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Toxic Fish Pose Threat to Valley Residents

Photo of Muhammad Aziz

The Donna Reservoir and Canal System has long been a popular fishing spot for residents of the Rio Grande Valley. However, the fish from these waters pose major health risks to those who consume them. Federal environmental regulators and Texas health officials have known of this danger for twenty-three years.

Safety Standards in the Tree Care Business

Photo of Randy Sorrels

In Gastonia, North Carolina last December, 19 year old Mason Scott Cox was pulled into a wood chipper and killed. Mason had no prior experience in the tree care business, and on his first day at work he mistakenly tried to kick a limb that was stuck into the machine. It is speculated that his clothing caught onto either the limb or the chipper's belt wheels and dragged him in. His coworkers realized too late what was happening, and hit the power switch only after he'd been pulled waist deep in, prompting family members to question whether he was being adequately supervised.

Volkswagen Accused of Deleting Data Showing They Cheated on Emissions Test

Photo of Steven Hollingsworth

Daniel Donovan, a former information manager at Volkswagen in Michigan, has filed a whistleblower claim against his former employer after allegedly finding that his coworkers fudged data in their emissions tests. Donovan believes his employment was terminated because his superiors predicted that Donovan would report the spoliation of evidence to the Department of Justice.

State Standing in United States v. Texas Could be Key Issue

Photo of Benny Agosto

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a suit in which Texas along with twenty-five other states are challenging the Obama administration's initiatives, announced back in November 2014, deferring removal of millions of unauthorized immigrants. The policies in question, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+), raise numerous questions about immigration law. However, one of the most important issues in the case - whether Texas has standing to challenge these initiatives at all - transcends immigration law and could be the deciding factor in this high-stakes dispute. So while the decision in United States v. Texas will be monumental within immigration law, it will also allow the Court to settle major questions about the role of the states in monitoring federal law enforcement policies.

Man Dies After Tugboat Sinks on San Jacinto River

Photo of Kelly Flores

On April 19, 2016, at around 9:00 a.m., a tugboat with a crew of five people onboard became submerged underwater on the San Jacinto River. At the time of the incident, the tugboat was located about a half mile south of the I-10 bridge, just outside of Houston, Texas. Four crew members were rescued from the river, but a fifth crew member was unaccounted for. Traffic was restricted along a stretch of the San Jacinto River during the search, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office along with the United States Coast Guard recovered the fifth crewmember's body a short time later. The tugboat is identified as the Ricky J Leboeuf.  A Coast Guard spokesman says salvage crews were on the scene Wednesday to try to locate and raise the tugboat.

One Dead, Eleven Injured After Apparent Chemical Suicide in Austin

Photo of Brian Humphrey

Last week, the Austin Fire Department responded to a reported gas leak in an Austin apartment building linked to the University of Texas. Instead, they found an apartment door with a sign reading "Danger: Watch out, hydrogen sulfide," behind which they found the body of a young man who had apparently died of exposure to the poisonous gas. Six others were taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and five others were injured but refused treatment. AFD's initial investigation determined that the deceased individual had released the gas in order to commit suicide.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Finds State Law Product Liability Claims Not Preempted by Federal Law

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On April 19, 2016, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion finding that state law product liability claims for defective aircraft are not preempted by federal law. The Third Circuit's opinion holds that neither the Federal Aviation Act or a federal agency's decision to issue a certificate approving of an aircraft design preempt state law product liability claims. In doing so, the court found that the presumption against preemption applies in the context of aviation accident claims. The court also found that the FAA contains a savings clause that expressly reserves state law claims. In reaching these conclusions, the Third Circuit recognized that most other courts and jurisdictions, including the United States Fifth Circuit Court of appeals that oversees federal district courts in Texas, reject preemption of product liability actions for aviation accidents. The Third Circuit noted that "[b]esides preserving principles of federalism, this conclusion avoids interpreting the Federal Aviation Act in a way that would have 'the perverse effect of granting complete immunity from design defect to an entire industry that, in the judgment of Congress, needed more stringent regulation.'" The Third Circuit's decision is a positive step toward universal recognition of an injured person's right to seek recovery for injuries caused by airplane and airplane part manufacturers who place unsafe products in the marketplace.

Jury Awards $51.5 Million to Woman Injured in 18-Wheeler Accident

Photo of Imrana Manzanares

In 2012, Connie Jones Marable was injured in a Lowe's Home Improvement parking lot after her husband's 2007 Freightliner truck moved even though the emergency brake was on. Ms. Marable was pinned under the Freightliner's wheels and dragged. According to one of her attorneys, Ms. Marable was left with "crushing physical injuries and a severe brain injury" and has been in a "minimally conscious state under 24-7 nursing care."

Foul Ball, Fair Suit?

Photo of Steven Hollingsworth

On April 20, 2015, a woman attending a Cubs-Pirates baseball game suffered a traumatic brain injury after a ball was tipped behind so hard it hit her head, despite the protective net. The woman was on her way on her first-row seat, right behind home plate. With her back turned to the action, the ball was fouled, and hit her on the back of the head. She suffered from a traumatic brain injury, concussion, and continues to suffer from migraines, sleep disorders, vertigo, neck pain, and several other injuries. The woman has brought a case against Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and a municipality organization.

Jury Awards $14.9 Million to Crash Victim

Photo of Brant Stogner

On April 30, 2012, Marcia Gray was driving on Interstate 580 in Oakland, California. A car accident in front of her vehicle caused Ms. Gray to break suddenly to avoid the wreck. As a result, a Chevrolet pickup truck struck her 1995 Mazda Protégé from behind.

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