Austin Attorney Highlights Risk of Concussion in Other Sports

By Brooks Schuelke, ESQ.

The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in players in contact sports is now well known. In fact, the initial discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was in the brains of deceased football players.

A new stu dy published by Boston University (BU) scientists revealed that 110 out of 111 post-mortem brains showed signs of CTE. Brain damage allegations have been trailing the National Football League (NFL) for over a decade. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players has seen congressional hearings, been the cited reason for a class action lawsuit launched by players and the hopeful beneficiary of efforts to design new helmets and ban certain kinds of hits.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive head trauma, was first revealed in football players. Since the initial discovery of the disease and what it does to the brain scientists have discovered that linebackers, who engage in a series of smaller collisions during every play, do worse than other players who may take harder, but fewer hits during the average game. But football is not the only contact sport where repeated head trauma is common.

Neurologists are stating the trauma sustained by soccer players may rival football’s impact on the brain. It does not matter how head contact/impact comes about, but that it is done repeatedly.

While soccer, with 265 million players globally, is not traditionally considered a contact sport, the way the game is played does result in concussions due to heading the ball, player-to-player head bunting contact, and falls. In recreational games, soccer players head the ball roughly six to 12 times a game, deflecting balls traveling up to 50 mph. While practicing, players head the ball up to 30 or more times repeatedly while performing drills.

In the past 10 years, DC United, a U.S. pro soccer team lost six players due to concussions. This season at least two of their players missed field time with head trauma. Furthermore, case studies show retired Brazilian and English players with a history of concussions while playing later showed signs of dementia with subsequent autopsies revealing CTE.

Certainly, all of the traumatic brain injury issues in soccer are beginning to become more visible thanks to lawsuits and the settlement of a potential class action lawsuit. Charlie Horton, a former DC United goalkeeper, stated in his lawsuit that a teammate deliberately elbowed him in the head resulting in concussion and the end of his career. In 2015 the U.S. Soccer Federation settled a potential class action lawsuit by limiting “heading” by youth players.

Thompson & Knight Trial Associate Rejoins Austin Office

Thompson & Knight LLP has announced that  Nathan K. Palmer has rejoined the firm’s Austin office as an Associate in the Trial Practice Group. Palmer left Thompson & Knight in 2016 to serve as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Eva M. Guzman of the Supreme Court of Texas.

“We are delighted to welcome Nathan back to the Firm after his clerkship with the Supreme Court of Texas,” said Greg W. Curry, the Firm’s Trial Practice Leader. “The valuable experience he gained during his clerkship benefits not only Nathan and his development as a trial lawyer, but our clients as well.”

Palmer focuses his practice on litigation, appellate, and government and regulatory matters. He received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2015, an M.S. in Psychology in 2009 and a B.S., magna cum laude, in Psychology and Philosophy in 2007 from Brigham Young University.

Prior to joining Thompson & Knight, he was a high school teacher for Teach for America from 2009-2011 and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at University of Texas at Brownsville in 2010.

He is an active member of the State Bar of Texas, a Board Member of King Benjamin Fund, and an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Palmer is admitted to practice in Texas.

 

Austin Lawyers Issue Challenge to Fight Racism

Late last week, the Austin Bar Association received the following message from Randy Howry, Past-President of the Austin Bar and partner in Howry, Breen & Herman:

“The Austin law firm of Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP announces its donation of $5000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The events of this past week, particularly those in Charlottesville, Virginia, require  that we come together as a community and as a country to reinforce values that unite us—tolerance, inclusion and diversity. What occurred in Charlottesville, could have easily occurred in Austin. Racism, intolerance, and violence are always wrong. The equal treatment of all people is one of our country’s bedrock principles. There is no room for equivocation. Hate is wrong and it must be condemned. Left unchecked it can do great danger. We invite the Austin legal community to join in with a contribution to the organization of your choice. The time to sit, wait and watch is over.  As lawyers we are well positioned to insure that our local and national leaders hear our voices.”

This message was forwarded to the over 4,000 members of the Austin Bar on Monday, August 21, 2017.  The Austin Bar encouraged its members to consider joining Howry, Breen & Herman by donating to an organization of their choice. Suggested recipients were The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Texas Civil Rights Project, The Anti-Defamation League (Austin), and the ACLU of Texas.

The Austin Bar Association is committed to supporting and encouraging equality and inclusion, standing up to hate and intolerance, and working to ensure the equal treatment of all people in all circumstances.

Attorney Joins Munck Wilson Mandala’s Austin Office

Stu Shapley, a patent attorney with more than 10 years of experience representing clients on patent prosecution, litigation and licensing matters, across a range of technologies, hs joined Munck Wilson Mandala’s Austin Office.

He earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law where he served on the editorial board for the Virginia Journal of Law and Technology and the Virginia Environmental Law Journal.

Munck Wilson Mandala Attorney headshots taken in Dallas, Texas on August 17, 2017. (Photo by/Gregg Ellman)

He received an A.B. in physics from Harvard University, graduating cum laude.  Prior to joining Munck Wilson Mandala, Shapley worked at Sprinkle IP Law Group, P.C. in Austin, Texas, as well as Amster, Rothstein & Ebenstein LLP and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison in New York, New York.

Lauren Damen Joins Winstead’s Austin Office

Lauren Damen has joined the Austin Office of Winstead PC as an associate in the Public & Regulatory Law and Environmental Law Practice Groups.

Damen’s practice is focused on administrative and regulatory litigation with an emphasis on utility law. She has represented companies before the Public Utility Commission and State Office of Administrative Hearings in electric utility and insurance proceedings, and assisted in lawsuits regarding oil and gas royalty and lease assignment disputes.

Prior to attending law school, Lauren worked at the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) for approximately six years as a retail market analyst, senior retail market analyst and Director of the Retail Markets Section. At the PUC, she worked on a variety of matters including rulemakings, enforcement investigations and proceedings, complaints, tariffs, rate proceedings, and open records requests as well as working groups and task forces at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Damen’s extensive work on rulemakings addressed topics including customer protection, low-income discounts, renewable energy, transmission cost recovery factors, and the terms and conditions of retail delivery service provided by investor owned transmission and distribution utilities.

Damen received her J.D. cum laude, from Baylor Law School in 2011 and is licensed to practice in Texas.

Austin Lawyer Explains ‘How Trust Details Need to Be Very Specific’

Brad Wiewel of the The Wiewel Law Firm recently explained in a blog how the importance of specific language when setting up a trust:

A trust set up for a young girl was originally overseen by Citibank.  However, in 2003 the mother took over the trust creating a battle in the future, according to the Daily Mail in “Daughter sues her ‘self-involved’ mother for ‘frittering away more than $13m of her inheritance – so she could buy cars and a $6m mansion next to Gwyneth Paltrow in the Hamptons’.”

Austin-based Waller Attorney Recognized Again by Chambers

Waller, a leading provider of legal services to the healthcare, financial services, retail and hospitality industries with an Austin office, announced last week that 35 of the firm’s attorneys have been ranked or recognized in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA, an annual ranking of law firms and lawyers in an extensive range of practice areas across the United States.

One of those recognized was health law attorney Fletcher Brown, who has been included on the prestigious ranking service for more than a decade.

“This recognition of our attorneys is especially meaningful because Chambers conducts independent interviews with our clients as well as our peers at other law firms,” said Waller chairman Matt Burnstein. “It’s an honor to have our clients and colleagues acknowledge Waller’s commitment to client service and the legal profession.”

Thompson & Knight Welcomes Trial Partner to Austin Office

Thompson & Knight LLP has announced that Elizabeth G. Myers has joined the Firm’s Austin office as a Partner in the Trial Practice Group.

“Elizabeth’s consumer class actions experience, especially as it pertains to the healthcare industry, is a true asset to the Firm,” said Greg W. Curry, the Firm’s Trial Practice Leader. “Her industry knowledge will complement our existing litigation and healthcare practices.”

Ms. Myers represents clients in state and federal courts in commercial disputes, product defect, consumer fraud, and securities fraud class actions matters. She also regularly represents special committees of public companies conducting internal investigations regarding alleged regulatory violations and executive misconduct. Ms. Myers frequently participates in conferences and lectures on complex litigation strategy with a special focus on healthcare litigation.

She received a J.D., with high honors, from The University of Texas School of Law (2005) and a B.A., summa cum laude, in Political Science from Southern Methodist University (2001). Ms. Myers is committed to giving back to her community. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Equality Texas Foundation. Also, as the Houston Pro Bono Partner at her previous firm, Ms. Myers focused on initiatives related to human trafficking and child advocacy. Prior to joining Thompson & Knight, she was a Partner at Jones Day in Houston.

 

Austin Bar Association Taps B2 Legal Management as Official Benefit Provider

The Austin Bar Association has announced that B2 Legal Management, LLC (B2) is now an official member benefit provider of the Austin Bar. B2 provides outsourced back office support to attorneys. With over 35 years of staff experience in the legal community, B2 has extensive expertise in accounting, billing, payroll and software.

“We are excited to offer our Plug In and Practice service, which allows attorneys to plug into B2 for a flat fee per attorney,” said Brenda Barnes, the founder of B2 (http://b2-mgmt.com/legal/).  “We manage the time-consuming business of running a practice so attorneys can do what they like to do – practice law and take care of clients.”

Munck Wilson Mandala’s Michael Rodriguez Graduates from Hispanic Austin Leadership

Michael G. Rodriguez, the Austin managing partner for Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP, has recently completed the Hispanic Austin Leadership (HAL) program, sponsored by the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  HAL is a nine month program designed to give business leaders opportunities to develop business acumen, civic awareness and leadership skills as well as build a network of colleagues for life. 

Rodriguez is a member of Munck Wilson Mandala’s technology/intellectual property law group, concentrating his practice on patent and trademark preparation and prosecution.  His clients are in the construction, electronics, energy, retail, restaurant, telecommunications, pet-care, vehicle manufacturing, and defense industries.

As a college student, Rodriguez was both an athlete and a scholar, playing for the baseball team and studying electrical engineering at Texas A&M University.  When an injury ended his athletic career, he realized that having the engineering degree is what ultimately launched his career and forged paths for his success.  It’s this message that Rodriguez hopes to emphasize in his continued work with the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber and his community.  “While being a great athlete can lead to success for a few,” said Rodriguez, “focusing on a strong academic performance can bring success for many.”

As a graduate of HAL, Rodriguez said he will continue to focus on programs that encourage the Hispanic community to embrace S.T.E.M. education and broaden leadership opportunities in the technology and telecommunications sector.  In addition to an engineering background, Rodriguez also served as lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, receiving numerous commendations for his actions during active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Rodriguez received his J.D. from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University.