Corndog Eating Contest Ends in Tragedy

- Tommie Glistrap

In January of 2016 Jessie Harbeck met up with her mother, Debra Harbeck, at a nightclub to celebrate her 22nd birthday. Within 24 hours, the young woman’s mother tragically passed away.

The now-defunct nightclub Fire and Ice in Albuquerque held a corndog eating contest on the night Jessie Harbeck and her mother were in attendance. Debra chose to enter the contest.

After the contest began, Debra began to choke on the corndog. Patrons of the nightclub immediately applied CPR and the Heimlich maneuver before paramedics arrived, but the loss of oxygen to her brain caused irreparable damage.

Debra was put on life support, but her daughter’s wish for her birthday was to end her mother’s suffering. She was taken off life support on January 28 2016, Jessie Harbeck’s actual birthday.

Wrongful-Death Suit Filed

Jessie, and Anthony Harbeck, the husband of Debra, are now suing PKG Investments LLC (the operator of the nightclub), Anodyne Corp., (the leaser of the liquor license) and Hinkle Investments LLC (the owners of the property the night club was leasing).

The lawsuit filed in Sante Fe states that Debra Harbeck was highly intoxicated and had been over served at the bar. Her blood alcohol level was between 0.13 and 0.14 at the time of the contest.

The suit continues to argue that the club should have had proper medical personnel available during the contest and that the contest was not properly supervised.

Damages Available in a Wrongful-Death Claim

Should a defendant be found liable in court, a variety of damages may be awarded to suffering parties. Some of these expenses include:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased individual’s injury or illness
  • Mental anguish caused by the death of a spouse, a child or a parent
  • Loss of inheritance and financial contributions to the household
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • The deceased individual’s pain and suffering prior to death

Finding Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim

Gilstrap and Associates Firm, P.C. has the experience, the resources and the compassion necessary to ensure that those who are suffering from the unforeseen passing of their loved one are properly compensated for their loss.

Our accomplished attorneys offer complimentary initial consultations to anyone who has questions about their potential wrongful death claim or who need guidance on how to proceed.

To arrange your consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys today, please call us today at (915) 581-0020.

DUI Suspected in Fatal New Mexico Auto Accident

- Tommie Glistrap

Following eyewitness testimony, authorities suspect that driving under the influence (DUI) caused a New Mexico auto wreck in early December.

Although the accident was initially believed to be just that – an accident – both eyewitnesses and local authorities confirmed that the driver, Jacob Jaramillo, appeared to be under the influence at the time of the crash.

Reports have detailed how the allegedly intoxicated Jaramillo ran a red traffic light before slamming into another vehicle, causing it to flip. Unfortunately, all three people traveling in that vehicle were killed.

While police continue to encourage pedestrians and drivers alike to report incidents of drunk or otherwise impaired driving, DUI continues to be a major cause of injury and/or death across the country, including here in New Mexico.

Filing a Car Accident Claim in the Southwest

Despite alleged fault being determined, car accidents continue to be a highly contested claim in New Mexico state courts. For some, the headache starts right from the beginning, as many victims don’t understand that what they say at the scene of an accident may be admissible in court (known as a ‘res gestae’ statement), and can be used against them in court proceedings.

Therefore, when injuries, whether physical or psychological, are sustained in a car accident caused by another party, it is best to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It is always best to consult with legal representation before talking to insurance companies.

Because these types of claims can be increasingly delicate, victims may be hesitant or unable to collect the proper information at the time of the incident, and cases can be hampered by evolving state traffic laws.

Those who currently suffer (or who have suffered) from injuries resulting from car accidents caused by negligent parties or DUI drivers may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering.

The legal team at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. is well-versed in the nuances of traffic and other automobile laws in the southwest region, including New Mexico. Our attorneys have handled a variety of auto accident personal injury claims, especially those that involve serious personal injury. We understand that injury sustained in these types of accidents can impair you for life, and that’s why we remain committed to helping our clients reach the full and fair settlements that they deserve.

Our attorneys, who have more than 40 years combined experience in personal injury law, are here to help you today. To schedule your preliminary consultation with a member of our legal team, we welcome your today at (915) 581-0020.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

- Tommie Glistrap

Slip-and-fall accidents happen all the time, resulting in thousands of injuries annually. Most of these accidents could have been avoided but occurred because of someone else’s negligence.

One recent example is the case of a West Virginia woman who is suing for compensation over injuries she sustained falling in a local Kmart. The victim slipped on a wet concrete floor and hit her head.

In this case, Kmart is being sued for negligence and breach of duty because it is alleged they did not make sure the premises was reasonably safe, nor did they warn individuals that there were potentially unsafe conditions. 

The victim is suing for damages, plus attorney fees, and court costs because she has suffered physical, mental, and emotional pain, she has suffered grave inconvenience, the inability to work, and mounting medical bills. 

Slip-and-Fall Claims in New Mexico 

Slip-and-fall accidents in New Mexico, as with anywhere else, can be very serious and when they are the fault of someone else, you deserve to be compensated fairly. When this happens to you, you need the help of an aggressive law firm that will stop at nothing to get you justice. 

With more than forty years of experience, Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. are fully committed to fighting for your rights. Any time that you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, it is a personal injury and deserves to be compensated for.

Serving the El Paso, Texas and New Mexico areas, Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. represents the people who are injured in accidents. We are one of the elite few firms that have experience from the plaintiff and the defense. Understanding how both sides operate brings an enormous amount of value to the firm in terms of valuing your claim. 

Protect Yourself 

Never think for a minute that the slip and fall was due to your own carelessness and never speak to an insurance adjuster without a qualified attorney present. You do not have to prove to anyone that you were careful or that the slip and fall was in any way your fault. Allow our firm to make sure that you do not get misled in the wrong direction by insurance adjusters that try to place the fault on you.

Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. knows how to precisely place a value on your slip-and-fall case, a value that considers past and future compensation. 

We invite you to contact our experienced personal injury lawyer for a free initial consultation at (915) 581-0020 today, or Toll Free: 1 (888) 251-1691.

Time-Barred Defense Saves Visa (For Now)

- Tommie Glistrap

Credit lending giant Visa came under fire over recent years due to an interchange fee which they have been charging their European customers. In 2013, a number of retailers in Europe brought forward a claim for damages against Visa, stating that the company had breached competition law because it had set excessive interchange fees for the acceptance of its cards. These same fees have been subject to European and domestic investigations since the early 1990s when the European Commission received a complaint from the British Retail Association.

Visa shot back and argued that all of the infringements pre-dating July 2007 were time-barred, meaning that anything six years prior to when the original claim was filed was invalid. Retailers in the UK, however, argued that the limitation period had not expired, holding section 32 of the Limitation Act 1980 as their reasoning.

Understanding Your Statute of Limitations

The court ultimately upheld the decision that the £500 million being claimed in damages from the various retailers was time-barred – but only for the time being. This case, however, brings to light an important issue for anyone who is considering bringing any claim to court: you only have a finite amount of time to make a claim.

Time-barred is a common phrase, though “statute of limitations” is another common term used to describe one’s time constraints when making a claim. Depending on where you live and the situation in which you are involved, the amount of time which you have to file a claim may differ from state to state and for the reasons why you are making a claim. In one state, a business may be able to hold a manufacturer accountable for defaulting on a payment within 2 years of when that payment was due. In another, a business may only have six months to make a claim.

The Benefit of Choosing a Business Attorney

Almost every attorney will choose a speciality which will become the primary interest of his or her career. Here at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. our business attorneys have not only trained specifically in business and commercial law, but we are experts in the field. We have the experience you need to ensure that your case ends with the most positive outcome and that you receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim.

If you are concerned about a previous or current business partnership or dealing, and have questions about whether or not you have a claim, we invite you to contact us today for a free consultation at (915) 581-0020.

Trucking Accidents Continue to Claim More Victims

- Tommie Glistrap

Recently a grand jury in Santa Fe awarded an El Paso family, who had lost their daughter and granddaughter in an accident involving a big rig FedEx truck, $165.5 million for their damages. A toddler who was also in the vehicle managed to survive the crash.

In the early hours of June 22, 2011, a FedEx truck slammed into the back of a pickup which was being driven by 22 year old Mariali Venegas on Interstate 10 outside of Las Cruces. The young mother was heading to Deming with her 4 year old daughter and 19 month old son at the time. After Ms Venegas pulled over with her hazard lights blinking, the driver of the FedEx truck, Elizabeth Quintana, crashed into the pickup truck at 65 miles an hour. Quintana also passed away as a result of the accident.

Trucking Accidents Are on the Rise

Over the past 2 decades, the number of truck-related accidents in America has increased by 20%. The Department of Transportation estimates that nearly half a million trucking accidents occur in the United States each and every year. These accidents result in more injuries and more fatalities than any other type of accident on our roadways, and it is the drivers of smaller vehicles who are harmed the most.

Why Are Truck Accidents on the Rise?

Truck drivers and the companies who manage them are under more pressure than ever as they continue to try and meet consumer demands while working on a tight budget. This forces drivers to be on the road for longer hours, for driver training to be kept at a minimum, and for truck maintenance to also be minimal (if not often sub par).

Drivers are also often responsible for the accidents they case. Fatigue, distracted driving and driving under the influence are all common causes. Negligent or dangerous driving also accounts for a number of trucking accidents in the United States each year.

Know Your Rights

If you have been injured in a trucking accident, seek medical treatment immediately, and then speak to an professional personal injury attorney about your case.

The personal injury attorneys here at the Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. in El Paso, Texas, have the experience and resources necessary to determine if you have a claim and to ensure that you and your loved ones receive the most favorable outcome possible. To arrange for a free consultation to discuss your injury, call us today at (915) 581-0020.

Top Mistakes Made When Buying and Selling Businesses


People buy and sell businesses all of the time, and for different reasons. Most do it for profit, but others may purchase or sell the assets or stock of a company because they want to retire, need capital for another endeavor, or for an array of other reasons. 

Despite this being a common activity, business owners or interested investors should not enter into such deals lightly. At Gilstrap & Associates, P.C., we have decades of experience in helping people both buy and sell businesses. When clients hire us, they can be sure that they avoid these most common mistakes made by inexperienced buyers and sellers:

Taking on the Task Yourself 

You are probably correct in being confident that when it comes to running your business, or past investing, you have been successful. But what you likely are not is a real estate or business attorney who will make sure that all transactions are legally sound and that the property is free and clear of any claims, liens and encumbrances. 

Our law firm will help you negotiate the most seemingly straight forward of contracts to complex deals and make sure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible. Some of the most common negotiations we make on a regular basis involve:

  • Physical property concerns
  • Assets
  • Intellectual property (stock, trademarks and outstanding bills)

Signing Contracts/Agreements in Your Own Name 

When a contract is signed in your name, you are personally liable. This means that your home, your vehicle and any other personal assets are up for grabs should the company you buy goes ‘belly up’. By setting up a corporation or LLC, you protect your personal assets and leave only those of the business at stake. 

Not Seeking Legal Advice 

Buying or selling a business is a major undertaking. As we have unfortunately seen here at our law firm, attempting to save money on broker and legal fees usually only ends up costing new business owners in the end.

The Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. law firm believes in building a strong American economy and we take pride in ensuring that both buyers and sellers are able to sign off on a fair and equally financially advantageous agreement. We have decades of experience in real estate law and we are here to help you. 

If you are in New Mexico and are thinking about buying or selling a business, we invite you to contact us today at (915) 581-0020.

VirnetX Victorious in Patent Infringement Suit Against Apple


The latest case in the legal saga between Nevada-based VirnetX Holding Corp. and Apple Inc. came to an end in early February, when a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled against the technology giant, in a $625.6 million patent infringement lawsuit. 

However, this was not the first time that a federal jury found Apple liable for infringing on patented VirnetX technology. A federal jury also ruled in 2012 that Apple violated VirnetX patents and ordered a settlement of $368 million.

According to court documents, the jury in the February 2016 decision concluded that Apple wilfully violated VirnetX’s patents with their iMessage, FaceTime, and VPN On Demand services.

These types of cases are not uncommon in the global business arena. However, commercial disputes are not limited to patent infringement. There are a variety of situations where commercial disputes may occur.

Addressing Commercial Disputes 

Though disagreements tend to be a part of any business practice, situations often arise where the dispute needs to be taken to the next level – such as arbitration or trial – in order to achieve resolution. 

Because business can be a complex practice, there are a wide variety of scenarios where commercial dispute claims might occur. In addition to patent disputes, other commercial disputes include:

  • Legal malpractice
  • Stockbroker malpractice
  • Real estate disputes
  • Partnership disputes
  • Breach of contract
  • Employer/employee disputes
  • Corporate director and officer liability

When these types of disputes arise, legal representation is a must. Oftentimes, these claims involve legally-binding agreements, like business or employee contracts, in addition to other accords that require careful examination and litigation.

Filing a Business Dispute Claim

If you or someone you know is embroiled in a complex business dispute, it is important that you contact a qualified business attorney as soon as possible.

In El Paso, the legal team at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. represent clients across a broad range of commercial and business disputes. With more than 30 years of combined experience, our attorneys are highly skilled in solving complex business and commercial matters. 

Regardless of your situation, our firm will work with you to build a sound and convincing case that yields the best possible result. 

To schedule a free preliminary consultation to assess your case, call our office today at (915) 581-0020.

Buying and Selling Businesses

- Tommie Glistrap

When it comes to buying and selling businesses in New Mexico, you need the help of an experienced lawyer from the outset. Factors such as sales price and finding a buyer are indeed important, but even more important is creating the formation of the business deal to protect you from any current or future liability. A seasoned attorney can make sure that your interests are protected.

Selling a Business

A lawyer can make sure that all of your books are in order to present to the buyer, and it is important to have an expert valuation when selling a business. The latter can be harder than it may seem since so many dynamics have to be considered, such as:

  • Revenue
  • Current earnings
  • Future earnings
  • Current assets

In truth, valuing any business is not much more than an estimate. What you think it is worth and what it actually sells for may be two different amounts entirely. Your lawyer is able to draw on professional resources in order to determine a fair sales price.

Other Considerations 

There is more than one way to sell a business, and an attorney who has a lot of experience in handling these types of transactions will the correct way to proceed, with your best interests in mind.

Every aspect of the business sale agreement must be in writing, to protect both buyer and seller. Business sales are always unique and can be complex. 

Most seasoned business people will agree that engaging a lawyer when they are buying or selling businesses is one of the first and most important actions they take.

Buying a Business 

Mistakes can be costly, especially in business dealings. When buying a business, you will need to review many documents, including:

  • Tax returns
  • Finances
  • Invoices
  • Vendor contracts
  • Purchase orders
  • Work orders

Customer Contracts 

These are crucial documents and should always be reviewed by an attorney who has experience in this arena. A good lawyer can stop you from making a costly mistake. For instance, to avoid cash flow problems, your attorney will offer advice on how to ensure you have sufficient working capital. He or she will also recommend that all equipment and machinery are inspected before you sign on the dotted line – so you are not encumbered with any unnecessary expense once you take ownership.

In New Mexico, the attorneys at Gilstrap & Associates are on hand to provide you with the advice you need when you are considering buying or selling a business.

We welcome your call at (915) 581-0020 to arrange an appointment to discuss your particular situation. Toll Free: 1 (888) 251-1691.

New Film Puts Boston Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal in ‘Spotlight’

- Tommie Glistrap

The details surrounding Boston’s highly controversial clergy sex abuse scandal have been adapted for the silver screen. 

“Spotlight” is Hollywood’s star-studded offering, depicting the Boston Globe investigation of Boston’s clergy in 2001, one of the most well known cases of investigative journalism. The media outlet comprised a team of reporters, otherwise known as the “Spotlight” team, which eventually uncovered evidence that detailed decades-long abuse at the hands of the city’s clergy. 

To make matters worse, the investigation also uncovered evidence that church leaders had actively covered it up. 

Tom McCarthy, who was part of the team that co-wrote and directed the film, said he was drawn to the story because it “operated on so many levels”. McCarthy also referred to the investigation and subsequent battle with church leaders as “Goliath versus Goliath”.

Walter Robinson, a veteran reporter and editor who led the Boston Globe’s award-winning investigative team, indicated that the journalists were driven to pursue the story based on the unimaginable nature of the crimes. The media eventually discovered that as many as 250 priests had allegedly molested thousands victims over a span of 50 or more years. The investigative team won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage.

“Spotlight” stars Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James.

Clergy Abuse Claims in the Southwest

Unfortunately, clergy abuse has become a reality for many young children and their families across the country.

Clergy abuse is best defined as the sexual abuse of a minor boy or girl by a minister, priest, or pastor. A number of cases have risen to local and national prominence over the last few years, including the Boston Globe case. 

When this kind of abuse occurs, it can be particularly traumatizing, especially for the victim. Members of the clergy believe themselves to serve in positions of authority next to God, and will tell that to their victims. This causes increased fear and trauma, making the entire process extraordinarily emotionally taxing. 

If someone you know has endured sexual abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy, reaching out to a qualified attorney is a must. Victims of sexual abuse suffer a trauma unlike any other, and need legal representation that is both understanding and compassionate to their situation and future interests. 

Reporting Clergy Sexual Abuse Decades Later

When it comes to filing claims against the clergy for sexual abuse, it is not uncommon for victims to wait long periods of time to admit that they were abused. Statistically, many victims do not come forward until they are in their 40s or 50s, and that presents a new set of hurdles. The diocese may want to deflect blame to a member of the clergy who is now deceased, or insist that there is a lack of evidence or any viable proof. 

If you have been sexually abused by a member of the clergy, regardless of your particular situation, it is important to understand that such cases can be incredibly complex, and must be handled carefully by an experienced legal team. 

The attorneys at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. understand the difficulties presented in clergy abuse situations, and are available to assist victims of such abuse. Our attorneys have handled approximately 40 cases over the last two decades, and are prepared to help you build a strong and convincing case.

From investigation to helping you seek proper medical or rehabilitative care, our legal team is committed to helping you achieve the full resolution to which you are entitled. 

We understand your struggle, and are here to help you find justice. To schedule your initial consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, give us a call today at (915) 581-0020. We offer a complimentary initial consultation to assess your case.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Detention Officers

- Tommie Glistrap

The families of two people detained in different county jails in Texas have filed federal wrongful death lawsuits against detention officers for allegedly causing the untimely deaths of their loved ones. In both cases, the victims were found dead a few days after they were arrested and detained.

Excessive Force during Restraint 

In one case involving a 42-year old man, an autopsy showed that the deceased person had been physically restrained and pepper-sprayed before his death. Prior to the decedent’s death, police had arrested him after responding to a disturbance call where they claimed that they saw the decedent shouting and throwing things out of a window. Police also said that they decided to take the decedent in after learning that he had outstanding warrants.

The family of the decedent maintains that the detention officers used excessive force when they physically restrained him around the neck, which act compressed his airways and prevented him from breathing. 

The Case of Apparent Suicide

In a more recent case, a 28-year old woman was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer who stopped her car following an improper lane change. She failed to post the $500 bail and stayed in detention for a few days until she was found hanging in her cell. Jail officers said that the deceased woman had been depressed over her failure to make bail and had taken her own life. 

But the woman’s family is not convinced that she had committed suicide. While a grand jury refused to indict the decedent’s jailers, the woman’s family pursued a case for wrongful death against the detention officers. In their lawsuit, the family maintains that the jail officers failed to check on the decedent more frequently and also failed to conduct a mental evaluation of the detained woman after she disclosed her history of attempted suicides. 

Wrongful Death in Texas 

Under Texas tort law, wrongful death is a type of personal injury lawsuit that a deceased person’s family or estate can bring against the person or parties responsible for the death of a decedent. It may be brought in catastrophic accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, and bus accidents that result in death.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation under a wrongful death claim.

In El Paso, Texas, the personal injury lawyers at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. have more than four decades of combined experience in litigation, representing clients in a wide range of cases including wrongful death, malpractice and premises liability.

We invite you to call our offices today at (915) 581-0020 to speak to an attorney about your situation.