For years West Virginia has embraced two contradictory concepts. On one hand, West Virginia law has always given special status and protection to those who are invited onto someone else's property. In fact, a property owner has a legal duty to maintain his property in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of any invitees.
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While oil and natural gas operations reaching and producing from the Marcellus and Utica Shales may be relatively new, oil and gas operations have been conducted in the Ohio Valley for many generations. Our grandparents and great-grandparents often signed leases for the oil and gas underlying their property many years ago. What do those old leases mean to you today, now that you and your generation owns the property? As you can imagine, those old oil and gas leases provided monetary terms that are much less than the monies being paid under newer deep well oil and gas leases. They typically provided for 12.5% royalty payments as opposed to the 18-20+% royalty rates that many are producers are agreeing to pay today. Those old leases typically reached only shallow sandstone deposits because the technology simply did not exist to reach the deeper shale plays. How has the horizontal drilling revolution affected your rights under those old shallow well leases? What are your rights with regard to those old leases? Is production still occurring from those old wells? What should you do if an oil and gas operator approaches you about signing a ratification or amended agreement? These are all issues of concern that you should be aware of.
Around this time of year, you see commercials, signs and billboards that say "Keep Christ in Christmas." After all, the whole reason for the season is Jesus, the Son of God, coming to earth to save the sinner - each of us - from our sins, offering the only way of salvation, and giving the greatest love story ever told. The reason He came was His love for you and me. Unfortunately, Christmas has become so unbelievably commercialized that most of our society has forgotten this. Stores now compete to offer the best Black Friday sales on Thursday and Christmas trees are on display in August beside backpacks and back-to-school specials. Is this really how far we have strayed from the purpose of this time of celebration?
As the year approaches an end, I think back on some of the lawyers from other firms who I have had an opportunity to work with in a co-counsel capacity. It is always very humbling when another firm asks you to work with it to represent their client. This year was particularly special though as I think about some of the great relationships and friendships that I have formed over the past year or two.
Surely by now most, if not all, of us finally understand the dangers of social media. Not long ago Bordas & Bordas attorney Michelle Marinacci wrote an informative blog about how employers have used Facebook posts to justify employee firings. More and more stories keep popping up which showing poor social media decision making. A Facebook photograph recently cost one Virginia attorney his job, hundreds of thousands of dollars and his law license . The picture, however, was not of the attorney, it was of one of his clients. The client was the surviving husband of a woman who was killed in a tragic automobile accident involving a truck owned and operated by a concrete company. Following his wife's death, the man retained an attorney and presented a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit. Sometime after his wife's death, and during the pendency of the lawsuit, the man was photographed at a party wearing a shirt bearing the phrase "I Love Hot Moms!" Of course, the picture was posted to Facebook. An attorney working for the concrete company was ultimately able to view the man's Facebook page when the man himself sent a message to the attorney. Not surprisingly, the attorney then followed up with formal discovery requests to be provided with copies of information and posts from the man's Facebook page. To prove that bad decisions are not limited to clients, the attorney representing the family of the deceased woman immediately advised his staff to have their client "clean up" his Facebook page to avoid such evidence from showing up at trial. The client subsequently erased several pictures from his page.-- article about the case
You can imagine all of the preparations that would have to be made if the President visited your hometown. Naturally, the President would require the best accommodations including a plush hotel, food, and all of the amenities. Transportation would have to be provided. Security would obviously be a major concern. So would crowd control. Why? Because where the President goes, so does his entourage, the press and, of course, thousands upon thousands of onlookers. But the situation was very different 2,000 years ago.
Catch this week's edition of the regionally beloved Bordas & Bordas Legal Review. Jamie Bordas and guest Chris Regan discuss important cases on worker safety decided by West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals this last term. Find out if the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" defense worked out for one employer and whether or not employers can blame their own employees for on-the-job injuries, even where the employer knew that the employee had been subjected to an unsafe condition.
Over a year ago Bordas & Bordas, PLLC brought you information about the massive safety concerns surrounding exploding gas cans and how the manufactures of those gas cans could take a simple and inexpensive step to avoid catastrophic injury to their consumers. This story is now making national news. NBC News Investigations has prepared an investigative article about this issue. The story aired on the TODAY SHOW on December 4, 2013. The story highlighted that after significant testing and inquiries, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a statement calling on the consumer gas can industry to incorporate flame-arrester technology into gasoline containers. For your ease and enjoyment, we have republished attorney Jeremy McGraw's previous article on the topic below:
We've probably all heard Sergeant Shultz from Hogan's Heroes bellow out emphatically: "I see nothing!" In McComas vs. AFC Industries, LLC, No. 12-0548 (W.Va. October 17, 2013), the employer attempted to invent a Sergeant Shultz-type defense in deliberate intent cases. Thankfully, the West Virginia Supreme Court rejected this attempt to avoid an employer's duty to conduct mandatory safety inspections. The plaintiff, David McComas, was a welder by trade. His employer, AFC Industries, was a company that built railroad cars. McComas, joined by two other welders, were assigned to a part of AFC's plant that had been out of operation and all electrical power had been shut off. When McComas attempted to restart the power at an electrical box, an arc blast occurred. McComas was thrown to the floor, and despite wearing all of the required safety equipment including hat, goggles and gloves, he suffered severe burns to 25% of his body. It turns out that the electrical box had been installed over 50 years before this tragic incident and, incredibly, that AFC had never inspected it.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't hear a story in our office about telephone calls we receive by people in need. Many of the people who call don't really have a case that will be filed in a court of law, but rather have an issue that is bothering them that needs to be listened to, addressed and have suggestions offered for resolution. There have been numerous times over the course of my practice of law that people on the other end of the phone have thanked me simply for taking the time to listen. It still surprises me, even today, when I am thanked simply for listening. One would hope that most would listen even if they are not able to act on the problem that is being presented. Nonetheless, that doesn't seem to be the case. There are oftentimes things I would much rather be doing than listening to a person talk about a problem that I know will be a case that we will not be able to take. As a lawyer, I have a duty as a brother of lawyers to listen so that the public receives a good impression of me and lawyers in general. If for no other reason, I would encourage other lawyers to take the time to accept phone calls and listen even though you know from the first few seconds of the conversation that the caller is describing to you a case you will not be able to take, still pay respect to the individual by listening to the problems they are presenting you. I have found this listening thing to be a lifelong quest. Certainly, I have had my wife tell me a number of times that she said something when I simply must not have been listening. That is a problem I've been working on since the day we got married. I am still not as good as I would like to be but I am much better than I was as a young husband.