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April 2011 Archives

"U.S. Supreme Court Sends Another Blow to Consumers"

Some groups have called them the "Corporate Court" and yesterday was clearly an example of why. Large corporations, such as AT&T, the defendant in the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, won a substantial victory on the issue of an individual's right to file class action claims when arbitration is involved. The split court ruled 5-4 that consumers may not band together in class-action arbitration to pursue their complaints. AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion involved cell phones and a familiar contract that requires customers to press claims through arbitration rather than lawsuits. Such ubiquitous contracts, which mandate individual rather than group claims, are becoming standard for companies offering loans, cable service, credit cards and even employment. Now, if a company like AT&T screws you and 10,000 other consumers, you each would have to file a separate, individual arbitration claim. So much for holding crooks accountable.

Texas spends more than $1.8 million to clean up data breach

The comptroller spent $1.2 million just in mailing out letters to those affected, as well as $393,000 to set up a call center, and $290,000 to Gartner and Deloitte to examine the agency's information security policies and procedures, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

Rodeo Ride Death Being Investigated By the Feds

On March 20, a trip to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended in tragedy when a 47-year-old man died after falling from a roller coaster ride. He had been riding in the first car of the coaster when he plunged 28 feet to the ground below. The ride operator had looked away from the cars as they rounded the track, and by the time he looked back to the ride, the man was no longer in the car, according to police reports.

Traffic Accidents Cause Multiple Deaths on Houston Roadways

Three people are dead after a series of tragic traffic accidents at the end of last week, and another person was discovered who had lost their life in an apparent hit-and-run incident on Houston roadways since.

Rental Companies Still Renting Recalled Vehichles

Large rental car companies continue to rent vehicles that have been recalled. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked domestic car manufacturers to provide recall repair information for car rental companies. It found that 90 days after the recall was announced 65 percent of Enterprise's car had been repaired. This compared favorably to other car rental companies: 53 percent for Avis/Budget and 34 percent for Hertz. But these numbers fall well short of the NHTSA's recommendation and common sense: recalled vehicles should be fixed promptly.

Recent Fatal Accident Strengths IIHS's Case for Stronger Semi Under-Ride Guards

A recent fatal accident in Houston, Texas, is just another example of why 18-wheelers and other large trucks should have more stringent standards when it comes to installation and strength of under-ride guards.

Former HNBA President Confirmed as Justice

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate a good friend of mine, Jimmie Reyna, on his recent appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. On April 4th, the Senate confirmed Jimmie by a vote of 86-0, making him the first Latino to occupy the position of Circuit Judge on that court.

DWI Monster Truck Causes Fatality in Dallas

On March 17, 2011, 23-year-old Kasey McKenzie was struck and killed by a custom 2003 Ford F-250 pickup truck outside a bar in Dallas, Texas. Recently, the parents of Kasey McKenzie have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their daughter's killer, Eric Brent Crutchfield, and Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club. Crutchfield, 27, was over twice the legal limit with a BAC of 0.18 at the time he drove over Kasey McKenzie with both his rear and front tires. According to officers at the scene, Crutchfield claimed that he never saw her.

Firefighter struck and killed by vehicle while fighting wildfire

A volunteer firefighter died Friday after a fatal accident in which he was struck by a vehicle. While authorities had initially stated that the firefighter had been overcome by smoke and perished near the roadside, the Texas Department of Public Safety has now amended that report and determined that the tragic death was the result of a collision.

Johnson & Johnson Recall

Just a few weeks after recalling Tylenol 8 Hour Extended Release Caplets 150 count bottles, Johnson & Johnson recently announced yet another product recall. This time round, the company recalled two lots of its epilepsy drug, Topamax.
The recalled lots were shipped between Oct 19, 2010 and Dec 28, 2010 in the US and Puerto Rico. The product recall, which was conducted following complaints regarding an uncharacteristic odor, involved 57,000 bottles of Topamax.
Product recalls remain a frequent occurrence at Johnson & Johnson. Earlier in March, Johnson & Johnson had recalled several lots of Blake Silicone Drains, Blake Silicone Drain Kits, Blake Cardio Connectors, J-VAC Reservoirs and J-VAC Drain Adapters. In February, the company had announced the voluntary recall of certain lots of its schizophrenia product.
Other products that were recalled over the past few quarters include Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin, Rolaids, Invega Sustenna, Simponi and Sudafed Pe among others.

Infections Still a Huge Issue

We consistently receive phone calls complaining about hospital acquired infections that wreak havoc with the lives of patients who become infected. Hospitals tell the public they fight the causes of these infections on a regular basis, but they resist releasing their infection rates so a patient can adequately compare hospitals. So our clients are left with an inadequate understanding of the breadth of an individual hospital's infection problems.

Texas couple killed in collision with semi truck

A Texas couple was killed in a tragic traffic accident when the motorcycle they were riding collided with a semi tractor trailer that was making a u-turn. The fatal truck accident occurred last Friday night. Both the58 year-old husband and 57 year-old wife, who were riding tandem on the motorcycle, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Family files suit against VW after death of daughter

In February in this space we highlighted a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed a lawsuit to proceed against an automobile manufacturer for a negligent or defective design of a rear seat belt. That case arose after a tragic accident in which the passenger in the center rear seat was killed. Now the parents of a child killed while wearing a lap belt in the rear seat of a Volkswagen have brought a similar lawsuit against that manufacturer.

Toyota

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Selna, who is overseeing all domestic unintended acceleration litigation against Toyota, dismissed a class-action filed by a group of 41 foreign consumers.
The plaintiffs come from 13 countries and contend that Judge Selna's court is the best place to handle their case because it raises many of the same issues as the domestic litigation. The heart of both the domestic class-actions and the potential foreign consumer class action are the same: that Toyota failed to install acceleration override systems, as the company's competitors did. Toyota countered that these claims should be brought in the respective plaintiff's home countries.
The class actions seek to recover for personal injuries and economic loss.

Study indicates hospital errors are vastly underreported

A newly released study indicates that as many as 90 percent of hospital errors may go unreported using the current method of tracking medical mistakes. This systemic under-reporting of hospital errors may have a number of detrimental effects on the quality of health care. Not only does it make it more difficult to evaluate the efficacy practices and procedures on a broad level, but it may also make it difficult or impossible to identify the cause of an individual patient's medical trouble.

The Houston Lawyer -- Professionalism Page

Lawyers were at the forefront of the birth and formation of our nation and democracy. At every crisis and crossroad in our country's history, lawyers have been instrumental in establishing the laws and maintaining our civil stability.

RECALL - SUMMER INFANT - SLIM AND SECURE VIDEO MONITORS

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a recall of the Summer Infant - Slim and Secure Video Monitors. According the CPSC, the rechargeable batteries in the handheld video monitor can overheat and rupture, creating a burn and fire hazard. Consumers are being directed to immediately discontinue the use of the monitors and return them to the store where purchased for a complete refund.

More Cracks Found in 737s

The FAA issued an emergency directive requiring all operators of early model Boeing 737s to conduct initial and repetitive electromagnetic inspections for metal damage fatigue. This applies to over 175 aircraft worldwide, including several of the 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500 series models. The FAA announcement came after a Southwest Airlines' 737 suffered a hull rupture mid-flight, resulting in a five-foot hole in the roof and forcing an emergency landing at a military base. Since the incident, Southwest Airlines has discovered five planes with small cracks which need immediate repair. Boeing has also announced plans for s service bulletin recommending lap-join inspections, which is the section where the fuselage skin meet.

One killed and five injured in a 'horrific' accident on Sunday

A driver from Houston was seriously injured and a passenger in his car killed, in a fatal accident early Sunday morning. A local police captain on the scene described the multi-vehicle collision as "horrific and complicated."

Mercedes-Benz Global Recall

Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz is undertaking a global recall of some of its older-model M-Class sport utility vehicles for issues related to cruise control that may lead to a crash, Daimler and U.S. federal safety regulators said on Tuesday.
A wide majority of the vehicles being recalled are model year 2000-2002 M-Class SUVs, but there are a small number of 2000-2004 AMG performance vehicles also involved.
Some 136,751 vehicles will be recalled in the United States and about 50,000 in Germany, said Mercedes-Benz representatives in those two countries.
Daimler representatives at its world headquarters in Germany did not provide a global recall figure.
No crashes or injuries have resulted from the issue, said Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman Rob Moran.
Tapping the brakes to disengage cruise control may fail, increasing the chances of a crash, a filing with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

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