Houston & Alexander - December/January 2018/19



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It has been a few months since our last newsletter. My father fell ill and passed away, and I have fallen behind. It is a difficult thing to deal with when a parent passes away. Not only do you have the extreme sense of loss, but it forces you to face your own mortality as well. However, you quickly realize the importance of family and friends in a time like this. As I write this, I am in an airplane traveling to Utah to be with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother moved there a few months ago and my sister over a year ago. One of my brothers lives in Denver but likely won’t be able to come. However, my other brother, a Baltimore resident, is already there and will soon pick up my wife and me at the Salt Lake City Airport. My 76-year-old father had been suffering from vascular dementia for approximately 15 years. He had also endured cancer in his throat and lung for the last nine years. I was out of town when I received a call from my stepmother on a Wednesday. Given that she has never called me in my life, I feared the worst. (We get along fine, but when we have talked, it was always during a call to my father.) My fears were confirmed when she told me that my father had taken a bad turn physically. “It probably wouldn’t be long,” she said. As luck would have it, I had a first-degree murder trial scheduled for the next week and was actually working on the case while out of town. I called Neal Pinkston, the Hamilton County District Attorney. Despite frequently being an adversary, Neal is also a friend. He and Judge Tom Greenholtz immediately agreed to pass the case so that I could travel to Memphis to be with my family. My wife, Casey, and I got there on Friday and found my father comatose, struggling with labored breathing. My father passed away peacefully about three hours later while my stepmother, sister, and I were holding him. While sitting there talking and waiting, it made me think about the

importance of my family, and frankly, how I could be much better about staying in touch with them and finding more reasons to spend time together. My mother has not been feeling well the last couple of months and wanted us to come see her for Thanksgiving. I had steadfastly refused, giving a multitude of reasons and excuses, primarily that I didn’t want to travel over the holiday, pay for the airfare, etc. My father passing away really made me reconsider. As I stated above, I am on my way to Salt Lake City and will be there in about an hour. It’s incredible that it really only takes about seven hours to get across the country! I am looking forward to spending time with my mother and her husband as well as my younger brother and my younger sister and her family. “This holiday season, spend time with your family and loved ones … You never know how long you will have the opportunity to reconnect.” My father and I got along, but we had very few heartfelt conversations. We never really told each other how we felt. Don’t make that mistake. This holiday season, spend time with your family and loved ones. If there is someone you don’t get along with in your family, swallow your pride and make amends. You never know how long you will have the opportunity to reconnect.

As for me, I will hug my family members a little longer and a little tighter this year.

–Johnny Houston


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4 Winter Illnesses You’d Rather Avoid Know What to Look For Before They Attack

Achoo! That’s the last noise you want to hear this winter. Cold weather brings a slew of sicknesses, so be vigilant to treat these common illnesses, or better yet, avoid them altogether.

THE COMMON COLD Although there is no cure, a cold is easier to treat than other illnesses. If you or a loved one has a runny nose, low-grade fever, headache, cough, nasal congestion, or sore throat, the common cold has most likely taken hold. With the help of rest and perhaps some cold medicine, like cough drops and decongestants, the cold will come and go in about a week. BRONCHIOLITIS Bronchiolitis appears most commonly in children less than a year old and is caused by other viruses. Of the many symptoms — nasal congestion, low- grade fevers, and coughing — wheezing is the one you should be most concerned

about. If your child is having difficulty breathing and is dehydrated, they may have caught a more serious strain of the virus. Most children will recover with at-home rest, but some may need to be hospitalized for more severe symptoms. INFLUENZA The flu is known for causing high fever, muscle aches and pains, nausea, and other symptoms similar to a cold. Often, the fever will last for around five days, but it can be shortened with the aid of antiviral medications. However, these medications are recommended only for children who face serious complications or hospitalization from the flu. If you want to avoid catching this, your best bet is to receive the annual flu vaccine.

STREP THROAT A sore throat, headache, stomach ache, vomiting, and high fever are signs of strep. This infection is treated with antibiotics and should be addressed soon after the first symptoms appear to prevent further complications. Children with strep throat should stay away from school and other activities until they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. Everyone knows that getting sick is no fun and is best avoided at all costs. However, it happens to everyone eventually. Catching a virus or infection in its early stages can help you shake the sickness much faster.

Putting the ‘Pain’ in Champagne Spontaneously Ejecting Cork Causes Lawsuit

For many people, preparing for the New Year’s countdown is the most exhilarating part of the holiday season. You tune your TV to the Times Square ball drop, hand out party hats, confetti, and noisemakers, and meticulously line up some champagne flutes. What’s left to do? Pop open the champagne! There are many partiers who pop the cork with enthusiastic and careless abandon, while others point the bottle away from their faces and anxiously twist the cork until they hear those bubbles surge to the surface. Turns out, while the latter practice may be slightly less fun, it’s certainly the safer approach. On April 8, 1978, Charles J. Murray was injured when a natural cork stopper spontaneously ejected from a bottle of previously unopened Almaden Blanc de Blancs champagne and struck him in the left eye. He was preparing to serve the bubbly to a party of 40 people, so he placed 12 bottles on a rolling cart and removed the foil and wire retainer from three or four bottles — including the one that eventually injured him. Once he started to roll the cart toward the guests, the cork shot out of the bottle all on its own.

and Carbo, Inc., alleging that they were responsible because they failed to include a proper warning label on the bottle. The defendants, however, argued that the cork stopper did not and could not spontaneously eject unless Murray had handled the bottle improperly. The case was argued by both sides for two years, but eventually, Murray won. Almaden Vineyards now prints the following on its bottles: “WARNING: THIS BOTTLE IS UNDER PRESSURE. THE STOPPER WILL EJECT SOON AFTER THE WIRE HOOD REMOVAL. TO PROTECT AGAINST INJURY TO FACE AND EYES, POINT AWAY FROM SELF AND OTHERS WHEN OPENING.” When it comes to bubbly-induced mayhem, the greatest potential trouble lies in the eye of the beholder — literally. With an estimated velocity of 60 miles per hour, uncontrolled corks do in fact fly faster than the blink of an eye. To avoid having to explain a not-so- fashionable eye patch at work on Monday, handle those fizzy drinks with care.

Due to the severity of his injury, Murray sued Almaden Vineyards, Inc., National Distillers and Chemical Corporation,


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Fake Discounts and Angry Shoppers A Massive Black Friday Lawsuit

Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday — the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items — but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history. In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called “false reference pricing,” a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item to make a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing machine at a “sale price” of $999.99, compared to a “regular price” of $1,179.99. The problem was the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale. Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal? Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product

was sold at within three months prior to the ad. “Families today … are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,” said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. “They deserve to make an informed decision.” After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again. Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had this holiday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise.

Client Testimonials

• 1 bone-in prime rib (6–7 pounds) • 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced • 2 cups red wine • 4 cups beef stock • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste Ingredients Holiday Roast Prime Rib

Inspired by Food Network

I was facing several charges, including pills for resale. Frankly, I had no hope for a good result even though I knew Johnny was a great lawyer (I had previously hired him for another, even more serious, case). It wasn’t cheap, but quality representation isn’t cheap, and it took me a little time to get the money together. dismissed. I cannot say enough great things about this law firm. They kept me informed the whole time, returned my calls, and did everything I asked them to do. Johnny in particular is easy to talk to but is well-respected by judges, DAs, and police officers. I hope to NEVER be in trouble again, but if you are in trouble, give Johnny or Bret a call. I could not be happier and more satisfied. The B felony was reduced to a simple misdemeanor and the other charges were


1. 30 minutes before cooking, remove roast from fridge and let sit until it reaches room temperature. 2. Heat oven to 350 F. 3. Make small slits in prime rib and stuff with slices of garlic. Liberally season with salt and pepper. 4. Place a rack inside a roasting pan and roast prime rib for 2 hours, until medium-rare. 5. To make au jus, place roasting pan with drippings from roast over 2 burners on high. Add wine and scrape pan as liquid reduces. Add beef stock and cook until reduced by half. Finally, sprinkle in thyme. 6. Slice roast and serve topped with au jus.



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INSIDE THIS ISSUE The Difficulties of Losing a Loved One


What Do My Symptoms Mean?

Watch Out for Rogue Champagne Corks This Year

The Biggest Black Friday Lawsuit in History


Holiday Roast Prime Rib


What Happens to Military Service Dogs?

Sgt. Fieldy Comes Home Reuniting Brothers in Arms

right, but one of the other Marines in their company was badly injured in the explosion. The injured Marine could not be evacuated by helicopter until the landing zone was secured. Fieldy found another IED in the area and alerted Caceres. The bomb was quickly disarmed, and the injured soldier was taken to safety. This wasn’t the only IED Fieldy found. His sharp nose and dedication helped save thousands of lives. After his deployment, Caceres returned home, but Sgt. Fieldy served several more tours without him. While Fieldy continued to protect soldiers and civilians by tracking down IEDs, Caceres worked tirelessly to make sure he could bring Fieldy home when his service was over. Military working dogs can be adopted by former handlers, law enforcement, or qualified civilians when

they retire. After three years apart and a total of four tours served, Sgt. Fieldy was reunited with Caceres. In 2016, Fieldy received the K9 Medal of Courage Award, and in 2018, he won the American Humane Hero Dog Award for his service. “These dogs are out there with us,” said Caceres when he and Fieldy accepted the Hero Dog Award. “The dangers we face, they face them too. They deserve to be recognized. We ask so much of them, and all they want is to get petted or play with a toy. They’re amazing animals, and Fieldy is just an amazing dog. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I have for him.” If you are interested in supporting our nation’s working dogs or would like to adopt a retired working dog yourself, you can learn more at Missionk9rescue.org.

There are around 2,500 military working dogs currently in service, and their efforts help save the lives of countless soldiers and civilians every day. One of these brave military dogs is Sgt. Fieldy, an 11-year-old black lab who was trained to locate the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan: IEDs. Sgt. Fieldy was deployed to Afghanistan with his handler, Cpl. Nicolas Caceres, in 2011. Early in their deployment, their vehicle struck a pressure plate while they were on patrol. Fieldy and Caceres were all


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