December 2009 Archives

Mattel pays $50 million for selling lead-tainted toys

Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary have agreed to pay potentially more than $50 million to settle a consumer class action over the lead tainted toys. The proposed settlement, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, will resolve 22 consolidated lawsuits by providing refunds or other reimbursement to consumers who purchased toys that were recalled or pulled off the shelves. The settlement comes a year after Mattel and Fisher-Price agreed to pay $12 million to 39 states to end an investigation into contaminated toys. More recently, Mattel in June of this year, agreed to pay another $2.3 million civil penalty for violating a federal lead-paint ban.

Corvette Recall

General Motors is recalling more than 22,000 Chevrolet Corvettes that have removable roofs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Corvettes and the 2006-2007 Corvette Z06's with removable roofs have an adhesive between the roof panel and frame that can separate, which can cause noise, poor fit and water leakage. In the worse case scenario, if the adhesive completely separates, the roof panel could come off causing a potentially dangerous condition for the driver and occupant of the vehicle.

Patient Anti-Dumping Statutes - Recent Lawsuit

In recent news, on December 23, 2009, a federal lawsuit was filed against University Medical Center and Valley Hospital in Las Vegas. The suit alleges that a woman and her husband arrived at the UMC emergency room on November 30, 2009 with severe abdominal pain and waited for six hours without being treated or examined. Ultimately, it turned out that the woman was pregnant and, after leaving the hospital without being assessed or provided any treatment, she gave birth at home to a baby girl. The baby was approximately 26 weeks along at the time of the unexpected breach birth. The lawsuit alleges that paramedics assisted with the breach birth and that "the baby took a few spontaneous respirations and then went into distress." According to the allegations in the lawsuit, the baby girl died shortly thereafter.

Brake Problems With Toyota Prius

Toyota's fuel-efficient hybrid are peppered with concerns raised by owners of the third-generation Prius, which was launched for the 2010 model year. At least 33 complaints alleging safety problems with the '10 Prius, most often involving braking issues have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation.

Head-On Collision Results in Serious Injuries but Victims are Happy to be Alive during Holidays

On Christmas Eve, a father, his daughter and the daughter's husband were driving on a two way road when the car coming the opposite direction entered their lane and hit them head-on. The daughter was taken to the hospital by helicopter, suffering from a severe broken left leg. The father and son-in-law each suffered from fractured backs. The family immediately called me to help and I quickly arrived at the hospital. I actually had to visit three hospitals as they were taken to three different hospitals. Their family of course also visited all three hospitals. It was at the last hospital that I realized that their family would be apart during Christmas. A family member put things in perspective--she said that considering all the damage to the vehicles, they were just happy to have their family members alive. After leaving the hospitals and arriving home late, I made sure to tell my family that I am thankful that they are in my life. I wish everyone happy holidays

American Airlines 737-800 went off the end of a runway in Jamaica Tuesday night in heavy rain

Runway overruns have become the most frequent type of airline accident in recent years. Planes sometimes do go off the end of runways because they were traveling too fast or were too high when attempting to land. These may have been factors in two Southwest Airlines runway accidents, in Chicago and in Burbank, Calif.

The Contingency Fee Allows Justice for All

Nearly every legal publication is doing its year-end review of how the economy has affected the law firms that earn revenue through the billable hour. The economy has slowed the ordinary rate increase that law firms normally implemented from year to year. For example, The National Law Journal's annual survey of billing rates showed that "this year's national average firm-wide billing rate, a combination of partner and associate rates, grew by 2.5% during 2009 to $372." This is relatively small increase considering that in 2008 firms reported a 4.3% increase in billable rates. In 2007, firms reported a 7.7% rate increase. The economy and the clients that hire firms based on the billable hour drove the decrease in rate growth.

Safety Tips for Holiday Lights

This time of year, many people decorate their homes or Christmas trees with holiday lights. As a result, it is important to make sure you lights are in good shape to prevent electrocutions or fires. Consumer reports recommends that you replace holiday lights every three years. This is to avoid frayed or cracked wires. Some other suggestions are:

Motor Vehicle Tires Pose Safety Risk

The tires that we depend upon to safely travel in our cars and trucks can pose safety risks to motorists. Tires are constructed of multiple layers. The layer which makes contact with the roadway can separate ("delaminate") from the rest of the tire under certain conditions. And a catastrophic failure of this type can lead to collisions which cause extreme bodily injury or death to the passengers in the vehicle whose tire failed, as well as to other users of the highways. The principal difficulty is to construct a method or substance to hold the rubber components in a tire to the steel components, which are used in steel-belted radial tire. When this adhesion fails, the tread may separate from the rest of the tire and produce disastrous consequences. That is especially true because heat may degrade the adhesive design, and heat is intensified at highway speeds, or in the summer, or in a combination of the two.

Even After 'Tort Reform' Small Counties Still Have No Doctors

In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed caps on damages in medical mal-practice cases. As a result, Texas citizens are no longer able to hold doctors accountable for their mistakes. One of the main goals the insurance industry and doctors lied about was more accessible health care in rural counties and the cost of health care would go down. After nearly 6 years, neither of these have come true. Although the amount of doctors in Texas has increased, the majority have settled in urban areas. Citizens living in rural counties still must drive hours for medical care. Additionally, the cost of health care has risen more sharply in Texas than almost any other state. The only ones who benefited from stripping citizens of their rights were the doctors and insurance companies. Patients are now at greater risks because no one is accountable for their mistakes.

Dorel Baby Carriers Recall

On December 18, 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the recall of 447,000 Dorel baby carriers after the company received 77 reports of the handle coming off. A minimum of three injuries to infants have been reported, including a head injury, bumps and bruises. The problem with the carriers is attributed to the bolts coming loose on either side of the carrying handle, causing children who are not fastened to fall out. The carrier also functions as a car seat and stroller when purchased as a Travel System package, but has only presented a danger when the handle is used. Safety 1st, Cosco, Eddie Bauer and Disney all used the Dorel-manufactured carrier, which was sold nationally between January 2008 and December 2009. Please check your baby carriers and protect your children.

DayQuil Capsules Recalled - Not Childproof

Procter & Gamble is recalling 700,000 packs of Vicks DayQuil capsules because they are not childproof. The recall targets DayQuil Cold & Flu 24-Count LiquiCaps Bonus Pack that contains labeling indicating the packaging is childproof, when in fact it is not. This product was distributed nationally between September 2008 and February 2009, as well as September 2009 through December 2009.

Class action lawsuit filed alleging CT scan overradiation

Patients who may have received high doses of radiation during routine brain scans filed a class action lawsuit, accusing the manufacturer, G.E. Healthcare, of poor safety features in the design of the scanner. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently found that CT perfusion scans, which are used to check for blockages and injuries in the brain, provided hundreds of patients with roughly eight times the recommended radiation levels.

Action Team Toy Dart Gun Recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a voluntary recall of "Action Team" Toy Dart Gun Set, imported into the Unites States by OKK Trading Inc., of Los Angeles, Calif. The toy gun set is manufactured by Kong Hoi Industrial Co., of Hong Kong, China.

Day Care Center Sued

An Ohio day care center has just been sued by parents of children who were allegedly given the supplement Melatonin to make them sleep during the day. The lawsuit accuses the day care center of negligence, battery and negligent supervision for injury to the children who were given the supplement. The suit reports the children suffered injuries that required medical attention, sustaining medical and hospital bills. Parents should be on watch for irregularities in day cares, and it is advised to perform surprise inspections during the day.

Roman Shades Blind Recall

In a massive recall, some 50 million Roman Shades blinds& nbsp;have been recalled from the market. It has been reported that five kids have died and 16 have suffered close call strangulation incidents as a result of the cords on the blinds. This is a very serious recall that must be acted on immediately.

The Greatness of Our Justice System

China recently executed two executives of a milk production company for their role in selling more than three million pounds of contaminated milk powder than sickened at least 300,000 children and was linked to the death of six infants. One of the executives was found guilty of selling more than 1.3 million pounds of tainted milk powder from July 2007 to August 2008, while the other was convicted of selling more than 1.9 million pounds of the contaminated product. The evidence showed that an industrial chemical, melamine, was added to create the illusion of a higher protein content in the powder, but it turned out to sicken the children who ingested it, weakened China's dairy industry and provoked a global recall of the Chinese-made products.

Christmas is Nearly Here - Beware of Dangerous Children's Products

Recently, Excelligence Learning Corporation, which conducts business as Discount School Supply, has agreed to pay a hefty penalty for repeatedly importing children's products that contain a high level of lead. The California company agreed to the settlement after the Consumer Product Safety Commission made allegations in a civil action that the company knowingly imported and marketed dangerous products. The allegations stated that the company imported more than 33,000 units of children's products, over a seven year period, which contained dangerously high levels of lead paint. The allegations maintained that the importation of these products violated the federal lead paint ban. While the company agreed to pay the settlement, it denied that it knowingly violated the federal paint ban, which is intended in part to prevent the importation of products with dangerous lead levels.

Slim-Fast Recall

The maker of Slim-Fast has recalled all of its ready-to-drink canned beverages because it may be contaminated with the bacterium Bacillus cereus. "Unilever United States, Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is conducting a nationwide voluntary recall...", notes the press release by the FDA. The full content of the FDA press release can be found at

National Transportation Safety Board Releases Final Investigation Report Of The Victoria Bus Crash

On January 2, 2008, about 4:13 a.m., a 2005 Volvo 47-passenger motorcoach, operated by a 42-year-old driver and carrying 47 passengers, was proceeding northbound on U.S. Highway 59 (U.S. 59) about 5 miles south of Victoria, Texas, when the motorcoach driver partially drifted off the right edge of the roadway. The driver oversteered to the left to avoid leaving the roadway, resulting in the motorcoach coming back across both lanes, departing the left edge of the roadway, and partially entering an earthen median. The driver oversteered again to the right in attempt to reenter the roadway and then oversteered to the left a second time upon realizing the motorcoach had gone too far right. As a result of the final oversteer, the motorcoach yawed to the left, rotated counterclockwise, and overturned onto its right side. The motorcoach's right rear struck a guardrail as the motorcoach slid on its right side approximately 112 feet before coming to rest across the roadway. Within 5 minutes, and before emergency responders arrived on scene, a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck also traveling northbound on U.S. 59 struck the underside of the motorcoach forward of the rear axle. As a result of the initial motorcoach rollover, 1 passenger was fatally injured, and 46 passengers and the driver received injuries ranging from minor to serious. The driver of the pickup truck sustained minor injuries when the pickup truck struck the undercarriage of the motorcoach. (extract from report)

Group Questions Safety of Popular Toy

A consumer website clarified its previous announcement that one of the hottest-selling toys of the holiday season contains high levels of a potentially hazardous substance, saying the testing method was different than that of the federal government. The manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets, which makes the light-brown hamster called Mister Squiggles, then issued a statement saying the method the group used to identify levels of antimony is "inferior" and has not been determined to be reliable.

Firm Attorney Speaks About Civil Law

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend attorney Jay Jackson was invited to speak on December 9, 2009 to the Memorial High School class of Ms. Lori Baker. The class of high school juniors and seniors focuses upon business law and computer skills. Mr. Jackson's topic was civil law.

Recall of Amby Baby Motion Beds

After two infants suffocated this summer in Amby Baby Motion beds, these beds have been recalled. The beds, made by Amby Baby USA of Minneapolis, are hammock-like beds marketed to parents of fussy babies with colic or reflux. The Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated the side-to-side shifting or tilting of the hammock can cause an infant to roll and become trapped or wedged against the hammock's fabric or mattress pad. This presents a potential for suffocation.

EPA Announces the Greenhouse Gases are Harmful

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The Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") recently declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are endangering the health of Americans, and that regulation of those gases is necessary to prevent further harm. This finding is significant in several respects.

Why Did Toyota Issue A Recall To Shorten The Gas Pedal If The Problem Lies With The Floor Mats? Another Example Of A Corporation Trying To Escape Accountability-Protect Our Communities And Don'T Let Toyota Escape

As you know, there have been too many serious incidents ending in severe injuries and deaths when Toyota vehicles suddenly speed up and the drivers cannot use the brakes to stop their vehicles. From the beginning (September 2009), Toyota blamed this uncontrollable speed on the floor mats-somehow the floor mat causes the gas pedal to get stuck in the down position.

"Another Round of Products Recalled in the United States"

Volkswagen recently recalled several 2009 & 2010 Audi/Volkswagen models. Specifically, the Audi A3, Audi TT Roadster, Volkswagen EOS and GTI, and the Volkswagen Jetta & Jetta Sportswagen. The company apparently is having problems with the wiring harness of a temperature sensor. The sensor may falsely detect a problem with the gearbox oil temperature which could cause the transmission to shift to neutral possibly leading to a crash. Volkswagen in in the process of notifying owners, but you may wish to contact your local dealership.

Defense Tries To Bar Medical Malpractice Victims

In medical malpractice cases, victims must serve a report from an expert upon the health care provider within 120 days after they sue that provider. If this is not perfectly complied with, courts dismiss the case "with prejudice" (meaning that the case can never be filed again). The requirements of the expert report, and the timeliness of it, have been very strictly construed by courts, and they have thrown out the cases of many victims without letting them have their day in court. For instance, in one case the doctor avoided service of the lawsuit papers for more than 120 days after suit was filed; the court then threw out the case because the doctor had not been served with the expert report within the first 120 days.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    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.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    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.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    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.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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