April 9, 2014

Is There an Increased Risk of Type II Diabetes For Mississippi Consumers of Lipitor?

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.51.13 AM.pngStudies have uncovered a connection between Lipitor and Type 2 diabetes. Lipitor is a member of a class of drugs that is called "statins." These drugs prevent the liver from creating an enzyme that helps the body produce cholesterol. Patients are put on this drug to combat the levels of what's known as "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol).

How does Type 2 diabetes develop? Food is broken into sugars in the body. The resulting glucose goes through the blood stream. In healthy patients, the pancreas releases insulin in order to reduce blood sugar levels. This allows glucose to enter the body's cells to give them energy. In Type 2 diabetes, insulin is not used efficiently or is not produced. Glucose builds in the blood spiking the sugar levels. This can lead to organ damage and heart attack and the need for limb amputation. In fact, diabetes can get worse and worse over time.

Although statins are prescribed in order to prevent adverse cardiovascular events, diabetes actually increases the risk of these problems. Diabetic adults are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease or stroke than other adults are.

Continue reading "Is There an Increased Risk of Type II Diabetes For Mississippi Consumers of Lipitor?" »

April 5, 2014

Talcum Powder Has the Potential to Harm Mississippi Women

beauty-10-904151-m.jpgOvarian cancer is a serious, potentially fatal illness. Around 40% of women in America are estimated to use talcum powder for intimate personal hygiene. Several studies have shown a link between the risk of ovarian cancer and talcum powder. A recent meta-analysis combining eight separate studies showed that women who regularly used talcum powder for freshness raised their risk of ovarian cancer.

In the meta-analysis, researchers analyzed data from 8525 women who received an ovarian cancer diagnosis and 9800 women without cancer. They compared talcum use in the two groups and found that regularly using talcum on intimate parts after taking a bath or shower increased the risk of an ovarian tumor by 24%. Using talcum on other parts of the body isn't associated with ovarian cancer.

How does talcum powder cause tumors? It is believed that tiny talcum particles move through the genital tract into a woman's body and cause inflammation. Particles have been found inside the pelvis--they can stay there for years. One particle of talc in the lungs can take 8 years to fully dissolve. This allows cancer to grow. Some experts believe that talcum powder has chemical similarities to asbestos, which is known to cause mesothelioma, a virulent type of lung cancer. The risks are higher for women that carry a gene called glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1), who do not have a gene called glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1).

Continue reading "Talcum Powder Has the Potential to Harm Mississippi Women " »

April 5, 2014

Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

rural-self-portrait-1363174-m-2.jpgOver 5 million prescriptions for testosterone gel or cream were written for men in America in 2011. This prescription has been used for years in Mississippi and other states to treat the age-related decline of healthy older men. However, more recently, doctors have been prescribing testosterone therapy to younger men at higher rates and men in general without measuring their hormones first.

One explanation for the rise in prescriptions is the amount of direct marketing that the makers of testosterone replacement therapy do. Some men get prescription testosterone after seeing an ad and asking their doctors to prescribe it for them. In the past, doctors would only prescribe testosterone to men for whom it was clear indicated.

Marketing given directly to the consumer suggests that this therapy can help men feel more energetic and sexually functional--but they do not mention the full costs of using this prescription. A man who is tested and has lower-than-normal testosterone levels may be prescribed a gel or cream or an injection. Unfortunately, he can end of up on supplements indefinitely because of how the hormone works.

Continue reading "Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy " »

April 2, 2014

Posting Our Privacy Away

One of my favorite websites to waste time on is Buzzfeed, a "social news and entertainment company." I would estimate that 80% of the site's content is silly nonsense, but that doesn't keep me from checking it every day. The other 20% of the site is real news; the journalists on the site break news, cover ongoing items of interest, and engage in original reporting, all through its websites and social media personas, especially Twitter. A few weeks ago, I noticed that a few of the Buzzfeed staff members I follow on Twitter were commenting on an internet "thread" that started on one person's Twitter feed. I started following the story, which was compelling, but after a while, I went to bed. You can find coverage of that story here.

Apparently overnight, a social media outrage had erupted over a story Buzzfeed had posted about the Twitter "conversation." The Twitter-er who originally posed the question and started the conversation was outraged that Buzzfeed had posted her tweets without permission. The Buzzfeed journalist stated that she had permission from the authors of the other Tweets used in her story. And so began a discussion in social media circles, journalism schools, and just the internet in general over what is public and what is private when it comes to social media.
At this point, you might be wondering what this hullabaloo has to do with a blog post on the website of a criminal defense and personal injury attorney. Twitter, or social media sites in general, are the key issue here. The debate surrounding the Buzzfeed article centered on a general misunderstanding of the nature of social media sites: what you post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr or your own, personal blog is public information. The Library of Congress even logs and archives all unprotected tweets in order to "collect the story of America and to acquire collections that will have research value." Unless you've taken deliberate steps to protect it through the privacy features on your page, anyone can view what you've posted. Just because you don't "follow" a particular user on Twitter doesn't mean that you can't see their thoughts on the latest episode of Scandal. If they post it, it's out there.

You still might wonder what this has to do with the practice of law. Aside from wanting to inform readers of the fact that anything they put online is considered public, we also want to inform you of the consequences of not thinking before you post. While you might think it's obvious that posting photos of illegal substances, firearms, or even stolen goods could lead to trouble, apparently it isn't obvious to everyone. A Florida Instagram user found himself charged with 142 felonies after law enforcement noticed the pictures he posted on his Instagram account. His photos included pictures of guns, large amounts of cash, and drugs. Upon seeing the photo of the guns, law enforcement began investigating his home, where they found stolen jewelry, electronics, and even the guns in the photos -- which were also stolen property.

This story about a daughter's violation of a confidentiality agreement cost her father an $80,000.00 settlement. Essentially, as part of his settlement with Gulliver Prepatory School over a discrimination suit, Patrick Snay agreed not to speak about the settlement with anyone other than his wife and his attorneys. However, soon after settlement, his daughter posted a status on her Facebook page: "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is not officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT." With over 1,200 Facebook "friends," it's not surprising that the school caught wind of her proclamation. Shortly afterwards, Snay received a notice that he had broken the agreement and would be receiving no settlement. The Third District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida agreed with the school, and thanks to his daughter's post, Snay received no part of the settlement funds.

Although it should be apparent that posting photographs of your misdeeds could lead to trouble, the Facebook-brag example is a prime example of the dangers involved when posting every thought and emotion you have to social media. In its ruling, the Third District Court of Appeals in Florida found that two violations of the settlement agreement had occurred: one, when Snay's daughter bragged about the settlement on Facebook, and the other when Snay himself disclosed the settlement to his daughter, which he said he had done verbally. Potentially the only reason the Snays aren't enjoying a trip to Europe on the school's dime is because of the daughter's post. It's possible and even likely that no one would have found out about Snay's disclosure to his daughter if she hadn't posted it on Facebook.

Therein lies the danger of social media (and even, to a greater degree, text messaging). If I say something to you while you're sitting across from me at lunch, I say it, you hear it, and we might remember it, but that's it. The only way it can come back is if you or I talk about it and remember it correctly. If I tell you the same thing, but over a Facebook message, it's preserved. For who knows how long. And if what I said matters in a legal proceeding, you can bet a subpoena will be served on Facebook, compelling them to release our conversation. And unlike an oral statement, a Facebook message won't fade with time or memory.

To that end, we have recently added language to our contracts advising clients of the dangers of social media use as it pertains to representation. While verbal information can pose a threat to litigation or attorney-client privilege, the vast reaches of the World Wide Web are creating a new and unique challenges to the practice of law. At Coxwell and Associates, we stay on top of these challenges and situations and are equipped to handle any potential problem you might find yourself facing.

March 26, 2014

Will I be able to buy a car after filing bankruptcy?

carbuying_1231311_600.jpgOne of the most common questions I'm asked by my clients is if and when they will be able to buy a new vehicle after they file bankruptcy. Most believe that they will never be able to buy a car again or that they will have to wait for 10 years to get a new car. Not true at all. You can get a new car and it won't take you 10 years.
It is true that many lenders may not want to finance a car for you right away, or if they do, you can bet the interest rates will be sky high. But within a year or so, the credit lenders will be filling your mailbox with offers for credit cards, loans, and solicitations from mortgage companies and car dealers.
Automotive financing companies look at 3 things when you want to buy a new or used vehicle. They look at your FICO score, your income, and your down payment.
Your FICO score will rise quickly during the year or so after bankruptcy due to no more past due accounts or late payment activity.
As to your income, lenders want to make sure you have enough money left over after your other bills to pay the car note, plain and simple.
How much money (cash and/or trade in) are you willing to put down on the new vehicle? The more money you put down, the less your credit score or the fact that you filed bankruptcy even matters. There should also be dealer money available to add to your down payment.
Don't forget about other methods of buying a vehicle without going through a finance lender, such as buying a car from a family member or friend, or paying cash.
So if you want to get a new vehicle, the bankruptcy is NOT going to prevent you from getting one.

March 25, 2014

Will I be able to buy a house after filing bankruptcy?

buying-new-home.jpgMany of my clients want to know if they will ever be able to buy a house after they file bankruptcy. Or they think they will have to wait 10 years. Yes, you can buy a house and no, it won't take you 10 years.
Yes, it is true that lenders may not want to loan you money right away. But within a year or so the credit companies are filling your mailbox with credit card offers, along with solicitations from finance and car loan companies.
Mortgage companies look at 3 things when you decide to buy a house. Your FICO score, your current income, and your down payment.
With no more late payments and past due accounts, your FICO score will come back up pretty quickly over the next year or so after bankruptcy.
As to your current income, they will want to know a few things. Do you have enough money to make the mortgage payments along with your other living expenses? Did you pay your rent on time? This is important to mortgage lenders. If you paid your rent on time, you will more than likely pay your house note on time.
How much money are you willing to put down on the house? The more money you put down, the less anyone cares about your former credit score or the fact that you filed bankruptcy.
Don't forget about other methods of buying a home without using a traditional mortgage lender, such as owner financing, wrap around mortgages, and lease purchase options.
So, if you want to get a house, you can. You may need to wait a couple of years, but it is not something you want to jump right into anyway. Owning a house is not always the best thing for you at every stage of your life. Owning a house ties you down and carries a lot of extra expenses. But rest assured, if you want a house, filing bankruptcy won't prevent you from getting one.

March 25, 2014

What have you heard about bankruptcy?

Contacting a bankruptcy lawyer is something people never want to think about. The hardest thing I have to do is to convince people to come and see me sooner rather than later. People will do everything they can to keep from discussing bankruptcy. As a result, there are many lies and half-truths about bankruptcy floating around. Debt collectors also spread these lies hoping that people will believe them. Your friends and family may also repeat some of this false information unknowingly because it is what they have been told to believe. Stop listening to other people. You can never be sure if they know what they are talking about and are in most cases wrong, even if they have filed bankruptcy before.
See if you recognize these top lies and myths about bankruptcy:

  • The law did away with bankruptcy in 2005. Wrong.

  • Everyone will find out that you filed bankruptcy. Wrong.

  • If you file bankruptcy, you will lose all your stuff. Wrong.

  • You will never be able to have anything or be able to get credit again. All Wrong.

  • You can't get credit for 7 years or 10 years. Both Wrong.

  • You and your spouse must file bankruptcy together. Wrong.

  • It's hard to file and it's expensive to file bankruptcy. Both Wrong.

  • You are a bad person or a deadbeat if you file bankruptcy. Absolutely Wrong.

  • Debt collectors will still call you and harass you. Wrong.

  • You can't file on back taxes in bankruptcy. Wrong.

  • You can only file bankruptcy one time. Wrong.

  • Bankruptcy can't help with student loans. Wrong.

  • You can't file bankruptcy if you owe too much money. Wrong.

  • You can't file bankruptcy if you owe too little money. Wrong.

  • You can't file bankruptcy if you have a job. Wrong.

  • You can't file bankruptcy if you do not have a job. Wrong.

Have you heard any other information about bankruptcy that you are not sure about? Or would you like to know the correct answer to any of the questions above? Call me and I will be happy answer any of your questions and to share with you the truth about bankruptcy law.

March 3, 2014

Would Mississippi Citizens Surrender Their Right to Own a Gun?

6a00d83451b7a769e201901cec9778970b.jpgWhat would you do if you went to buy a car and while you were signing the paperwork there was a contract provision that said you had to give up your 2nd Amendment right to own a gun in order to purchase the car? I know that each and every one of my "gun totin" friends would've had some very choice words to say to the salesman regarding the contract and in which body part it could go.

What if your credit card company said you had to give up your right to vote in the next election just for using their credit card? Would you give up your freedom of speech to have a new pool installed at your house? Would you agree to give up your freedom of religion so your mother could go to a nursing home? Of course you wouldn't and you would be appalled if someone asked you to surrender any one of these rights. But every United States citizen gives up a sacred Constitutional right all the time and most don't even know that they do it. We give up our right to a jury trial.

The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves our right to a jury trial.It reads as follows: "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law." The Mississippi Constitution has a similar provision which is located in Article III Section 32: "The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, but the legislature may, by enactment, provide that in all civil suits tried in the circuit and chancery court, nine or more jurors may agree on the verdict and return it as the verdict of the jury."

Despite both the Federal and State Constitutions guaranteeing our right to a jury trial, Big Business, medical providers, and Insurance Companies routinely include an "arbitration agreement" in contracts we sign. An arbitration agreement is a provision in which two parties to a contract agree to waive the right to have any dispute heard by a jury. Instead, the parties agree to allow an arbitrator to hear the dispute and decide what should be done. Arbitration agreements work great for business disputes between two companies. The agreements are usually negotiated by attorneys and the terms are spelled out completely. Both parties understand and consent to the arbitration.

However, such is not the case in an arbitration clause between a business and a consumer. When you buy a vehicle, the company has a pre-printed arbitration clause included in the contract. You have no power to alter the terms. You are required to accept the clause "as is". If you don't agree to sign the contract then the car dealership will not sell you the car. These type of contracts are called "contracts of adhesion". Contracts of adhesion is a contract written by a party who has all the bargaining power and writes a contract which is primarily to their advantage. These type of contracts are legal.

I have refused to sign any arbitration agreements when I purchase a car. When I am presented with one I simply state that I will not agree to give up my right to a jury trial. Each and every time I've done that with a car dealership they eventually fold an allow me to mark through the arbitration agreement.

We recently had some word done at our house. One of the contractors wanted us to sign his contract which included an arbitration clause. I advised him that I would not sign it. He checked with his company to see if they would agree to take it out and the company would not. I simply chose another company.

So why do companies include arbitration clauses in consumer related contracts? To be blunt they want to take away your right to sue them if they do something wrong. You should be aware that in most cases the company retains the right to sue YOU in court should you do something wrong. For instance, if your mortgage includes an arbitration clause take a look at it. If you are late on your payments your mortgage company can sue you in court to recover those payments. They will not have to go through arbitration. However, if you wish to sue your mortgage company you will have to go through the arbitration process.

So what is arbitration? I actually had to arbitrate two mortgage fraud cases about 10 years ago. The mortgage company included an arbitration agreement and my clients signed it. They had no clue what it meant. The mortgage company chose to use the rules of the American Arbitration Association. First, you have to pay a filing fee. The minimum fee is $775 for claims between $0 and $10,000. The filing fee raises incrementally thereafter. If your claim is worth between $75,000 and $150,000 the filing fee is nearly $2,000! Keep in mind that it costs around $120 to file a lawsuit in State Court.

After your claim is filed you have to chose an "arbitrator" from a list. The arbitrator will act as your judge and jury. He will charge for his time, usually around $300 an hour. You will also have to pay the arbitrator's expenses (hotel, food, etc.) The arbitrator's fees and expenses are customarily split by the parties. For a typical 3 day arbitration, the arbitrator's fees and expenses could easily exceed $10,000.

You are allowed to conduct discovery during an arbitration hearing. This means your can take depositions, get documents from the opposing party, etc. Any disputes are ruled on by the Arbitrator (and remember he is charging you for his time).

Arbitration hearings are conducted just like trials. Our hearing was conducted in a conference room. We had to pay for a court reporter (another expense). We were able to compel witnesses to attend via subpoenas. I think our hearing lasted close to five (5) days. At the end of the hearing, the Arbitrator asked us to write a brief summarizing our positions and submit them to him. The Arbitrator subsequently issued his opinion and found that our clients were entitled to $71,476 and $61,364.00 respectively. These amounts were reduced by 30% to make up for the Plaintiffs' failure to read the loan documents before signing them. The Arbitrator also awarded us attorneys fees in the amount of $35,000 and $8,500 in costs and fees because of the mortgage company's fraudulent actions. You can read the opinion arbitration.pdf

Continue reading "Would Mississippi Citizens Surrender Their Right to Own a Gun?" »

February 20, 2014

Recent Mississippi Personal Injury Settlements

court.jpgAt Coxwell & Associates we have developed a reputation for helping people who have been accused of crimes. However, we have also been able to help hundreds of citizens who have been injured by the negligent actions of individuals or businesses. From car accidents to dangerous drugs, Coxwell & Associates has been vigilant in helping folks recover money damages for their injuries.

One such case I recently settled involved DeAngelo Wilkerson and the notorious Remington Hunt Club located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I have blogged previously about Martez Smith who was shot and paralyzed at this club. DeAngelo was injured at the Remington Hunt Club two years after Martez was shot. Apparently, the owners of the Remington Hunt Club did not improve their security measures after Martez's shooting.

DeAngelo had been a customer at the Remington Hunt Club and was leaving. As he was driving in the parking lot he was rear ended by another customer. DeAngelo got out of the vehicle to check out the damage and exchange information with the other driver. When he approached the other driver's car, the driver backed up abruptly knocking DeAngelo down. The car ran over DeAngelo's lower body. Then the driver drove forward, running over DeAngelo for a second time.

The driver was detained and an ambulance was called for DeAngelo. Toxicology tests showed that the other driver had been drinking. He was eventually arrested. DeAngelo suffered serious permanent injuries as a result of the other driver's actions.

We got involved in the case and filed suit alleging the club "over served" the driver among other claims. We obtained a trial date and began litigation. Remington Hunt Club's lawyers mounted a very vigorous defense but the club's history was simply too hard to ignore. We began settlement negotiations and eventually obtained a fair settlement for DeAngelo. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

We also were able to settle two private prison cases recently. The prisons were both operated by GEO, the second largest private prison company in the world. Both clients were brutally raped and assaulted on two different occasions and in two very different ways. Our first client was jumped on by 5 other prisoners and held in a room where he was brutalized. His attackers snorted cocaine during the assault. Surveillance video showed that there were no guards at all in the area. His attacker was indicted for the rape and is awaiting trial.

The second client was bound and gagged by his cellmate while he slept. He woke up tied to his bed. He was kept this way for nearly 24 hours. The guards never came and checked on the cells as required. His cellmate brutally raped and beat him repeatedly. The psycho even recorded a portion of the event on a cell phone. Due to faulty locks on the prison doors, our client's attacker was able to come and go as he pleased throughout the night. Our client was able to obtain physical evidence (including the cell phone) and escape the cell while his attacker had left the cell. The physical evidence supported his rape claim and his cellmate was indicted for the attack.

Both suits were filed in Federal Court. Despite being represented by fine attorneys, GEO quickly recognized that the cases were very strong. We were able to settle these cases in mediation. Both clients were pleased with the results but will remain scarred for the rest of their lives. Again, the terms of both settlements are confidential.

Continue reading "Recent Mississippi Personal Injury Settlements" »

February 20, 2014

Need some help with a criminal case in Mississippi?

crime.jpgIf you are a frequent reader of my blogs (which I highly doubt you are) you will know that my law partner and mentor, Merrida Coxwell (nee "Buddy") is always urging me to blog about the cases I am fortunate enough to win. His theory is that people will see that we help people and more people will want to come and see us at Coxwell & Associates. Now this is a sound theory. What better way to market your skills than to let prospective clients know about your victories? Now Merrida is a marketing guru and he is the firm's Rainmaker. (For what it's worth, "The Rainmaker" was the best movie adaptation of all of John Grisham's books. If you haven't seen it I strongly suggest you watch it. But I digress.) My problem is I view posting such things as "bragging" and for all of my many shortcomings, I hate to brag. However, I do recognize that the legal field is a service industry and we have to let the public know what we do. So with that being said please allow me to tell you about one of my recent cases.

I had a client, we'll call him "Bobby" in order to protect his name. Bobby is a fine young man who is an artist at painting cars. You can see his artwork displayed all over Jackson. Well, Bobby found himself in a pickle and one of my former clients suggested that he come see me.

Bobby had just been arrested for murder. The facts showed that Bobby was going over to an apartment to get his hair cut. However, when he stepped into the apartment he was ambushed by several other men. It was a classic setup. Bobbyy was shot in the stomach during the fight. One of the other men who had been waiting to jump him was killed. Bobby was able to escape from the apartment and run down the street. Two men chased after him and fired at him and with automatic weapons. Bobby's friend came out to help him and was shot and killed. Before Bobby passed out, he was able to call 911 and report the incident. Bobby was taken to the hospital where the doctors worked frantically to save his life. They were not able to take the bullet out however.

Jackson Police detectives did a really good job of investigating the scene. They secured all the shells and projectiles and found one handgun left on scene. One detective wisely swabbed this weapon for possible DNA which came into play later. The witnesses who were interviewed gave inconsistent versions of what transpired; some flat out lied. The witnesses all stated that Bobby had been the aggressor and that he killed their friend.

Once Bobby was indicted I was able to obtain the police reports and the 911 call. Right away you could tell that the physical evidence did not match up with what the witnesses were saying. Bobby submitted to a DNA analysis and his DNA was not on the weapon which was found at the crime scene. The weapon was the one which was used to shoot Bobby. Further, the physical evidence showed that Bobby was shot at over 20 times by the men who were in the apartment.

The Hinds County District Attorney's office was also skeptical. They took a very hard look at the evidence as well and concluded that Bobby was actually a victim. Two of the men in the apartment were indicted for aggravated assault and the murder of Bobby's friend. The eyewitnesses recanted their statements. Bobby's charges were eventually dismissed.

Bobby's case was a classic example of being betrayed by people he thought were his friends. It's a good thing that Bobby was fortunate enough to have good lawyers working for him and also that the prosecutors kept an open mind.

Continue reading "Need some help with a criminal case in Mississippi? " »

February 11, 2014

Will filing bankruptcy affect my checking and savings accounts?

checkbook.jpgYou will need to think About Your Checking and Savings Account. Financial planning before you file bankruptcy may include closing your bank accounts and moving your money to a different bank or credit union.
There are many reasons to change banks or credit unions:
First of all, you don't want to keep your money at a bank where you owe money. You want to avoid a "set off". Banks have the right to reach into your account and take money out to pay some other debt you may owe them - like credit cards, overdrafts and loans. It is not uncommon for a bank to claim money from your bank account and apply it as a "set off" against other money you owe.
Second, banks like Wells Fargo will freeze any accounts that have your name on them once you file bankruptcy. In theory, the banks say they are protecting assets for the bankruptcy court. The reality is, this type of bank policy creates a huge inconvenience for customers and does little to preserve any assets. The bankruptcy court did not ask the banks to do this and doesn't want them doing this. If you are considering bankruptcy, avoid banking with Wells Fargo, Wachovia, Bank of America, Union Bank and any financial institution which freeze accounts.
If your account if not at one of the banks that freeze accounts, you will need to stop all automatic withdrawals. You may have set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account to pay medical or credit card bills that will be debts which are eliminated through filing bankruptcy. Even telling your bank to stop the draft or paying the stop payment fees is no guarantee that withdrawals will stop. It is so much easier just to close the account than to try and get money back from a creditor. In many cases you can close one account and open another one at the same bank, if you are satisfied with the bank's service and you don't owe the bank any money.
There are many other reasons as well that can pertain to your specific situation, which underscores the importance once again of speaking with a bankruptcy attorney to create a strategy that best meets your financial situation.

January 30, 2014

Coxwell & Associates Investigation Claims against the Drug Abilify.

images (1).jpgThe attorneys at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC are currently investigating and accepting claims for young people who were prescribed the antipsychotic drug Abilify (aripiprazole). Abilify was developed by a Japenese pharmaceutical company and is marketed in the United States by Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
Abilify was originally prescribed for treatment of schizophrenia but since 2002 it has been approved for bipolar conditions, depression, irritability from autism, and adolescent bipolar and schizophrenia. Major information came forward on this drug in 2007 when Bristol-Myers Squibb paid over $525 million to settle a case brought by the Department of Justice charging that the Drug Company illegally marketed Abilify to children and geriatric patients.

Continue reading "Coxwell & Associates Investigation Claims against the Drug Abilify. " »

January 30, 2014

One for the Road?

I've recently had several people call in about getting ticketed for having an open container of alcohol, usually in conjunction with being arrested for DUI. Many of these callers have all said the same thing: "But my friend told me there were no such things as open container laws in Mississippi! They can't arrest me for that!" In doing some research for this post, I also found this article on Huffington Post, which may be where my potential client's "friend" got his information. And while I still caution you on using any legal advice or information given to you by your friend--unless, of course, your friend is a lawyer--in the case of open container laws in Mississippi, he might be right.

Now before you start erecting a drive-thru daiquiri stand or open a bottle of your nicest cabernet sauvignon for the drive home, pay attention: although there is no statewide prohibition against having an open container in a car or on a street corner, most counties and cities do prohibit open containers. If you are caught with an open container in these places, you can get be ticketed for it, even though there is no statewide prohibition against it. Not only do most cities and counties prohibit open containers in vehicles, but there are 34 counties in Mississippi that are completely dry when it comes to hard liquor and 36 counties that are dry when it comes to beer and light wine. If you are driving through one of these "dry" counties with alcohol in your vehicle, whether or not it's in an opened container, you could face penalties for mere possession of these intoxicating substances.

But let's say you are lucky enough to be enjoying a drink while driving in a location without open container laws. Are you completely safe? Probably not. It's legal to have a drink while driving, but only if your blood alcohol content stays below the legal limit. What's more, if a law enforcement officer sees the Bud Light can you're sipping from, he then has probable cause to pull you over and inquire about your alcohol consumption. (Mayo v. State, 843 So.2d 739). Which, as we all know, can then lead to a number of problems.

Open container laws or not, always have a designated driver if you have been drinking. Sobriety is the only sure-fire way to "beat" a DUI charge. However, if you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, remain calm and polite when interacting with the officer. Everything you do and say will be recorded or written in a later report. Decline to take the portable breath test, the field sobriety tests, and the Breathalyzer test if you are arrested. For more information on DUI Do's and Don't's, see Merrida's post here.

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been charged with open container, DUI, or any other criminal offense, please call the attorneys at Coxwell & Associates so that we may discuss your options. Our lawyers have more than 30 years' experience in dealing with serious criminal matters, and we use our time, energy, and intelligence to help those facing a daunting legal system.

January 16, 2014

Should Parents in Mississippi Worry about Coaches Suing for Personal Injury?

011614_edge_lawsuit_640.jpgI had to read this article twice before I believed it. A youth sports coach in California has filed a personal injury lawsuit against his former 14 year old player. The young player scored the game winning run and tossed his helmet in the air in jubilation. The helmet then hit the coach. a chiropractor by profession, in the foot rupturing his Achilles tendon. The lawsuit seeks $500,000 in damages including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

For the last 20 years I have represented people who have been injured in accidents. Our firm fights hard so that our clients can recover what they have lost. There is a stigma for those who file a lawsuit seeking money damages. People accuse them of trying to get "jackpot justice". They see Plaintiff's lawyers as "ambulance chasers". It is very difficult to overcome these biases. Big business and Insurance companies have worked very hard to prejudice the public against personal injury cases.

I have asked clients who are paralyzed or who have lost loved ones what they hope to receive from a lawsuit. The vast majority of my clients have the same response: I want my life restored to what it was before the accident. However, the civil justice system is not set up for that purpose. All we can request is money damages.

Cases like this one where a coach sues his former player make my job that much harder. Even I hate lawsuits like this. I cannot for the life of me see how an attorney can file suit and allege negligence in this case. All these cases do is make it harder for people with legitimate personal injury cases to get what they deserve. The Insurance companies will have a field day with this in the media. You can't buy this kind of publicity and we'll hear more cries for so-called "tort reform". I have blogged on so-called "tort reform" here and here.. Suffice it to say all tort "reform" does is hurt people who have legitimate cases. Every state has laws and rules which protect people from frivolous lawsuits.

I have been coaching youth sports in the Madison and Ridgeland area since 2008. I have been hit by baseballs, basketballs, footballs, bats, soccer balls and several angry moms. Not once I have I ever considered filing a suit. Heck, most of the times the kids just laughed at me. I would have to say I just "assumed the risk" that injuries and youth sports would go hand and hand. I'm reminded of the scene from the original "Bad News Bears" when Englebert throws a baseball which shatters Buttermaker's car windshield. When Buttermaker suggests that Englebert's father should pay Englebert "bull$hit!". Indeed Englebert, indeed.

Continue reading "Should Parents in Mississippi Worry about Coaches Suing for Personal Injury?" »

January 13, 2014

Famous Jameis Winston: Is he a Victim of a Convict Quick Society?

prosecutors-were-telling-jokes-and-giggling-at-the-jameis-winston-sexual-assault-press-conference.jpgFor the uninformed, Jameis Winston is the star quarterback for Florida State who just led his team to the BCS Championship last week. Winston also became just the second freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Alas, Winston is not the first star athlete to become embroiled in a sexual assault scandal.

According to the police reports, a young lady claimed that Winston raped her in December 2012. The unnamed victim reported the crime to the Tallahassee Police Department right after it happened but did not identify Winston as the accused until a month later. Police interviewed several witnesses, two of whom were Winston's teammates. The two teammates accidentally walked in on the pair engaged in what was described as consensual coitus. The teammates were asked by police if the girl acted as if the coitus was forced and they said "no, she told us to get out." Several eyewitnesses told police they observed Winston take the female home afterwards.

The Florida State Attorney decided it did not have enough evidence to file charges against Winston. The victim and her family expressed outrage through their attorney, Patricia Carroll. Carroll has announced plans to sue Winston, the Tallahassee Police Department and FSU.

I have to be honest. Even though I have been a criminal defense lawyer for almost 20 years I immediately think someone is guilty when I see a story like this. I guess it's just human nature. But then you get the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey was fond of saying. Winston's teammates observed consensual sex. Other eyewitnesses saw Winston taking the victim home afterwards and there were no apparent problems. But the biggest problem I had is why did it take the victim almost a month to identify Winston as the alleged rapist?

When I see "gaps" like these it takes me immediately to the Duke Lacrosse story in which an African American woman from Durham, North Carolina accused several white lacrosse players from privileged Duke of brutally raping her. The Duke players hired the "victim" and another woman as strippers to perform at their fraternity house. The "victim" alleged that she was not only raped but subjected to racial slurs. The media convicted the Duke players almost immediately. The local district attorney also was quick to believe her despite the lack of evidence and the her shady past. Indictments quickly followed.

The Duke players, however, were able to hire some pretty good lawyers and they dismantled the case. The DA was eventually disbarred. The "victim" was later convicted of numerous crimes, including most recently killing her boyfriend. This entire situation would not have happened had the DA simply looked at the evidence objectively. The witness statement of the second stripper discredited the "victim". The DNA evidence did no corroborate her story either. She had also falsely claimed she was raped before. There is no doubt that the Florida State Attorney had the Duke case on his mind when considering the case against Winston.

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