Schuelke Law - March 2023

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March 2023


Smartphones, tablets, and other devices have become a necessary part of our everyday lives. Many of us start our days by checking the time or weather on our phones and end our nights by falling asleep to the dim glow of the TV or aimlessly scrolling through social media. Although these inventions have brought many benefits to our lives, we need to take breaks from our devices from time to time to connect with the world around us. On March 3, we recognize the National Day of Unplugging, which calls on us to take a break from our screens for the day. One of my favorite books is Cal Newport’s “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.” In it, Newport describes two different types of work — deep work and shallow work. Deep work is when we perform activities in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes our cognitive abilities to the limit. On the other hand, shallow work occurs when we’re performing noncognitive, logistical- style tasks that can be completed while distracted. Newport theorizes that email, texting, instant messaging and other recent technological advancements have made it more difficult to find time to do deep, uninterrupted work. He also notes that, at the same time that deep work is harder to achieve, deep work is now more important than ever because technologies, such as

automation and AI, are making shallow work less necessary. If you’re interested in learning more about Cal Newport’s “Deep Work,” head to our Instagram page, @SchuelkeLaw. I’ve been putting together videos that outline the various lessons from the book that are worth checking out. I have a hard time imagining putting my phone down for an entire day. I always find myself coming back to my phone or another device. One thing that has worked for me in the past is time blocking. Instead of constantly reading emails and responding right away, I’ll set times of the day that will be for reading and responding to emails, so that I have uninterrupted time during the day. I’m not the best at it, but I’m getting better. The National Day of Unplugging actually has the perfect date, as March is often one of the least productive months of the year for many Americans. Starting the month with a day designed to get us focused on the tasks at hand instead of social media and our phones should help make the month more productive. It might seem odd that March would be considered one of the least productive months of the year. However, March is the month where we experience our best weather here in Austin. Winter has passed, and we are not dealing with the extreme summer heat yet, so it’s the perfect time to get outside. Baseball season has always dominated the month of March for us, and we would often be on the road traveling for games and tournaments. There’s also the excitement of March Madness. While some people take entire days off to watch games, I think most productivity is killed by people continually checking scores and refreshing their browsers. Regardless of whether you’re getting distracted by your phone, the weather, or some exciting basketball, I hope you all can reach your productivity goals for the month. If you need some help, don’t forget to check out our Instagram page!

-C. Brooks Schuelke | 1

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The Mac and Cheese Legal Debacle Can This Lawsuit Elbow Its Way to a Courtroom Win?

Here’s a fun fact for you: In the fall of 2022, a woman in Florida sued food giant Kraft Heinz — all because it took her a few extra minutes to prepare her mac and cheese. This may sound like a made-up plot straight out of “The Onion,” but it’s true! The woman’s name is Amanda Ramirez, and according to National Public Radio, she’s suing Kraft Heinz for $5 million over its “misleading advertising.” What exactly misled her? Well, Kraft’s cup of Velveeta Shells & Cheese claims it will be “ready in 3 1/2 minutes” — when in fact, that’s just the microwave time.

NPR reports that Ramirez’s lawsuit reaches beyond her kitchen and even beyond the state of Florida. It “looks to cover consumers in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, Iowa, Tennessee, and Virginia who purchased the mac and cheese cups during the applicable statute of limitations period.” Over 100 people fall into that category, maybe including you!

Does Ramirez stand a chance? It’s hard to say. NPR reports that her legal team expects Kraft to try to get the case dismissed,

but the U.S. does have a history of successful lawsuits against misleading advertising by food companies. According to NBC News, a class- action lawsuit filed over a non-GMO advertising campaign cost Chipotle $6.5 million in 2020. And just last spring, a Florida attorney went to bat against Burger King, claiming its Whoppers were smaller than advertised. As we write this, the mac and cheese fiasco is still unresolved — but you can bet we’ll be watching the news. We may even chow down on a bowl of Velveeta Shells while we do it!

Apparently, Ramirez felt betrayed when it took her slightly more than 3 1/2 minutes to peel the lid off

the container and add water to the noodles. Her outrage only climbed as she waited for her pasta’s cheese sauce to thicken after 3 1/2 minutes of staring at the microwave window. Before long, she was steaming over the notion that she’d been ripped off by a greedy manufacturer intent on selling false convenience.

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What does parental alienation look like? Imagine you’re running five minutes late to pick up your child, and your ex tells them “Daddy/Mommy is late because they don’t love you anymore” — a blatant lie. In this case, you would be the “target” parent and your ex would be the “alienating” parent manipulating your child. One parent can also alienate the other by spoiling their child with gifts and travel opportunities while maliciously pointing out that the other parent can’t or won’t do the same. According to TMZ, Jolie has accused Pitt of child abuse and he now has “little to no relationship” with their six kids. If Pitt is not a child abuser — as a judge’s award of 50/50 custody seems to indicate — this would be parental alienation. Alec Baldwin details his experience with what he calls parental alienation in his book, “A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce.” What can you do about it? The ABA reports that parental alienation has been recognized by lawyers, courts, and psychologists to varying degrees for at least 200 years. In many states, parental alienation is legally recognized, which means that proving it could impact your custody agreement. Other states don’t take parental alienation as seriously, so we recommend asking your family law attorney about your specific state and situation.

In the meantime, family lawyer Patricia Fersch offers this advice in Forbes: “Document everything in a diary — missed visits, alienating behavior in the presence of the child. Be consistent with your child no matter how they respond to you. Don’t abandon them.”

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VAN GOGH REINCARNATED? One-Eared Rescue Dog Becomes Master Painter

When a one-eared shelter dog in Connecticut struggled to find a new family last year, one of his caretakers had a wild idea: Why not teach him to paint? With help from TikTok and peanut butter, the aptly named Van Gogh became a social media star. “I’d seen TikTok videos of other dogs creating paintings, so why not Van Gogh?” Jaclyn Gartner, the founder of Happily Furever After Rescue, told The Washington Post. “He certainly had the name and the ear for it.” To leverage what she calls Van Gogh’s “fast and creative tongue,” Gartner covered small canvases in dollops of paint, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and slathered them in peanut butter. Then, she presented the treats to the boxer-pit bull mix. He quickly licked the canvases clean, creating his “art” along the way. According to the Post, Van Gogh’s first few paintings flopped — just like the work of the human artist Vincent Van Gogh, who didn’t become famous until after he died in 1890. This star rose thanks to Jo Van Gogh, the wife of his brother Theo, who advocated for his work after both Theo and Vincent passed away. You could say that Gartner was dog Van Gogh’s Jo because, like the original painter’s, the pup’s art staged a comeback! After his first “art show” drew just two guests, Gartner started auctioning off his paintings online. His abstract work like “Peacock Swirl” and a rendition of human Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” quickly raised more than $3,000 for Happily Furever After Rescue. As his reputation soared on social media, Van Gogh also found his forever home with shelter volunteer Jessica Starowitz. He now spends his days painting and lounging on the couch. You can follow his exploits on Instagram under the handle @officialvgdog.


Inspired by


• 1 medium head cabbage • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided • 1 tbsp butter • 2 14.5-oz cans Italian stewed tomatoes • 4 garlic cloves, minced • 2 tbsp brown sugar

• 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided • 1 cup cooked rice • 1/4 cup ketchup • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce • 1/4 tsp pepper • 1 lb lean (90%) ground beef • 1/4 lb Italian sausage

Directions 1. In a Dutch oven, cook cabbage in boiling water for 10 minutes; drain. Rinse in cold water; drain. Remove 8 large outer leaves; set aside. 2. In a large saucepan, sauté 1 cup onion in butter. Add tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. In a large bowl, combine rice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining onion and salt. Crumble beef and sausage over mixture and mix. 4. Remove thick vein from cabbage leaves for easier rolling. Place 1/2 cup meat mixture on each leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll leaf to completely enclose filling. Place rolls seam side down in a skillet. Top with sauce. 5. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes longer or until a thermometer inserted reads 160 F. | 3

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3011 N. Lamar Blvd., Ste. 200 Austin, TX 78705



Improve Productivity by Unplugging


The Great Mac and Cheese Lawsuit of 2022


Classic Cabbage Rolls Meet Van Gogh, the Painting Dog


A Celebrity Problem You Could Face

Do You Have This in Common With Brad Pitt?

The Scoop on Parental Alienation

Whether you follow celebrity gossip religiously or just like to scan the tabloids when you pass a newsstand, you’ve probably heard about the latest conflict between famous divorcees Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. A recent TMZ headline blared, “Brad Pitt Sources Say Angelina Has Poisoned Kids Against Him... She’s On a Hate Campaign.” These articles are chock-full of drama, but they also contain some legalese — specifically the phrase “parental alienation,” which journalists have applied to celebrities like Brad Pitt and Alec Baldwin and may even apply to you. If you’re divorced, have children, and aren’t on good terms with your partner, you should be on high alert for signs of parental alienation. What is parental alienation? According to a resource published by the American Bar Association (ABA), parental alienation is a “mental condition in which a child — usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict separation

or divorce — allies him or herself strongly with an alienating parent and rejects a relationship with the ‘target’ parent without legitimate justification.” In other words, a child can fall victim to parental alienation if one of their parents constantly paints the other in a bad light through comparisons, exaggeration, lies, and manipulation. This can be emotional, verbal, or even financial.

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