Alex R. Hernandez Jr. - December 2019

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TEXAS TRIAL LAWYERS REVIEW

DECEMBER 2019

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

Slimming Down for 2020

My (Gradual) Weight Loss Journey

The year is coming to a close, which leaves me with just enough time to look back at how much has changed. Our firm has definitely grown — we’ve added more attorneys, and our caseload has picked up substantially. On the homefront, my family and I moved into a larger house, so we may actually have room to entertain relatives this holiday season! And amid all this expansion, I’m proud to say my waistline was the one thing that shrunk this year. It’s hard for me to believe, but I’m actually 30 pounds lighter than I was at the start of 2019. The change didn’t come about because of a New Year’s resolution, either. In fact, my weight loss journey can best be described as “one thing led to another.” So, because this is the time of year when people strategize ways to improve their health, I wanted to share my own experience in the hopes that what worked for me may work for some of you. Now, it’s a very lawyer-like thing to say, but results may vary. Everybody has different health needs, so other techniques may work better for you. But, if you struggle to commit to radical lifestyle changes like I do, then this more gradual march toward fitness might be worth a shot. For me, it all started with housework. In the summer of 2018, I was doing a lot of work to fix up our old home. Tasks like mending fences and putting on fresh coats of paint to the exterior had to be done, so I took them on myself. And, boy, could I feel it . I hadn’t been to the gym in like 15 years, so this renovation workout was a wake-up

call for me. It drew my attention to how much I’d been neglecting my own physical health. So, after the weather warmed up again this year, I decided to keep up the pace. I kept doing outdoor work even as we moved houses, and then started to add a new diet to the mix. I didn’t do one of those big-name diets with the clear restrictions either — I just made a conscious effort to eat healthier. Gradually, I started looking and feeling better, which gave me the extra push I needed to go to the gym again. Soon, I was working out and swimming much like I had as a younger man. I think what made the difference is that it never once felt like I took an “all or nothing” leap at better health. I just kept my mind focused on

what I could do to feel a little healthier one day at a time. Now that I can look back and see the progress, I’m amazed at what a difference those little steps have made. So, if you’ve had a hard time getting those big New Year’s resolutions to stick, try starting small. As long as you can be content with more incremental improvements to your health, it might be the right approach for you. Of course, it helps to have a loving, supportive family around you to cheer you on — I know it did for me.

Here’s to your future,

–Alex R. Hernandez Jr.

“My weight loss journey can best be described as ‘one thing led to another.’”

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Car accidents are stressful, to say the least; even simple fender benders can leave you angry and frustrated. But, regardless of who you believe was at fault for the collision, it’s important you remain calm and avoid pointing fingers. The way you conduct yourself after an accident can have a big impact on your future. The Don’t Let a Hot Head Jeopardize Your Claim for Damages Control Anger After an Accident

THE VALUE OF REMAINING CALM

You need to think clearly after an accident. The last thing you want to do is yell at the other driver — after all, you need their insurance and contact information. You’ll also want to talk to witnesses and call the police to get a detailed report of the accident. If you let anger and frustration win out, you might even cross a line and wind up being charged with assault.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of twinkling Christmas lights. But for city officials in Plantation, Florida, Christmas lights are a stark reminder of a prolonged fight, nearly $500,000 in court fees, and continued drama. In 2014, Plantation sued residents Mark and Kathy Hyatt for their “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” lights display, claiming it was a “public nuisance.” Each year, the Hyatts decorated their yard with more than 200,000 lights, snow, a Christmas tree, a Nativity scene, a functioning Ferris wheel, and more. Their creation was featured on two nationally televised programs and attracted flocks of visitors. But, for the Hyatt’s neighbors, extreme didn’t even begin to explain the chaos. Neighbors complained to the city about increased traffic, litter in their yards, and potential injury or death to pedestrians due to the traffic. Police officers in Plantation were dispatched to the light display multiple times each season for complaints by neighbors, accidents, and traffic control. After a two-year battle in court, a judge ruled in favor of the Hyatts, claiming the city could not prove the display was dangerous or a nuisance. The city had spent nearly half a million dollars fighting their case. For the Hyatts, Christmas 2016 was a celebration, though their display was restrained due to the timing of the court’s decision. By 2017, “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” was in full swing again, much to their neighbors’ chagrin. Mark Hyatt rode the wave of support for his display all the way to a vacant seat on the Plantation City Council in 2016, but the highs would soon stop there. Plantation news outlets reported in 2018 that Mark Hyatt filed for divorce, effectively ending any hope of another “Hyatt Extreme Christmas.” As the snow has settled, an extravagant lights display has instead become a story of nasty court battles with a sad ending for the Hyatts and their “extreme” Christmas devotees. LIGHTS OUT Florida City Sues Family Over Extreme Christmas Display

NO EASY TASK

We know it’s one thing for us to say “control your emotions after an accident” and another thing to actually do it. The jolt of the actual crash can trigger your flight-or-fight response, making you more prone to erratic behavior and anger. But still, we urge you to take a deep breath in this situation — remind yourself that your conduct could hurt your chances of receiving compensation or even land you in legal trouble.

Not many people take shoplifting seriously, but rest assured, retailers and prosecutors alike treat this crime for what it is: theft. This is especially true over the holiday season as stores try to boost their year-end profits and shoplifting rates rise. Here’s what more people need to understand about this serious charge. The Law Takes Shoplifting Seriously You Should,Too

MORE THAN A SLAP ON THE WRIST

You might think that getting caught shoplifting an inexpensive item isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe a security guard will yell at you, and you’ll be banned from the premises, right? Well, that’s the absolute best-case scenario. In Texas, stealing something worth $50 or less can still land you with a $500 fine. If you’ve stolen more than $50 worth of merchandise, you could be facing jail time.

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES

A shoplifting charge can land you in more than just prison. A conviction will be noted on your criminal record, which shows up on background checks used by employers, colleges, and other institutions. This makes finding a job, getting an education, or even applying for a loan difficult. Many adults are haunted by shoplifting convictions that happened when they were impressionable teens.

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TAKE A BREAK

DON’T OVERCOMPENSATE

While some people get angry after a crash, others may go in the opposite direction. You may feel the need to deeply apologize to the other driver, or make them feel like they aren’t the one to blame. While this can seem like a way to de-escalate the situation, you’re also hurting yourself in the long term. These actions could be construed as admitting fault for the accident, something even a skilled personal injury lawyer will have a hard time correcting in court.

GINGERBREAD DOGS

So, if you do find yourself in an accident, remain calm, cool, and professional. It’s the best thing you can do moving forward.

Inspired by GoneToTheSnowDogs.com

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! Share some cheer with your four-legged friends with these special holiday dog treats.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup molasses

6 cups all-purpose flour

4 tbsp honey

2 tsp baking soda

1 cup water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp dried powder ginger

DIRECTIONS

CHARGES WORTH FIGHTING AGAINST

1. Heat oven to 350 F. 2. In a medium bowl, combine molasses, honey, water, and oil, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well until dough forms. 3. Separate dough into four equal balls. Wrap dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3–5 hours. 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to 1/4-inch thick. Use dog- shaped cookie cutters to cut out treats. 5. Bake for 20–25 minutes on baking sheet until cookies start to brown. Carefully remove treats from the oven and let them cool completely before serving to your dog.

With all this in mind, it’s best to not take a shoplifting charge lying down. The accusation may have been the result of an improper search or other violation of police procedure, or the entire incident could have been a case of mistaken identity. Even if the evidence is stacked against you, a good lawyer may be able to negotiate deferred sentencing options and mitigate the harm this charge could have on your future. If you’re still living in the shadow of a shoplifting charge, we may be able to help. Depending on the length of time that’s passed and the circumstances of your conviction, getting the arrest sealed from the public record may be possible. To explore your options, give us a call at 1-888-439-5298.

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INSIDE

1. Small Changes for Better Health

2. Florida City Sues Family Over Extreme Christmas Display

2. Remain Calm After a Crash

2. The Real Cost of Shoplifting

3. Homemade Gingerbread Dog Treats

4. The History Behind Christmas Lights

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT

The first string of twinkling lights illuminating your neighbor’s house is always a telltale sign of the upcoming seasonal festivities. Christmas lights are a holiday staple, but have you ever wondered where this beloved tradition started? The tradition of hanging lights on the tree originally started with candles. Because this posed an immense fire hazard, Edward Hibberd Johnson, a close friend of Thomas Edison and vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, vowed to find a better way to decorate Christmas trees with light. In December 1882, three years after Edison’s invention of the lightbulb in November 1879, Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue lightbulbs together and wound them around a Christmas tree in his parlor window. A passing reporter saw the spectacle and declared in the Detroit Post and Tribune, “One can hardly imagine anything prettier.”

Johnson continued this tradition, increasing the number of lights each year and eventually putting them up outside. But because electricity was still a new concept, many years passed before the fad took off for regular Americans. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree, which spurred the idea of selling stringed lights commercially. By the 1930s, families everywhere were buying boxes of bulbs by the dozen. Today, an estimated 150 million Christmas lights are sold in America each year, decorating 80 million homes and consuming 6% of the nation’s electricity every December. Whether you’ll be putting up your own lights or appreciating the most impressive light displays in your neighborhood or town, let the glow fill you with joy this season. Just don’t leave them up until February!

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