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June 2011 Archives

Texas Supreme Court Sides With Big Business...Again.

The Texas Supreme Court recently reversed a $3.8 million judgment and set aside the jury verdict in a lawsuit brought by a San Benito family against the cemetery that removed the family's loved one's remains from the burial plot and moved them to another location without the family's permission. The verdict and judgment stems from Mont Meta Memorial Park's and its owners' actions in double-selling the plot to the Guerra family, in burying the body of Marcos Guerra in the wrong space, and in the later removal of his body to another grave site without his widow's permission. The wife and three daughters of Marcos Guerra brought the lawsuit against Service Corporation International ("SCI") and SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc. ("SCI Texas") doing business as Mont Meta Memorial Park.

"Another Hazing Death Leads to Lawsuit"

According to the New York Times, a New York woman has filed a lawsuit against the Cornell University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity after her son died of alcohol poisoning at the fraternity house. The lawsuit claims the student was kidnapped by fraternity members, had his hands and feet bound and was forced to drink alcohol until he passed out. An autopsy revealed the boy's blood-alcohol-content was .409, more than five times the legal limit to drive in New York.

Bus Accident in South Houston Kills Metro Transit Driver

According to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro), the Metro bus driver that was killed in an accident in South Houston this past week was the first transit driver to be killed on the job in over 20 years.

SEGA Data Breach

SEGA is the latest victim in a long and seemingly unending string of information breaches. SEGA Pass was taken offline last Thursday after the breach was discovered. The hackers collected the personal information of SEGA's 1.3 million users. This includes email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth and their encrypted passwords. In an email to its users, SEGA stressed that the passwords were encrypted, not stored in plain text. It is not known, however, if the passwords encryption was strong enough.

State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting

The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting takes place this week, Thursday, June 23 through Friday, June 24 in San Antonio, Texas. Our bar association consists of over 80,000 licensed attorneys, and the annual meeting is an excellent place to obtain quality continuing legal education and develop a greater understanding of what our organized bar does for the community of lawyers and the people of the state of Texas. Further, our newest partner, dhorowitz@abrahamwatkins.com, will be sworn in as a new Board of Director for the State Bar of Texas.

Drilling Rig Accident in West Texas Kills Two Men

Just over a week ago, a drilling rig accident in Dawson County left two workers dead. The fatal workplace incident is currently being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Supreme Court Reverses Jury Decision for Burned Child

A jury determined that a lighter which "badly burned" a six-year-old child was defective in its design and construction. Three years ago, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that her claim based upon the improper design of the lighter was "preempted" by federal testing requirements, even though courts in other states did not find that the requirements preempted a citizen's common law rights.

Starting September 1, All Vehicles in Texas Will Be Able to Travel At the Same Speed

Last week attorney rsorrels@abrahamwatkins.com wrote about the Texas Legislature's attempt to increase speed limits for large trucks to 75 miles per hour. The attempt is now official as Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law.

Tragic Morning Rush Hour Accident in North Houston

Dealing with morning rush hour traffic is usually one of the least favorite parts of a commuter's day. And while regular traffic flow patterns are bad enough, accidents in rush hour traffic further clog city highways. While many times these accidents are a matter of someone simply following too close, resulting in a minor fender bender, unfortunately sometimes the accidents can be fatal. A car accident this morning in North Houston proved to be just that.

Tragic Morning Rush Hour Accident in North Houston

Dealing with morning rush hour traffic is usually one of the least favorite parts of a commuter's day. And while regular traffic flow patterns are bad enough, accidents in rush hour traffic further clog city highways. While many times these accidents are a matter of someone simply following too close, resulting in a minor fender bender, unfortunately sometimes the accidents can be fatal. A car accident this morning in North Houston proved to be just that.

Inflatable Dangers

We have all seen them - they look like giant, soft slides and castles. Often you see children playing and jumping on these inflatable playgrounds. They may be called "moonwalks," "bounce houses," or "inflatable rides." What is not known is that these inflatables are dangerous and can be deadly.

Yet Another Blow to Consumers by the High Court

According to the Associated Press, the United States Supreme Court has once again sided with big business even in situations where deception is involved. The Court threw out a lawsuit filed by investors against Janus Capital Group who were seeking to hold the company liable for allegedly false statements in some Janus mutual fund documents. The court's 5-4 ruling reversed an appeals court decision that allowed the lawsuit to go forward. The key issue is whether the adviser to a mutual fund can be held financially responsible for false statements in the fund's prospectus. The court was ideologically divided. As expected, the five conservative justices said the case should be dismissed. Effectively, a mutual fund company can now put whatever lies they want in their sales materials and their advisers do not have to worry about the recourse.

Nine-Year-Old Girl Killed in Car-Truck Crash Near Dallas

Earlier this week we wrote about the death of two small children in a tragic car accident that happened in Harris County last month. Unfortunately, tragedy in the form of a fatal car-truck accident struck again in Texas last week when a 9-year-old child was killed on a suburban Dallas road.

DARS Data Breach

The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has stated that the personal data of about 4,900 current and former state employees may have been exposed in a security breach. The information - names and Social Security numbers of current and former employees - was on an internet site accessible to the public but not under department control. The information has been removed from the site, the department said. The news comes two months after the Texas Comptroller announced that the personal information of 3.5 million employees was potentially compromised. DARS is not releasing much information now on how the breach may have occurred or exactly what type of information could have been leaked. The firm represents several claimants related to the Texas Comptroller breach and has filed a class action that is currently pending in the Southern District of Texas.

Texas Legislatures Trying to Increase Big Truck Speed Limits Up to 75 mph

On May 23, 2011, the Texas Senate unanimously voted in favor of passing House Bill 1353. The bill stipulates the Texas Transportation Commission has the authority to increase speed limits up to 75 miles per hour - including the speed limit for 18 wheelers - as well as allow the same day and night speed limit and eliminate the current truck speed limit on farm-to-market roads. An important issue yet to be determined is if the governor signs this bill into law, whether allowing the speed limit increase will cause a foreseeable hazard to other drivers.

Harris County Mother Files Wrongful Death Suit Against CenterPoint Energy Over Deactivated Traffic Light

Every parent's worst nightmare is the death of child. For one Harris County woman that nightmare became a reality when her 8-month-old daughter was killed in a car accident last month.

Latino Still Lack Representation on State Supreme Courts

An April article from Fox News has brought new attention to a long-standing problem within the legal community, namely the shortage of Latino justices on our nation's state supreme courts. As the 2010 Census numbers begin to be thoroughly analyzed, it is clear that the Hispanic population in the United States has grown exponentially once again, accounting for more than half of all U.S. population growth in the last decade. Latinos now represent 16% of the total population, or about 50 million people. However, they only make up 3% of the justices on state supreme courts, for an embarrassing total of 10 justices out of 326 nationwide, and only represent the courts of six states. Even more eye opening is the fact that the current number of Latino justices has only grown by four since 1990.

Criminal Charges Brought in Last Week's Fatal Bus Accident

On the heels of the tragic New York tour bus crash earlier this year, came another fatal bus crash in Virginia just over a week ago. On this past Friday, the 37-year-old bus driver was charged with four criminal counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Michaels Sued for Failing to Safeguard Customers' Financial Data

According to Michaels Stores, Inc., its checkout line PIN pads were tampered with in Illinois and 19 other states. Now, Michaels is facing two lawsuits seeking class-action status by consumers alleging that Michaels failed to safeguard customers' credit and debit card information and PIN numbers. Michaels is a national retailer specializing in arts and crafts and has 964 U.S. stores.

"Holocaust Survivors Still Fighting Insurance Companies"

According to The New York Times, the legal claims by hundreds of American survivors of Nazi death camps have set off an intense lobbying campaign in Washington on their behalf. But opposition from the government and even from leading Jewish groups has created an uncomfortable rift between groups that are normally in alliance and has created a potential minefield for President Obama. The State Department, under both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, has vigorously opposed the idea of allowing survivors to press claims in court against European insurance companies because they say it would undermine a reparations agreement that the United States reached in 2000 with Germany, which led to $300 million in insurance payments to survivors and their heirs.

SONY CLASS ACTION UPDATE

Sony Corporation said Tuesday it will fully restore all PlayStation(R) Network services in the Americas, Europe/PAL territories and Asia, excluding Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, by the end of this week. Sony shut down its PlayStation Network in April after a security breach in its PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. At least 40 lawsuits have been filed in federal courts -- including at least two this week -- on behalf of millions of Sony PlayStation users, according to Westlaw data. The suits accuse Sony of failing to protect gamers' personal data and credit card information from hackers. They're saying that Sony breached the privacy of millions of customers and allowed hackers access to credit card information off the company's servers. Sony has already said that around 102 million users were compromised during the recent hack, including credit card numbers, addresses, user names, and more. Sony has been criticized for not telling customers quickly enough last month that their personal data was compromised.

Houston Officer Killed By Drunk Driver During Memorial Day Weekend

The long holiday weekend proved fatal for a Houston police officer who was on duty investigating an accident when he was hit by a drunk driver.

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