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September 2011 Archives

Supreme Court Sides with Insurance Carrier against Bus Company

A bus driver transporting school band members from Alice on a field trip to Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio was persistently coughing. It was determined that he had tuberculosis. Subsequently, several of the students were diagnosed with tuberculosis. They then brought a suit against the bus company.

Family of Fatal Hit-and-Run Victim Continues to Search For Justice

A few weeks ago, we wrote a series of posts discussing hit-and-run accidents in Texas and how drivers involved in those accidents are rarely apprehended. Unfortunately, this story continues to repeat itself.

Hazing Continues to Plague the University of Texas

The Houston Chronicle reports that hazing continues to exist in at least one fraternity at the University of Texas. It is reported that the Texas Kappa Alpha fraternity was recently suspended for two years by its national parent organization for hazing its pledges. A lawsuit was recently filed by the national organization against this UT chapter that continues to represent itself as being affiliated with the national Kappa Alpha Order. The suit seeks to recover more than $200,000 in money and property from its former local chapter.

PRIORITIZATION OF IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT: AN EFFECTIVE USE OF FEDERAL RESOURCES

Immigration has become a hotbed of discussion amongst Americans and politicians alike. With more than 10 million undocumented workers in the United States, it's unrealistic to try and deport such a tremendous number. So, the President has focused his attention to developing an immigration solution that effectively meets the country's security and economic needs. To do so, the Administration has created a strategy to utilize government resources in a way that puts national security and public safety at the forefront-prioritizing immigration enforcement.

Oil Workers File Suit After Left to Float in Gulf

Two oil workers and the family of another filed a lawsuit claiming the workers were abandoned by a ship in the Gulf of Mexico that could have taken them to safety following Tropical Storm Nate. The workers were forced to evacuate their disabled vessel during the tropical storm and float on an inflatable raft that the workers' attorney described as a "big life preserver."

Topamax Increases Risk of Birth Defects

Topamax is a prescription drug used to treat patients with epilepsy and prescribed to adults to prevent migraines. On March 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified Topamax as a Pregnancy Category D drug, which means there has been evidence of human fetal risk. It specifically increases the risk of cleft birth defects such as cleft palate and cleft lip in infants whose mothers consumed this drug during their first trimester of pregnancy. Cleft palate and cleft lip develop when a section of the palate or lip does not fuse together properly. As a result, a notch in the lip can form (cleft lip) or a groove in the roof of the mouth and nose can form (cleft palate). These facial defects can cause problems with eating, speaking and possible ear infections. Corrective surgery is almost always used to treat this condition.

Pipeline Safety Often Left in the Hands of the Operators

According to a report from the New York Times, recent pipeline spills have drawn more attention to oversight of the 167,000-mile system of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscrossing the nation. The federal agency charged with monitoring the system and enforcing safety measures - the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - is chronically short of inspectors and lacks the resources needed to hire more, leaving too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves, according to federal reports, an examination of agency data and interviews with safety experts. Our firm has handles numerous cases against various pipeline operators throughout the country. Unfortunately, the devastation from a pipeline failure is usually catastrophic. Many times lives are lost and significant amount of property is destroyed. If you or family have been the victim of a pipeline failure, pipeline rupture, or an explosion please contact our office immediately.

More Bunk Beds Recalled Due To Hazards

The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of wood twin bunk beds and loft bunk beds made by American Woodcrafters of High Point, North Carolina. These beds have the American Woodcrafters logo attached to the headboard or footboard and the SKU numbers, 1800-977 or 1800-969. The guard rails on the upper bunk have a tendency to crack, causing the mattress and its support rails to collapse, posing a danger to uses on both the top and bottom bunks. There have been several reports of cracked guard rails causing the mattress and upper rails to collapse, but luckily no one has been seriously injured.

Recommendation to Ban Cell Phone and Texting for Commercial Drivers

A recent federal safety agency has made a strong recommendation that eighteen-wheel truckers and other commercial drivers should be banned from talking on the cell phone and texting when they're behind the wheel. In a hearing held in Washington DC, the National Transportation Safety Board endorsed the ban after hearing about a truck driver who was involved in a crash that killed 11 people on a Kentucky highway in 2010.

NTSB Recommends Banning All Cell Phone Use for Truck Drivers

In the last year, states across the national have enacted laws limiting use of cell phones and electronic devices behind the wheel. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving. Nine states and the District of Columbia also ban handheld cell phone use. These laws, targeted at drivers of regular vehicles and commercial vehicles alike, have sought to increase safety on the roadways that are becoming increasingly dangerous due to distracted driving.

High Speeds and Low Speeds on Houston Freeways Can Lead to Tragic Accidents

Most commuters know that Friday night rush hour traffic can be a nightmare. Unfortunately, for one Houston commuter the commute turned tragic after he was thrown from his SUV when it was rear-ended on a Harris County freeway.

2011 Advanced Personal Injury Law Seminar

The first day of the Houston presentation of the State Bar of Texas' 2011 Advanced Personal Injury Law Seminar was a success. Those who preregistered, joined by a record crowd of walk-ins, learned from experts from across the State of Texas who discussed the many issues involved in a personal injury law practice. One highlight was a group discussion at noon by local jurists. Hon. Caroline Baker moderated a panel that included Hon. Susan Criss from Galveston County, along with the Hon. Reece Rendon and Hon. Bill Burke from Harris County. They shared insights gleaned from many years on the bench. Tomorrow, the seminar continues with a full slate of recognized leaders speaking on further important topics of the trial practice.

The Dangers of Rip Currents

A rip current is one of the leading dangers for anyone visiting the beach. They can range from large in size to completely undetectable and strong enough to draw a person more than one hundred yards out to sea at 8 feet per second. Rip currents are produced when water is drawn back from the beach to the sea. They can have various signs of their presence. The signs of stronger rip currents are visible breaks in the incoming wave patterns, a channel of isolated violent water in the surf zone, debris floating outward through the surf zone and significant difference in water color. These currents occur at any beach with breaking waves and account for over eighty (80%) of water rescues on the beach.

FDA Warns Manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout

The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to Brazilian Blowout that its product contains a "poisonous or deleterious substance." Brazilian Blowout is a popular hair straightening product that can cost up to $500. The hair straightening product, when used as instructed, is applied to one's hair and then heated with a blow dryer and then a flat iron.

DOCTOR SUES AND WINS AGAINST MALPRACTICE INSURER

In a recent verdict announced on August 17, 2011, a Dallas County jury awarded a doctor $3.4 million against his malpractice insurer for unfair and deceptive insurance practices. Medicus Insurance Company was found to have wrongfully denied insurance coverage to Dr. Richard Torres after the doctor was sued by a former patient. Claims Journal reporter, Denise Johnson, covered the trial and reported on the pertinent facts.

"Another Recall for Honda Motor Company"

According to federal officials, Honda Motors has issued a recall of 310,773 Pilot SUVs to fix a defect in the seat belts. Honda officials said that the stitching in the seat belts may not have been properly sewn and can detach suddenly. The failure can lead to an increased risk of injury in a crash. Honda has received two complaints of seat belts detaching in the last 18 months. If you own a Honda Pilot, take it to your local dealer and get the problem fixed immediately. Also, make sure the dealership actually performs the work. Yes, this can happen.

ESC Reduces Loss of Vehicle Control

ESC, also known as Electronic Stability Control, is a safety feature installed in some vehicles to prevent automobile accidents and fatal injuries from occurring on the road. Government research has proven that ESC reduces up to forty percent of single vehicle crashes and up to eighty eight percent of dangerous turnovers in large vehicles such as trucks and other SUVs. It is designed for drivers to maintain control of their automobile as the computer uses the speed sensors located on the wheels and steering wheel to determine the motive of the driver. These sensors recognize when the car is not going in the direction intended by the steering wheel position which then signals to the computer that brakes need to be applied to individual wheels. When this automatic brake takes place to the appropriate wheel, control of the car is maintained. This technology prevents a vehicle from oversteering, understeering, fishtailing and skidding which are all common causes of automobile accidents.

Supreme Court Sides with Insurer against Injured Worker

In a recent decision, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that an injured employee who was denied worker's compensation benefits was not entitled to sue the carrier for its violations of the Texas Insurance Code.

"Loser Pay" Provision

Some of this year's earlier legislation arising out of Texas House Bill 274 regarding lawsuits has recently gone into effect. Part of that legislation directed the Texas Supreme Court to develop certain procedural guidelines to implement that legislation. One area that has recently been reviewed by several stake holders in the litigation practice involves the dismissal of causes of action that have no basis in law or in fact. This is part of the loosely called "Loser Pay" provision.

Lithium Batteries Pose Danger to Kids

The accidental swallowing of coin-sized "button batteries" is a rapidly mounting threat to children. These batteries are found in remote controls, singing greeting cards, thermometers, and children's toys. Every year there are over 3500 cases of accidental ingestions reported to poison control centers in the United States. Studies show that since 1989 the risk that American children will experience a serious health complication after ingesting a button-battery has gone up seven-fold. These batteries pose the greatest danger to small children, who account for over 85 percent of accidental swallowing cases. Pediatric ingestion results in the battery getting lodged in the esophagus, rather than the air passage. Experts believe that, because this does not induce a choking incident, neither the child nor parent will think anything is wrong. In addition, because the symptoms mirror those of common illnesses, such as the flu, fever, cough, and lack of appetite, doctors often miss the battery in their initial evaluation of the child. This is especially dangerous because the battery must be removed within two hours of swallowing to prevent damage to the child's esophagus, including a potentially fatal alkaline burn. This is caused not by leaking battery acid, but by the exposure of body tissues to the battery's external current, resulting in hydroxide than can burn through the throat. There have been over 10 deaths in the past five years, compared to only four in the previous 20 years. While experts believe the industry has a responsibility to make packages containing these batteries harder for children to open, they also feel that parents need to be careful and keep these batteries out of the reach of children.

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