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August 2010 Archives

Not a Good Year for BP - Toxic Spill at BP Plant in Texas City

The entire world is still watching the unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster is still mounting. Most of the blame for the disaster in the gulf is being placed on British Petroleum (BP). Meanwhile, in Texas City, BP's refinery released hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen Benzene. Rather than shutting down the refinery to make repairs, BP tried to divert the gases to have them burned off. This decision allowed at least 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to pour from the Texas City factory in April, May and June of this year.

SUPREME COURT EXTENDS PUBLIC IMMUNITY TO RESIDENT

The Texas Supreme Court recently extended the immunity of public officials to a doctor in his residency at a private medical school. The case was Klein, et al. v. Hernandez, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2010)(5/7/10).

"Alcohol & Hazing Related Incidents Continue at University of Texas"

The University of Texas Dean of Students Office is now investigating two separate incidents of alcohol poisoning involving students.
At 3 a.m. Wednesday, just hours before the first day of classes were to begin at the University of Texas, a student living at the Hardin House, a private dormitory for women in West Campus, called campus police after discovering her roommate unconscious and foaming at the mouth in the shower. The young woman, who had been part of a pledging event for a sorority, was treated for alcohol poisoning.
Then, at 3:43 a.m., another student alerted campus police after finding her roommate passed out in the bathroom of their Almetris Duren Hall dormitory room on the UT campus. The second young woman had also been involved in pledging a sorority when she was treated for alcohol poisoning.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS FOUNDATION

For 25 years, The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas (MABATx) has had the mission to provide a forum and a means for lawyers to promote the social, economic, and educational advancement of the people of Texas. In addition, MABATx has strived to serve the Mexican-American populous and all Hispanics, by providing services, assistance, and advice on matters of legal concern to the community; all the while encouraging respect, fairness, justice and equality.

Workplace Deaths Rise in Texas

In 2009, at least 480 Texas workers lost their lives while working their jobs. This statistic is part of a disturbing trend, and represents a nearly 4% increase in on-the-job deaths from 2008 in Texas. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found an opposite trend nationwide. Using the preliminary data, it appears that work related deaths dropped 17% across the country.Statistics can sometimes be a deceiving tool. For example, there was a nationwide increase in unemployment and 2009, and this could explain the significant decrease in on-the-job deaths throughout the nation. But in Texas, we have seen an increase in the number of calls to our law firm concerning on-the-job injuries and deaths. There is likely a correlation between the shrinking economy and corporation's continued commitment to safety. It is time for companies throughout this state and the nation to rededicate their resources and personnel to making our jobsites safer, and decrease the number of injuries and deaths immediately.So while Texas may be leading the country in job increases, we are also unfortunately leading the country in work related deaths. Let's stop this trend in its tracks.

Education Commissioner Cannot Preempt Venue

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that, when a school district and a teacher agree to Travis County as the venue where their dispute should be decided, the Commissioner of Education cannot block that choice.

"Fischer-Price Recalls 100,000 Toys"

Toy maker Fischer-Price announced a recall of nearly 100,000 Little People Play-n-Go Campsites due to potential choking hazards. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, one of the characters that comes with the toy set can break at the waist, exposing "small parts that could pose a choking hazard to children." The company has received reports of the figurine breaking, but no injuries have yet been reported.

Toxic Burn Pits

Every day thousands of tons of garbage are burned in "burn pits" at military installations across Iraq and Afghanistan. Houston based contractors KBR and Halliburton were contracted and paid by the U.S. government to properly dispose of waste products at specific U.S. bases. However, although both KBR and Halliburton agreed to follow all U.S. laws and U.S. Environmental Protection guidelines, many of these burn pits were constructed upwind from living quarters, allowing the toxic smoke and ash from these fires to settle like a haze on camps housing military personnel. Anything and everything is burned in these pits, including dead animals, asbestos insulation, paints, solvents, lithium batteries, plastics, and even trucks.

Education Commissioner Cannot Preempt Venue

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that, when a school district and a teacher agree to Travis County as the venue where their dispute should be decided, the Commissioner of Education cannot block that choice.

Deepwater Horizon UPDATE: Halliburton Sued

Just recently, on August 6, 2010, Florida real estate company St. Joe Co. filed suit against oil field contractor, Halliburton. According to the allegations in the suit and announcements made by lead counsel for St. Joe Co., Halliburton bears full responsibility for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton was the sole cementing contractor for the Macando well, which was attached to the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. That platform exploded, caught fire, and sank in April of this year.

$19.5 Billion of Medical Errors

In a recently released study commissioned by Society of Actuaries and carried out by the actuarial and consulting firm Milliman, it is estimated that medical errors, and the problems associated with those errors cost the United States economy $19.5 billion in 2008. These cost estimates include not only medical costs (which are both directly related to the medical error and indirectly related to the medical error -- including bedsores, postoperative infections, and complications associated with medical errors), but also the costs associated with increased mortality rate and lost productivity.

"Honda Issues 3rd Recall for Interlock Ignition Problems"

On Monday, Honda Motor Co. issued its 3rd recall since 2003 for the same problem. This recall addresses 2003 Honda Accords and Civics as well 2003-2004 versions of the Honda Element. The issue is that key interlock system can be worn during use making it possible to remove the ignition key without the vehicle being in park. If this occurs, the vehicle could roll away and lead to serious injuries or death. Unfortunately, our firm knows about this first hand. We are currently representing the family of a young lady who was killed in 2008 when her 1998 Honda Accord rolled down her driveway running her over and killing her. Her vehicle was part of Honda's 2003 recall campaign. Please, if you own or operate a vehicle subject to the recall take it in for repairs. However, after the recall work is allegedly performed, verify it. It's possible the dealer will not actually perform the work and say they did. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the recall.

Diet Supplements

We Americans do love our dietary supplements. More than half of the adult population have taken them to stay healthy, lose weight, gain an edge in sports or in the bedroom, and avoid using prescription drugs. In 2009, we spent $26.7 billion on them, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication.

Nissan Cube Recall -- Fuel Spill Issues

Nissan is recalling over 51,000 of its Q. hatchbacks in the United States and Canada because of possible problems with fuel spillage during rear end collisions. The recall covers model year 2009 and 2010 Cubes made between January 30, 2009 and July 30, 2010. Dealers were notified in late July 2000 and are to contact owners on August 30, 2010, and will attach a special protector to prevent leaks.

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