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MODESETT WILLIAMS PLLC

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AUSTIN, TX 78701

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OUR LATEST News AND Updates

 

what's happening in our world

Medical Errors Now 3rd Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Modesett Williams - Friday, May 13, 2016

CBS News has also reported on the study from scientists at Johns Hopkins, saying that, "Medical errors, including wrong diagnoses, botched surgeries and medication mistakes, are the third leading cause of death in the United States..."


Continue reading here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/medical-errors-now-3rd-leading-cause-of-death-in-u-s-study-suggests/

Deposition Preparation - "The" Question

Modesett Williams - Monday, November 02, 2015

Years ago, we represented a landlord that had built a 40,000 addition to its downtown office building especially for a single tenant, who had signed a 10 year lease. The tenant never occupied the space and then claimed the entity signing the lease had no assets. Collecting on any judgment depended on piercing the corporate veil to get to the well-financed parent company. When it came time to take the CEO's deposition, we spent a lot of time thinking of "the" question to help our piercing claim. The question needed to be one where the answer didn't matter. The answer either made our point or would be shown to be a fabrication. The question: "Who do you work for?" The answer: "I don't know. There's not a simple answer." Remarkably, at trial, he still did not know! We spoke to our juror after a favorable verdict, who said, "They should have funded their shell companies."


Our take-away: Establishing important facts indirectly through an apex deposition can have a game-changing effect.

Consumers Know Best

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The federal government recently revised its nursing home ranking system to offer fairer nursing home quality evaluations for families to consider (see http://www.modwill.com/blog/1-3-of-nursing-home-industry-rocked-by-scoring-system-reform for more details). However, it has been argued by many that the new system, while improved, is not comprehensive enough. Specifically, individuals are calling for consumer input in nursing home ratings. 

 

Nursing home placement decisions are significant choices for families, and who better to rate a nursing home than the residents themselves? Currently, consumer reviews for nursing homes are available, but their validity is questionable at best. The reviews are offered on bias, un-monitored sites that anyone can post on. Nursing homes have long had a reputation for mistreat and abuse, and thus, the available consumer reviews could be forged attempts to alleviate the bad reputation they hold. 

 

John Hale, an author for the Des Moines Register, offered a convincing solution: making consumer surveys mandatory and administered through objective third parties, such as the federal government. Mr. Hale argues that with this strategy, families could make nursing home placement decisions more confidently. 

 

 

To read the full article, visit: www.desmoineregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2015/03/31/nursing-home-compare-consumer-input/70717818/

Invasion of Privacy?

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The use of cameras in nursing homes has been a widely-debated topic since Texas became the first state to legally support it in 2001. Many states have followed Texas' lead, while others have been more hesitant to do so. The main issue of concern is privacy, both that of the residents and that of the support staff. 

 

An article posted in Citizen's Voice offered the following story as a depiction of privacy issues associated with cameras in nursing homes. Last fall, a man named Stuart Sanderson lost his ability to speak and could only communicate with his family by means of lip-reading. A camera was placed in Mr. Sanderson's room so that he could speak to his family more often, and thus, enhance his quality of life. Mr. Sanderson had lived in the same nursing home for years, but the home's staff perceived the camera as a threat and removed it from his room. The staff instructed Mr. Sanderson to write a note defending his camera use, which his family argued was a "cruel hurdle for a man with limited mobility who selects each letter by pushing the back of his head against a switch". The note that Mr. Sanderson wrote exclaimed that he was note spying on anyone, and that the camera was just a means of communicating with his family.

 

The previous story illustrates a clear concern of nursing home staff: they do not want to be spied on. Proponents of camera use, however, claim that there should be nothing to hide. If nursing home employees are acting appropriately and within the scope of their authority, a camera could not capture anything detrimental to the staff. Issues of privacy are also a measure of concern for the nursing home residents themselves, particularly in shared-rooms. Consent and proper awareness will be the key issues here. Fair standards need to be implemented so that privacy is protected and abuse depressed.

 

 

The full article can be read here: www.citizensvoice.com/news/do-nursing-home-cameras-protect-or-intrude-1.1855568

Nursing Home Deaths Improperly Reported

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This past Saturday, an elderly woman was found dead at the bottom of a staircase while still strapped into her wheelchair at a nursing home in Illinois. The nurse who found her failed to contact the authorities to report her death. The woman claimed that she did not call the police because she was afraid of loosing her job. Belleville Nursing Home, the location of this occurrence, maintains a one-star rating by Medicare, a nursing home ranking system managed by the federal government. It is also worth mentioning that the woman who owns the Belleville Nursing Home also owns 10 other nursing homes with 1 star ratings.


Atypical nursing home deaths like these often go improperly reported. Take, for example, the case of an elderly man named Mister Giles. Mr. Giles wandered off from his nursing home and was found frozen to death in a nearby creek. The staff of the nursing home in which he was residing neglected to inform the authorities of Mr. Giles' disappearance in a timely manner. Tragic incidences like these occur far too often. Proper reporting methods for nursing home deaths need to be created and enforced in order to minimize tragedy.


The following is a link to the full report: www.bnd.com/2015/03/21/3724900_owner-operates-11-nursing-homes.html?rh=1

A Threatening Trend: Inexperienced Trial Lawyers

Modesett Williams - Thursday, March 12, 2015

An article titled “Honesty is the Best Policy: It’s Time to Disclose Lack of Jury Trial Experience” was posted in the March 2015 edition of the Texas Bar Journal and discusses a threatening trend in today’s legal world: a lack of experience in trial. Modern lawyers lack the jury-trial experience that more “traditional” lawyers have gained throughout their years. There is a distinction to be made between the terminology “litigator” and “trail lawyer”. According the Kimberlee Kovach, a professor at South Texas College of Law, a litigator in “an attorney who tries cases in court”, while a trial lawyer is simply one who resolves disputes outside of a jury trial. It is important to note that the number of cases resolved outside of trial is increasing, and thus many modern attorneys lack trial experience. Consider the following statistics as an example of this new trend:

·         Within 5 years of litigation experience, 30% of attorneys had tried a case in court, and only 8% had tried more than two cases in court

·         Of these individuals, 93% had settled at least one case through mediation or negotiation

·         Within 10 years of litigation experience, 30% of attorneys had never tried a case in court, and only 36% had tried more than two cases in court

 

These statistics confirm that there are many lawyers who lack proper knowledge of the trial process and court system. This inexperience poses potential harm to clients that hire these individuals. Examples of the negative effects associated with this lack of knowledge is discussed below.

Trial inexperience conversely effects an attorney’s decisions on how to handle a client’s situation. Without experience, a lawyer cannot adequately consider the benefits of trial. For example, a case that could produce better results in court often dismisses trial as an option due to fear.  Inexperienced lawyers can be afraid of taking cases to trial because in trial, there are definite winner and losers, and thus, a lawyer’s reputation is at stake. Pre-trial settlement is the safer option to resolve disputes, and thus clients who hire inexperienced trial lawyers are likely to engage in this type of resolution. In addition, lawyers who lack trial experience may not fully understand the discovery process: their inexperience often leads to extensive and unnecessarily costly discovery process. Lastly, a lack of court experience is negatively associated with the capacity to understand jury-value. Jury value is the ability to predict a jury’s reaction to evidence, and further, the value of that evidence. A lawyer who is incapable of estimating this value cannot produce the most effective results, even through means of mediation or arbitration.

Currently, a lawyer has no legal obligation to disclose information regarding their trial experience. However, the results of a recent study reveal that clients expect that their attorney has trial experience, and thus, do not ask these questions. Therefore, a lack of disclosing trial experience has evolved into an ethical issue. Clients trust that their lawyers are knowledgeable in how to properly handle their complex cases, and as it turns out, that trust is often misplaced. At Modesett Williams, we proudly employ two highly experienced litigation lawyers with ample experience in court. Consider Modesett Williams to realize the full potential of your case.


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