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June 2009 Archives

New Study on Birth Injuries

A new government study found some interesting results and disparities in injuries to women and babies during childbirth. From the study, released this month by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it appears that poor women are less likely to be injured during deliver, but their babies are at higher risk.

It is About Helping Our Clients

Today, Johnny Garza and I left the office to drive out to meet one of our clients. This particular client was severely injured as a result of the clear gross negligence of his employer. In fact, this client is now quadriplegic and will never be able to walk again, hold his wife, or be able to feed himself again. The only limited movement that the client still has is the ability to speak, move his head and neck, and the ability to move his right arm a bit. The client spends all day in his electric wheelchair with his wife at his side 24/7. While this client cannot use his right hand to grip anything, he can use it to move the joystick on his wheelchair with his palm and a tool that he has tied around his right hand. This is his only means of independent movement.

United States Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Big Business

In a 5/4 decision that announced yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the rights of employees to sue their employer under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older.

Case Law Update - Responsible Third Parties (RTPs)

In Texas, defendants are able to shift liability to responsible third parties (RTPs) by merely filing a motion for leave to designate. Although, the term RTP is really a misnomer, as a RTP will never be held responsible for any of the inured victim's damages. The only way to ever truly hold a RTP responsible is for the injured victim to add that RTP as a proper defendant in the litigation. Of course, this will not solve all problems, as plaintiffs still cannot recover damages from immune employers protected by the Texas Workers Compensation Act, bankrupt parties, and unknown parties. In short, RTP practice allows defendants to shift liability and to avoid joint and several liability with greater frequency.

Responsible Third Party Update

bstogner@abrahamwatkins.com and I recently presented a CLE update on Shifting Liability, which focused on the Responsible Third Party laws that were created in the 2003 Texas Legislature. A copy of the paper can be found on our website, www.abrahamwatkins.com. But one really interesting case just came out of the San Antonio Court of Appeals that is sure to draw some attention.

My Ending Term On The SBOT

As I prepare to roll off the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) Board of Directors on June 25, 2009, I continue to be amazed by the work done by the state bar staff and my fellow board members. The SBOT is governed by the 46 voting board of directors. The board members receive no compensation and 30 members of the board are elected by the lawyers in their districts for three year terms. They serve and vote along with six public members, four minority members, and six executives from the SBOT and Texas Young Lawyers Association. There are also four non-voting judiciary liaisons, as well as one non-voting out-of-state lawyer liaison. Finally, there are six section representatives who are also non-voting. The organization is run by a president and chairman of the board, and its mission is to support the administration of the legal system, assure all citizens equal access to justice, foster high standards of ethical conduct for lawyers, support and provide services to its members, enable its members to better serve their clients and the public, and educate the public about the rule of law and promote diversity in the administration of justice and the practice of law. Its website can be found at www.texasbar.com

Electrical Accidents: A Primer for Lawyers

Here at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend we protect the rights of individuals whose lives have been affected by electrical accidents. There are thousands of people injured every year as a result of accidental contact with electrical components. Examples of electrical accidents are flash burns, electrical explosions, electrical fires, electric shocks, and electrocutions.

"Tragedy Around the World Can Sometimes Hit Close to Home"

As many of you already know, on May 31st an Air France flight went missing over the Atlantic Ocean. For several days, no one was even sure where the plane was or even if it had crashed. Unfortunately, last week it was confirmed that the Airbus A330 did go down in the ocean unfortunately killing all 228 people on board. At this time, investigators are sill searching for many parts of the plane, including the "black box." Unless searchers can locate the plane's black box flight data and voice recorders, what caused this massive plane to go down may never be completely understood. On board the Air France flight were two U.S. citizens, Mr. & Mrs. Harris. Although neither I nor anyone I work with knew these two individuals, they were at one time residents of Houston and also Lafayette. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims of this tragedy, but especially to the family members of the two lost Texans, Mr. & Mrs. Harris.

$80 million dollar settlement for Hurricane Rita Bus Fire Litigation global settlement

The approach of Hurricane Rita prompted a mass evacuation of the Houston area in September 2005. Part of the evacuation were elderly patients from a nursing home facility in Bellaire, Texas. The elderly patients were being transported in MCI Model EL3 bus. During the course of the long trip to Dallas, the vehicle got a flat tire. The flat was changed by K&S Tire. The driver, Juan Robles, restarted the journey but was flagged down by a motorist to tell him that the rear right tag axle assembly of the bus was glowing red hot. Robles pulled to the side of the road. The heat generated by the locked up metal parts of the tag axle assembly caused the tire to catch on fire. The smoke from the tire fire quickly entered into the cabin of the bus where the elderly passengers were seated. The smoke from the tire fire severely hampered rescue efforts. The fire entered the cabin of the coach and caused 23 fatalities.

Continuing Customer Service

Some say that customer service is a lost art. But to those who contend that customer service is gasping its dieing breath, I ask, could the lost art of customer feed back bring it back to life? This is what I wonder as I walk the aisles at Target following a chorus of "I want" and "buy me" from my two children.

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