelling, the owner or occupier of the house would have been liable for all injuries or deaths that may have occurred during a social gathering or similar situation. According to the website of law firm Hull & Zimmerman, P.C., porch owners have to ensure the safety of all individuals who may have occasion to be on the porch for whatever reason, or to disallow their presence on a porch which is not in good condition.

If you or someone close to you suffered injuries due to a porch collapse in New Brunswick, this may be a premises liability case. Consult with a premises liability attorney in the area for advice on what you should do to recover damages from the negligent party.

Will Corporate Tax Law Reforms Work?

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Tax Law | 0 comments

Latest news regarding an overhaul of the corporate tax proposed by the Obama administration may seem difficult to turn away from. Although they are setting aside the decrease of federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, the administration proposes, among others, taking out several tax benefits that are already existing on the books. America is the top country with the highest corporate tax rate among the developed countries, and many people believe that the tax code is a hot mess – reasons enough to accept change in the system.

Although it may seem beneficial on the hindsight, some are still a bit hesitant on accepting the terms. Many things can complicate such corporate tax measures, as analysis has found out that less than 10 percent of the known S and P 500 firms pay the stated rate (about 39 percent), while the combined average that companies have paid from the past year is 26 percent (while the average for the past ten years is around 33 percent). With the “lowering” of the current corporate tax rate, this may mean corporations may have to pay even more than they are paying now, possibly about 10 to 15 percent more.

Many multinational corporations have used loopholes in order to reduce or lower their liability for American taxes, and these multinational corporations are also taking advantage of the foreign tax laws which they can apply to their businesses, whether the deductions on income and claims come from property, innovation and even employing or hiring new people.

The political debate on the corporate tax reforms is in focus right now, especially since these reforms can affect the business interactions of economies around the world. Most business leaders are keeping a steady eye on the changes, or retaining a tax lawyer, in order for them to properly navigate the changes, especially since these changes will affect their business in the end.

Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

Although you’ve doubtlessly been told that sugar is bad for your teeth, you may not know why. In fact, it’s not the sugar itself that causes cavities, but acids produced by bacteria that live in your mouth. After eating or drinking a sugary food, these bacteria feed on the sugar and produce acid as a byproduct. The acid, which sits on teeth, dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities.

So what are the worst foods for your teeth? Candy takes the cake as the worst offender. In particular, taffies and any candy containing caramel, coconut, or other sticky substances have a high potential to cause cavities. These candies stick to the roof of your mouth and inside the grooves of your teeth, allowing bacteria plenty of time to produce enamel-eating acid.

Hard candy such as lollipops and jawbreakers are also detrimental to teeth since they spend a long time in the mouth, allowing constant acid production. Sour, chewy candies are the worst of the bunch, since they contain sugar and citric acid, an unfortunate combination for dental health.

A basic rule of thumb is that any acidic and sugary foods can cause damage, especially if they remain on your teeth for a long time. To prevent cavities, eat such foods in moderation and at mealtimes, since other food can help neutralize the effects of the acid.