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April 2012 Archives

Antihypertensive Drug Gets New FDA Warnings

Aliskiren-containing medications-including Amturnide, Tekturna, Tektuma HCT, Teamlo, and Valturna-are direct renin inhibiters used to treat hypertension. These drugs work by decreasing chemicals that cause the blood vessels to tighten. Often these drugs are used in combination with angiostensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Recently, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that these drug combinations can cause problems and should not be used in patients with diabetes or moderate to severe renal impairments.

Texas Couple Wins Massive Defamation Verdict Against Anonymous Internet Commenters

A Texas couple who filed a defamation lawsuit over three years ago against anonymous posters on the Internet forum Topix.com won a $13.78 million judgment from a jury.

Benny Agosto Jr. speaks at the 15th Annual Harvard Latino Law, Policy, and Business Conference

Harvard Law School in conjunction with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Business School recently hosted the 15th Annual Harvard Latino Law, Policy and Business Conference. The annual conference gathers Latino leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss important issues in the Latino community. Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) President Benny Agosto, Jr. was invited to be part of a panel discussing "Latinos in the Legal Profession."

Former BP Engineer Arrested

On Tuesday, May 24th, 2012, Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, was arrested for destroying evidence of communications requested by federal criminal authorities who were investigating the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred on April 20th, 2010. Mix has been charged with two counts of obstruction of justice that were filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana on Tuesday.

NFL Sued in Houston by 31 Former Players

According to an article by the Houston Chronicle, 31 former National Football League (NFL) players, filed suit against the NFL on Tuesday in Houston. The 38-page lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Houston. The allegations include accusing the league of concealing the links between concussions and brain injury.

Louisiana Insurer Appeals $104.6 Million Award to U.S. Supreme Court

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. ("Citizens") has appealed to the United States Supreme Court over an award of $104.6 million to thousands of its Louisiana policyholders. Citizens is the insurer of last resort in Louisiana, which means that Citizens insures homeowners in Louisiana that cannot get private insurance due to high risk. The large judgment against Citizens is due to slow and delayed adjustment of hurricane claims for Louisiana policyholders in 2005.

Safety Tips for Driving in Highway Construction Work Zones

As we mentioned in our last blog it is the 13th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week. The week began with the US Department of Transportation kicking off an event on Route 141 in Chesterfield, Missouri.

New York Attorneys Settle Birth Injury Lawsuit for $4,320,000 on Behalf of Injured Infant

New York birth injury attorneys reached a settlement agreement in a birth injury lawsuit for an amount of $4,320,000. The claim alleged defendants failed to deliver the injured infant in a timely manner, resulting in serious birth injuries.

Supreme Court Ruling Endangers Open Beaches

Texans living along the Gulf Coast greeted with displeasure a recent ruling by a sharply divided Texas Supreme Court which compromises their right to open beaches. The case is named Severance v. Patterson, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012).

National Work Zone Awareness Week Highlights Number of Fatal Accidents in Road Work Zones

We see the big orange barrels set up in the median and know the road we're traveling down is under construction. But how many of us reduce our speed significantly when driving through that work zone? Motorists should exercise extreme caution when driving through work zones at all times, but especially April 23-27, which is National Work Zone Awareness Week.

School District to Pay $4.2M to Settle a Lawsuit over a Middle-Schooler Paralyzed by Bullying Violence

The Associated Press is announcing that a New Jersey school district has agreed to pay $4.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a middle school student who was paralyzed when a known bully punched him in the abdomen. According to the story, Sawyer Rosenstein complained to the district about being bullied prior to the incident.

Kia Latest Car Manufacturer to Face Defective Product Lawsuit

It may seem rather remarkable, given the attention paid to safety by automobile manufacturers, but defective products still manage to find their way onto the market and into the hands of buyers. In the 1970s Ford's Pinto had gas tanks that exploded upon impact. More recently, Audi and Toyota have had problems with unintended acceleration.

Montana Jury Awards Insured $34 Million

Justice was served to a Nebraska-based insurance company last week when a jury awarded 90-year-old, Arlene Hull, $34 million to compensate her for the insurance company's wrongful denial of benefits under her policy.

Deadly Distractions Include More Than Just Cell Phones

We've recently been writing about the increasing number of traffic fatalities due to distracted driving. In addition to the statistics we blogged about yesterday, a study recently found that distracted driving related accidents jumped from 4,563 in 1999 to 5,870 in 2008.

Lack of Oversight for Texas Bus Inspections Sparks Controversy

According to the Insurance Journal, a Houston-based state-certified vehicle inspection station previously cited for failing to notice defects in a bus that crashed in North Texas killing 17 people, is back in business. Brothers Alam and Cesar Hernandez, the owners of 5 Minute Inspections have been, opened another station in the same Houston neighborhood with the approval of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS). This highlights a large problem: the lack of oversight for businesses that perform state inspections of buses and other commercial vehicles.

Hispanic Population Growing Registered Voters Declining

Although the national Hispanic population is soaring, experts have found that the number of registered voters is declining. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, Hispanic voter registration dropped from 11.6 million in 2008 to 10.9 million in 2010. This decrease of more than half a million voters is noteworthy because it is a significant drop from that which is usually expected in non-election years.

BP Oil Spill Settlement

The deadline for lawyers on both sides of a proposed settlement designed to resolve billions of dollars in economic damage claims arising out of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been extended by Federal Judge Carl Barbier. BP and lawyers representing the victims of the oil spill (estimated to be over 100,000 individuals and businesses) were to have submitted the formal terms of the settlement to the US District Judge sitting in New Orleans. But the parties requested additional time and Judge Barbier extended the deadline to Wednesday morning so the parties could finish compiling supporting documentation and exhibits.

A Snapshot of Distracted Driving Statistics

In honor of April being National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, we thought we'd take a closer look at the numbers behind distracted driving car crashes. Between a number of major research studies and data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is clear that driving while texting or using a cell phone has a definite impact on roadway safety.

There is No Legal Duty on an Employer to Investigate Employees' Driving Records

On March 29, 2012, the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas affirmed the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the employer and essentially held that there is no legal duty on an employer to investigate its employees' driving records, absent other indicators of unsafe driving. The case arose out of an automobile accident whereby G&H Towing Co. employee, Joseph Violante, killed Douglas and Lois Magee while driving intoxicated after his shift. Violante was convicted in the criminal courts on two counts of failure to yield the right-of-way and intoxication manslaughter.

Study Links Fatal Car Crashes to Tax Day

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the likelihood of getting into a fatal car accident increases on tax filing day. Researchers examined a database of 6,783 fatal traffic accidents that occurred in the United States over the last 30 years on April 15, and compared these numbers to the number of fatal car crashes that occurred on the same day the week before and the week after taxes were due.

Oil Sheen in Gulf of Mexico Allegedly Not Shell's

According to a recent article from Dow Jones & Company, Houston based Shell is stating that an oil sheen found in the Gulf of Mexico is not from two nearby oil and gas platforms owned by the oil giant. Shell spokesperson Ms. Weegh said "A thorough inspection to date of Shell assets reveals operations in the area are normal with no signs of leaks." According to a filing with the National Response Center on Wednesday, a five-square-mile oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico was spotted by Shell. Shell also said later that day that a 10-square mile layer of an unknown substance was floating between its Mars and Ursa platforms. The Mars and Ursa rigs are two of the largest producing facilities in the United States Gulf. They are located about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. In September 2005, Mars was heavily damaged by hurricane Katrina, but restarted service in mid-2006.

Dorel Juvenile Group Child Safety Seat Recall

Dorel Juvenile Group is recalling 794,247 child safety seats because the harness locking and release button does not always return to its locked position. If this occurs, the harness adjustment strap can slip back through the adjuster as a child moves around in the seat. This can result in a loosened harness and increase the risk of the child being injured in a vehicle crash.

One Texas City's Unique Way of Bringing Awareness to Distracted Driving

As a follow up to our post earlier this week about Texas's crackdown on distracted driving, we'd like to take a moment to look at an accident prevention effort on an even more local level in the city of El Paso.

Lawsuit Filed over Death of Worker on Construction Site

According to a story reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the sky along the oceanfront became an ugly purple the afternoon that three men poured concrete from large metal buckets hoisted seven stories to the rooftop where they worked.

Texas's April Campaign to Cut Down on Distracted Driving

As the adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. Perhaps this year the adage should be that April's distracted driving awareness campaign brings safer roads in May.

Supreme Court Upholds Verdict for Crash Victims

The Texas Supreme Court last week upheld a jury's verdict in favor of a woman and her injured child. The case is Arvizu, et al. v. The Estate of George Puckett d/b/a Puckett Auto Sales, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012)(3/30/12). In this case, a company claimed it should not be responsible for driver who was delivering a vehicle on its behalf.

Court of Appeals Confirms Pain and Mental Anguish as Separate Damages

The Eighth District Court of Appeals for El Paso in Nowak Construction Co. Inc. v. Avalos recently upheld a jury's award of damages to a construction worker who was injured while on the job. The worker was injured while working on a project to rehabilitate a part of a sewer system for the city of El Paso. The construction company, Nowak, argued that it did not have sufficient control over the trench safety system to be held liable. However, the jury determined that Nowak did in fact exercise or retain control.

Is the Question Why Speed? Or Is It Why Not?

That common attitude in the title of this post is one of the reasons that, despite years of efforts by law enforcement authorities, state and federal agencies and advocacy groups, speed-related accidents have continued to grow.

Another Recall for Honda

According to USA Today, Honda announced that it is recalling nearly 1,500 of its 2006-model CR-V crossover SUVs. This recall is the result of a faulty part that could cause the vehicle to go out of control. The manufacturer states that the right-front lower control arm on some models was improperly welded and could potentially break. If the control arm, which is part of the suspension and steering system, breaks the vehicle could lose control causing serious injuries and even death. The official statement from Honda is below.

BMW Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles World-Wide

German automaker BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) is recalling 1.3 million of its luxury vehicles, world-wide. The recall is due to defects with a battery cable cover in the trunk of the affected vehicle. According to BMW's statement, the improper mounting "can result in the electrical system malfunctioning, the vehicle failing to start and, in some cases, to charring or fire."

Tragic Lesson in Teen Driving at Railway Crossing

Last week, we wrote a blog post about how teen driving fatalities are on the rise, and how Texas teen drivers are near the top of that list. An example of this hit close to home for one family near Houston.

FDA Announces Plans to Address Safety Concerns of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced plans to hold a two-day expert advisory panel meeting in June to address mounting concerns about the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants. Hip replacement surgery is a common surgical procedure intended to provide increased patient mobility and alleviate pain associated with joint problems, including arthritis. According to the British Medical Journal, approximately 270,000 hip replacements are performed each year in the United States, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all joint replacements. There are currently four device options for total hip replacement, including metal-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-polyethylene, metal-on-metal, and ceramic-on-ceramic.

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