BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
BridgehouseLaw LLP - Your Business Law Firm

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Website

In an effort to improve the online application experience, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will launch a new J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website on June 1.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is a work and study exchange program created to further mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. More than 350,000 J-1 visa visitors come to the United States each year, including high school and university students, researchers, physicians, and summer work travelers.

Visit the new website at

ACHTUNG DEUTSCHE RECHTSREFERENDARE & STUDENTEN: Fuer die Absolvierung der Wahlstation oder eines Praktikums mit Byrne, Davis & Hicks, P.C. benoetigen Sie ein J-1 Visum. Selbstverstaendlich ist unser International Practice Team insoweit behilflich.

Mehr Infos finden Sie auf unserer Webseite.

(c) Picture: healingdream -

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Georgia Governor Signs Controversial Immigration Bill into Law

We previously reported on our blog about the Arizona-style immigration bill that was passed in the Georgia House. Last Friday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the immigration bill into law.

House Bill 87 gives police authority to question suspects about their immigration status. The law also requires many private employers to check the immigration status of newly hired workers on the federal database E-Verify.

While the ink is still drying on Georgia's immigration law, small businesses and churches are already publicly opposing the law.

To read more about Georgia's new immigration law, please click here.

More Immigration Law news and updates can be found on our firm's website.

(c) Picture: Ohmega1982 -

Monday, May 16, 2011

Computer Glitch Causes Redo for Green Card Lottery

The U.S. Department of State recently issued an important notice regarding the 2012 Diversity Lottery Program: Due to a computer programming error, the results of the 2012 Diversity Lottery that were previously posted on the State Department website have been voided.

U.S. law requires a fair, random selection of entrants. According to the ABA Journal, a computer glitch caused 90 percent of the winners to come from entries submitted on the first two days of a 30-day registration period from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3, 2010.

A new selection process will be conducted based on the original entries for the 2012 program
. If you submitted a qualified entry from October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010, your entry remains with the State Department. It will be included in the new selection lottery. Your confirmation number to check results on the State Department website is still valid.

For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

More Immigration Law news can also be found on our website.

(c) Picture: Paul Martin Eldridge -

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Federal Judge Blocks Utah Immigration Law

Hours after Utah's new immigration law went into effect, it was blocked by a federal judge. The law would have allowed police to check the citizenship status of anyone they arrest.

Citing its similarity to the infamous Arizona immigration law now before the Supreme Court, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said in his ruling that there is sufficient evidence that at least some portions of the Utah legislation will be found unconstitutional.

As reported on our blog last week, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center sued to stop the implementation of House Bill 497, saying it could lead to racial profiling.

To read more about this topic, please click here.

More Immigration Law news can be found on our website.

(c) Picture: Salvatore Vuono -

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

USCIS Improves Delivery of Immigration Documents through Secure Mail Initiative

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has fully implemented the Secure Mail Initiative (SMI), which uses U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation to deliver certain immigration documents in a safe, secure and timely manner.

Made possible by a partnership between USCIS and the USPS, the SMI enables USCIS to confirm delivery of permanent resident cards and documents pertaining to travel and employment authorization. With USPS tracking information, USCIS customers can easily stay up-to-date on the delivery status of their documents and USCIS can confirm that these essential documents were delivered to the proper address.

SMI provides USCIS customers many benefits, including:
- The ability to track the status of their documents with USPS tracking information
- Quicker delivery—on average, documents sent through USPS Priority Mail should arrive two to four business days sooner than with first-class mail

Customers who receive notices of approval can contact USCIS’s Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to request tracking information for their documents. USCIS customer service representatives will provide customers with their USPS tracking number and current USPS delivery status.

Customers should wait at least two weeks after getting their approval notice before calling for information regarding their cases. When requesting tracking information, customers must also provide information from the receipt notice they received when they submitted their initial application. After receiving the tracking number from the USCIS Customer Service Center, customers can track the delivery status by visiting the Postal Service website at and entering the USPS tracking number into the Track & Confirm field.

SMI was one of several enhancements resulting from USCIS’s 2007 final fee schedule. USCIS first piloted the initiative in July 2008, delivering all re-entry permits and refugee travel documents using USPS Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation. USCIS has also used SMI processes since July 2009 for re-mailing all permanent residence cards, as well as employment authorization and travel documents returned by the USPS to USCIS as undeliverable.

For assistance in Immigration Law matters, including the application for various kinds of visas, please contact us or visit our firm's website.

(c) Picture: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul -

Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5 Billion in Cash

Today, Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy Internet phone service Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The acquisition presents the most aggressive move yet by Microsoft to play in the increasingly converged worlds of communication, information and entertainment.

The money-losing but popular service Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft. Skype allows people to make calls at no charge but has also developed premium services.

The acquisition would give Microsoft a foothold in the potentially lucrative video-conferencing market as businesses shift to lower-cost ways of communicating. Each month, an average of 145 million people use Skype. The service has become popular among small business users.

The Skype deal ranks as the biggest acquisition in the 36-year history of Microsoft.

To read more about the acquisition, please click here.

For more Business Law news, please visit our website.

(c) Picture: photostock -

Monday, May 09, 2011

Manufacturer Liability for Smoking Smartie Candy?

Smarties are a type of artificially fruit-flavored, tart and chalky tablet candy produced by Ce De Candy, Inc. (USA) since 1949. The product should not be confused with Nestlé Smarties.

These days, however, Smarties are more than just a sweet delight. Children crush the candy into a fine powder, pour the powder into their mouths and then blow the fine dust like smokers do with cigarettes.

Whereas children think it is fun because “it looks like you are smoking something but are not” or simply to freak their parents out, teachers, parents and doctors are less amused.

Some are concerned that children could choke while aspirating the wrapper or a whole Smartie. Others are afraid that it might evoke real smoking and other drug usage. Although doctors do not regard Smartie smoking as being life-threatening, it may cause irritation to throats, noses and lungs if inhaled. Frequent usage might even lead to infections or maggots that feed on extant sugar dust, a rare scenario though.

Although it has been banned from some schools, the fad does not stop. It can especially not be banned from the Internet where dozens of videos demonstrate step by step how to become a professional Smartie smoker.

One of the legal questions this topic raises is whether the Smartie’s manufacturer would be liable for any injuries sustained due to peculiar use of its product.

In North Carolina, for example, the manufacturer’s liability would be judged by Chapter 99B: Products Liability of the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS). Unlike most U.S.-states, North Carolina does not have strict products liability. NCGS § 99B-1.1 states that there shall be no strict liability in tort in product liability actions.

According to NCGS § 99B-3, a manufacturer shall not be held liable in any product liability action where the cause of the injury or damage was an alteration or modification of the product by a party other than the manufacturer and under the premise that the alteration occurred after the product left the control of the manufacturer, unless:
(1) The alteration or modification was in accordance with the instructions or specifications of such manufacturer; or

(2) The alteration or modification was made with the express consent of such manufacturer.

“Alteration or modification” includes changes in the use of the product from that originally intended by the manufacturer.

NCGS § 99B-4 states that a manufacturer shall also not be liable if:
(1) The use of the product giving rise to the product liability action was contrary to any express and adequate instructions or warnings delivered with, appearing on, or attached to the product or on its original container or wrapping, if the user knew or with the exercise of reasonable and diligent care should have known of such instructions or warnings; or

(2) The user knew of or discovered a defect or dangerous condition of the product that was inconsistent with the safe use of the product, and then unreasonably and voluntarily exposed himself or herself to the danger, and was injured by or caused injury with that product; or

(3) The claimant failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances in the use of the product, and such failure was a proximate cause of the occurrence that caused the injury or damage complained of.

For more legal updates, please visit our website.

(c) Picture:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Arguments between National Football League and Players Association still Not Settled

On February 14, 2011 the National Football League (NFL) filed an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The NFL is accusing the NFLPA of failing to bargain in good faith and threatening the NFL to decertify the NFLPA.

When talks did not reach a solution, the NFLPA dissolved itself. As a result, players are no longer protected under labor law but instead are now allowed to take their chances in federal court under antitrust law. Ten players filed a class-action lawsuit and asked for a preliminary injunction to block a lockout. The lockout, nevertheless, went into effect on March 11.

The NFL owners had the right to impose the lockout under federal labor law since the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA expired. A „lockout“ means there can be no on-field football action or communication between the teams and current NFL players. Team doctors will be allowed to monitor the progress of injured players, but not at the team’s facility. No offseason workouts or minicamps will be held during a lockout. No players can be signed and players will not have medical coverage provided by the teams.

On April 25, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted the injunction to end the league’s six-week-long lockout. She hereby argued that an appeal by the NFL owners could take many months to be resolved. It would cause irreparable harm to players while they remain locked out of training facilities and free agents are unable to sign contracts. Moreover, the public interest, the fans, did not favor a lockout. Nelson, however, did not tackle the issue of the antitrust lawsuit.

The NFL responded by filing a notice of appeal questioning whether Nelson exceeded her jurisdiction since „federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes.“ It also asked for an expedited stay, meaning it wanted Nelson to freeze her ruling to let the appeals process play out.

The hearing on the NFL’s appeal of the injunction is set for June 3. The stay and appeal are being decided by the same three judges who voted (2 to 1) on April 29 to give the NFL a temporary stay that reinstated the lockout.

The stay is a critical decision for both sides and for the course of the off-season. If the NFL is being granted the stay, the league would remain closed for business at least until the appeal is decided, and that could put increasing financial pressure on players. If the NFL is not being granted the stay, it would be forced to open for business, including starting a free agency, under rules that are likely going to be similar to those used in 2010. It is also being argued that stopping the lockout would open all 32 teams up to additional antitrust claims. Antitrust claims carry triple damages for any harm proven, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

But, there is hope the issue will be solved before June 3. The case will be heard before the NLRB on May 16 by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, the man in charge of NFL labor matters since 1993.

More Labor Law related news can be found on our website.

(c) Picture: Idea go -

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Utah Immigration Law Violates Civil Rights

On March 7, 2011 we reported on our blog about the immigration bills passed by the Utah legislature. Part of the new immigration law requires people to prove their citizenship if they are arrested for a felony or class A misdemeanor. Police officers also have the discretion to attempt to verify the citizenship status of people detained for class B and class C misdemeanors.

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center, joined by law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, filed a class action suit alleging that Utah’s immigration law invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law.

To read the full story, click here.

For more Immigration Law news, please visit our website.

(c) Picture:

Bin Laden's Shooting by U.S. Forces a Violation of International Law?

While many world leaders applauded the U.S. operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, concerns were raised in parts of Europe that the United States violated international law by acting as policeman, judge and executioner. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the action as lawful Tuesday, but some in Europe said Bin Laden should have been captured and put on trial.

Summary of reactions by Reuters Online -- "It was quite clearly a violation of international law," former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV. "The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest."

Ehrhart Koerting, Interior Minister in the city-state of Berlin, said: "As a lawyer, I would have preferred to have seen him put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

Gert-Jan Knoops, a Dutch-based international law specialist, said bin Laden should have been arrested and extradited to the United States. He drew parallels with the arrest of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who was put on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague after his arrest in 2001.

Reed Brody, counsel at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said it was too early to say whether the U.S. operation was legal because too few details were known.

The United States is not a signatory to the ICC and the court only has a mandate to investigate crimes that took place after its establishment in 2002, meaning the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 is out of its jurisdiction.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the United States to give the United Nations full details about bin Laden's killing. "The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law," she said.

In Brussels, European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom wrote in a blog: "It would have been preferred to see Osama bin Laden before a court."

In Italy, former prime minister Massimo D'Alema, from the center-left opposition, said: "You don't rejoice at the death of a man. Maybe if bin Laden had been captured and put on trial it would have been an even more significant victory."

There is no capital punishment in European Union member states and many, including Germany, criticize the death penalty used in some U.S. states and other nations.

U.S. Attorney General said the acts taken were "lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.

A range of U.S. legal experts said they believed Washington was on firm legal ground.

"They're on extremely solid legal footing," said Ben Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The fact that the United States has announced it is in an armed conflict with al Qaeda makes the operation legal under international law, said Kenneth Anderson, a fellow in national security and law at the conservative Hoover Institution. "It's lawful for the United States to be going after bin Laden if for no other reason than he launched an attack against the U.S." Anderson said.

While Pakistan may be able to complain before the United Nations about an act committed on its soil, it is unlikely to do so, U.S. experts agreed.

To read the full article, click here.

More International Law news can be found on our website.

(c) Picture: vichie81 -