Alex R. Hernandez Jr. - December 2018

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TEXAS TRIAL LAWYERS REVIEW

DECEMBER 2018

SAN ANTONIO | AUSTIN | EDINBURG | HOUSTON | LAREDO | DALLAS | EL PASO | CORPUS CHRISTI

Christmas Past

Nostalgia for the Holidays

If there’s one thing my childhood in Chicago taught me, it’s that we’re spoiled down here with our south Texas winters. As a warm-weather guy, I’m not complaining! I’ll take the cool, rainy weather over the blizzards we got in the Windy City any day of the week. As much as the lyrics in holiday songs may talk about pining over “white Christmases” and “winter wonderlands” this time of year, they never seem to mention things like black ice or frozen windshields. I’m far from a Scrooge, however. In fact, when the holiday music comes on the radio and the decorations go up around town, I get as nostalgic as the next person for the days of Christmases past. Every chance we could, my family tried to make our way to visit my grandparents in Port Lavaca for the holidays. But as I mentioned, we moved around a lot during my childhood. Still, no matter where I was in the world, from snowy Chicago to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, my family found a way to make Christmas magical.

When we moved to Saudi for my father’s work, we weren’t able to display our Christmas spirit in public. Being guests in a conservative Muslim country, we kept our decorations scaled down to a little artificial tree in our living room. There weren’t exactly Black Friday sales happening on every street corner, and few shops had many toys that would be on the list of a young American teenager in the late 1970s anyway. So imagine my surprise on Christmas morning when I unwrapped my very own model Millennium Falcon. This was the height of the Star Wars craze, and I was a big fan. Needless to say, I was floored by getting such a gift. It turns out my grandparents had bought and shipped the gift all the way from Texas. In the days before Amazon, this was quite the logistical feat, to say nothing of the shipping costs. Being in Saudi Arabia certainly felt like being in a galaxy far, far away sometimes. That my grandparents went through so much effort to bring me a little slice of home for Christmas meant the world to me.

As many parents will attest, the real joy of Christmas is when you get to start playing the role of gift-giver. While my kids are older now, I still enjoy seeing their faces light up when they unwrap their gifts. Still, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t miss playing the role of Santa when they were younger. Sure, sneaking around trying to find the time to buy and wrap presents was tough, but playing a part in the holiday magic was certainly worth it! These days, Christmas is a little less stressful. It’s largely a time for being with family and reflecting on life, a nice change of pace from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. No matter how or where you spend your holiday season, I hope it’s full of peace, comfort, and joy.

Here’s to a bright new year,

Alex R. Hernandez Jr.

No matter where I was in the world, from snowy Chicago to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, my family found a way to make Christmas magical.”

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If you know someone who’s been in a traumatic car accident, you know how difficult it can be to help them through it all — you may even feel powerless. As a firm, we’ve represented many people with these health challenges and understand how tough it can be for friends and family to feel like they are playing a role in the recovery process. But we’ve also seen how small gestures and everyday favors can make an incredible difference in a car-accident survivor’s life. Here are a few ways you can make life easier for a recovering friend. RUN ERRANDS Life keeps going, even after serious injuries. In the wake of a car accident, kids still need to be taken to school, groceries still need to be bought, and appointments need to be kept. On top of these everyday needs, your friend should also be going to see their medical doctor and possibly a physical or psychiatric therapist. If driving is difficult or impossible for your recovering friend, being a volunteer driver for any of these needs can relieve a significant amount of stress. LISTEN So often, accident survivors feel alone with their injuries even while they are surrounded by loved ones and well-wishers. This can happen when those around the survivor tell them to “feel better” and to “get well soon” rather than listen to their thoughts and needs. This can be incredibly difficult, but taking the time to just sit and listen to what your friend has to say is one of the most emotionally supportive things you can do. Driving in a Winter Wonderland Stay Safe When It Gets Slick As Alex mentions in this month’s cover, we’re lucky to have relatively mild winters at our home base here in south Texas. That being said, snow and ice aren’t unheard of, even in Houston. When cold weather conditions strike, it can take even the most experienced drivers by surprise, which is why it’s important to be doubly cautious this time of year. So we thought we’d pass along some advice from the Texas Department of Transportation to help keep you safe on the roads this holiday season! DRIVE ONLY WHEN NECESSARY This time of year, it can be tempting to run around visiting every friend and loved one within driving distance. But when conditions drop below freezing, it’s best to take some advice from Frank Loesser’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and stay indoors. The less you are on the roads, the less likely you’ll be in an accident. LEAVE EARLY AND TAKE IT SLOWLY When conditions are slick, the last thing you want to be is in a hurry. Ideally, you should increase your distance from the car in front of you to three car lengths to compensate for sliding. In fact, where emergency and maintenance vehicles, like snow plows, are concerned, Texas law requires drivers to maintain a distance of at least 200 feet. In general, you should be What You Can Do to Help Friend in a Car Wreck?

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 on Black Friday? 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. FAKE DISCOUNTS AND ANGRY SHOPPERS AMassive Black Friday Lawsuit

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TAKE A BREAK

HOLIDAY ROAST

MAKE DINNER Whether due to their injuries or because of the added stress, cooking can be a burden for many accident survivors. Takeout and pizza get old quickly and are not the most nutritious meals in the world — so why not take the time to make a nice, home-cooked meal for your friend and their family? It can be a great morale booster and a chance to bring a little more normality into their life. And of course, you can always introduce your friend to a personal injury attorney you trust. If you have a friend or loved one who’s been in a car accident, we’d be honored to represent their rights in court.

PRIME RIB

Inspired by Food Network

Looking for an easy holiday roast that still feels elegant enough for the occasion? Look no further than this delicious prime rib flavored with garlic, thyme, and red wine.

INGREDIENTS

• • • •

1 bone-in prime rib (6–7 pounds)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 cups red wine 4 cups beef stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

able to come to a stop without slamming on the breaks. This means even short commutes can take longer, so always plan on leaving earlier than you otherwise would. TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS FOR LONG TRIPS If you’re hitting the highways over the holiday season, a little extra preparation can go a long way. Make sure your fuel, oil, and antifreeze levels are all up to snuff, as well as the performance of your heater, wipers, and breaks. Performance issues that may have been a minor inconvenience in warm weather can quickly become perilous situations in the winter. Also be sure to check the weather along your entire route so you’re prepared for changing conditions. Most importantly, do not use cruise control when roads may be slick. The faster your reaction time, the better your odds of avoiding an accident.

DIRECTIONS

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

1. Nostalgia for the Holidays

2. The Biggest Black Friday Lawsuit in History

2. Ways to Support a Friend After an Accident

2. Winter Driving Tips

3. Holiday Roast Prime Rib

4. Everything You’ll Need for an Ugly Sweater Christmas

A Fun Trend You Can Easily Follow! UGLY SWEATER PARTIES

It’s speculated that the first ugly sweater party took place in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2001. Since then, the trend has become one of the most popular holiday party themes. Come Thanksgiving, you’ll start to see racks in all types of clothing stores lined with hideous sweaters. If you’re ready to jump on the ugly-sweater-party bandwagon this Christmas season, here are a few things to keep in mind.

sweater-themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white elephant exchange, except with the gaudiest gifts you can find; an ugly photo booth, complete with terrible, tacky props; and, of course, an ugly sweater contest. This is the only time of year when slipping into a lurid red sweater with a stuffed Santa sewn on the front is considered trendy. So adorn yourself in the frumpiest, tackiest sweater you can find, and have some fun this December!

YOUR VERY OWN UGLY SWEATER

Ugly sweaters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can head to H&M or a local thrift store to pick one up. However, if you have a sweater that’s been cozied up for years in the back of your closet or a drawer, now’s your chance to give it new life. Arm yourself with a hot glue gun, thread, and needle, and patch Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty on it. And let it be known that an ugly sweater isn’t complete without sparkles, beads, and sequins galore.

WHAT EXACTLY IS AN UGLY SWEATER PARTY?

It’s rather simple — slip on your favorite Christmas sweater, gather all your friends and family members, make sure there are plenty of refreshments and games, and you’re guaranteed to have a top-tier party. A few ugly-

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