Uncontested Divorces in Texas- How do they Really Work?

Returning wedding ringUnder Texas Law, several factors are considered by the Courts in determining what happens with children and property. Two parties may make agreements and those agreements will be considered by the Court to determine if they are a just and right division of the community property and whether the agreement is in the best interest of the child or children.

Uncontested divorces can be very useful in saving thousands of dollars in attorney fees, in saving much embarrassment from the community regarding personal and private information becoming a matter of public record, and in saving time from numerous hearings and hours in the courtroom.

It is important that if you are pursuing an agreed divorce where both sides have worked out all the issues, that you understand your full rights regarding the custody and care of the children, and that you understand the scope of the property that you are entitled to divide. Sometimes, property that one is entitled to get is never revealed or known. It is important to have a skilled attorney be able to discover what property is up for agreement, so that a just and right division of property may be proposed to the Court. Many times, one party will represent there is “nothing to divide” when there are retirement accounts and gifts made to other parties and properties held in trust by relatives etc.

For more information on how The Barrera Law Firm and Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera can assist you in an uncontested divorce, call 956-428-2822.

The Risks of Risperdal Use for Males – and How to Fight Back

PillsHave you or someone in your family been prescribed Risperdal to combat symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or autism? Have complications from use of that drug – including diabetes, weight gain, sexual dysfunction or gynecomastia (breast enlargement in males) – caused undue pain and suffering?

Then you may be entitled to a settlement from the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.

Evidence that Risperdal is a dangerous drug abounds. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmachology, has linked it to increased levels of prolactin. This is a hormone that stimulates milk production and breast enlargement.

What concerns researchers about this particular finding is that the long-term effects of this hormonal imbalance – especially in children and adolescents and especially with regard to such issues as infertility, low mineral density in bones and pubertal delay – is not well-documented. These unknowns have caused them to conclude that Risperdal should prescribed “with caution” to the young.

Another recent study from the University of British Columbia has shown that an undeniable link between Risperdal use and breast enlargement in adult men. Researchers found that those taking Risperdal had a 7 in 10 chance of developing this condition than those who did not. They based their conclusion on a study of data retrieved from a US health claims database that contained information on about 1 million adult males.

The Food and Drug Administration has also issued numerous warnings regarding Risperdal. And to date, over 400 lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer, which has spent billions of dollars already to quell allegations that it illegally marketed Risperdal, along with several other dangerous drugs.

Some of the other side effects of Risperdal include:

  • Production of milk from breasts (galactorrhea)
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Heart problems/attacks and irregular heart rhythm
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
  • Involuntary movement disorder (tardive dyskinesia)
  • Increased risk of death among elderly people with dementia
  • Pancreatitis

The Barrera Law Firm is committed to fighting for its clients’ rights. Our experienced legal team will review your claim at no cost. If we believe your case qualifies, we will work with you to ensure that you receive the settlement you deserve. Don’t let Risperdal destroy your life or the lives of your loved ones any further: contact us today!

Dangers of Medicaid and Medicare Fraud

If you are aware of Medicaid or Medicare fraud, call The Barrera Law Firm

It is an unfortunate system we find ourselves in today, when the institutions of medicine we entrust with our health commit fraud in order to gain access to government funds. Medicaid and Medicare fraud is rampant in America, and the ramifications effect society at multiple levels. You may become aware of Medicaid or Medicare fraud being committed either as a patient or as a health care professional. Due to the inherent dangers of medicaid and Medicare fraud, it is important for it to be reported to authorities through the proper channels with the aid of a lawyer.

  1. Medicare fraud is harmful to the elderly. Medicare is supposed to be available for those of our society who are 65 and older. Often times, the elderly have health problems or complications that can stick them with medical bills that are financially unable to pay. Medicare fraud, or the funneling of Medicare funds to those who don’t really need it, means that these funds aren’t available for the elderly patients who need them to survive.
  2. Can result in the wrongful diagnosis of disease. Too often, medicare professionals diagnose an illness too quickly and prescribe medication to patients in order to get a hold of Medicare funds. For example, in Texas, unscrupulous psychiatrists often take advantage of children from low income families by convincing the family that their child has a psychological illness that must be treated by them and their prescription drugs. More often than not, the wrongful diagnosis actually prevents the real issue, if there even is one, from being discovered. These children often end up suffering permanent damage from the treatment. As a health care worker who is witness to this type of fraud, you can be held liable in a lawsuit if you do not report it.
  3. Results in wrongful healthcare statistics. Many science studies today depend on data from reports filed by physicians. When patients are misdiagnosed by deceitful physicians trying to access Medicare and Medicaid funds, the data reported to health agencies results in a skewed view of the actual health of the nation. Since these statistics are used by lawmakers and those who direct policies regarding public health, wrongful diagnosis by those knowingly committing health care fraud actually has nationwide ramifications.
  4. Drugging of the elderly in nursing homes. One of the most types of Medicare and Medicaid fraud is the drugging of the elderly in nursing homes. These are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Nursing homes often time receive kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing powerful anti-psychotic drugs to the elderly, whether they need them or not. Oftentimes, these drugs lead to other complications and even an early death to their users. If you are a private citizen or health care worker who is witness to this type of action taking place, you have a lawful and moral obligation to report it to the proper authorities. A law firm specializing in Medicare and Medicaid fraud can guide you on a correct course of action.

Effexor Recall Underway Due to Wrong Drug in Bottle

PillsI have already written about the anti-depressant drug Effexor and its dangerous and deadly potential effects on pregnant women and their unborn children.

A further hazard with the drug just surfaced this last week when Effexor’s manufacturer Phizer issued a recall on March 6th. The recall came about because a pharmacist discovered that a bottle of Pfizer’s Effexor XR contained one capsule of Tikosyn® (dofetilide) in addition to the regular Effexor XR capsules. Tikosyn has serious adverse health consequences that could be fatal per the FDA.The most prominent and deadly side effect of Tikosyn is that it starts an abnormal heartbeat that can be fatal. Signs of an abnormal heartbeat include dizziness, fainting and a racing heart rate.

The FDA has issued a news release on the recall.

Effexor already has a long list of potentially deadly health problems associated with its use during pregnancy.

  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Cleft Palate
  • Anencephaly
  • Omphalocele
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Primary pulmonary hypertension of the neonate
  • Transposition of the great arteries and other heart defects
  • Feeding and swallowing problems
  • Aspiration and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Sedation
  • “SIDS”

If you or a loved one has been affected by taking Effexor, contact The Barrera Law Firm, PC at 956 428 2822 to find out if your case can be pursued against Pfizer, maker of Effexor.

Facebook and Divorce

I appeared on Action 4 News this week to comment on the use of Facebook postings in legal cases, particularly divorce.

Here is the story and the video:

Action 4 News Story

Commenting on some pictures while on Facebook can land you in court

Be careful with what you post in Facebook because it may be held against you in court.

Attorneys can now use Facebook posts, pictures and comments as evidence.

“It is a very effective tool for a skilled divorce attorney to use Facebook in a way to show that there might be foul play in divorce,” Ricardo Barrera, attorney, said. “That there might be some neglect towards children or somebody not acting to the best interest of their child.”

Last year in Cameron County 1,433 divorces were granted.

Harlingen attorney Ricardo Barrera tells Action 4 News, half of those cases involve couples with children.

Barrera says over the last 2 years, more couples are using Facebook to prove their cases.

“There could be evidence of adultery, criminality, all kinds of things that can lead a jury or judge to believe there is foul play on divorce,” Barrera said.

Barrera said he’s used Facebook as evidence in over a dozen cases.

He said that it’s not only those getting divorced that must testify, but also those who like or comment on your posts or pictures.

“People can be made to testify what is in the picture or ever having seen the picture.” Barrera said.

If you say no, you could get subpoenaed.

“My advice is watch what you post, make sure that you understand when you put something out there, that’s public knowledge and can be used against you in court.”

How do Courts Really Divide Property in a Divorce?

Under Texas Law, the Courts look to accomplish a “just and right division” of the community property. Community property is property that was acquired during the marriage, that was not inherited or gifted. However, any property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property by the Court unless the opposing party shows that it is not. Community property is not just your house, land, and cash, but it also includes debts that were acquired during the marriage, retirement benefits, and in some cases, other benefits depending on what they are.

Sometimes before the marriage began, one party may have invested money they earned before the marriage into property that was acquired during the marriage. If that is the case, a competent attorney will gather evidence of this transaction in a form that the Court will accept in order to make a claim for reimbursement out of the community funds.

The simplest way to explain how things go, in a divorce as to the division of community property, is that it hinges on whether a “no fault” or “fault” based divorce exists. If a claim is made with proper evidence to back it up that except for some act of adultery, cruelty, violence, fraud, etc. the marriage would have continued, then the court will look to giving more than just a split down the middle to one or either party. This is where you get the concept of “he or she got everything” in the clearest example of fault based divorce.

In the end, there are many factors taken into account in dividing marital property. Know your rights and know what questions your attorney should ask because you may not even know that you are entitled to more than you originally thought.

New Testimonial

I have just received a new testimonial that I would like to share.

Attorney Ric Barrera successfully got my case dismissed when the Texas Board of Nursing attempted to take my license away after I reported abuse in a Texas psych ward. Mr. Barrera dismantled the case against me, got to the root of the people behind it and turned it around on the perpetrators after he got my case thrown out. — AA

Are Whistleblowers Stopped from Reporting Fraud by Non- Disclosure Agreements?

In general, non-disclosure agreements do not effectively silence whistleblowers who would report a fraud designed to bilk government health programs under certain circumstances. In fact, there is strong public policy in favor of protecting whistleblowers who report fraud against the government. However, the Court will consider the scope and the volume of the documents that are taken in making its consideration as well as many other factors in order to determine that the whistleblower acted reasonably and did not conduct extra judiciary discovery.

In fact, the American Psychiatric Association required its task force members for the new Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM 5) to execute a non-disclosure agreement, which essentially eliminated transparency. The DSM is the psychiatric catalog of mental illnesses which has grown to over 370 mental illnesses in its latest rendition, including dubious diagnoses such as reading disorder, disorder of written expression, mathematics disorder and caffeine intoxication disorder. Each named disorder is coded for government and private insurance billing purposes.

The interesting part about that is that each member of the 27-person DSM-5 task force, those writing and editing the manual, had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and that 69% of those task force members had ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which arguably can be seen to load the deck for voting purposes.

Unfortunately, the DSM 5 task force made it is easier than ever to diagnose many people with a mental disorder due to the broad categories now available and suspect “illnesses” such as internet gaming addiction, binge eating and caffeine withdrawal. The taxpayer is going to be shelling out big bucks for pharmaceuticals and mental health “treatment” for these things, straining an already overburdened health care system.

Whistleblowers may be entitled to a portion of the recovery of any found to be part of a scheme to defraud government health programs.

It is necessary that an attorney that is competent to advise whistleblowers be utilized early in the reporting of fraud when a non-disclosure agreement is employed so that the information may be effectively employed and the whistleblower may be effectively protected.

Antipsychotics Linked to Sudden Cardiac Death

Doctor with RX prescriptionAntipsychotic drugs have proven to be one of the most profitable commodities of Big Pharma. In fact, Zyprexa has made Eli Lilly over $70 billion. It is sold at $12 a pill and is used by many state institutions and state foster care programs, at a steep cost to the tax payer.

However, a recent study has shown that Zyprexa, Risperdal, Haldol, and other antipsychotics dramatically increase the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). In fact, the Oregon Sudden Unexplained Death Study conducted by Dr. Audrey Uy-Evanado of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that individuals on these drugs tripled their risk of sudden cardiac death and that there is a direct link between these drugs and this fatal condition.

No one should have to die as the result of treatment with these drugs and families who have had a member do so should seriously consider bringing a legal suit against the drug manufacturer.

In order to be successful against Big Pharma in such a lawsuit concerning, one would need to show that the medication was the cause of death and other factors must be ruled out or shown not to be the cause of death. Medical research now appears to back up such a claim.

Consumers need to be protected and drug manufacturers who allow such dangerous products to be on the market should be punished.

Successfully Protecting Nurses and Doctors from Whistleblower Retaliation and Board Complaints

Can a hospital or medical clinic bring a State licensing board complaint against a whistleblower for blowing the whistle on fraud and/or substandard care?

Unfortunately, this is an all too often strategy used to discredit those who seek to take a stand in protecting their patients and their own professional licenses.

The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) provides protection for whistleblowers against retaliation. However, it is necessary for a skilled attorney to be brought on early in the fraud reporting process to provide the strong legal armor needed to fend off the desperate attempts of civilly and criminally liable fraudsters.

The FCA allows an individual with evidence of fraud against the federal government, to sue the perpetrator to recover the stolen funds and is rewarded by a percentage of the funds recovered. Prohibited retaliation includes: termination, suspension, demotion, harassment or any other discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment. In order to prevail, an employee must prove: (1) that the employee took action in furtherance of an FCA action; (2) that the employer knew about these acts; and (3) that the employer discriminated against the employee because of such conduct.

A person with knowledge of a scheme to defraud government health programs such as medicare, medicaid, and tri-care is essentially between a rock in hard place. If a person ignores the fraud exists, they may be implicated later for being complicit with the scheme, lose their state license, and face the embarrassment of a government probe, or they can retain an attorney with skill and knowledge on the Federal False Claims Act so that they may retain their rights and earn a portion of the money recovered.

The correct strategy is to consult an attorney prior to taking steps and actions that may lead you into the traps that are carefully laid to discredit the whistleblower and strip them of their professional credentials.