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August 2011 Archives

Hospitals Facing Major Cuts Because of Legislature

According to a report from the San Antonio Express, rural Texas hospitals are facing cuts to programs and services that jeopardize already strained resources. Hospital administrators are trying to come up with solutions before Thursday, when "cost-saving" measures to Medicaid passed during the 82nd Legislature go into effect. The first cuts came in 2010 in the form of a 2 percent reduction to reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes. The next wave will take an additional 8 percent, but will affect rural hospitals only in their outpatient services because the Medicaid program in Texas pays rural hospitals the cost of providing their services rather than the standard statewide Medicaid rate. No doubt someone will try to blame this on trial lawyers too.

More Recalls for Target as Products Pose Danger to Children

Target Corporation is recalling storage step stools for the second time this month after receiving over 27 reports of the stools breaking or collapsing. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 14 of these incidents involved children. Several adults have suffered broken wrists, arms, as well as a fractured hip and pelvis, when the wooden step stool they were on broke apart under their weight. Target initially recalled 206,000 stools on August 4, but has since voluntarily recalled 341,000 more because of the danger. These wooden stools were sold under the "Circo" and "Do Your Room" brand names and were sold both at Target stores and online at Target.com from 2007 to 2010. Target said that people should stop using the stools immediately and return them to their nearest Target store for a full refund.

The 1910 Courthouse

The 1910 Courthouse was rededicated in Harris County on August 23, 2011. This courthouse will house the Houston Courts of Appeals beginning next month, and Houston is the home of two of the 14 courts of appeals in the state of Texas (the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals). The courthouse was originally constructed in 1910 and was the center of all judicial activity in Houston. It was rededicated in 1951 as our court system outgrew the capacity of the original design of the building, and the building became the civil courts building. A substantial overhaul was made at that time and much of the building's original beauty was lost to create a building that could house more courtrooms.

2011 MABATx Foundation Luncheon a Great Success

I am thrilled to report that the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation's (MABATx Foundation) Sixth Annual Scholarship Luncheon benefitting Hispanic law students, held last Wednesday, August 17 at the downtown Double Tree Hotel, was very successful. Every year, the luncheon raises money to donate to the three law schools in our community, and this year was no different. Several thousand was raised for scholarships that are given each year to outstanding Houston-area law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice and equality within the Hispanic community and beyond.

Supreme Court Enforces Oral -- Agreement to Purchase Investment Property

In a recent case, the Texas Supreme Court enforced an agreement between friends to purchase 3,800 acres for investment property.

National Park Named in Wrongful Death Suit After Mountain Goat Killed Hiker

While we typically focus our posts on lessons learned from tragic incidents throughout the state of Texas, we could not help but take note when we saw the following story about Washington state in the news earlier this month as it is not often that animals are involved in wrongful death lawsuits.

The Message- If You Are an Undocumented Alien, Don't Break the Law.

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2010, the U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people, half of whom were considered criminals. Of those classified as criminals, 27,635 had been arrested for drunk driving. This is more than double the number deported in 2008 for drunk driving, which was the last full year of the Bush administration. An additional 13,028 people were deported after being arrested for less serious traffic violations.

Plaintiffs Challenge Statutory Damages Cap before Nebraska Supreme Court

The Nebraska Supreme Court will determine whether a $2.5 million verdict awarded to two young girls who were seriously injured in a sledding accident should be overturned. In December of 2000, Rachel and Chelsea Connelly were sledding down Memorial Park Hill when they violently collided into a crabapple tree planted by the city. Experts maintain that the hill's slope routed the girls into the crabapple tree.

Highway Worker's Death Reminds Drivers to Slow Down in Texas Work Zones

When you're a construction worker, danger comes with the job. There is always the danger of being crushed by a falling object or being injured when scaffolding collapses or heavy machinery malfunctions. Workers and their families recognize that being seriously injured or even killed on the job is a risk that construction workers take every day. For one Texas family, the risk became a reality when a highway construction worker was struck and killed by a passing vehicle last week.

New Study Highlights Frivolous Lawsuit Myth

A report by the New England Journal of Medicine cuts right to the heart of the tort-reform debate over medical malpractice lawsuits. The report attempts to measure the economic and emotional impact of medical malpractice cases on doctors. The study found that only about 20% of malpractice claims result in a payout to claimants. Malpractice data from 1991 through 2005 was analyzed. The authors of the study noted earlier research concluding that only a small fraction of the patients harmed by medical mistakes actually file claims. Given the costs that plaintiffs' lawyers often must front in order to bring malpractice suits, along with the limited recoveries they face in some states that have passed tort reform legislation, "a lawyer would have to be an idiot to take a frivolous case to court," an author of the study told AP.

Falling Glass Prompts Recall of 1.86 Million Philips Light Bulbs

The world's largest maker of lighting products is recalling 1.86 million light bulbs after receiving over 700 reports of the glass globes falling after the glue that attaches the globes to the bulb body failed, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. So far, there have been two reported injuries and three incidents of property damage. The recall involves EnergySaver, Marathon or Marathon Classic Compact Fluorescent Dimmable Reflector lamps, models R30, R40 and PAR 38. The faulty bulbs were manufactured from March 2007 to May 2010 by Philips Lighting Co. and were sold nationwide. Consumers should stop using the affected bulbs immediately.

Houston Woman Widowed Hours After Her Wedding

Your wedding day is supposed to be a hectic yet fun day, surrounded by friends and family wishing you and your new spouse well as you journey into marriage. The day is not supposed to end in death. But for one Houston couple that was married earlier this month, that is precisely what happened.

Another Recall for General Motors

According to the Wall Street Journal, General Motors Co. has issued a recall of more than 14,000 Chevy Impala and Buick Lacrosse sedans due to problems that could cause damage to the vehicles and injury to the passengers. The Lacrosse vehicles were recalled to correct an error in the electronic stability-control systems that may cause the system to activate when it shouldn't, potentially resulting in a crash. If you or your loved one was seriously injured or killed as a result of a defective vehicle, contact our firm for a free consultation.

Abraham Watkins Partner Named to Prestigious List of "101 Most Influential Leaders in the Latino Community"

Last month, partner bagosto@abrahamwatkins.com, Jr. was named one of 2011's "101 Most Influential Leaders in the Latino Community" by Latino Leaders Magazine. For over ten years, this national publication has featured influential Latino politicians, business owners and community leaders across the country, with the goal of demonstrating the influence of Latinos in the United States by showcasing non-mainstream Latino stories in the national media.

CVS Fined for Selling Banned Merchandise

CVS has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $45,000, as a result of failing to report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") that it sold children's hooded jackets with drawstrings at the neck. In March 2009, the CPSC and the importer of the jackets announced a recall of the products, but CVS just recently announced its agreement to pay the civil penalty.

One Construction Worker Killed When San Marcos Building Collapsed

The erection of a new building usually signifies growth for a company, or for some businesses, it means a new beginning. What should have been seen as a step toward the future for one manufacturing company will now forever be marred by tragedy.

Cargill Turkey Recall Update

According to The Washington Post, Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of infected turkey. The meat giant's turkey is already linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed at least one person and injured at least 76 others. Twenty-six different states, from coast to coast, have already reported cases of illnesses related to the contaminated turkey.

Another Recall for Honda Motor Co.

According to Reuters, Honda Motor Co. has issued a recall of approximately 1.5 million vehicles in the United States and more than 130,000 in Canada to fix a problem with the transmission software. Company officials said that if the transmission was quickly shifted between gears, the transmission could become damaged. The recall covers four-cylinder Accords, the CR-V Crossover and the Honda Element. Our firm recently obtained a confidential settlement for the family of a young lady killed by a Honda vehicle as a result of recall work not being performed properly. If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a defective product, please contact our office immediately for a free consultation.

Houston Accident Shows Distracted Driving and Teen Drivers Are Not a Good Mix

Every day 15 people are killed in distracted driving accidents -- an epidemic of sorts further exacerbated when less experienced teen drivers are on the road. When you combine the already high fatality rates of teen drivers with distracted driving, the results are disastrous. A recent fatal auto accident in Harris County illustrates that distracted driving does kill.

Ford and Lincoln Vehicle Recall

Ford is recalling almost 1.1 million Ford F-150s, F-250s, and Lincoln Blackwood pickups because their fuel-tank straps can rust, corrode and ultimately fail causing the fuel tank to drop to the ground. If it hits the ground, there is a risk of the tank rupturing and catching fire. Thus far, the defect has been blamed for eight fires beneath the truck, of which three spread to the rest of the truck. A Ford spokesman has been quoted as saying one person was injured suffering first and second degree burns.

Houston Motorist Swapping Information After Minor Accident Hit By an 18-Wheeler

Virtually everyone knows that after a motor vehicle accident, you find a safe place to park your car and exchange insurance information with the other driver. For one Houston motorist, however, the decision to pull over after a minor fender bender and exchange information proved fatal.

Fisher-Price Little People Builders' Load 'n Go Recalled

On July 28, The Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") issued a recall for Fisher-Price's Little People Builders' Load 'n Go. The toys, bearing product number P8977, were sold between June 2009 and July 2011 for approximately $25.00.

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