Legal Review: Why Divorces Involving High Net Worth Couples are Much More Complicated

By Family Law Attorney Galit Moskowitz of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC

Divorce is never easy, but when it involves a great amount of wealth, it becomes so much more complicated due to the amount of property that must be divided.

While each divorce is governed by the state it is filed in, there are some complexities anyone with a high net worth, and in the middle of a divorce, will face. In divorce, property is divided in a 50/50 split, or by equitable distribution.

Community states use the straight-down-the-middle formula while equitable distribution states will divide property up fairly, or justly. This does not always mean that it will be split equally, though.

In community states, dividing property evenly in a high net worth divorce is fairly simple, although it does have its own complications. In equitable distribution states, it is a bit more complex. For example, a judge may award one spouse $5 million and the other $10 million, as both amounts provide plenty for a spouse to live off.

“There are many factors judges across the country will take into consideration,” says Galit Moskowitz of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC. “But the one factor that any judge will weigh is the contribution of each spouse to their earnings. If one made the bulk of the income and was highly involved in a business that made most of that income and the other was not, the judge will likely award those with greater involvement more.”

However, complications will still be at play. One similarity all high net worth divorces have is that their assets are complex. It is not merely houses and cars that make up the assets. It is often stocks and shares in companies. When this is the case, those shares are sometimes divided equally.

In other instances, both spouses will co-manage the shares, which can often put investors and corporate directors of the companies at greater ease.

Another commonality in all divorces, no matter where they occur in the country, is that prenuptial agreements supersede any state property division laws. While a judge will still have to determine that a prenuptial agreement is fair and enforceable, whatever the couple outlined when they signed it is how their property will be divided in the end.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Changes to Veterans’ Benefits You Need to Know About

By Criminal Defense Attorney John S. Berry Jr. of Berry Law Firm

Veterans’ benefits are forever changing, and this year some major modifications have been made to the federal program.

The biggest changes affect the GI Bill, Space-A travel, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, reservists’ allowance and the Tricare dental program.

Changes to the GI Bill

The GI Bill is a huge benefit of being in the military, as it helps veterans and their family members with their educational goals. This year Veterans Affairs will give eligible individuals enrolled in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program nine more months of coverage.

The VA may also pay up to $30,000 instead of the nine months. Typically the lesser amount will be paid. To be eligible for these additional months, individuals must have already completed 60-semester or 90-quarter hours in an applicable program. Enrollment in a 128-semester or 192-quarter hours course is also required.

Space-A Travel

Space-A flights allow members of the military, and their families, to travel on military planes and charters when the aircraft has empty seats. In 2019, disabled veterans that have a disability rating of 100 percent are eligible for these flights.

New Addition to Uniform Code of Military Justice

The Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines military law in the United States. Now the Code will include Article 128b, which addresses domestic violence. It will include provisions for assault, intimidation, violation of a protective order, damaging property and injuring animals.

Allowance for Reservists

A new law allows reservists a high-deployment allowance up to $1,000 a month. There are eligibility requirements, such as reservists must be mobilized under Section 1104(b).

Tricare Dental Program Changes

Retired veterans enjoying Tricare coverage should know that the FEDVIP program will replace the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDO). This change also allows those with family members on active duty access to vision insurance.

“All veterans should know about these changes, to ensure they are taking advantage of all benefits that are available to them,” says John S. Berry, Jr. of Berry Law. “It is also important veterans understand that while these are federal changes, they should also investigate the many changes occurring at the state level across the country.”

0 Comments

Legal Review: Alcohol Association Calls on Congress to Legalize Marijuana at the Federal Level

By Criminal Defense Attorney Shawn Sukumar of Price Benowitz LLP

As legalization of medical and recreational marijuana continues to spread throughout many states, a major alcohol association has appealed to Congress to legalize the drug federally.

It was in late November 2018 that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) appeared on Capitol Hill. They had been fighting for federal legalization of marijuana since July, but went one step further when they appealed to lawmakers and congressional staff in the nation’s capital.

The WSWA pointed to the fact that federal legalization would prevent the diversion of marijuana to other states. That is something lawmakers are currently trying to combat, as those in nearby states that have not yet legalized marijuana travel to states that have and bring it home.

During the meeting, the development of technologies that could detect drivers under the influence of marijuana was also discussed. By implementing new driving standards that would correspond with legalization, the association argued that it would not be a threat to the general public.

“It simply does not make sense that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug at the federal level,” says Shawn Sukumar, Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney. “It does not have the harmful effects of LSD or heroin, yet it is classified as being the same.”

Some at the briefing by WSWA criticized the group. This was due to a suggestion that the alcohol industry simply wanted marijuana legalized so they could sell it, and therefore reap the profits that could be distributed to other businesses. WSWA was adamant though, that was not the case.

Instead, the association provided many other benefits that legalizing marijuana federally would bring. These included keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage individuals and increasing the safety of marijuana. The association also argued that legalizing cannabis throughout the entire country would also allow all states to reap the tax benefits of selling the drug.

There was no word after the briefing on how WSWA’s presentation was received by lawmakers. However, with this first step, it is possible that more major associations could follow in WSWA footsteps.

If that happens, legislators may begin to feel the pressure. That ultimately could lead to marijuana being federally legalized, and fewer innocent people being convicted.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Virginia Police Making More DUI Arrests Over the Holiday Season

By Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Woolley of Price Benowitz LLP

Virginia police departments know they are going to have a problem on their hands during the holiday season. There are going to be more drunk drivers on the road. Many departments throughout the state say they are taking the same measures as they do throughout the year to combat the problem.

However, the numbers show they have already been making more arrests over the holiday season.

According to the Virginia State Police, there were 11 fatal traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving weekend. From Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25, nine drivers, two passengers, and a motorcyclist were killed.

That same weekend, police in Chesterfield County charged 16 people for driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence. An officer in Chesterfield County was also hit by a drunk driver on the Sunday of the long weekend. Luckily, he was not seriously injured.

In total, 102 drunk drivers were arrested by state troopers over the Thanksgiving weekend. However, police departments across the state are saying that despite these numbers, they did not ramp up their law enforcement efforts during the holiday. It seems people may just be more likely to drink and drive during this time.

“Local police departments may not have had an increased presence over the Thanksgiving holiday,” says Patrick Woolley of Price Benowitz LLP, “but they will increase checkpoints and the number of patrolling officers over Christmas. It is vital that anyone that has had too much to drink find another way home other than driving themselves. This will not only reduce the number of fatalities, but also ensure they do not face the serious consequences that come with a drunk driving charge.”

Even if an accident involving a drunk driver occurs and no one is hurt, the driver will face many penalties. A first-time offense will result in a $300 fine if convicted, and the driver will lose their license for one year. Worse yet, individuals convicted of drunk driving will have a criminal record that will follow them around for the rest of their life.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Atrium Health in Violation of Federal Employment Law

By ERISA violation attorney J. Price McNamara of the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara

A lawsuit filed in North Carolina is asking the court to find Atrium Health in violation of federal rules governing retirement and health benefits. The lawsuit, which was filed by five former employees of Atrium, alleges that Atrium has been avoiding its responsibilities to its employees regarding pension funding and has been using its partial ownership of a health insurance company to force its employees to pay more for care, both of which are violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA.

The purpose of ERISA is twofold: protect employees by ensuring that certain aspects of employer benefits are subject to disclosure and monitoring by the federal government and providing employers with a set of rules within which to operate without fear of governmental overreaching. ERISA only applies to private entities; governmental entities are exempt from ERISA, the reason being that governmental entities are subject to mandatory disclosure and oversight.

“The two biggest areas where disagreements arise are pensions and health insurance,” said J. Price McNamara, an ERISA Violation attorney with the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara in New Orleans, Louisiana. The lawsuit in question deals with each of those areas.

The first is that because Atrium is subject to ERISA, it has violated the law by underfunding its defined benefit plan by $379 million. Defined benefit plans are better known as pensions; amounts paid by an employer to a retired employee based on years of service, not based upon any amount contributed by the employee.

Additionally, Atrium has failed to purchase insurance for its pension plan through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the government entity responsible for administering the pension plans of failed or bankrupt companies, another violation of the law.

Finally, the lawsuit contends that Atrium violates ERISA by requiring five years of service before allowing employees to participate in the pension and retirement plans; entities subject to ERISA can keep employees out no longer than three years.

The second area where the lawsuit claims Atrium to be in violation of ERISA is with regard to health insurance. ERISA prevents most employers from using companies that they own to provide health benefits to employees unless the employer can show to the Department of Labor that the health benefits provider puts the needs of employees first

Atrium offers health insurance coverage through MedCost, which it jointly owns with N.C. Baptist Hospitals. The lawsuit alleges that Atrium used MedCost as a way to ensure that medical expenses could be controlled directly because MedCost would be unlikely to seek rate increases from Atrium and would pass as much of the cost of care onto the patient as possible — as evidenced by comparison with similar plans available in the state.

There is a slight twist in this case. The lawsuit alleges that not only has Atrium violated ERISA, but it did so by falsely claiming that it was a governmental entity, thereby making it exempt from ERISA.

Atrium Health claims that its governmental entity exemption is valid because it was originally a “hospital authority”. Hospital authorities have some statutory recognition in North Carolina as being governmental entities under a 1997 statute that recognized the ability of a county to assign to any hospital authority created prior to 1997 the power to provide public health services.

Whether Atrium will fall under this exception remains to be seen; however, the claims put forth by the Plaintiffs raise interesting questions that must be litigated before we can get a better understanding of how North Carolina’s laws will line up with ERISA.

If you believe that your rights to benefits as an employee have been violated by your employers’ actions, do not wait to contact an experienced ERISA Violation Attorney. Issues related to ERISA are complex and require a deep understanding of the federal rules and regulations. Contact a Louisiana ERISA Violation Attorney today to fight for the compensation you deserve.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Backlog in Maryland Drug Lab Could be Unfair to Accused Waiting Trial

By Criminal Defense Attorney Kush Arora of Price Benowitz LLP

It is well known that the entire country is suffering from an opioid epidemic. That epidemic is now moving from the streets into many state labs. Many of them are facing severe backlogs, causing investigations to take much longer to complete.

Maryland is one state facing such backlogs. In order to deal with it, they have applied for a grant to the U.S. Justice Department to help them deal with the delays they are currently dealing with.

According to the Maryland State Police, there has been an ‘exponential increase’ in the number of overdoses and crimes that involve heroin and opioids. They are not wrong. In the grant application, the State Police stated that the backlog increased from 111 cases in 2015 to 2,101 in May of 2018.

This backlog is the reason they have applied for a grant that would allow them to bring in outside contractors that can help. These contractors can help state lab forensic scientists get through the backlog more quickly.

“One of the biggest problems with the backlog is that many people currently in custody are waiting for the results of lab testing,” says Kush Arora of Price Benowitz, LLP. “If those tests return nothing to indicate a person should have been in custody, that time was simply wasted. Many believe the backlog works to the defendant’s advantage. For those not free while the investigation is conducted however, it can work against them just as much.”

It is expected that Maryland will receive the grant it needs, and that it will be in the amount of $2.5 million. Not only will this help with the backlog, but it will also go towards preventing them in the future.

Maryland is not the only state dealing with such a backlog. In the past three years, Virginia has also experienced a ten percent increase in drug cases, causing a backlog in forensic labs in that state as well. While it once took just 30 days to complete a standard drug forensic lab review in Virginia, that time has been increased to 134 days.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Research Offers New Hope for Those That Have Been Paralyzed

By Spine Surgeon Dr. Victor Hayes, MD of Trinity Spine Center

It has long been thought that those suffering from paralysis would never walk again. However, new research is turning that idea on its head and giving paralysis patients new hope.

The research was conducted by two different groups of researchers. They found that when electrical stimulation was applied to the spinal cord, some paralysis patients were able to walk again.

Electrical stimulation on its own is not enough. Patients that regained walking capabilities underwent extensive physical therapy after the stimulation. So far, three patients have been able to give up their wheelchairs, at least temporarily, and walk.

The news has garnered national interest, and praise from others in the field.

“This research is life-changing for patients” says Dr. Victor Hayes, MD. “To be able to tell a patient that thinks they have lost the use of their legs that there is hope will be a very good day. Everyone will be watching to see how this technology advances in the future to help even more patients.”

While the work is certainly progressive, more studies need to be done before it is commonly applied. Electrical stimulation will also not provide a person with full function right away.

Every patient that was able to walk after the the studies were conducted required a walker to do so. Two patients participating in the research were still not able to walk, indicating it may not be appropriate for everyone.

The physical therapy sessions were so intense one participant sustained a broken hip during them. Only one of the patients that can walk once again has done so outside of the laboratory setting.

Even with the limitations of the technology, doctors, researchers and professors are looking at it as the future of medicine. Instead of simply trying to make things as easy as possible for paralysis patients, Gregoire Courtine, professor at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute, states this method could become the first line of treatment for those that are paralyzed.

Once this new technology is studied further and improvements are made, it could change the lives of thousands of people living with paralysis.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Former Assistant Superintendent of D.C. Archdiocese Charged with Embezzlement

By White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Glenn Ivey of Price Benowitz LLP

The individual charged with assisting the Archdiocese in Washington with the operation of 95 Catholic Schools was arrested in September on three counts of mail fraud.

The charges allege that the individual used fake businesses and fraudulent invoices to embezzle at least $45,000 from the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese believes that the individual took more than $45,000, but the statute of limitations prevented prosecutors from including additional amounts.

“The penalties for mail fraud are severe — up to 30 years in prison depending on the specific characteristics of the charges,” said Glenn Ivey, a Washington, D.C. White Collar Crime Attorney with the law firm of Price Benowitz, LLP.   “By using the United States Postal Service to conduct his operation, the individual charged here has exposed himself to federal criminal charges,” he said.

Anyone that attempts to obtain money or property through fraud, deception, or misrepresentation and uses the US Postal Service to carry out the attempt can be charged with mail fraud.

Although the maximum penalty for mail fraud is 30 years, it only applies to situations where the defrauded company is a financial institution. For all other situations, including the individual in this case, the maximum penalty is 20 years and/or a monetary fine.

If you have been charged with a white collar crime like mail fraud, it is incredibly important that you retain the services of an experienced Washington, D.C. white collar crime attorney. Your attorney will be able to communicate on your behalf with the prosecutors assigned to the case, and can work to try and have the charges dismissed.

If dismissal is not an option, your attorney will be able to advocate for a reduced sentence or plea bargain. Additionally, your attorney will be able to advise you regarding the possible fines and jail time associated with the amounts alleged to have been embezzled.

Do not attempt to navigate these charges or the court system on your own. The laws related to crimes such as mail fraud are complex, and care must be taken to ensure that your rights are protected at each stage. An experienced white collar crime attorney will be able to identify any potential pitfalls early on, and guide you through the process.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Virginia Ratchets Up the Pressure on Distracted Driving

By Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas Soldan of Price Benowitz LLP

The Virginia legislature has taken the step of doubling the fines associated with distracted driving offenses when those offenses occur in highway work zones, from the standard $125 fine for a first offense to $250 for a first offense.

Distracted driving is illegal and dangerous, and is considered a “primary offense”, meaning that a police officer can stop you if they believe they see you texting.

“These laws are important to protecting the safety of highway workers as well as drivers,” said Thomas Soldan, a Virginia Traffic Lawyer. However, Virginia has not outright banned the use of mobile phones for voice calls in a vehicle, nor have they banned the use of phones for GPS or other online services.

This means that questions can arise about the action being taken by a driver when pulled over. Answering a call can look like texting, as can dialing a number or typing in an address on your phone’s GPS.

If you have been ticketed for distracted driving and believe that ticket was improper because you were completing some other allowed action on your phone, you should consult with a Virginia Traffic Attorney. Though distracted driving tickets do not carry heavy criminal penalties, they do carry fines that increase with each subsequent ticket.

That means that if you are incorrectly ticketed the first time but decline to challenge the matter, and then you are properly ticketed at a later date, you will end up paying double the fine on the second ticket when you should only be paying the fine for a first offense.

Additionally, if you were not guilty of distracted driving, there is no reason for your record to reflect being charged with such. The prosecutor is responsible for ensuring that all elements of the charge levied are met in order to be successful. Failing to assert your rights and challenge the ticket is essentially doing the prosecutor’s job for them.

It is never a good idea to allow your rights to go unenforced, even with something that may seem as trivial as a the fine associated with a ticket. Contact a Virginia Traffic Lawyer if you have been ticketed for distracted driving to see that your rights are protected.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Virginia Declines to Install Speed Cameras in School Zones

By Criminal Defense Attorney Karin Riley Porter of Price Benowitz LLP

A bill in the Virginia legislature that would have installed speed cameras to take photos of vehicles traveling in excess of 12 miles per hour above the speed limit failed to advance out of committee, despite having no public opposition.

The cameras proposed are the same ones that Virginia uses for catching drivers running red lights. Pictures are generated that show the vehicle’s license plate and other information regarding the violation. The tickets are then mailed to the address associated with the license plate.

“Legislators, in discussing the bill, seemed concerned that allowing ticket enforcement through the mail would reduce the seriousness of school zone speeding violations,” said Karin Riley Porter, a Virginia Speeding Ticket Lawyer with the firm of Price Benowitz, LLP.

School zone speeding violations are treated very seriously in any jurisdiction, but in Virginia, any speeding violation can be treated one of two ways: as a standard traffic offense, or as reckless driving. The differences are substantial.

A speeding ticket that is issued as a traffic offense has a fine and only affects your driving record, which may have an impact on your insurance rates. A ticket for reckless driving, however, is considered a Class I misdemeanor, which is criminal in nature. It is not only accompanied by fines of up to $2,500, but it can result in jail time.

Unfortunately for drivers, a speeding ticket issued for reckless driving looks no different than a speeding ticket that is a traffic infraction. In some instances, the officer will write “RD” on the ticket to indicate that it is a reckless driving charge, something that drivers may not even recognize.

The issue this creates is that some drivers simply choose to pay the fine on speeding tickets. Failure to appear in court for a reckless driving ticket could result in the driver not only being fined but could also result with a criminal conviction that could impact an individual’s long-term future.

If you have been cited for speeding in Virginia, do not simply pay the fine. Contact a Virginia Speeding Ticket Attorney and allow them to review your citation in order to determine the best course of action.

If you have been cited for reckless driving, the attorney will be able to ensure that you are represented in court and argue on your behalf. Do not take the chance that the prosecutor or judge will be lenient — especially if you were ticketed in a school zone. Allow a Virginia Speeding Ticket Attorney to help.

0 Comments

Legal Review: The Fight for Equal Rights Heats Up in Virginia Beach

By Employment Attorney Tom Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm

Four bills that would have perpetuated discrimination against the LGBTQ community in housing and public employment decisions were struck down in the Virginia House of Delegates in February. Advocacy groups say they will not stop pressuring GOP legislators who continue to push for discriminatory bills.

Those groups, Virginia Beach for Fairness and Equality Virginia, held an awareness and advocacy campaign in Neptune Park at the Oceanfront in July.

During that campaign these groups tried to build awareness for how the LGBTQ community is currently discriminated against, with a focus on housing and employment in the public sector. They would like to not only pressure the legislature to change the current laws, but they are also encouraging residents and businesses to do the same.

Their hope is that by the time elections are held in November, lawmakers would have listened to what they had to say. And more importantly, that they will start passing the laws that could greatly help this community.

“Whether or not someone gets a job or is accepted into housing should not have anything to do with their sexual orientation or what gender they identify with, ” says Tom Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm. “It is illogical and shameful that either of those factors would ever be considered — but especially in 2018.”

Historically, marginalized communities have struggled to overcome a variety of barriers to access housing and professional opportunities, though great strides have been made in the past decade.

Robert Roman, a co-owner of a furniture store in Norfolk, pointed to Fortune 500 companies that are intentional in implementing inclusive hiring practices. Due to the fact that they often want to set up their headquarters in states that have anti-discrimination laws, Roman argues that passing such laws in Virginia could have an impact on the entire state and its economy as companies decide where to open new locations.

Lawmakers should consider their obligation to constituents is deeply tied to their stance and protection of anti-discrimination laws and take swift action accordingly.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Virginia Schools Teaching Child Abuse Prevention this Fall

By Criminal Defense Attorney Nicholas Braswell of Price Benowitz LLP

Math, science, history and English are all subjects expected to be taught in school. This school year, however, students will also be getting an education in child abuse prevention in some Virginia schools.

The move comes after Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill back in April, allowing the new program to be added to the schools’ curriculum. However, schools will not be required to include the new material in their family life education curriculum.

That is a step away from what the law currently requires of schools. All schools must already provide education on issues such as dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence. Many, such as the bill’s sponsors Senator Jennifer McClellan and Senator Jennifer Wexton, did not think that was enough and pushed to move this latest bill forward.

The bill went into effect on July 1, 2018, and included guidelines for the program. The guidelines suggest that the education be focused on preventing child abuse, recognizing child abuse, abduction and sexual abuse and exploitation. All programs are to be made age-appropriate for the grades these subjects will be taught in.

The new law, says Wexton, is a great step forward for Erin’s Law, a movement that is gaining attention around the country and asking schools to implement sexual abuse prevention programs. While Wexton does not believe this constitutes enough to comply with Erin’s Law, she does believe it is greatly paving the way.

“Many children do not know what to do if they are being abused or are not even aware that it is happening,” says Nicholas Braswell of the Richmond Defense Group. “Being accused of these kinds of abuses can be life-changing, so it’s important that we educate our youth on what healthy relationships and behavior look like so they are armed with solid information that keeps us all safe.”

0 Comments

Legal Review: U.S. Gun Violence Prompts Connecticut Walkouts

By Criminal Defense Attorney Sean Barrett with the law firm Billings & Barrett.

Students and faculty across Connecticut participated in a nationwide walkout to protest gun violence in schools. The focus of the walkout was to bring attention to a lack of action on gun laws and also raise awareness and avoid incidents like Sandy Hook and Parkland in the future.

Connecticut has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. The state has passed a “red flag” law, which allows friends, family and certain medical professionals to file petitions with the court and ask that an order be entered removing firearms from the possession of individuals who are found to pose a present danger to themselves or others.

Additionally, Connecticut requires that anyone seeking to purchase a firearm obtain a permit and all transfers of hand guns and long guns must be authorized by the state, creating a de-facto gun registry. Magazines with capacities in excess of ten rounds are no longer legal to sell or transfer, though their possession has not been outlawed.

In terms of concealed weapons, Connecticut’s laws do not differentiate between the open carry and concealed carry of hand guns, but they do require a permit, regardless of the carrying desire of the individual. The authorities issuing that permit are, based on court decisions, required to issues those permits in the absence of a compelling reason not to do so, but those authorities still have some discretion in making that ultimate determination.

“Running afoul of these laws in Connecticut can be expensive and the punishments can be severe,” said Sean Barrett, a New Haven, Connecticut Gun Crimes Attorney with the law firm of Billings & Barrett. For example, possession of a firearm that has been banned by the state can result in up to three years in prison and up to $500 in fines. Additionally, possession of firearms during the commission of certain felonies can add five, non-suspendable, non-concurrent years to any prison sentence being faced.

Connecticut is a state that takes its gun laws seriously and treats those who violate those laws harshly. If you have been charged with a gun crime in the state, experienced counsel is critical to a positive outcome.

0 Comments

Legal Review: “Dancing Doctor” Faces Suspension and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, more commonly known as the “Dancing Doctor,” has had her license suspended and faces several lawsuits for medical malpractice for not using proper standards of care while treating patients. That was the reason given by the Georgia Composite Medical Board in June when they initially suspended her license.

The suspension came after many complaints were filed against Davis-Boutte. One of her patients has suffered permanent brain damage while under the care of the doctor. Others have cited infections after being treated by the doctor.

The most recent case involved a woman that suffered respiratory distress and severe bleeding from the lips after Davis-Boutte performed liposuction, breast augmentation, and a Brazilian butt lift on her on May 30.

These are just a few cases in the last two years that prompted the Board to take action. The fact that she has posted video of herself online dancing in the operating room only served as further proof that she was not tending to patients properly while they were under her care.

In one video, which has now been taken down, she can be seen with medical instruments in her hands while she raps and leans over a patient’s half-bare buttocks.

However, it is not just the suspension Davis-Boutte is facing. Several of her patients have also filed civil lawsuits against the former surgeon, claiming medical malpractice. Currently, four of those lawsuits have been settled.

“The suspension will keep any future patients from harm, at least for the time-being,” says Lyle Griffin Warshauer of Warshauer Law Group. “But there are so many patients out there that she has hurt over the past two years. Many of their injuries are serious and they have a right to seek compensation for those injuries.”

While the Board suspended her license in early June 2018, it was later that month that an agreement between Davis-Boutte and the Board was filed. Within that document was a consent order signed by Davis-Boutte, agreeing to give up her license temporarily for the next two and a half years. Once that time period has passed, she can then apply to have the suspension lifted.

In the meantime, she cannot call herself a doctor or in any way practice medicine. More lawsuits may also be filed as former patients continue to come forward.

0 Comments

Legal Review: Why 2018 May be the Year of Divorce

Couples that are considering getting a divorce may want to finalize things before the end of 2018. And with new tax laws that have recently been enacted, many may do just that, possibly making 2018 the year of the divorce. There are four new tax laws that will impact a family’s finances after any divorce that is finalized on or after New Year’s Day 2019.

The most talked-about new tax law affects alimony payments that were once tax-deductible by the spouse making the payments. While Texas law does not provide for alimony, in certain cases spouses may be entitled to spousal maintenance, which is treated as alimony for tax purposes.

While spousal maintenance payments have previously been claimed as income by the spouse receiving the payments, that spouse typically fell in a lower income tax bracket, so the total taxes on alimony were lower than if the payor spouse had claimed the same income.

That will change in 2019. As of January 1, spouses paying spousal maintenance payments will have to claim those amounts as income. That will not only hurt the person paying maintenance, but also the person receiving it, as they may face lower maintenance payments to make up for the increased tax cost.

The division of assets has also been affected by new tax laws. As of the new year, the amount of interest on mortgage payments and the amount of property taxes that can be deducted on tax returns will be reduced. This will make home ownership more expensive.

To make matters worse, those who sell a home while married can make a profit up to $500,000 without tax penalties. Single individuals can only realize half of that, up to $250,000. Those who will not be able to afford a home after divorce may wish to sell it before their divorce is finalized, depending on the anticipated net profit.

When children are involved in a divorce case, it always makes things much more difficult. The new tax laws have not helped here, either. The new code strikes out the exemption rule for children during the years 2018 — 2025.

While this will be true for any parent that claims children on their tax returns, that parent may also be eligible for new child tax credits in the new year. As of 2026, the exemption will revert to $4,000+ allowed per child.

Finally, the new tax laws also affect those who have already divorced or are considering it and also have pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements. The new laws may have nullified some of the arrangements outlined in these contracts, meaning couples that hold them should review them with a family lawyer that can explain what will and will not stand when the new tax laws come into play.

“It is important that any couple serious about divorce finalize the proceeding before 2019,” says Sharon Ramage of The Ramage Law Group. As there is a 60 day waiting period, it is important that couples wishing to finalize divorce during 2018, file before October 15, 2018. “While this may sadly make 2018 the year of divorce, acting now can potentially save families thousands of dollars down the road.”

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list