Archives for August 2014

Bicontinental Love

Bicontinental LoveIt has been said that love knows no bounds. In this day and age of modern technology, it has become increasingly clear that love does not recognize geographical boundaries either. With more couples meeting online through dating websites, Facebook, Skype, and numerous other social sites, the number of people falling in love and maintaining international long-distance relationships is growing. Though miles and even oceans may physically separate you, do not let the mountain of paperwork required for a Petition for Alien Fiance(e), or Form-I129F, keep you apart.

Brownstein and Nguyen are experienced immigration lawyers in Atlanta. With over twenty years practicing immigration law, we have helped bring countless families and loved ones together. We have assisted with family immigration (green cards), visas for spouses and minor children, removal hearings, and citizenship and naturalization processes. We realize how crucial following all the necessary procedures and legal guidelines is, and we give each client the utmost attention as we know that family immigration is deeply personal.

While it is possible to complete the required paperwork to guide a Form-I129F through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services without the help of a lawyer, having legal expertise and experience on your side can be important. Often, mistakes made on the initial application or later in the process can be very difficult to overcome. We advise clients of the best legal avenue for their particular circumstances and assist in properly completing the correct application and submitting subsequent evidence, if necessary, so a petition has the best possible chance of being approved without additional delay or problems. With the specific requirements and potentially tricky legal issues that can be involved in a fiancee visa, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney familiar with the procedures, timelines and legal requirements associated with this type of visa.

Contact Brownstein and Nguyen for a consultation today. We will gladly assist you in your pursuit of bringing your fiance(e) to the United States so that you can begin your life of happily ever after – sooner rather than later.

Georgia’s Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents

Georgia has numerous laws designed to protect the elderly, many of which are little known. One such law is the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long Term Care Facilities” (Patient Bill of Rights) found at Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Section 31-8-100 et seq.

The Patient Bill of Rights was designed to guarantee certain rights of elderly patients in long-term care facilities and nursing homes. This population is especially at risk, as many of them are isolated and unable to protect themselves. Specifically, the law seeks to “preserve the dignity and personal integrity of residents of long-term care facilities through the recognition and declaration of rights safeguarding against encroachments upon each resident’s need for self-determination.” Nursing home owners, administrators and operators who violate patient rights face civil penalties as well as legal action for damages suffered by patients, their heirs and legal representatives.

The law enumerates the following specific rights:

  • Right to Notification of Rights, § 31–8–104 (right to receive notice of patient rights)
  • Right to Certain Information, § 31–8–106 (right to rate information, statement of charges, administrator information, and written policies and procedures)
  • Right to Nondiscriminatory Admission, § 31–8–107 (right to admission regardless of medical history or condition, unless facility cannot provide adequate care, treatment or services)
  • Right to Care, Treatment, and Services, § 31–8–108 (right to appropriate care, treatment and services)
  • Right to Freedom from Restraints, Isolation, or Restriction, § 31–8–109 (no restraints, restrictions or isolation unless necessary for safety of patient or others)
  • Rights Relative to Pharmaceuticals, § 31–8–110 (right to choose pharmacy, pharmacist)
  • Rights of Citizenship, § 31–8–111 (ability to exercise rights of citizenship including voting and freedom of religion, association and participation)
  • Right to Personal Choice, § 31–8–112 (right to decide sleeping hours, consumption of alcohol and tobacco)
  • Right to Personal Property, § 31–8–113 (right to keep money and personal belongings in private room or secured location)
  • Right to Privacy, § 31–8–114 (right to privacy within room, during personal visits, in third party communications, and during medical care)
  • Right to Fiscal Management, § 31–8–115 (right of patient or personal representative to manage financial affairs and handling of patient funds)
  • Rights Relating to Transfer or Discharge, § 31–8–116 (no involuntary transfers except under specified conditions)
  • Requirements for Temporary Suspension of Rights, § 31–8–117 (no suspension of rights except the right to refuse medical care or consume alcohol or tobacco with doctor’s certification)
  • Right to Pursue Interest; Conflicting Rights; Right to Voice Complaints and Make Recommendations, § 31–8–118 (no reprisal for pursuit of patient rights or making complaints)
  • Coerced Contributions from Family Prohibited; Use of and Receipt for Contributions, § 31–8–119 (restrictions on soliciting financial contributions from patient families)
  • Access to Facility, § 31–8–120 (visitation rights)
  • Residents’ Councils, § 31–8–121 (right to form and participate in residents’ counsel)

Bill of RightsPatients, their families and legal representatives may bring an action in court to enforce these rights. They may also pursue a claim for damages against the facility or administrator. Certain violations can give rise to claims of medical malpractice, such as cases involving inadequate medical care, denial of proper care or treatment, denial of nutrition, abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, such violations occur all too often in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which are typically operated as for-profit businesses. Pressure to reduce overhead and expenses can directly lead to understaffing, inadequate training and education, and lack of proper procedures, in turn resulting in poor patient care.

If you believe a loved one’s rights have been violated, or a loved one has been injured in a long-term care facility or nursing home, contact the nursing home abuse and medical malpractice attorneys at Brownstein & Nguyen. We know the law, and fight for the rights of elder patients.

Image courtesy of the National Archives

Employment Contracts

Proactive small business owners understand that it is wise to legally protect themselves and their businesses. One way to do this is through the use of employment contracts or employment agreements with key personnel. These documents allow for clear expectations on both the employee and employer, including the term and scope of employment, expected duties, compensation, and other key terms. Increasingly, businesses are including confidentiality, non-compete or non-solicitation agreements in their employment contracts.

Business AgreementsWhat does this mean for employers?

Confidentiality and non-compete agreements are common in the business world, as they provide protection for businesses that expend considerable effort and resources in growing a customer, client or patient base and building goodwill. No business owner relishes the idea of developing a direct competitor from within. As a result, businesses desiring to protect trade secrets, maintain ownership of intellectual property, and avoid competition from within their own ranks often use confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. The contracts must clearly and carefully define the limitations on employees both during the employment period and afterward, and must also comply with applicable law and specific statutory guidelines (in Georgia and other states). Accordingly, the agreements should be prepared and reviewed by business attorneys experienced in this area of law.

What does this mean for employees?

An employee should carefully read any confidentiality and non-compete agreement she is asked to sign, whether before or after the employment relationship has begun, and should also seek legal advice about the scope and legality of the agreement. Intellectual property can be a particularly sticky area. Take the example of the 2012 Domino’s case involving the company’s former Director of E-Commerce, James Vitek. During Vitek’s employment, he was asked to sign a non-compete agreement that, among other things, would have transferred all of his work and inventions to Dominos, including anything created on Vitek’s own time and having nothing to do with his work for Dominos. When Vitek refused to sign, he was terminated and he sued the company over stock options and other benefits. Perhaps litigation could have been avoided through careful negotiation seeking to appropriately modify the employment agreement by carving out inventions and work having nothing to do with Dominos or its business?

Whether an employee or an employer, it is helpful to know that business and employment contracts are in place to make expectations clear from the start. If you are a small business owner, and would like assistance from knowledgeable and experienced Atlanta business law attorneys, do not hesitate to contact Brownstein & Nguyen. Our experience as business litigation lawyers in Atlanta provides us with invaluable insights and unique perspectives to draw upon when advising clients regarding employment and other business agreements.

Distracted Driving is Deadly

The numbers are sobering – 3,328 fatalities were link to distracted driving in 2012. That same year, over 421,000 people were injured in automobile accidents involving a distracted driver. While these numbers reflect nationwide data, take a look at Georgia. In 2006, over 130,000 injuries occurred on Georgia roadways. With these numbers, it is likely that you or someone you know has dealt with a traumatic event related to a car accident. It is important to be aware of your legal rights should you or someone you know be involved in an automotive accident. Brownstein & Nguyen’s Atlanta personal injury attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving automobile accidents and distracted driving.

Distracted Driving

Even if you are a careful driver, an automobile wreck can occur due to the negligent driving of another. Negligence can be caused by distractions that occur visually, mentally, or physically. A visual distraction can take a driver’s eyes off of the road. A mental distraction can cause a driver’s mind to be elsewhere. Physical distractions involve anything that could cause a driver to take their hands off of the steering wheel.

Some common driving distractions include:

  • Adjusting music
  • Watching a video
  • Using GPS or reading maps
  • Self grooming (including applying make-up and fixing hair)
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Texting
  • Phone use

Sometimes, distractions are avoidable but accidents still happen. No matter how cautious a driver you are, driving on the roadways involves a certain risk that other drivers are not equally as cautious. Unfortunately, distracted drivers are incapable of giving their full attention to all the necessary details of driving including traffic, road conditions, traffic signals, obstructions and unexpected events. In some cases, such as texting, all three distractions occur simultaneously as texting involves a simultaneous cognitive, manual and visual process.

Atlanta personal injury lawyers Brownstein & Nguyen offer expert legal help in situations involving vehicle or truck wrecks and distracted driving. Contact us for more information regarding the next steps to take should you be involved in a distracted driving accident.

Have You Suffered From Investment Fraud?

A search for synonyms for the noun fraud returns myriad results including cheating, swindling, embezzlement, deceit, deception, double-dealing and chicanery. Unfortunately, these terms are too often associated with financial investments that turn out far different than investors originally expected or hoped. So long as there is profit to be gained through unscrupulous and illegal investment activities, investment and securities fraud will always post a threat to countless individuals and institutions. Investment Fraud

By definition, investment fraud is “the illegal activity of providing false information to someone so that they will invest in something.”  But investor or securities fraud comes in many shapes and varieties. Misrepresentations may be made in writing, such as through a prospectus, offering memorandum, or other investment documents. Misrepresentations may also be made through written or verbal communications such as emails, correspondence and presentations. Typically, misrepresentations are made by an issuer or agent (such as a dealer-broker) of the target investment. However, fraud may also be committed by business partners or principals of a business.

In addition to traditional fraud and misrepresentation, there are other categories of investor fraud claims such as brokers-dealers claims for unsuitability (recommending or selling unsuitable investments to clients), churning (excessive selling-buying within a brokerage account to generate commissions), unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims. Then there are fraudulent investments such as Ponzi schemes, where investors are promised or even shown investment returns that don’t actually exist but instead are paid by new investor money. Ultimately, these houses of cards always collapse leaving investors out in the cold.

There is always a degree of risk involved in financial investments. However, when investment fraud occurs and investors are given false or misleading information before investing, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to accurately gauge the risk and make an informed investment decision. As a result, losses occur – sometimes catastrophic losses – and stunned investors are left wondering what to do. Fortunately, Atlanta attorneys Brownstein and Nguyen are experienced in investment and securities fraud litigation.

They have successfully represented and reclaimed funds for clients involved in real estate, start-up investing, and broker/dealer investment fraud. With stories in the news regarding misrepresentation in investments involving stocks, hedge funds, and precious metals, there are sure to be more individuals out there who have suffered financial loss as a result of an investment fraud.

If you believe that you or someone you know has suffered financial loss as a result of fraud or misrepresentation in an investment, contact Brownstein and Nguyen in Atlanta. However, don’t delay as the law imposes strict time deadlines on investor claims and lawsuits.