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M&B Partner Doug Martinson Makes Guest Appearance on Next Lawyer up Podcast

Doug Martinson, II - AttorneyMartinson & Beason, P.C. partner Doug Martinson recently sat down with fellow local attorney Ron Sykstus for an interview on Sykstus’ podcast, Next Lawyer Up, which features discussions with local attorneys from north Alabama.

The pair discussed various topics including the practice of law, Huntsville history, service to the community, hockey, and upcoming speakers for the Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association. Doug also shared Martinson & Beason history, including the firm’s formation in 1937, the move to the current location in the 1970s, and the growth of the firm over the years.

Sykstus is a partner with the prominent bankruptcy firm Bond & Botes, P.C., and practices primarily in the consumer bankruptcy and debt protection area of the law. Previous Next Lawyer Up guests have included Amy Tanner, Tommy Siniard, Allen & John Brinkley, Derek Simpson, and Taze Shepard.

The Next Lawyer Up podcast is available here.

New Doctors’ Days to Get Longer: What Does it Mean for Patients?

New doctors will soon be able to work up to 28 hours in a row on a single shift under a new regulation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The regulation applies to residents – doctors who have completed medical school but are not yet attending physicians. Under the current regulation, which went into effect in 2011, residents can only work a maximum of 16 hours in a single shift. The new regulation, set to take effect July 1st, 2017, allows regular shifts for residents of up to 24 hours, with a possible four hour extension if the resident is transitioning a patient to another doctor. However, the doctor’s hours are still limited to a maximum of 80 in one week.

While it is not uncommon for physicians to work very long hours, sleep deprivation can be detrimental to delivering quality healthcare. Lack of sleep can result in many harmful effects such as impaired brain activity, memory problems, cognitive dysfunction, moodiness, depression, weakened immune response, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and an increase in the likelihood of accidents. In addition, extreme sleep deprivation, such as that allowed by the new regulation, can lead to ‘microsleeps’, in which people fall asleep for up to thirty seconds, potentially with their eyes open. [Read more…]

Man Steals Half a Million in Financial Elder Abuse Case

A Texas man was recently indicted in an appalling case of financial elder abuse that happened in Madison County, AL, according to a report from al.com. The federal indictment alleges that Dwayne Elllis Baptiste concocted a scheme to steal $545,000 from a retired Lockheed Martin employee who is now deceased. Baptiste became acquainted with the elderly man, Ralph Swinehart, as well as his son, Ronald Swinehart, in 2011. Both Swineharts died within a few days of each other in October of 2011. In order to carry out the scheme, Batiste filed a fraudulent Power of Attorney in Madison County Probate Court, and then proceeded to empty the senior Mr. Swinehart’s retirement accounts. If convicted, the maximum penalties for the crimes include 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $1 million.

Although this case involved a violation of federal law, Alabama has criminalized the exploitation of elderly people through the Protecting Alabama’s Elders Act. The law makes first degree intentional elder abuse a class A felony. Ala. Code § 38-9E-3. Financial abuse of an elderly person in the first degree, which includes cases of theft over $2,500, is a Class B felony under the law. Ala. Code § 38-9E-6. [Read more…]

Car Seat Safety – Protecting Your Child

Accidents can happen to anyone. It is critically important that your child is in the correct car seat and that it is also installed correctly to best prevent injuries in the case of an accident. Click below to view the full infographic to ensure your child is safe when riding in your car.



Analyzing Alabama DUI Law in Light of Arrest of Madison Mayor’s Wife

Serious traffic offenses seem to be a common occurrence in Huntsville, and this topic became more prevalent recently following the arrest of Julie Finley, the spouse of Madison mayor, Paul Finley, on suspicion of DUI and reckless driving. Local news outlets reported that she was pulled over for driving 103 miles per hour on I-565 (65 mph zone), complied with a “preliminary breath test” that generated a result of .273 blood alcohol content (BAC), which is over three times the legal limit. However, that same news report also states that she refused a BAC test, which may have been a more sophisticated blood or chemical test for alcohol content than the breath test. Ultimately, the articles do not provide enough facts to make a full legal analysis, but raise some good issues to consider in DUI and reckless driving cases:

Breath Test Refusal

First, if you refuse any test to determine blood alcohol concentration, then there will be a 90- day suspension of your license. Code of Alabama 32-5-192. This would apply to the BAC test that Ms. Finley refused, according to the article, so it would appear she will face a 90-day suspension of her license, regardless of the outcome of the case. [Read more…]

New Safeguards in Place for the Protection of Nursing Home Residents

Nursing Home Care Attorneys

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revised regulations for nursing home facilities, which may help prevent elder abuse and make life for residents a little better. The regulations apply to all nursing homes that participate in Medicaid/Medicare programs. For a complete look at the old and new regulations, check out this side-by-side comparison from The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. Here’s a quick summary of some of the major changes: [Read more…]

Knowing Who Services Your Student Loan Can Pay

Corporate Law Attorneys

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of millions of student borrowers who may have been illegally cheated or deceived by Navient, the nation’s largest servicer of student loan debt. Navient, formerly known as Sallie May, who also services student loan debt. Navient counts over 12 million borrowers with over $300 billion in debt. The Navient lawsuit comes at a time of growing student loan debt, which now stands at more than $1.4 trillion dollars nationally. [Read more…]

Alabama Law Requires a Jury’s Verdict to be Unanimous

courtroomA mistrial was declared in a Huntsville, AL criminal case where a man is on trial for shooting his daughter’s boyfriend. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of Fitzgerald McQueen, who shot his daughter’s boyfriend after finding him naked in his daughter’s closet late at night. McQueen argued self-defense, in that he went to check on his daughter, only to find the naked man, Jaizon Collins, in hiding. Conversely, the prosecution argued that McQueen shot Collins out of anger. Collins, who was not killed in the attack, was charged with statutory rape due to the age difference with the daughter. However, those charges were dropped and the case was removed to juvenile court.

Alabama law requires that the jury reach a unanimous verdict. Ala. R. Crim. P. 23. When the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, the judge declares a mistrial. Before declaring a mistrial, however, the judge often instructs the jury to try deeply to reach a unanimous verdict. This is sometimes known as a “dynamite charge.” If the jury is still unable to reach a unanimous decision, the mistrial is declared. The prosecution must then decide whether to bring charges once again. In this case, Circuit Judge Donna Pate has already set the case for retrial in September of this year.

[Read more…]

Uninsured/Underinsured (UM) Motorist Coverage Update: Validity of Declining UM Coverage by Electronic Signature Remains in Question

Car crashUnder Alabama law, all car insurance policies must provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM coverage). Ala. Code § 32-7-23. Nevertheless, in spite of this mandate, 22% of drivers do not have liability insurance. UM coverage is vitally important in that it protects drivers and passengers who have an accident caused by someone else who lacks car insurance altogether, or who has insufficient liability insurance. In the event you have an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist, you may file a claim with your own insurance company under your UM policy. Each insurance policy sold in Alabama is required to have at least $25,000 per person in coverage for personal injuries. Even if you do not see an uninsured/underinsured motorist provision in your car insurance policy, you still have the minimum coverage, unless you sign a written waiver declining the coverage.

In Johnson v. First Acceptance Insurance Company, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently considered the case of Mr. Johnson, whose underinsured motorist claim was originally denied by his own insurance provider, First Acceptance. The parties agree that Mr. Johnson was assisted in submitting an electronic application for insurance with the help of a First Acceptance agent. However, the parties dispute whether Mr. Johnson actually electronically signed his name in a waiver of UM coverage. First Acceptance Insurance argued that Mr. Johnson declined uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage through an electronic signature; Mr. Johnson denies he ever declined UM coverage. The Court ultimately decided not to rule on the validity of an electronic signature in declining UM coverage, but did allow Mr. Johnson’s case to continue, based on the parties’ factual dispute of the facts. We look forward to the outcome of the case.

[Read more…]

Announcing Our New Partner: Andrew M. Sieja

Andrew M. SiejaMartinson & Beason is pleased to announce our new partner, Andrew M. Sieja. Andy began working with the firm in 2009 when he returned to the Huntsville area after practicing in Dallas, Texas. Andy is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas after having attained his bachelor’s degree at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Andy regularly represents and advises his clients in several areas from probate, probate litigation, and estate planning to business formation, transactions, and litigation. Andy enjoys being able to represent his clients on a wide array of areas and is integral in making Martinson & Beason a full-service law firm.

Andy is an active member of the Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville, has served on its Board of Directors, and is on the Board of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. He believes strongly in giving back to his community and regularly provides pro bono legal services to clients through the Madison County Volunteer Lawyer Program.

Martinson & Beason is proud to add Andy as a partner and looks forward to his continued contribution to the firm’s long history and storied reputation.

Martinson & Beason, P.C.