Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP RSS Feed Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Nunnally Partner Alana Ackels Recognized Among Dallas Business Journal's "40 Under 40"<div style="text-align: justify;">Bell Nunnally Partner Alana K. Ackels has been named among the &ldquo;40 Under 40&rdquo; in 2019 by the<em> Dallas Business Journal</em>. She will be honored at an awards dinner on March 21 and featured in the March 23 print edition.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As a firm, we congratulate Alana on her selection. Her dedication to client service, the community and helping advance the legal profession truly make her a rising star,&rdquo; said James Skochdopole, Bell Nunnally managing partner.<br /> <br /> Ackels was selected after the review of several hundred nominations by a judging panel comprised of past winners from a wide-swath of industries and roles in the private, public and non-profit sectors. She joins past Bell Nunnally honorees Christopher B. Trowbridge (2012) and R. Heath Cheek (2013).<br /> <br /> Ackels is a member of Bell Nunnally&rsquo;s Labor, Employment and Benefits; Litigation; and Workplace Culture and Misconduct Investigation practices. Alana works for companies of all sizes, advising them on how to minimize risk, protect key business assets, and navigate the state and federal laws governing the employer-employee relationship. Ackels also prepares employment contracts, confidentiality and non-competition agreements, employee handbooks and other key employment policies. She also guides employers through the process of opting out of workers compensation in Texas by crafting injury benefit plans, managing the rollout, consulting on difficult claims, and handling litigation when it arises. Alana assists employers in difficult terminations, conducts workplace investigations, provides strategic advice for successful corporate transitions, manages reductions in force, counsels clients on difficult leave of absence issues, and audits companies for compliance with wage and hour laws. <br /> <br /> In the litigation setting, Ackels defends employers in claims involving discrimination, harassment, unpaid wages, trade secrets, and non-compete matters. She also handles complex business disputes, non-subscriber negligence claims, certain employee benefit challenges under ERISA, and insurance coverage disputes. <br /> <br /> Highlighted in Ackels&rsquo; nomination is her ongoing commitment to fostering greater gender parity and inclusion and seeing more women equity partners in the law. She serves on the Steering Committee of Bell Nunnally&rsquo;s Women&rsquo;s Initiative, which promotes the retention and advancement of women in the firm and the community. Ackels also works with the firm&rsquo;s female attorneys on business development, mentorship, communication style, community involvement and work-life balance. <br /> <br /> Active in the community, Ackels serves on the board and is the fundraising chair for Women With Promise, a North Texas-based non-profit led by a diverse group of successful business women. In addition to providing a scholarship fund for non-traditional female students who are seeking to break the cycle of poverty in their families, Women With Promise supports other local agencies with time, leadership and monetary donations to assist women in need.<br /> <br /> Honored by her legal peers, Ackels is featured in &ldquo;The Best Lawyers in America 2019&rdquo; and was named to D Magazine's &quot;Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas&quot; List in 2018. She has also been featured in <em>Texas Monthly</em> as a &ldquo;Texas Rising Star&rdquo; every year since 2015.<br /> <br /> Ackels earned both her law and undergraduate degrees at Southern Methodist University (J.D., <em>cum laude</em>, 2009 and B.A., <em>cum laude</em>, 2006).<br /> <br /> <br /> Media Contact:<br /> Brittany Lewis<br /> Marketing Manager<br /><br /> 214-880-6661</div>Press Releases14 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Nunnally Featured on the Dallas Business Journal Nunnally is featured on the <a href=""><em>Dallas Business Journal</em></a> for hosting a VIP cocktail reception for the 2019 Minority Business Leader Awards honorees.News11 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Wallace and Ross Angus Williams Secure Take-Nothing Judgment in Million Dollar-Plus Nonsubscriber Work Injury Claim<div style="text-align: justify;">Partners Jay M. Wallace and Ross Angus Williams recently secured a take-nothing arbitration ruling in favor of their client, a home furnishings and electronics retailer and nonsubscribing employer. The ruling followed a two-day final evidentiary hearing in the Rio Grande Valley, involving eleven witnesses (including four experts), in a matter brought by a former employee who sustained an injury at work and sought over $1.1M in damages. The claimant, who worked on a forklift in a warehouse, admitted after his early morning accident that he had taken drugs the night before. This admission was backed-up by a subsequent, post-incident drug test and formed the basis of his employment termination. As the company is a nonsubscribing employer, employee workers&rsquo; compensation claims are adjudicated through the arbitration process. In this instance, the arbitrator rejected assertions that the company was negligent in its safety policies and procedures, found that the company was not a contributor to the injury sustained, and ruled that the company had provided the employee with a safe way to do his job. The arbitrator ruled the company owes no compensation to the former employee, and largely placed blame for the injury on the employee&rsquo;s drug use.</div>News11 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Legal Exchange Conference<div style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Event Details:</strong><br /> <br /> Partner John Smart is presenting on the topic of immigration at the DallasHR February Legal Exchange Conference. The event will focus on hot topics regarding Employment Law. <br /> <br /> <strong>Date/Location:</strong><br /> <br /> Tuesday, February 12, 2019 <br /> 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM<br /> DoubleTree Hotel Near the Galleria<br /> 4099 Valley View Lane<br /> Dallas, TX 75224<br /> <br /> <strong>Overview:</strong><br /> <br /> All of the programming for the February Legal Exchange event will focus on the topics of Employment Law and will be led by local attorneys. For the full legal exchange, attendees will hear two presentations in the morning, beginning with an overview of legal issues impacting the workplace today. After the lunch presentation, attendees have the opportunity to hear from five attorneys on five hot topics and ask questions in a dynamic discussion.<br /> <br /> For more information or to register, please click <a href=";New_ContentCollectionOrganizerCommon=3#New_ContentCollectionOrganizerCommon">here</a>.</div> <br />Events11 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Rob Long on The Recorder/ALM Breaks Down Recent SEC Setback Regarding Cryptocurrency Regulation<div style="text-align: justify;">Partner Robert Long authored The Recorder/ALM article titled, &ldquo;In ICO Case, It's No Security, No Investors, No Problem,&rdquo; exploring a late November 2018 ruling by a federal court in Southern California finding that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (&ldquo;SEC&rdquo;) had failed to demonstrate that an initial coin offering (ICO) was a &ldquo;securities&rdquo; offering, as alleged by the SEC. Long served 10 years at the SEC as a member of its Division of Enforcement.<br /> <br /> The ICO in question involved Blockvest. The SEC claimed that the defendants representations to investors were deceptive as they claimed the offering was &ldquo;approved&rdquo; by the SEC and compliant with the federal securities laws. The SEC also alleged that Blockvest and its principal misused the SEC seal, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission seal, and the logo of the National Futures Association, and created a fictitious regulatory agency, the &ldquo;Blockchain Exchange Commission.&rdquo; Ultimately, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California refused to grant the SEC&rsquo;s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the SEC failed to establish that investors had purchased &ldquo;securities&rdquo; and that the investors had an expectation of profit. In issuing its order, the Court appeared swayed by evidence provided by the defense, including affidavits from investors stating that they were actually &ldquo;testers&rdquo; who were testing and developing the Blockvest platform.<br /> <br /> Full text of Long&rsquo;s article is below and can be viewed on The Recorder&rsquo;s website, by clicking <a href="">here</a>.<br /> <br /> <em><span style="font-size: larger;"><strong>In ICO Case, It's No Security, No Investors, No Problem</strong></span><br /> <br /> An SEC case, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link.<br /> <br /> On Oct. 3, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency enforcement action in federal court against Blockvest and its founder, Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III, aka Rasool Abdul Rahim El (&ldquo;Ringgold&rdquo;). SEC v. Blockvest, Case No. 3:18-cv-02287 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2018). In many ways, the case looked like a textbook securities fraud case with some extra sizzle because it involves an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and a cryptocurrency exchange.<br /> <br /> The SEC&rsquo;s complaint suggests that the defendants raised more than $2.5 million, and makes clear allegations of fraud and false statements. Among other things, the SEC alleges that the defendants falsely claimed that: the ICO and exchange were &ldquo;approved&rdquo; by the SEC; the company&rsquo;s offering is SEC Regulation A+ compliant; and they &ldquo;partnered&rdquo; with and would be &ldquo;audited by&rdquo; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (&ldquo;Deloitte&rdquo;). The SEC&rsquo;s complaint also alleges Blockvest and Ringgold misused the SEC&rsquo;s seal, as well as the seal of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association (NFA) logo, and created a fictitious regulatory agency, the &ldquo;Blockchain Exchange Commission.&rdquo;[1] Based on the SEC&rsquo;s ex parte application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) freezing assets, prohibiting the production of documents, and granting expedited discovery and requiring an accounting, United States District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel entered a TRO against the defendants on Oct. 5, 2018.<br /> <br /> With the TRO entered, the battle over the preliminary injunction began. To obtain a preliminary injunction in an SEC enforcement case, the SEC must, generally, show: (1) a prima facie case of previous federal securities law violations; and (2) a reasonable likelihood that the violations will be repeated. Based on the TRO application, the SEC&rsquo;s case looked compelling. Nevertheless, attorneys for Blockvest and Ringgold mounted a rigorous defense.<br /> <br /> Evidence was presented in a declaration by Ringgold that, although &ldquo;mistakes were made, none of [the misrepresentations or omissions alleged by the SEC] was made in connection with the purchase and sale of securities.&rdquo; According to Ringgold, Blockvest &ldquo;never sold any tokens to the public.&rdquo; Rather, Ringgold explained that Blockvest&rsquo;s tokens (&ldquo;BLV&rdquo;) were used for &ldquo;testing and development&rdquo; by &ldquo;32 partner testers.&rdquo; Ringgold also declared that Rosegold Investment, the manager of Blockvest, had only 17 investors, other than himself and Blockvest&rsquo;s CFO. Amazingly, nine of those investors submitted declarations in support of the defendants.[2] Yes, the defendants&mdash;not the SEC. Most of the nine stated that they did not buy BLV tokens or rely on any of the representations the SEC has alleged are false.<br /> <br /> Moreover, with respect to the SEC&rsquo;s allegation that Ringgold had claimed to have raised $2.5 million, Ringgold stated that Blockvest entered into transactions, which &ldquo;I thought raised approximately $2.5 million for Blockvest. But they did not.&rdquo; According to Ringgold, he entered a transaction to exchange 10 percent of Blockvest for $2.5 million marketable cryptocurrencies, but the counter-party to the transactions never delivered the cryptocurrencies.<br /> <br /> For its part, the SEC had a hole in its application. Although its application was chock-full of declarations, including declarations from a third party and employees of the NFA, Vanguard, Deloitte and the SEC, it did not include a single declaration from an investor. No investor to declare, &ldquo;I bought BLV tokens&rdquo; or &ldquo;I invested in the ICO&rdquo; or &ldquo;I made my investment after reading Blockvest&rsquo;s whitepaper and hoped to make a profit.&rdquo; The hole was costly.<br /> <br /> On Nov. 27, 2018, the court denied the SEC&rsquo;s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. With regard to whether the SEC had shown a prima facie case of federal securities law violations, the court first considered whether the SEC demonstrated a &ldquo;security&rdquo; was involved. Applying the Howey test, the court analyzed whether an &ldquo;investment contract&rdquo; was present&mdash;whether there was (1) an investment of money (2) in a common enterprise (3) with an expectation of profits to be produced by the efforts of others. See SEC v. W.J. Howey Co., 328 U.S. 293, 298-99 (1946); SEC v. Rubera, 350 F. 3d 1084, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003); SEC v. Shavers, Case No. 13-cv-414, 2014 WL 12622292 at *6 (E.D. Texas Aug. 26, 2014).<br /> <br /> With respect to the first prong of the Howey test, the court found that there were disputed issues of fact. For example, the court noted the defendants presented evidence that they did not raise $2.5 million and the 32 &ldquo;investors&rdquo; were actually &ldquo;testers.&rdquo; As to the second prong of the Howey test, the court found that the SEC had failed to demonstrate that the &ldquo;32 test investors&rdquo; had an expectation of profits. The court also considered whether the 17 individuals who invested in Rosegold purchased securities. Again, however, the court found disputed issues of fact and referenced the nine individuals that had asserted that they did not buy BLV tokens or rely on any representations that the SEC has alleged are false.<br /> <br /> In its order, the court next found that the SEC had failed to establish that the defendants were reasonably likely to continue to violate the federal securities laws. Given the foregoing, this is no surprise. The court also seemed swayed by Ringgold&rsquo;s assertion that he would not pursue the ICO and would provide the SEC with 30 days&rsquo; notice if defendants decided to do so after all.<br /> <br /> Blockvest and Ringgold won the battle. No preliminary injunction was entered. What is the takeaway? Well, given that the agency&rsquo;s mission is to &ldquo;protect investors,&rdquo; you would expect that they would talk to some before filing an enforcement action seeking such extraordinary relief&mdash;TRO, asset freeze, accounting, etc. Did they here? I don&rsquo;t know. But I bet they wish they had submitted an investor declaration or two. An SEC case, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link.<br /> <br /> The SEC is not giving up, however. On Dec. 17, 2018, the staff filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration stating that it had &ldquo;grave concerns&rdquo; about the court&rsquo;s order. Stay tuned&hellip;.<br /> <br /> [1] According the SEC, BEC was previously incorporated under various names, including &ldquo;Fartlife.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> [2] Although not formally considered by the court, I understand defense counsel ultimately obtained declarations from the remaining Rosegold investors and some &ldquo;testers,&rdquo; as well.<br /> <br /> Originally published on The Recorder, Dec. 26, 2018. To view on the publication's website, please click <a href="">here</a>.</em><br /> &nbsp;</div>News05 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Preparing for Healthcare Investigations<div style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Event Details:</strong></div> <div style="text-align: justify;">Jeffrey Ansley and Arianna Goodman are presenting &ldquo;Preparing for Healthcare Investigations&rdquo; webinar for the Health Care Compliance Association on Tuesday, February 5th at 12:00 PM.</div> <div style="text-align: justify;"><br /> <strong>Schedule:</strong><br /> 12:00 &ndash; 1:00 PM | Program<br /> 1:00 - 1:30 PM | Q&amp;A<br /> <br /> <strong>Overview:</strong><br /> Working in the healthcare industry has its benefits, but with the recent trend in white collar healthcare cases, it also has its risks. Whether you are the CEO of a healthcare company, a physician, a pharmacist, a nurse, a marketer, or a non-participating owner, anyone can become a target or a witness. What should you do, whom should you speak with and should you cooperate?<br /> <br /> This webinar will discuss the types of healthcare cases currently being prosecuted throughout the country, provide an overview of how these cases are investigated and give guidelines for your company to follow if you are contacted by the FBI, DEA or a licensing board.<br /> <br /> We will also discuss one of the most important steps after becoming aware of an investigation: conducting your own internal investigation. Conducting a parallel investigation prepares you for what the government is going to find during its investigation. In most of these cases, witnesses are asked to &ldquo;proffer&rdquo; and later testify before the grand jury. Should you? Do you have a choice? What if you receive a subpoena? What are your options? We'll answer these questions and more.<br /> <br /> For more information or to register, please click <a href="">here</a>.</div>Events30 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Warner Featured on Attorney at Law Magazine Warner is featured on <a href=""><em>Attorney at Law Magazine</em> <em>- Dallas</em></a> for being elected to partner.&nbsp;News24 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Nunnally Promotes Craig Warner to Partner<div style="text-align: justify;">Bell Nunnally has elected Craig M. Warner as its newest partner; he was previously senior counsel. <br /> <br /> Warner is a member of the firm&rsquo;s Litigation and White Collar Criminal and Regulatory Defense practices, focusing on financial and business disputes, as well as criminal matters, including conspiracy, fraud, bribery, money laundering, forfeiture of property and misappropriation.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Craig is a skilled practitioner whose wealth of knowledge and experience contribute to the breadth and depth of our white collar defense and litigation practices, as well as strengthening and supporting our client-first culture,&rdquo; said James Skochdopole, Bell Nunnally managing partner.<br /> <br /> Warner has litigated six jury trials as lead counsel in federal courts and 12 jury trials as lead or second counsel in military trial courts, as well as briefing and arguing five appeals before the U.S. Courts of Appeals. He has successfully resolved hundreds of other civil and criminal cases at Summary Judgment, bench trial, or by plea or settlement, including disputes arising from import/export trade contracts, energy-industry supply problems, licensing disputes and federal class action claims. <br /> <br /> In Warner&rsquo;s White Collar/Internal Investigations work, he regularly represents finance industry professionals facing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) enforcement actions. He also has investigated Stark Law/Anti-Kickback Statute/False Claims Act allegations on behalf of Texas hospitals and medical practices. His service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, and as both Prosecutor and Defense Counsel in the U.S. Navy, adds significant front-line experience to the Firm&rsquo;s White Collar/Regulatory practice. <br /> <br /> Since 2015, Warner has served in the Texas Army National Guard, which follows his five years of active duty service as a Naval Officer and Judge Advocate from 2004 to 2009. He is currently a Captain and Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In December 2018, he was an Honor Graduate at the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, and he holds both Airborne Paratrooper and a Fleet Marine Force Officer Warfare Qualifications. Warner has represented dozens of American servicemen and women before Administrative Separation Boards that determined the futures of their military careers, and advised senior Officers in operational legal matters while deployed to Fallujah, Iraq.<br /> <br /> Warner is also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Texas Attorney General&rsquo;s office. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., 2004) and the University of North Carolina (B.A., with distinction, 2001).<br /> <br /> <br /> Media Contact:<br /> Brittany Lewis<br /> Marketing Manager<br /> 214-880-6661<br /></div>Press Releases22 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Bell Nunnally Partners Featured on D Magazine's 2019 "Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas" List<div style="text-align: justify;">Bell Nunnally partners R. Heath Cheek and Ross Angus Williams have been named to <em>D Magazine&rsquo;s</em> 2019 &ldquo;Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas&rdquo; list, featured in this month&rsquo;s print edition.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Heath and Ross are integral parts of the Bell Nunnally team, trusted advisors for clients, and leaders in the community,&rdquo; said James Skochdopole, Bell Nunnally managing partner. &ldquo;We congratulate them on this latest accolade and look forward to their continued success.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Attorneys under 40 who have practiced law for at least five years &ndash; primarily in the DFW area &ndash; are eligible for the &ldquo;Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas&rdquo; list. <em>D Magazine</em> asked metroplex attorneys to submit nominations for two lawyers outside their firms and one within for consideration, based on this prompt: &ldquo;Which young Dallas lawyer, of those whose work you&rsquo;ve witnessed firsthand, would you rank among the current best?&rdquo; Candidates were then vetted by a panel of area attorneys in conjunction with the publication&rsquo;s editors.<br /> <br /> Cheek is a partner, practicing in the firm&rsquo;s Litigation group. He focuses on trials and disputes, representing clients ranging from <em>Fortune 500</em> companies to start-up businesses and high-net-worth individuals in industries including private equity, financial services, energy and real estate. Cheek is an active member of the community, having served in various board or leadership positions for the Dallas Museum of Art, Cotton Bowl Council, North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, Texas Tech Alumni Association, Republican Lawyers of Dallas and Christian Legal Society, among others. He has been named a &ldquo;Texas Rising Star&rdquo; annually since 2014. Active in the community, 2018 was Cheek&rsquo;s first year as Chairman of the State Fair of Texas Development Team, helping the event raise more than a million dollars in scholarship funds for inner-city Dallas and rural Texas students. He is a graduate of Baylor Law School (J.D., 2006) and Texas Tech University (B.A., <em>magna cum laude</em>, 2003). This is Cheek&rsquo;s second selection to the &ldquo;Best Lawyers Under 40&rdquo; in Dallas list.<br /> <br /> Williams is a partner in the firm&rsquo;s Litigation and Appellate practices. He litigates complex disputes involving trade secrets, cryptocurrency and blockchain, non-competes and other restrictive covenants, unfair competition, contracts, business torts, real estate, and internet defamation. Williams has briefed appellate matters before Texas and Federal courts of appeal, the Supreme Court of Texas, and the U.S. Supreme Court (twice at <em>certiorari</em>). A five-time &ldquo;Texas Rising Star,&rdquo; in 2017 he served by his councilman&rsquo;s selection on Dallas&rsquo; first ever Citizens Bond Task Force Economic Development and Housing Subcommittee, helping shape a billion-dollar ballot initiative to support key infrastructure projects. Williams is a city official, serving as District 14&rsquo;s commissioner on the City of Dallas&rsquo;s Community Development Commission. He was elected to serve as Legal Counsel to the Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce, is Vice Chair of Friends of Fair Park, and was selected to the current nominating committee for the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law (J.D., <em>with honors</em>, 2008) and Tulane University (B.A., <em>summa cum laude</em>, Phi Beta Kappa, 2005). This is Williams&rsquo; second selection to the &ldquo;Best Lawyers Under 40&rdquo; in Dallas list.</div> <br /> <br /> Media Contact: <br /> Brittany Lewis<br /> Marketing Manager<br /> 214-880-6661<br /><br /> <br type="_moz" />Press Releases22 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 In Smoke! Cannabis Law Roundtable<strong>Event Details:</strong><br /> <div style="text-align: justify;"><br /> Partner Karen Hart is moderating a roundtable titled, &quot;Up In Smoke! Cannabis Law&quot; on behalf of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. Call in to hear a panel of cannabis legal experts discuss this developing area of law.</div> <br /> <strong>Date:</strong><br /> <br /> Thursday, January 31, 2019<br /> 12:00 - 1:00 PM<br /> <br /> <strong>Overview:</strong><br /> <div style="text-align: justify;"><br /> The legal landscape is rapidly changing with legalization of cannabis products for medical and recreational use in various states. Nine states and Washington DC have a gone &quot;all-in&quot; on legalized, recreational marijuana, and to date 30 states have legalized medical marijuana use. A recent Gallup poll showed that 64% of Americans favor legalization. Canada has also recently legalized recreational marijuana. As the tides change, attorneys need to be aware of the hot button legal issues that are pervasive in the burgeoning cannabis industry, which remains at odds with federal law making the use, possession and distribution of marijuana illegal. Join us to explore the collision of the cannabis industry and the real estate industry, including leasing, zoning, financing, personal injury and property liability, insurance (business/title insurance etc.) issues and other legal issues, along with other considerations for practitioners who may be thinking about becoming &quot;cannabis counsel.&quot;<br /> <br /> For more information and to register, please click <a href=";;a1=DEF493DC-D194-4792-803D-FC250BB96E42">here</a>.</div>Events18 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800