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Hazing May Be Hitting Close To Home

As we have recently successfully wrapped up the tragic hazing death of Jack Phoummarath, there is a possibility that another young man may be the victim of a fraternity hazing episode. While the investigation is just starting, the media has already made the connection that a 20-year-old Prairie View A&M male student, who was finishing a very early morning run on a track nine miles from the Prairie View campus at Hempstead High School when he collapsed, had signed papers as a prospective member of Phi Beta Sigma. There were apparently other people out at the track with Donnie Wade, a junior biology major from Dallas, when this occurred.

Jack Phoummarath was a freshman at the University of Texas in the fall of 2005 when he went through the fraternity pledge program with Lambda Phi Epsilon. On December 9, 2005 Jack participated in a ceremony that involved a large volume intake of alcohol. When his "friends" laid him down to have him "sleep it off," he never woke up. He was found dead on December 10, 2005. Our investigation uncovered photos and video of the tragic night and led to a successful lawsuit against the fraternity and individuals involved in the events of that night.

Importantly, the Phoummarath family, Twin Lion Communication and our firm worked together to develop and release an educational video designed for high school and college students that addresses the issues, dangers and consequences of hazing. If you have a program that you would like a copy of the video on a disc, please contact me at our office and I will assist you in obtaining one. The Phoummarath family also set up a scholarship at the University of Texas in Jack's name, and that scholarship is "earned" by the recipient's participation in UT's alcohol and drug awareness program. This family was recognized by the Texas Trial Lawyer's Association as true champions in 2008 for their heroic efforts to bring an end to hazing injuries and deaths.

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    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

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    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

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    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

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