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October 2010 Archives

More Problems for Toyota

Toyota is once again recalling vehicles, this time for brake fluid and fuel pump problems. The recall affects 1.53 million vehicles, including the Lexus GS300, RX330, IS250, IS350, and the Toyota Avalon and Highlander. The problem, which primarily affects North America, involves the brake master cylinder, which could lead to weaker braking power. The other is an electrical problem with the fuel pump which can cause the engine to stall. Over the past year, Toyota has recalled more than 10 million cars for problems ranging from faulty gas pedals, braking problems in the Prius, troublesome floor mats, and engine stalls. Although no accidents have yet been reported as a result of these problems, Toyota has recently reached an out-of-court settlement with relatives of a family killed when their Lexus sped out of control and crashed as a result of an accelerator problem. This accident first put the spotlight on Toyota's problems and prompted the recall of millions of vehicles worldwide.

Lawsuit Filed Over School Bus Accident Caused By Truck Driver Fatigue

A lawsuit has been filed over a school bus and tractor-trailer crash that occurred in Reagan County on October 13, 2010. In the lawsuit, the parents of four children injured in the accident allege negligence against the driver of the tanker truck that crashed into the bus as well as his employer, who has the duty to properly supervise and train its trick drivers.

Celery versus State of Texas

In one of the more interesting battles taking place during the election season, is a San Antonio produce company that is seeking to challenge the State of Texas Department of State Health Services order to close its plant and recall all products shipped from there since January 2010. The Sangar Produce & Processing Company has been linked to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis over the past 10 months, with at least 10 people falling ill after consuming celery. At least six of the 10 victims conclusively linked to chopped celery sold by Sangar to restaurants, a hospital and elementary schools. The company, however, vehemently denies the allegations and questions the validity of the state's testing procedures, claiming the produce samples were collected by an individual not wearing proper lab attire, including gloves, and the samples were transported in an unrefrigerated container.

Supreme Court Rules for Insurance Company

After three workers fell to their deaths while repairing a communications tower, the insurance company for the responsible company denied coverage. In the recent case of Mid-Continent Casualty Company v. Global Enercom Management, Inc., ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2010)(10/1/01), the Supreme Court upheld that denial of coverage.
Global Enercom, which maintains communications towers, sent a written contract for repair work to All States; All States signed the contract and then returned it to Global. The contract required All States to provide insurance for Global. The boss of the three workers attempted to hoist them up the tower by using a pick-up truck to pull a rope attached to a pulley; when the rope broke, they fell to their deaths. Global subsequently signed the contract. The carrier denied coverage because of the "auto use" exclusion and the "subsequent-to-execution" exclusion. The Supreme Court ruled that the "auto use" exclusion in a CGL policy applied but that the "subsequent-to-execution" exclusion in a CGL and auto policy did not.

General Motors Recall

In the most recent recall from the automobile industry, General Motors is recalling more than 300,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans due to failure of its seatbelts. As reported on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the front seatbelt webbing of the 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet Impala may not be secured properly to the lap belt anchor on the side of the seat near the doors - which is a violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 210 (Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages). As a result, the seatbelts may fail to restrain people in the front seats during a crash and could cause injury or death. It is believed that there are 303,100 vehicles involved in this recall that are in the United States, as well as 19,000 vehicles in Canada.

Johnson and Johnson Recalls Yet More Tylenol Products

The trouble continues for Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol. More of its adult pain relievers have been recalled voluntarily because of complaints about a strange, musty odor. It's the ninth time in a year that Johnson & Johnson's products have been taken from store shelves.

General Motors recall

In the most recent recall from the automobile industry, General Motors is recalling more than 300,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans due to failure of its seatbelts. As reported on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the front seatbelt webbing of the 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet Impala may not be secured properly to the lap belt anchor on the side of the seat near the doors - which is a violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 210 (Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages). As a result, the seatbelts may fail to restrain people in the front seats during a crash and could cause injury or death. It is believed that there are 303,100 vehicles involved in this recall that are in the United States, as well as 19,000 vehicles in Canada.

Motorcycle Safety in Texas Following the Repeal of the Helmet Law

To many motorcycle owners, riding is a way of life. Many riders embrace the culture that surrounds motorcycling with its own groups, fashions and outlook on life. Being a biker to an outsider may conjure up a certain outlaw image, fostered by such former and current notorious outlaw biker gangs or clubs as the Hell's Angels, Banditos and Satan's Slaves.

More Recalls - Seat belts, cordless drills, bicycles, etc.

Just recently, General Motors (GM) issued a recall of over 300,000 Chevy Impalas due to a defect in the seat belts. According to GM earlier this week, the front seat belts may not be properly anchored within the car. This defect could prove fatal to those occupants in the front seat if they are involved in a collision.

Supreme Court Reverses Itself

Recently, the Supreme Court reversed its own ruling from just one year before and dismissed a claim brought by a patient in a hospital. In the case of Marks v. St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2010(8/27/10), the Court overturned its holding in the matter from almost exactly one year earlier.

"In One Week 3 Different Products Recalled"

A Vermont company has announced a recall of more than 200,000 Roman shades and roll-up blinds due to the potential for strangulation. Green Mountain Vista Inc. announced the recall this week after it was discovered that small children's heads could become stuck in the blinds or wrapped up in the cord. No injuries have yet been reported, the company said.
More than 11,000 drop-side cribs have been recalled after two children were injured due to hardware failures. Alexander Designs Ltd. announced the recall this week, reporting that there is a risk of the drop-side of the crib detaching and falling unexpectedly. When this occurs, a gap is created between the side of the crib and the mattress, posing a suffocation risk for infants.
A California sporting goods company has announced a recall 160,000 sporting trampolines over the risk of the structures breaking. Bravo Sports announced the recall in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week, saying "the trampolines, if improperly assembled, can result in weak support, posing the risk of the top rails or legs bending or breaking during normal use." The company has received 247 reports of problems with the trampoline railings.

Health Care Practitioners

In a recent review of common mistakes made by health care practitioners, one state (Washington) found there was likely a significantly underreporting issue involving cases of pharmaceutical and medical errors. It is likely Washington State is not the only state in the nation that has an underreporting problem. In fact, nationwide the Institute of Medicine estimates medication errors injure 1.5 million people nationwide every year. In hospitals alone, the Institute found in 2006 there were 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries. This is clearly an epidemic!
In a time when it is deemed by some to be a political advantage to advocate for medical malpractice caps and statutory limitations, there is no evidence, study or proof of any sort to indicate there is a trend of decreasing medical errors that would justify some truly inequitable "reform" remedies such as caps on damages suffered by those who are the victims of malpractice. Those who live in states that have imposed caps on medical malpractice damages, and who are also victims of medical malpractice, can attest to the gross miscarriage of justice suffered under the arbitrary limitations. Legislators across our nation should ask for concrete facts before supporting "medical malpractice reform."

Similac Powdered Infant Formula May Contain Beetles

Certain Similac-brand powdered infant formula has been recalled over the possible presence of a beetle. Abbott Laboratories announced the recall on Wednesday, September 23, 2010, which recalled approximately 5 million cans of the infant formula, reported CNN. If the beetle were to be ingested, it could cause discomfort and irritate the gastrointestinal tract, which could cause the infant to lose their appetite. The presence of the small, common beetle was found in the formula, was produced at a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan. The recall includes certain Similac powder product lines that come in 8-ounce, 12.4-ounce, and 12.9-ounce cans. Company spokeswoman Melissa Brotz stated, "Parents place a lot of trust in Similac, and delivering anything less than the highest quality formula is unacceptable to us. That's why we're initiating the recall." The recall involves products in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and some countries in the Caribbean.

OIL INDUSTRY - LEARNING FROM BP'S MISTAKE

According to many experts in the oil and gas industry, the industry has not yet incorporated many of the lessons learned from the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster. According to government officials, industry veterans, and environmental experts, the industry needs better technology and better testing procedures to prevent blowouts from happening at all. Additionally, the same experts are noting that the industry clearly does not currently have the technology to deal with a blowout after it happens.

Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents Don't Mix

A minor collision that stopped traffic on an Oklahoma interstate last year resulted in a deadly domino effect when a tractor-trailer truck barreled into a Land Rover that had stopped in the line of vehicles held up by the traffic jam. The Land Rover rammed into another car before rolling off the side of the roadway. According to investigators, the semi truck continued on, without braking or taking any apparent evasive action, rolling over two more cars and dragging them under its wheels before stopping atop a minivan. This tragic tractor-trailer accident left 10 dead.

[email protected], JR. SWORN IN AS 2010 HNBA PRESIDENT-ELECT

[email protected], Jr., a partner with the law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, was recently sworn in as the National President-Elect of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) at the 2010 HNBA Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As National President-Elect, Mr. Agosto will help the HNBA collaborate with other national bar associations, governmental leaders, and community groups to achieve greater involvement and prominence in the legal profession by Hispanics.

Supreme Court Rules Against Worker's Widow

By changing the decades-long definition of causation in workers' compensation claims, the Texas Supreme Court recently ruled against the widow of an injured worker who was injured and died. The case was Transcontinental Insurance Company v. Crump, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2010)(8/27/10).

Lasting Effects of Whiplash

Recent studies have indicated that whiplash trauma does in fact initiate and accelerate degenerative changes of the cervical spine, spondylosis. This is an important factor to keep in mind when preparing your damage model for your clients. Nowadays, it seems that insurance companied second-guess all forms of treatment that is related to alleviating pain, and do not consider future medical care when making their initial offers of settlement. This study, and a long history of medical literature of the long-term effects of whiplash, now supports that degenerative change in a patient's condition is caused as a result of whiplash.

New Doctors To Work Less Hours

Rookie doctors will be getting shorter work shifts, along with stricter supervision. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's board of directors approved new rules on Tuesday for more than 110,000 new doctors being trained at U.S. hospitals. The idea is to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors caused by junior doctors working extremely long shifts.

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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