Archive for the 'Lawyers' Category

Anti-Seizure Medication: What Your Doctor Might Not Have Told You

Many people in the United States suffer from epilepsy and other disorders that can cause seizures and this affects every aspect of their lives. From not having the legal ability to drive a car to the simple fact that a seizure can often happen without warning, those who suffer from these crippling disorders depend on a variety of medications to keep their seizures under control.

Physicians who specialize in or are familiar with the nature of seizures and their causes treat their patients with the best medications available that are right for them. As is the norm, new medications arrive to the consumer market all the time and some of these new drugs may find their way into a seizure sufferer’s hands.

Again, most of these drugs work anti-seizure medicationwell and allow seizure patients to lead healthy and more normal lives. However, as with most drugs, side effects are always a risk and some of the risks associated with anti-seizure medications can be very serious.

If you’re taking an anti-seizure medication these are a few things you should know about their side effects and learn more about how to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.

Types of Seizures

Regardless of the underlying cause seizures are classified by type. These types vary due the patient’s condition, age, and even menstrual cycle. These are some of the types of seizures that healthcare experts have classified.

  • Absence seizures. These are generally mild and consist of short periods of “spacing out.” These were previously called petit mal seizures.
  • Atonic seizures. These are brief seizures that result in a loss of muscle tension. They rarely last longer than 15 seconds.
  • Catamenial seizures. These seizures occur at varying times during a woman’s menstrual cycle and are generally hormone related.
  • Dravet Syndrome. This syndrome begins in the first year of an infant’s life and the seizures increase in frequency as the child ages.
  • Focal seizure. These seizures are among the most unpredictable as the seizure can begin in any part of the brain resulting in differing levels of seizure activity.
  • Myoclonic seizures. These seizures involve brief shaking or jerking of the muscles. The patient is generally conscious during this type of seizure.
  • Tonic Clonic seizure. Previously called a grand mal seizure, a tonic clonic seizure involves the shaking or jerking of the entire body and the patient loses consciousness. These seizures can last from one to three minutes. Anything longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.

Seizure Medications and Their Side Effects

Physicians prescribe a number of different medications for seizure related disorders and one of the more popular of these medications is Dilantin (phenytoin). Dilantin works by decreasing certain activities in the brain that can result in seizures.

However, as with any drug, dilantin comes with side effects and some of them have been severe. Dilantin’s interactions with other medications can also cause life-threatening side effects. Be very clear with your doctor about any medications you are taking if you are prescribed Dilantin.

anti seizure medicationOne of the most serious concerns about Dilantin is during pregnancy. It’s a conflicting issue because discontinuing the use of the drug while pregnant can cause seizures that can be very harmful for the mother and unborn child. On the other hand, Dilantin has been known to cause some serious birth defects ranging from cleft palate to heart defects. It’s vital that you discuss this with your doctor if you are pregnant and taking Dilantin. If taking Dilantin has affected your pregnancy or baby, you may have recourse against the pharmaceutical company.

Dilantin also decreases the effectiveness of hormone-based birth control which can result in irregular periods, spotting, bleeding, and pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about alternative methods of birth control if you take Dilantin.

People with low vitamin D levels or who have osteoporosis should also take Dilantin with caution. The drug is known to contribute to bone loss and this could become more severe if thinning of the bones is already a health concern.

Dilantin has also been associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Purple Glove Syndrome, both of which are skin disorders that can be fatal and need immediate medical attention if they happen.

Dilantin has been a lifesaver for many people who suffer from seizures but it has also caused many people lasting problems due to the side effects. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any side effects that you experience and if those side effects have impacted your life in a severe way you might also want to speak with an attorney. After all, you can’t be too careful when it comes to your health.


Authored by Thomas J. Henry, a renowned trial attorney who has been practicing personal injury law in Texas for more than 25 years. He has represented victims of catastrophic trucking and auto accidents, on-the-job accidents, medical malpractice claims, and many other claims across the United States.

Attorney General Sessions is Under Fire for Ties to Russia

The Trump administration just can’t seem to stay away from scandal. Or Russia.

President Trump’s recently appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under hot water for some statements he made during his confirmation hearing. When asked what he would do if evidence emerged implicating that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government during the course of the campaign, Sessions replied that he “did not have communications with Russians.” Now, we’ve discovered that Sessions had communications with Russia twice. Specifically, Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Republican National Convention in July and then at his office in September.

Attorney GeneralDid Sessions Commit Perjury?

The American Civil Liberties Union wants the Attorney General investigated for perjury. Perjury is defined as willfully giving false testimony under oath or affirmation.

While it seems like Sessions would be guilty of lying under oath, it doesn’t necessarily mean he perjured himself. Perjury requires proof that the person “willfully” made a statement he knew to be untrue. This means Sessions must have lied on purpose instead of making an accidental falsehood. This would not only be extremely hard to prove, but Sessions himself clarified that he “did not recall any discussions with the Russian ambassador, or any other representative of the Russian government, regarding the political campaign on these occasions or any other occasion.” Sessions continued to claim that he misinterpreted the question and thought he was being asked whether he was a Trump surrogate that continuously met with Russian officials. Finally, Sessions argued he met with Kislyak in his official capacity as a senator, not as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.

Perjury is a felony that carries a possible prison sentence, plus fines and probation. Certainly if Sessions is investigated and found to have committed perjury, he will be forced to resign as Attorney General and may face incarceration.

Recusal

Due to the controversy surrounding his ties to Russia, Sessions decided to recuse himself from any investigations by the Justice Department into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Recusal is a common tool used when a person of power has a potential conflict of interest. For example, a judge must recuse himself from presiding over case if he has an interest in the subject matter or a personal relationship with one of the attorneys in the case. Here, Sessions made his decision after consulting with Justice Department officials who recommended he should no longer participate in the investigation.

Russia and the Bigger Picture

Regardless of whether Sessions willfully intended to deceive Congress during his confirmation hearing, he is now the fifth person affiliated with the Trump administration that has ties to Russia. Most recently, Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was discovered to have had an undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador back in December. As a result, Flynn resigned from his post.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and current senior adviser, also had a meeting at Trump Tower with Flynn and the Russian ambassador during campaign season. The extent and frequency of any of Trump’s inner circle to Russia remains unclear.

The possible secret ties between the Trump campaign and Russia have more serious implications than simply lying under oath and committing perjury. The real question is why – why did they lie about their ties to Russia? Conspiracy theorists have wondered whether Russia is blackmailing President Trump. They theorize that Trump borrowed money from Russia to keep his personal businesses afloat in the early 90s after a string of bankruptcies, which could explain why Trump refused to release his tax returns. They further believe Russia has some sort of incriminating information about Trump.

With so many ties to Russia, we have to wonder how far up the totem pole these Russian ties go. Do they go all the way to the President?

Understanding President Trump’s Muslim-Based Immigration Ban

Since President Trump’s inauguration, his presidency has been fraught with controversy. Trump ran his presidential campaign on a platform that pledged he would “Make America Great Again.” Among his promises were to bar immigration from Muslim nations. Now he’s trying to make good on his promise.

As one of his first orders of business, President Trump signed an executive order on Friday that indefinitely suspends admissions for Syrian refugees to the United States. It further banned all refugees from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States while prioritizing Christian refugees.

What Exactly Does the Order Do?

Under a guise of protecting Americans from acts of terrorism, President Trump calls his order “extreme vetting” of immigrants. He is careful not to call it a “Muslim Ban.” Instead the order is titled, “Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” and it will restrict entry from countries with a “history of terrorism.”

The order will suspend the entire U.S. Refugee Admissions program for 120 days, thereby blocking all refugees from all countries from resettling in the United States. Additionally, people from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Iran will be barred from entering the United States for 90 days regardless of if they have valid visas. After the 90 days, permanent visa bans could be enacted for those countries and for others. The order also caps the amount of refugees who may be admitted to the United States at 50,000 immigrants, down 60,000 from last year.

Donald Trump

What is an Executive Order?

An executive order is an official statement from the President of the United States regarding how federal agencies are to use their resources. So long as the order is not against any existing laws, they are legally binding for federal agencies. The President is not creating new laws, but instead instructing the government how it must work within the confines of existing law set by the Constitution and Congress. While the Supreme Court may overturn any executive order, it is very rare. Congress may also limit executive orders.

What exactly gives the President such powers? Article II of the Constitution gives the President broad powers under “executive actions.” Executive actions generally are known to include executive orders, but they also include presidential memorandums (basically a step below executive powers), proclamations and directives.

Is a Muslim Ban Legal?

People are already questioning the legality of President Trump’s Muslim ban. Executive orders are legal so long as they do not conflict with existing law. Trump cannot, for example, sign an executive order requiring torture of any enemy combatant. Congress issued a law banning torture of U.S. prisoners back in 2015, and any order allowing torture would fly in the face of existing law.

In the 19th Century, the U.S. enacted laws which excluded all Chinese and almost all Japanese from entering the country. Based on this discriminatory history, Congress passed a law more than 50 years ago that outlawed discrimination against immigrants based on national origin. So no, Trump’s discriminatory Muslim-based ban is not legal. Because Trump is targeting Muslim-majority countries while prioritizing Christian refugees, he couldn’t even argue his order does not deliberately discriminate against Muslims, although he will.

On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) obtained an emergency stay from a federal New York judge which temporarily halts the deportation of refugees detained in the United States after Trump issued his Muslim-ban. This means that any immigrant, and certainly those from Muslim-majority countries, cannot be deported back to their home country despite Trump’s executive order.

Something to Remember

It’s also important to note that President Trump’s proposed list of banned countries does not include Muslim-majority countries where he has business links. Notably absent from the Muslim ban are Turkey, where Trump has two luxury towers, the United Arab Emirates, where Trump has golf courses, and Egypt, the location of two Trump business companies. Surely, this presents a potential conflict of interest where he is electing not to ban certain Muslim-majority countries because of his business ties, even though these countries also have a history of terrorism.

With all the controversy surrounding Trump’s first full week of office and his approval rating going down steadily, only time will tell whether he will hold firm on his Muslim-based immigration ban.

Trademark Name: Can Anyone Be a Kardashian?

In ridiculous but entertaining trademark news, last month the Kardashians filed documents in court trying to block Blac Chyna (real name Angela Renee) from filing a trademark on “Angela Renee Kardashian” as a brand name for her makeup line Lashed.  Ms. Renee is the significant other of Rob Kardashian–the brother of the trio of sisters–and first child.  The two have been discussing getting married, so she may well simply be trying to protect her future name but jumped the gun.

However, the Kardashian sisters’ filings vehemently opposed Ms. Renee receiving this trademark, alleging that they would suffer irreparable injury to their reputation and goodwill should the mark be allowed to move forward.  They further stated that they own and control the rights to the Kardashian brand and its associated marks–having invested a substantial amount of time and money into the name Kardashian.  What’s more, they argued that the public associates the name Kardashian strongly with the three sisters.  This makes sense, because a trademark is designed to distinguish a brand and is damaged where a similar mark may confuse the public as to the source or sponsorship of goods–a concept usually known as trademark infringement.

Understanding the Kardashian’s Claim

Kardashian Family TrademarkThe Kardashians are also not wrong about their assertions, they own trademarks on their name, are extremely famous and have all made businesses around their names–Khloemoney Inc., 2Die4Kourt, and Kimsaprincess Inc.  However, the initial opposition turned out to be a mistake and the sisters have since said that they will try to privately work out the details of using the Kardashian name with Ms. Renee.  Apparently, the lawyers for their businesses are in the practice of moving quickly to block any marks that may infringe on the Kardashian brand.

This is no surprise, protecting your trademark often necessitates vigilance and swift action.  Filing for a trademark is fairly easy–you simply file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, pay a fee, and you’ll generally have a ruling on your mark in about half a year.  The majority of applications are approved, especially when the applicant is assisted by a trademark attorney.  Once somebody in the trademark office gives a mark the stamp of approval,  it is published that the mark has been approved there is a short 30-day period to file a notice of opposition to the mark before it takes effect.  An opposition notice is much less formal, and much cheaper, than bringing a suit to cancel a mark once it is already in effect–which you can do within five years of a trademark being granted.  Thus, it is often preferable to hire an attorney to keep an eye on trademarks being filed which might infringe your own mark and quickly respond. Generally, an opposition or cancellation action is brought where the mark is either invalid on its face (something that can happen for quite a number of reasons such as being so generic as to not serve to identify the brand) or where the mark damages the person bringing the action–usually by confusing the public.

Thus, it seems quite reasonable for the Kardashians’ lawyers to act as they did.  The Kardashian name is very well known and almost exclusively associated with the sisters’ family.  They have built up the name as a mark and most of the public think of them and their brands when they hear the word “Kardashian.”  However, the situation becomes a bit more complicated because the trademarks sought are a surname–a situation where special rules apply.  So how can you apply for a trademark on your own name or the names of others?

Name Calling: Trademarking First and Last Names

In order for a person’s name to receive a trademark, it has to have already become so distinctive in the eyes of the public.  So much so that hearing the name makes the average person think of the products or services offered by the person who’s name they’ve heard.  This is often too high of a bar for the average Jane or Joe off the street.  However, it’s simple enough to achieve for celebrities.  Thus, it’s fairly common for celebrities and star athletes to trademark their own names along with their personal brands–just like the Kardashian’s did.  Lebron James, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the King himself–Elvis Presley–have all done so in the past. This means that you may not be able to file a trademark on your own name if you share it with another particularly famous person–a situation most would consider fairly odd–and in fact it may be unlikely that you could receive trademark protection on your own name even if you wanted to.  However, many a businessman has made their name so famous as to receive protection from a trademark.  Some surnames have become such famous trademarks that you barely even consider that they were once the names of an individual–McDonalds probably being the most famous example.

The restriction also makes sense when you think about it.  Trademark law is designed to protect the public from confusion as to the source of a good by providing a protected indicator of the source of a good.  If nobody knows who you are, then your name doesn’t serve as a particularly good indicator for the average member of the public.

Applying for such a mark also carries its own special set of requirements, apart from those described above and those required by any other trademark applications.  When attempting to trademark somebody else’s name–whether first name, last name, or even a well-known nickname–it is required that you receive their written consent so long as they are living.  Even if they are dead, there are a number of issues with using a person’s name if they were famous in life–an issue of state by state right of publicity law which is its own can of worms too complicated to address in this article.  When filing a trademark on your own name, your consent is simply presumed for obvious reasons.

On the flip side of this, just because somebody else is trying to trademark your name you will not necessarily be able to stop them just because it is your name.  Unless your name is well-known enough, as discussed above, and famous enough in the same field as the mark you are challenging you are unlikely to get much traction. 

Even Though It’s Over, This Could Be an Ongoing Problem

So, if Blac Chyna’s trademark were not being resolved in private by the Kardashian sisters and Ms. Renee, would she succeed against the might of the Kardashian mark?  It’s hard to say with so little information before us.  However, while she may have the Kardashian name eventually, she certainly did not have it at the time she applied for her mark.  What’s more, even if she obtained written consent from her fiancé Robert Kardashian, it is unlikely that the public at large associates her products with the Kardashian brand.  Thus, if the sisters don’t want Ms. Renee to use their name on her products, they likely could dash her hopes–barring her from using the family name in business. 

Can Too Much Caffeine Lead to a DUI?

Has it come to this?  At least 68 million Americans drink coffee every single day.  If those staggering numbers are any indication of the number of people that are consuming caffeine on a daily basis, consider the fact that that number is for coffee consumption and doesn’t even include soda.  Does that mean all of us consuming caffeine need to worry about getting a DUI?

A California man, Joseph Schwab, was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence back in 2015.  Schwab was given a breathalyzer test, which he passed with flying colors.  Although the breathalyzer showed 0.00% blood alcohol level, Schwab had his blood taken for a toxicology test after being taken to county jail.  Results, again, came back 100% in favor of Schwab.

Charges weren’t initially filed against Schwab, but ten months later misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug charges were filed.  A second set of test results sent from an outside testing facility showed caffeine was the sole substance in Schwab’s blood.

Chief Deputy District Attorney, Sharon Henry, for Solano County stated, “the charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system.”  Schwab’s attorney, Stacey Barrett, however, stated she was not provided with any evidence supporting a theory of any other substance within Schwab’s system.  Barrett subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Schwabb.

Can Caffeine Consumption Really Get You a DUI?

Maybe, but it’s probably not really very likely.  Under California law, a drug is any substance, illegal or legal, that isn’t alcohol that might “impair, to an appreciable degree” a driver’s capabilities behind the wheel to drive like a sober person.  Were you able to drive with caution?  Was your driving that of a sober person of ordinary prudence under similar circumstances?

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system, the heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure.  Theoretically, if enough caffeine is consumed, then it’s possible it could have effects that could impair a driver’s capabilities to drive safely.  Typically, though, side effects of consuming caffeine have much smaller effects such as stomach aches and insomnia.

How, Then, Can Schwab Be Charged?

According to the District Attorney’s office, the State decided to go ahead & charge Schwab because drug tests don’t catch every drug.  The State was convinced that because Schwab was driving so erratically, he must have been on something.  Remember, though, that since this was a criminal charge brought against Schwab, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was driving under the influence of drugs.

Even though caffeine is a substance that can affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles, all things that define a drug under the applicable law, a prosecutor would be hard-pressed to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the consumption of caffeine, alone, inhibited Schwab’s abilities to drive enough to pose any danger.  Observations of an arresting officer can be relied upon heavily, but it’s not necessarily enough.

Under California law, driving erratically isn’t necessarily conclusive enough to prove driving under the influence—it’s only a factor a jury can take into consideration.  An arresting officer can testify to 1) the unsafe manner in which you drove, 2) your physical appearance, and 3) your performance on a field sobriety test.  According to the officer, Schwab cut her off and was driving erratically.  In Schwab’s case, this would have been the only evidence, at least that’s been made public, that the State had to go on since blood tests came back negative.

These are the likely reasons the District Attorney’s office conceded and just filed their own motion to dismiss the charges against Schwab, despite the fact they claimed forensic lab experts stated it was “highly likely the defendant was under the influence of a drug.”