Marc Whitehead - October 2019


October/November 2019

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OPENING THE DOOR TO EDUCATION Our Sponsorship of Cristo Rey Students

F or the second year in a row, our firm is sponsoring students from Cristo Rey Jesuit, a college preparatory high school that offers a rigorous education to students from low-income families in the Houston area. Becoming a sponsor for their work-study program was an easy decision because their mission resonates with us. They want to make education more accessible to underserved students to help them succeed in college and beyond. As we’ve shared with you in the past, education is something we value as individuals and as a law firm. From helping students fund their education through scholarships to providing hands- on learning experiences that help young people decide what they want to do with their future, we know that opening the door to education opens a whole new world. When we learned about Cristo Rey’s unique Corporate Work-Study program, we knew we wanted to get involved. Through this program, students are placed in work-study positions with Houston businesses, where they can earn up to 50% of the cost of their education. As a sponsor, we host four work-study students in our legal departments and help them learn about the legal field.

she got from working as an intern in a law firm, but, even more so, she appreciated the relationships she built during her time here. Working with our legal team and getting to hear their own career experiences helped Julissa make the final decision as to which college to attend. We wish Julissa all the best as she furthers her academic studies at Sam Houston State University and continues down the road to her professional destination. Our experience with Julissa and the other interns was enlightening. It showed us that adults can learn as much from younger generations as they can learn from us. We look forward to meeting our 2019–20 interns from Cristo Rey as they make their way to our firm this fall. We know it’s going to be another great year! -Marc Whitehead

“Our experience with Julissa and the other interns was

enlightening. It showed us that adults can learn as much from younger generations as they can learn from us.”

One of the stellar students who interned with us last year was Julissa Martinez, a senior with aspirations to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. Julissa worked with us throughout the 2018–19 school year, and in that short amount of time, we bonded with her and got to know this bright, motivated young student. During her final presentation, we truly got to understand what this experience meant to her. She appreciated the insight and perspective

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HOW’S THAT FOR ODDS? Reggie ‘Mr. October’ Jackson’s Legendary Game “I feel that the most important requirement in success is learning to overcome failure. You must learn to tolerate it, but never accept it.” –Reggie Jackson

Some people shine brightest in the spotlight. When put to the test, they deliver every time. Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is one of those people. During the sixth game of the 1977


A Grave Legal Matter

World Series, Jackson hit three home runs in a row, securing the Yankees’ victory over the Dodgers and winning them their 21st World Series title. The legendary playoff game also earned Jackson the nickname “Mr. October,” which has stuck to this day. Like many stories of greatness, Jackson’s featured a lot of hard work behind the scenes. He dedicated himself to his sport and constantly worked to improve his play. Growing up, Jackson played baseball, basketball, and football and excelled at all three, though football was his strong suit. He was scouted and given opportunities to go pro straight out of high school, but, on the advice of his father, he went to college on a football scholarship. Thanks to a $5 bet, he tried out for the baseball team at Arizona State University and made it. Jackson was the first black person on the team, and, even though he experienced discrimination, he never let it stop him. From the minor leagues into the majors, Jackson’s ambition got him through many tough times, as did the constant support of his father and of Oakland A’s manager John McNamara. Jackson always dreamed of playing for New York, and, eventually, his dream came true when he signed with the New York Yankees in 1976. To this day, Jackson holds many prominent records, including being the first player to earn more than 100 home runs for three different teams (the A’s, Yankees, and Angels). He even has his own candy bar, the “Reggie! Bar,” which debuted during a Yankees game in 1978. Let’s see if any of this year’s playoff games stir up as much excitement as Reggie Jackson’s did in his heyday.

We’ve all played a harmless trick or two, but, sometimes, Halloween shenanigans get out of hand. They can lead to hurt feelings, outraged neighbors, and, in the case of Purtell v. Mason, a lawsuit. In the days leading up to Halloween, all was not quiet in the village of Bloomingdale. Previously parked in a storage unit, Jeff and Vicki Purtell’s 38-foot RV was now parked in front of their house. In protest, neighbors petitioned to town officials, wanting an ordinance put in place to prohibit RV parking on residential property. While the ordinance was under consideration, Jeff Purtell took matters into his own hands. He erected six wooden tombstones in his front yard. They seemed to be innocuous Halloween decorations, but these tombstones displayed a special message for the neighbors. Each headstone was inscribed with a sarcastic message and house number, implying the occupants’ death dates. These messages soon caught the neighbors’ attention. Insulted and a little afraid, Purtell’s neighbors called the police to have the headstones removed. After a couple of visits, Officer Bruce Mason arrived and threatened to arrest Purtell if he didn’t take the tombstones down. Purtell obliged, but the matter wasn’t put to rest. The Verdict Purtell sued Officer Mason on the grounds of violating his rights to free speech, and the case made it all the way to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Sykes ruled that the tombstones did not constitute fighting words and were protected under the First Amendment. However, she also ruled that Officer Mason was entitled to qualified immunity, as any reasonable officer would act the same under the circumstances. The bigger question might be how this case made it all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As Judge Sykes wrote in her opinion, “Lawsuits like this one cast the legal profession in a bad light and contribute to the impression that Americans are an overlawyered and excessively litigious people.” “Bette wasn't ready, but here she lies, ever since that night she died. Twelve feet deep in this trench, still wasn't deep enough for that stench! 1690.”

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Frank Parigi is our Social Security case manager and a paralegal for the Social Security Department. In his role, he communicates with our clients frequently to address their needs and help them access their benefits. “Most of my day is composed of client calls and talking to the Social Security Administration,” Frank explains. It’s a role well-suited for his empathetic ear. “I like talking to people. It’s an opportunity to learn about people from all walks of life, from CEOs to truck drivers,” he says. “I’ve FRANK IS HERE FOR OUR CLIENTS Our Social Security Paralegal on the Importance of Listening

cultivated the ability to see each person as a person, not just a voice on the phone.” Frank points out the universally humbling experience of needing Social Security benefits. “Once a person loses their job, medical bills eat up their savings,” he says. “People max out their credit cards just trying to survive.” How does Frank approach these tough situations? “Really, the best thing you can do is just listen. You have to give clients time to describe what they’re going through,” Frank says. After two years with our firm, Frank is confident in his role and the purpose he serves here. He explains that a shared purpose is what initially attracted him to Marc

Whitehead & Associates. “When I got my paralegal certification, I thought about what kind of law I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to work in law that helps the average person.” Frank limited his search to firms that had this focus, and that led him here. From the initial meeting, it was clear this was the place for him. “Marc asked tough questions that showed he’s interested in people and what they think. I really enjoyed meeting Anthony and Brittany, as well,” Frank says. “I knew this was the firm I wanted to work for after the first interview.” Outside of work, you’ll find Frank playing music, reading books (usually philosophically or spiritually oriented), and enjoying foreign and independent films. Luis Buñuel’s are a favorite. He also attends a Zen Buddhist temple where he practices meditation.



Those who eat paleo may struggle to find a Halloween treat suitable to their diet. But no matter what your dietary restrictions are, everyone can enjoy some raw veggies with a healthy dip. Here are some tips for constructing your very own veggie skeleton — a spooky twist on a time-tested treat.


Your favorite paleo-friendly dip makes a great canvas for a face. Pour it into a bowl and build features on top using different veggies.


Sliced cucumbers make for great vertebrae, and bell pepper slivers can be used to simulate ribs. Alternate between the two to give your skeleton some backbone.


Any long and straight vegetable will do the trick here. If you want to be anatomically accurate, consider using some spherical vegetables for joints.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and wacky with your veggie skeleton. The whole point, after all, is to have some fun and give people a reason to smile.

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W e H ave M oved !

403 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77007 888-497-9061 | A National Disability Law Firm

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Our Role in Furthering Education for Local Students


‘Mr. October’: The Legendary Reggie Jackson Grave Matters of the Law


Meet Our Team

How to Assemble a Veggie Skeleton


Our Clients Say It Best


Social Security Disability Claims | Long-Term Disability Insurance Claims | Veterans’ Disability Benefits ERISA & Employee Benefit Claims |Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Litigation

I went to three different attorneys, and no one would take my case, saying it would take too much time to collect my 18 years of data and gather all my medical history. They would only do it if I paid a fee upfront. Marc Whitehead & Associates saw the case for what it was and knew the facts would speak for themselves. I filed my appeal in 2012. My service-connected claim was granted in July 2019. This firm kept me informed throughout the seven-year process. I had a positive experience and a positive outcome. I'm looking forward to my back pay after a long fight and the monthly checks to follow.”



We gather all evidence needed.

Office visits are not necessary.

We don’t get paid unless you do.

• We solicit the opinions of medical and vocational experts.

• We build the strongest case possible for a favorable outcome.

• We give you a dedicated case manager to coordinate all the aspects of your case.

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