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January 2012 Archives

Supreme Court Throws Out Verdict for Family of Deceased Worker

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict in favor of the family of a worker who was killed on the job. The case was Port Elevator-Brownsville, L.L.C. v. Casados, et al, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012)(1/27/12).

Family Sues School District for Son's Suicide

A family in Utah recently filed a wrongful death suit against North Sanpete School District following their son's suicide. The lawsuit alleges that school officials failed to prevent and stop years of bullying, and that such failure caused the Utah family's son to commit suicide.

Hispanic National Bar Association President Benny Agosto, Jr. Proudly Announces the Veterans Legal Initiative Program

The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) recently announced the launch of its new Veterans Legal Initiative Program ("Veterans Initiative"), in an effort to provide free legal services to the men and women of the American armed forces and their families. The Veterans Initiative is part of HNBA National President Benny Agosto, Jr.'s "Year of the Advocate" and will organize HNBA members to volunteer at local Departments of Veterans' Affairs, American Legion posts, and Veterans of Foreign Wars locations, as well as opening their own free legal clinics.

Federal CellPhone and Texting Bans a Call to Action? (Part I)

After wrapping up its investigation into the deadly multi-vehicle collision near Grey Summit in 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has suggested that a federal ban go into effect, with each state forbidding all drivers from using nonemergency portable electronic communication devices, including cell phones.

City of Houston Settles Red Light Camera Lawsuit

After tremendous frustration and debate, the city of Houston was obligated last year by an overwhelming majority of its voters to end its contract with red light camera manufacturer American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and permanently shut down the controversial cameras. ATS quickly brought suit against the city for breaching their contract which was scheduled to end in 2014. And now, after months of debates, the two sides have reached a settlement agreement in which the city could pay ATS more than $12 million in damages for breaching their agreement and removing the cameras.

IRS Broadens the Type of Damages which are Excluded from Gross Income

According to an article in Accounting Today, the IRS has released final regulations relating to the exclusion from gross income for amounts received on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness. The final regulations in TD 9573 reflect amendments under the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 and affect taxpayers who have received damages on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness and taxpayers paying these damages. The regulations take effect on January 23, 2012. They delete an earlier requirement that to qualify for exclusion from gross income, damages received from a legal suit, action, or settlement agreement must be based upon "tort or tort type rights." The regulations provide, instead, that the Section 104(a)(2) exclusion may apply to damages recovered for a personal physical injury or physical sickness under a statute that does not provide for a broad range of remedies, and that the injury need not be defined as a tort.

Well Site Explosion Outside of Pearsall

A fiery explosion injured three workers at an oil and gas well site near Pearsall, Texas on January 19th, 2012. Preliminary information indicates that welders were working near a truck that was unloading saltwater that contained liquid hydrocarbons. Sparks from the welders caused the explosion when they ignited vapors that were created during the truck's unloading process. Ignited oil from the damaged well spread and burned several nearby trailers. The fire burned for several hours before it was extinguished by the Pearsall Fire Department around 9pm on Thursday night. Further updates on the conditions of the injured workers have not been reported following their transportation to the hospital.

Grandmother in Shock After Grandchild Mauled by Pit Bull

The fallout after an accident is never easy to deal with. And for one family from Montgomery County, life has been even further complicated after a family member went into shock after seeing a toddler mauled by a dog.

Supreme Court Favors Oil Company over Landowners

In a case last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that an oil company which substantially underpaid royalty owners would not be liable to them for the difference. The Court criticized the royalty owners for not looking in various public records to discover the oil company's wrongdoing.

Estados Unidos v. Jones: La Corte Suprema a Decider Si El Gobierno Necesita Orden para Vigilar a un Sospechoso Usando Tecnologia GPS

Con los grandes avances en la tecnología, no es sorprendente que la ley ha sido lenta en establecer los límites que estas nuevas técnicas y aparatos tienen sobre un individuo. Pero con el caso de Estados Unidos v. Jones pendiente ante la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos, la ley podría estar más cerca de estar al corriente con la tecnología.

Drive Safely and Prevent Fatal Accidents, Plead Texas Police

Each day, across the nation, many people deal with the pain of losing someone they love in a fatal car accident. In Texas, growing cities like Laredo are seeing accidents occur more frequently and with more serious injuries. Texas police are hoping that appealing to residents will help change those statistics.

Family Sues Restaurant for Alcohol-Related Fatality

A recently filed lawsuit alleged that Captain Jack's Bar and Grill's negligence contributed to the death of a youth pastor in Washington. Specifically, the estate of Samuel Stephens claims that Captain Jack's Bar and Grill over served alcohol to Joseph McNeil and subsequently allowed him to operate a vehicle.

Are Women Better Drivers than Men?

A recent auto insurance study concluded that women are better drivers than men. The study found that male drivers are responsible for approximately 80 percent (80%) of all fatal and serious automobile accidents. Women drivers are 27 percent (27%) less likely than male drivers to cause vehicle accidents. In 2007, men were involved in 6.1 million car accidents while women were involved in 4.4 million car accidents.

Life on an Oil Rig

As Jonathan Fahey reports for the Houston Chronicle, oil rig workers have dangerous jobs. Then again, most of us have vague notions that the job is dangerous. But sometimes it takes a piece like Fahey's to really bring to light exactly what oil rig workers face on a daily basis.

Texas Attorney General Sues Pharmaceutical Giant

Fourteen years after the State of Texas recovered $17.3 billion from tobacco manufacturers, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott now returns to the courtroom this week against pharmaceutical giant, Janssen Pharmaceutical LLC in hopes to recover more than $1 billion in damages. Abbott is charging Johnson & Johnson Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary Janssen, and five other related companies for implementing a "sophisticated marketing scheme" to defraud the state into overpaying for Janssen's schizophrenia drug, Risperdal. The state also alleges in its lawsuit that the pharmaceutical companies misled Texas health officials about Risperdal's effectiveness, risk of side effects, and safety for pediatric use.

Pipeline Companies Don't Like Having to Pay for Damages Caused to Land

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, pipeline companies are asking the Texas Supreme Court to overturn a ruling they say jeopardizes new projects, escalating the battle over the costs of transporting oil and natural gas produced by the energy boom in South Texas. The industry says its costs are soaring as landowners, bolstered by a recent appellate-court opinion, seek much higher payments for damage to their property values from pipelines and reject what they see as lowball offers from companies. Under Texas law, companies can build pipelines across private property over landowners' objections, but must pay for use of the land and any damage to the value of the rest of the property. The dispute in the South Texas case could have ramifications in other states where pipelines are proliferating along with new oil and gas fields, some legal experts say.

First Latina Appointed as Director of the Domestic Policy Council

On January 10, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that longtime immigration reform advocate Cecilia Munoz would be joining the White House as director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Car Crashes and Traffic Fatalities in 2010: Distracted Driving, Part 3

This is the third post in a three-part series that is taking a closer look at the recent federal agency report that analyzes car accident data across the nation for 2010.

"Another Gas Leak, Another Person Killed"

According to reports out of Austin, a young man has been killed when his house exploded from an apparent gas leak. According to neighbors, the man whose home exploded called the gas company around Thanksgiving complaining of the smell of gas at his son's birthday party. Apparently, the gas company responded to the smell of gas and told the man that they couldn't do the repairs without a permit from the City. As gas lines age, more and more are failing. If you or a family member was seriously injured or killed as a result of an explosion, contact our office immediately. Firm Partner Daniel Horowitz is currently handling several cases involving deadly gas leaks.

Car Crashes and Traffic Fatalities in 2010: Pedestrians, Part 2

This is the second post in a three-part series that is taking a closer look at the recent federal agency report that analyzes car accident data across the nation for 2010.

Are Flying Body Parts at Train Stations Reasonably Foreseeable?

An appellate court in Illinois recently reviewed whether it is "reasonably foreseeable" for a person's body parts to hit an innocent bystander awaiting a train's arrival on a platform, after the train collided with that person. Calling it a "tragically bizarre" case, that court determined it was.

Dallas Jury Awards $7.2 Million in Greyhound Bus Crash Case

On December 19, 2011, a Dallas County jury awarded Ashley Reedy $7.2 million for the personal injuries she sustained when a Greyhound bus flipped in December of 2007. According to the allegations at trial, the Greyhound bus driver was using a cell phone in icy conditions while transporting Reedy and others. When the driver approached another wreck on the road, he was unable to control his speed, brake properly, and caused the roll-over crash seriously injuring Ashley Reedy.

Bank of America to Pay for Discriminatory Loans

According to Bloomberg, Bank of America Corp. has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company charged different rates for home loans based on "race or national origin." The suit claims Countrywide Financial Corp., owned by Bank of America, charged higher fees to "black and Hispanic borrowers." The settlement will affect more than 200,000 borrowers.

Paralysis and Death on the Rise Following Steroid Injections

The United States Food and Drug Administration is starting to review the side effects and safety issues of epidural steroid injections. These types of injections have become a more popular way for physicians to conservatively treat neck and back pain prior to surgery. Studies indicate that these shots - which involve an injection of a steroid, and sometimes other substances, into the epidural space near the spinal cord - are being increasingly used throughout the country. One such study found injections to Medicare patients increased between 2000 and 2010 approximate 159 percent.

Bad Air Quality for Texas Could Be Due to Oil & Gas Activity

32 days: that is how many days in 2011 that the Dallas-Fort Worth area had air pollutants readings above federal standards for air quality. That is just over a month of the entire year that Texans in the area had to breathe "bad air." And, according to a chemical engineering professor, it was not just Dallas that was affected.

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