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February 2010 Archives

TOYOTA INSISTS NO DESIGN DEFECT IN ELECTRONIC THROTTLE CONTROL SYSTEM

Testifying before Congress, Mr. Toyoda said he was "absolutely confident" there was no design flaw in Toyota's electronic throttle-control system. But one of his executives, and Mr. LaHood, said they couldn't be sure in congressional testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.

New United States Supreme Opinion on Diversity Jurisdiction

The United States Supreme Court decided a rule of jurisdiction pertaining to parties who are involved in potentially federal court litigation. In the case of Hertz V. Friend, the Court reviewed a case in which Hertz Corporation was named as a defendant and sought to remove the state court case to federal court based upon a diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction argument. The plaintiffs sued in the state court of California alleging that Hertz' principal place of business was in California because a plurality of the relevant business activity occurred there.

New Reports of Sudden-Acceleration Deaths in Toyota Vehicles

According to new reports, at least 34 people have died in accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles in the past 10 years due to sudden, unexpected acceleration of those vehicles. This number is indicative of the sharp rise in the number of complaints being filed since Toyota announced its latest recalls. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13 of those fatalities have been reported since January 27, 2010, which is the day after Toyota ordered a sales and production halt on eight models in the United States.The reason for the deaths and one of the reasons for the recall is that the gas pedals in certain Toyota vehicles can stick and cause unintended acceleration. The vehicles then suddenly race forward, smashing into other cars, buildings, and pedestrians. In addition to the deaths, 22 people have reported injuries from unintended acceleration accidents involving Toyota vehicles.The jump in reported deaths caused by its vehicles demonstrates another troubling development for Toyota in a long line of dangerous defects. Many experts expect the onslaught of bad news to continue, especially with the House and Senate committee hearings upcoming in the next few weeks.

"Proposed Changes to Disciplinary Rules May Make it Harder to Withdraw from Cases

The recently proposed changes to the disciplinary rules have modified the enumerated reasons a lawyer can withdraw from representation. Under current rule 1.15 a lawyer is specifically allowed to withdraw if a client fails to pay the lawyer's fee. Under the proposed rule this specific basis has been removed. Although not in effect yet, this could cause major issues for attorneys who bill for their services on an hourly basis or flat fee. The final version of the proposed rules should be available very soon.

Honda Recall - Defective Airbags

In the latest round of automobile recalls, Japanese number two automaker - Honda Motor Co. - is adding 437,000 vehicles to its 15 month old global recall for faulty air bags. The company reports that it will replace the driver's side airbag inflator in the recalled cars because the current air bags can deploy with too much pressure, causing the inflator to rupture and injure or kill the driver.

Honda Recalls More Vehicles for Airbag Risk

On Tuesday, February 9, 2010, Honda announced that it would be recalling another 438,000 cars globally to replace an airbag deflator that could and hurl shards toward a driver in an auto accident. Just recently, on January 29th, Honda recalled 646,000 vehicles for a defective window switch. The defective window switch recently caused a Honda Jazz vehicle to be engulfed in flames, which killed a child in South Africa. Now, Honda is claiming that there is a serious defect in its airbags. This all follows the unprecedented recall of millions of vehicles by Toyota.

Supreme Court Dismisses Out-of-State Defendants

In a recent commercial case, a subcontractor in Texas sued out-of-state defendants when it was not paid for its work. The subcontractor, GIC, sued two individuals who were officers of the contractor which failed to pay him, asserting that they were liable under the Texas Trust Fund Act. In the case of Hofstatter v. General Interior Construction, Inc., decided last month, the Supreme Court said that the defendants could not be required to answer in Texas for their conduct, holding that there was no jurisdiction over them.

Toyota Recall

Research into complaints filed with the federal government and other sources suggest the problem may not be restricted to new, third-generation 2010 Priuses and could involve vehicles dating back to the 2005 model year or even earlier.

Insurance Coverage ? What To Do Following a Catastrophe

Recently, I did a podcast where I was asked questions regarding what to do following a catastrophe with your insurance claim. The podcast was conducted in a question-and-answer format and ended up running about twenty minutes long. That podcast can be reached by navigating my firm's website (www.abrahamwatkins.com/). I wanted to discuss what you should do following a catastrophe, such as a hurricane or a fire.

Chevrolet Cobalt Under Investigation

The Houston Chronicle reported that based on 1,132 complaints about the Chevrolet Cobalt's electric power steering (including reports of 11 accidents and one injury), the United States federal regulators have opened an investigation into the vehicle. The investigation is into approximately 905,000 vehicles covering the model years 2005 to 2009, and a theme common to the complaints is the inability of the driver to stay in their lane of traffic when steering became difficult. Those with knowledge of the investigation believe the focus is on the possibility of failure of the electric power steering systems.

Election Day Nears

As Election Day draws near, one can't help but recognize, a note of particular importance to all candidates and political parties, that the Latino voters will play a pivotal role in out nation's elections in 2008. With the Latino population ever increasing and for that matter, the Latino electorate, many candidates up for election come November are actively pursuing Latino support in order to succeed.

Toyota's Sticky Gas Pedal Problem Could Spell Serious Injuries For Consumers

Our lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend are currently handling a number of product liability cases. In fact, for almost 60 years, our firm has represented hundreds of clients complaining of injuries caused by defective vehicles and or parts. One case in particular regards a Honda vehicle that needed repair to a recalled defective part. The facts in the case detail the unfortunate situation wherein a dealership failed to properly repair the recalled part and the owner of the Honda was fatally injured as a result.

LAW CHANGES IN FAVOR OF TEXAS POLICE OFFICERS

[email protected], Jr., Chelsie King Garza and Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend undertook the representation of Eluid Cesar Hinojosa, a Sergeant with the Harris County Constable's Office, when he challenged a decision of the Texas Department of Insurance - Workers Compensation Division regarding compensability of benefits in Harris County District Court. The injured worker was victorious at trial, was again victorious when the Texas 1st Court of Appeals affirmed the trial Court's decision, and now celebrates the Texas Supreme Court's decision not to review the Appellate Court's ruling.

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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    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

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    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

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    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

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    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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