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Court of Appeals Reverses Prior Ruling

The firm is pleased to announce the 14th Court of Appeals has recently reversed a prior ruling on an automobile accident case. The court now holds in favor of the firm’s clients that Christopher Green, a Pasadena fireman, must bear responsibility for the serious injuries he caused a local boy and his parents when Green recklessly ran a red light en route to a false alarm. In a ruling issued on July 15, 2008, nine justices overruled a 2-1 opinion previously issued by a panel of the same court.

The case stems from a terrible collision which occurred during Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic on the Labor Day weekend of 2002. Green, driving a 40,000 pound fire truck without wearing his prescription glasses, was heading north on Jana. He ran a red light at Fairmont Parkway and smashed into an eastbound pickup truck containing a husband, wife, and their 9 year old son. All three were sent by Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital.

At trial, testimony indicated a) Green was not using the fire truck’s siren, b) other firemen with good vision were available to drive the fire truck, and c) even though Green knew the overwhelming majority of automatic fire alarms are false alarms, he did not slow down when crossing the busy three-lane thoroughfare on which the family was traveling. Expert testimony further proved it would have taken less than 30 seconds for Green to slow down sufficiently to cross Fairmont Parkway safely. The trial court ruled Green was grossly negligent, and awarded the family a substantial judgment in 2005.

Green appealed the judgment, contending that, as a public official, he should be immune from any responsibility for his recklessness. In March 2007, two justices agreed. But upon a reconsideration by the entire court of appeals, all except one justice ruled that Green must pay for the damages he inflicted upon the family. The firm concurs with the ruling that public officials who recklessly injure innocent citizens should be held accountable for their actions.

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