CLIENT ALERT: Digital Geocaching and Nuclear Security

Pokemon Go is sweeping the world and is creating a myriad of safety and security issues.  Conner & Winters attorney Donn Meindertsma, who specializes in nuclear power plant whistle-blower defense, wrote an update about this for the nuclear industry.  The information is relevant for businesses of all types.  Click here to read the alert.

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Valerie V. Hatami Joins Conner & Winters’ Oklahoma City Office

Conner & Winters is proud to welcome Valerie V. Hatami to the firm’s Oklahoma City office.  Ms. Hatami practices in the firm’s litigation section, representing corporate clients in complex oil and gas litigation matters. Prior to joining Conner & Winters, she served as an Assistant General Counsel for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Ms. Hatami graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma City University School of Law, where she was a member of the Oklahoma City University Law Review and a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship. While in law school, Ms. Hatami focused on oil and gas law, earning a Certificate in Energy and Natural Resources Law. In the summer of 2014, her article on the regulatory aspects and science behind hydraulic fracturing was published in the Oklahoma City University Law Review.
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Conner & Winters Welcomes Michael D. Sutton to its Northwest Arkansas Office

Michael D. Sutton has joined the firm’s Northwest Arkansas office as an associate.  Mr. Sutton focuses his practice on complex commercial and business litigation as well as health care compliance, administration, and transactions. He has experience litigating in both federal and state courts and has addressed a broad array of issues including environment regulations, contract disputes, products liability, intellectual property rights, and trade secrets. Michael also has experience with general civil litigation, real estate transactions, and business formation matters.

Prior to joining Conner & Winters, Michael attended the University of Arkansas School of Law where he graduated first in his class. During law school, Michael also clerked for the Honorable Judge Brad Karren, the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, and for several law firms throughout Arkansas. He also served as an Articles Editor for the Arkansas Law Review, a Teaching Assistant for introductory Property Law courses, and on the Board of Advocates. Michael remains active in the law school community by volunteering as a judge for moot court and trial competitions.

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Vic Albert Presented at Elected Prosecuting Attorney/District Attorney Joint Training Conference

Conner & Winters attorney Vic Albert was invited by the District Attorneys Council to give a seminar presentation at a recent meeting in Oklahoma City.  Mr. Albert presented on the topic “Social Media and Government Entities”.  The attendees were District Attorneys from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.

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Conner & Winters Recognized in 2016 Chambers USA Guide

Conner & Winters, LLP is proud to announce that 18 of the firm’s attorneys and five practice areas are included in the 2016 Chambers USA Guide.  Congratulations to: Vic Albert, Gary Betow, Elise Brennan, Teresa Burkett, David Cordell, Bob Curry, John Elrod, Jared Giddens, Robert Melgaard, Randall Mock, Lynn Moore, Ron Petrikin, Kiran Phansalkar, Kevin Redwine, Gentra Sorem, Hilary Velandia, Steve Ward and John Williams.  Conner & Winters practice groups are recognized in the areas of: Corporate/Commercial, Energy, Labor & Employment, Litigation: General Commercial and Native American Law.

The Chambers guides have been ranking the best law firms and lawyers since 1990 and now cover 185 jurisdictions throughout the world. Chambers ranks lawyers and law firms based on the research of its 150 full-time editors and researchers, as well as information submitted by law firms and in-depth telephone interviews with attorneys and firms.  The qualities on which rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment and other qualities most valued by the client.

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CLIENT ALERT: DHHS Issues Final Rule Prohibiting Discrimination by Health Care Providers That Receive Medicare or Medicaid Funds

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule prohibiting entities that are reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid from discriminating against an individual in the provision of or access to health services or health insurance coverage on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.  Click here to read the alert.

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CLIENT ALERT: DOL Issues Final Rule Limiting Application of “White Collar” Overtime Exemptions

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued its long-anticipated final rule updating its standards for application of the Executive, Administrative and Professional exemptions to the overtime rules established by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).   Click here to read the alert.

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CLIENT ALERT: Employment Law Impacts of Federal Trade Secret Law Amendments

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), recently signed into law by President Obama, broadens options that companies have to sue for the misappropriation of trade secrets. The DTSA adds provisions relating to potential trade secret misappropriation that will be of interest to employers.  Click here to read the alert.

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Matt Allen Honored By JOURNAL RECORD as a Member of “Achievers Under 40” Class of 2016

Conner & Winters partner Matt Allen was honored by the JOURNAL RECORD as a member of their “Achievers Under 40” Class of 2016.  Selection is based on career achievements, community involvement and personal goals.  The  honorees are considered the cream of the crop of Oklahoma’s up-and-comers in all fields.

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CLIENT ALERT: PATH Act and provisions applicable to church retirement and welfare benefit plans

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (“PATH Act”) into law. Section 336 of the PATH Act contains important provisions applicable to church retirement and welfare benefit plans. The language in section 336 is identical to that of the Church Plan Clarification Act of 2015 introduced in the United States Senate (S. 2308) and House of Representatives (H.R. 4085) in November of 2015.  Click here to read the alert.

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CLIENT ALERT: DOL Issues New Guidance Expanding Joint Employer Liability under FLSA

On January 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued new guidance for assessing joint employment status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Why is this significant?  A finding that two entities are joint employers under the FLSA makes both employers responsible for any unpaid wages and may also be used to assert joint and several liability against unwitting employers for violations of any number of other employment laws.
Click here  to read the alert.

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OKLAHOMA BAR JOURNAL Publishes Scholarly Article by Curtis M. Long

A scholarly article written by Conner & Winters partner Curtis M. Long was published by the OKLAHOMA BAR JOURNAL.  The article, titled “Digging in the Pipeline Right of Way – The End of ‘No Harm, No Foul’, appears in the January 16, 2016 edition. Click here  to read the article.

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Conner & Winters Brings in Two Partners

Conner & Winters is proud to welcome Curtis M. Long  and Brad K. Cunningham to the firm’s Tulsa office.

Mr. Long’s practice is focused on energy, environmental and natural resources administrative and regulatory issues, and telecommunications.  He has 40 years of experience representing clients in state and federal courts and before regulatory commissions.  Mr. Long has achieved an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubble and is recognized by Best Lawyers in America® and Oklahoma Super Lawyers®.

Mr. Cunningham’s practice is exclusively focused on family law and domestic relations matters.  A 2006 graduate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, he has achieved an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubble and has been recognized as a Rising Star by Oklahoma Super Lawyers®.

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Conner & Winters Names Three New Partners

Conner & Winters has named three attorneys as partners: Kathryn S. Burnett, Caryn M. Campbell and Amanda M. Swain.  Ms. Burnett works in the firm’s Tulsa office and focuses her practice on health care compliance, provider reimbursement, and physician employment.  Ms. Campbell works in the firm’s Dallas office and focuses her practice on employee benefits, assisting employers with various retirement and welfare benefit plan issues, HIPAA compliance and executive compensation arrangements.  Ms. Swain works in the firm’s Oklahoma City office and focuses her practice on taxes and trusts and estates, representing clients in business transactions, estate planning and tax matters.

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Client Alert: New Support for Tribal Sovereignty and Rejection of a Bid to Expand Suits Against Tribal Officers

A new federal decision reaffirms the right of Indian tribes to regulate class II gaming, and also rejects an effort by the attorney general of Kansas to expand the legal grounds on which states may sue tribal officers to enjoin activities on Indian lands.   Click here to read the alert.

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56 Attorneys from Conner & Winters Named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

Conner & Winters is proud to announce that 56 of the firm’s lawyers were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016.  Congratulations to: Victor F. Albert, Mark D. Berman, Gary L. Betow, Debbie L. Blackwell, Paul E. Braden, Elise Dunitz Brennan, Teresa Meinders Burkett, David R. Cordell, Katherine G. Coyle, Robert A. Curry, Mark E. Dreyer, John R. Elrod, Robin F. Fields, Melodie Freeman-Burney, John W. Funk, Jared D. Giddens, Kevin H. Good, James E. Green, Jr., Bradley R. Grundy, P. Scott Hathaway, Tony W. Haynie, John W. Ingraham, Robert L. Jones, III, Todd P. Lewis, Larry B. Lipe, R. Richard Love, III, Steven W. McGrath, Robert J. Melgaard, G. Daniel Miller, Randall D. Mock, Lynnwood R. Moore, Jr., C. Raymond Patton, Jr., J. Ronald Petrikin, Kiran A. Phansalkar, Douglas M. Rather, R. Kevin Redwine, John R. Reeves, Greg S. Scharlau, John M. Scott, Douglas M. Selwyn, Eric S. Smith, Terral J. Smith, Gentra Abbey Sorem, Irwin H. Steinhorn, Robert J. Stokes, Anne B. Sublett, Jason S. Taylor, Jeanette C. Timmons, Timothy T. Trump, Andrew R. Turner, Nancy E. Vaughn, Stephen R. Ward, Henry G. Will, Martin R. Wing and G. Alan Wooten.

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 Sac and Fox Nation and Sons of Jim Thorpe Continue Legal Effort to Repatriate His Remains

The Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and the sons of Jim Thorpe have taken their longstanding fight to repatriate the legendary athlete’s remains to the United States Supreme Court.

On June 2, 2015, the tribe and Jim Thorpe’s two surviving sons, Richard Thorpe and William Thorpe, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to uphold a United States district judge’s ruling that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act—known as “NAGPRA”—required a small town in Pennsylvania to participate in a repatriation proceeding. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the federal district court’s ruling in October 2014 on the basis of a legal doctrine not recognized by the Supreme Court for decades.

The appeal to the Supreme Court is the latest step in the litigation begun in 2010 by another son of Jim Thorpe, John or “Jack” Thorpe, who died two years later. The Sac and Fox Nation and the two surviving Thorpe brothers continued the case represented by Stephen Ward and Daniel Gomez, both attorneys in the Conner & Winters, LLP, Indian law practice. Brian Wolfman and Jeffrey L. Fisher of the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic serve as co-counsel in Supreme Court appeal.

Click here to read more.

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Jewelie Grape Joins Conner & Winters

Jewelie Grape has joined Conner & Winters as a partner.  She focuses her practice on executive compensation and employee benefits. She advises clients on a wide range of compensation and benefits issues such as ERISA compliance, health care reform and other benefits-related state and federal laws, including HIPAA. Ms. Grape helps clients design, implement and maintain defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, stock option plans, health plans and cafeteria plans.

She has extensive experience with benefits plans not governed by ERISA and advises church benefit and other organizations on a variety of board governance, general corporate, tax, and employee benefit (including 403(b) and 457(b) and (f) plan) issues. Ms. Grape has acquired valuable business counseling skills while serving as in-house counsel for nine years managing day-to-day legal issues and overseeing complex litigation matters.

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