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May 2012 Archives

Texting and Driving - Can Those Who Text Drivers be Liable for Crashes?

In Morristown, New Jersey, the Daily Record, and now USA Today, is reporting on a lawsuit that was filed against Shannon Colonna for causing an auto collision - when Colonna was not in any vehicle involved in the crash. The lawsuit stems from a head-on collision between David and Linda Dover and Kyle Best. The Dovers were on a motorcycle when Best veered head on into them, causing each to lose a leg as a result of the incident. Best pleaded guilty earlier this year for careless driving, failure to maintain a single lane, and using a hand-held cellphone while driving. The suit against Colonna claims that she knowingly sent text messages to Best, which caused and contributed to Best's collision with the Dovers.

Toyota Recalling Yet Another Vehicle

According to the Federal Government, Toyota Motor Corp. has issued another recall for one of its product lines. Toyota is recalling the 2013 Lexus GS 350 sport sedans to attempt to fix a problem with the variable-ratio steering system. A failure of this system can cause drivers to lose control. Although the recall is only for 2013 year models, it includes cars built between December 12, 2011 and February 7, 2012.

Family Whose Son Died in Septic Tank Awarded $21M Settlement

According to the Taunton Gazette, the parents of a 3-year-old boy who died after falling into a septic tank six years ago have been awarded a judgment of more than $21 million.

Could Poorly Designed Child Safety Seats Result in Death?

Ask almost any parent and chances are they will share their tales of struggling to get the car seat properly installed in the back seat of the car. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent study found exactly how difficult it is to install child safety seats.

Dietary Supplements Linked to Liver Injuries

In a recent small study, it was determined that bodybuilding and weight loss products are the types of dietary supplements that are most likely to cause liver injuries. The study, funded by the United States Drug - Induced Liver Injury Network, reviewed 109 cases of patients who appeared to have suffered liver injuries and tried to determine the causative effect. Each of the patients were known to have taken a dietary or herbal supplement for bodybuilding or weight loss. For this study group, most of the patients were white males and generally overweight.

Lawsuit Filed Against Princess Cruises for 3 Deaths

A lawsuit was filed in Miami against Princess Cruises last week that alleges the cruise line failed to rescue three young men aboard a disabled Panamanian fishing boat. Two of the men, Fernando Osorio and Oropeces Betancourt, later died at sea. The lone survivor, Adrian Vasquez, was rescued 13 days after being sighted by the cruise liner.

Product Recalls Update: Products with Fire/Burn Hazards

A review of the Consumer Product Safety Commission product recall lists shows a very large number of product recalls over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, serious safety-related recalls have become commonplace in our society. An informed consumer is a safe consumer. The following are some of the significant recalls regarding products with Fire/Burn Hazards:

"Ready, Set, Wear It!": Boating Safety to Last the Summer

This year, National Safe Boating Week comes just before summer's unofficial kick off: Memorial Day Weekend. And the three-day weekend often brings with it BBQs, bonfires and boating excursions.

Study: OSHA inspections lead to reduced workplace injuries

Many Texas companies see federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations as designed to add unnecessary expenses and responsibilities for employers, but do not see the benefits of complying. The truth is, OSHA's safety regulations are intended to save employees from suffering a wrongful death or a serious personal injury while on the job.

Age Discrimination on the Rise in Texas

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Central Freight Lines has been ordered to pay settlements to eight dock workers to settle age discrimination lawsuits. Central Freight Lines, a Waco-based company, has terminals that it operates in both Fort Worth and Dallas. The lawsuit was brought against the company by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and alleged that Central Freight Lines targeted older workers for termination in violation of federal law. Federal law prohibits discrimination against people aged above forty.

Deadliest Danger Isn't at the Rig But on the Road

Over the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers were killed in highway crashes, the largest cause of fatalities in the industry. Many of these deaths were due in part to oil field exemptions from highway safety rules that allow truckers to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries, according to safety and health experts. Many oil field truckers say that while these exemptions help them earn more money, they are routinely used to pressure workers into driving after shifts that are 20 hours or longer.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed against nursing home

Families entrust the care of their loved ones to nursing homes, assuming that they will be cared for and protected from injury. When an elderly or otherwise incapacitated individual suffers a wrongful death, family members will naturally be left wondering what went wrong and will want to hold the nursing care facility responsible for their negligence.

Settlement of $17M Reached in Fatal Philadelphia Duck Boat Crash Suit

A wrongful death lawsuit over the deaths of two students in a 2010 Philadelphia Duck Boat crash was settled with an agreement to pay $17M in damages.

Supreme Court Rules Against Patient

Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against a patient, even though the trial court's instructions to the jury may have been in error. The case is Venkateswarlu Thota, M.D. v. Young, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012)(5/11/12).

Houston Polo Magnate Ordered to Spend 16 Years in Prison for DUI Death

John Goodman, a Houstonian who is well known in the upper-class, elite polo world, was sentenced to spend 16 years in prison for the February 12, 2010 death of 23 year old Scott Wilson. Sitting in a West Palm Beach, Florida courtroom, Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath ordered the socialite into a Florida prison for causing the death of Mr. Wilson while driving under the influence of alcohol and running his Bentley into Mr. Wilson's Hyundai - pushing it into a canal and drowning Wilson.

Philadelphia Jury Awards Mother $78.5 Million for Medical Malpractice

Victoria Upsey, a pregnant 34-year old single mother, went to a Philadelphia hospital three years ago experiencing complications with her pregnancy. Upon checking in to the hospital, Ms. Upsey was examined by a physician without the assistance of a trained ultrasound technician. The physician initially concluded that the baby had already died. A little over one hour later, another ultrasound was performed during which it was determined that the baby was not in fact dead. The complications were in fact causing the unborn child to be deprived of oxygen. After the second ultrasound, Ms. Upsey was rushed into cesarean surgery and the child was born with cerebral palsy.

Court Orders Drunk Driver to Pay $862,118 in Restitution to Victim

As reported by the Galveston County Daily News, a Galveston County Judge accepted the guilty plea of Omar Santana Ortiz who slammed into the car of Sarah Hrachovina Coreas on October 18, 2010, leaving her in a semi-conscious state. With the approval of the family of Ms. Coreas, Ortiz avoided prison time but agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $862,118 to cover Ms. Coreas' medical bills to date.

Reducing Motorcycle Fatalities Through Helmet Use?

As part of motorcycle safety awareness month, it is important to take a closer look at the number of serious injuries and fatal accidents that stem from motorcycle accidents.

Corpus Christi Jury Sends Message to Cola-Cola

According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, a Corpus Christi jury awarded $24 million last Friday to a woman that was catastrophically injured by a Coca-Cola driver that was using her cellphone at the time of the collision. Of the $24 million awarded, $14 million was allocated for actual damages (the damages to compensate the plaintiff for the terrible injuries she sustained - past and future medical bills, past and future loss of earning capacity, and past and future pain, impairment and disfigurement) and $10 million was allocated to punitive damages (those damages that are meant to deter such conduct in the future).

Wal-Mart to Pay Nearly $5 Million in Fines

According to Reuters, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $4.8 million in back wages to thousands of employees for unpaid overtime. The settlement comes after a probe by the U.S. Department of Labor which found that Wal-Mart had violated federal law regarding overtime pay.

The Costs of Motorcycle Accidents: Financial and Emotional

Last week we posted a blog about the importance of sharing the road with motorcycles, especially during national Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often have tragic consequences - resulting in life-long injuries or even death.

Ethanol Truck Spill in Winnie

Big Rigs carrying ethanol are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Ethanol is a highly flammable liquid used in many products but most commonly used by the fuel industry. South Texas has many refineries which increases the number of tanker trucks carrying hazardous materials, such as ethanol, on the roads. Just this week about 70 miles east of Houston one of these tanker trucks turned over and spilled about 1500 gallons of this explosive liquid. Not only was this accident a danger to the truck driver and everyone who shared that particular stretch of I-10 with him, this spill put residents in the surrounding area in danger.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Announces Upcoming Research Studies

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced it will begin two new research studies in the next few months to examine factors affecting big rig interstate driver safety. The focus is to determine "to what extent driver compensation practices, and detention time at shippers' loading and receiving docks affect drivers' ability to drive safely." This study is likely related to the recent rule enacted that requires drivers to list as "off-duty time" that period of time - including long periods of time - the driver is waiting in a parked vehicle at a shipper's dock. There is a question as to whether this rule will contribute to driver fatigue and affect driver performance.

Halliburton Doesn't Agree with BP's Proposed Settlement

According to a an article from Dow Jones & Company, Halliburton Co. has filed an objection to the $7.8 billion settlement with individual plaintiffs proposed by BP. The settlement stems from BP's involvement in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion over 2 years ago. In its filing, Halliburton alleges that it had only limited time to review the proposed settlement. The settlement includes thousands of businesses, property owners and individuals in several states along the Gulf of Mexico. The settlements are for allegations that plaintiffs suffered economic damage from the 87-day oil spill. Halliburton also alleges that BP's settlement would make Halliburton responsible part of the settlement money by "improperly assigning claims against (Halliburton) to the plaintiff's steering committee." To this day, Halliburton denies that it has any responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Parents Sue as a Result of a Binge Drinking Death

The timesunion.com is reporting that the parents of a Boston College honors student who drowned last year after binge drinking at Skidmore College have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against nine Saratoga County men for allegedly supplying or buying alcohol for their underage son. The suit was filed earlier this week by Kenneth and Deanna Grant of Westchester County on behalf of their son's estate.

Texas Recognizes May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Share the Road!

In the next few weeks you'll likely notice signs along major roadways proclaiming "share the road!" These signs are part of the month-long campaign in May celebrating national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

High Speed Chase Leads to More Deaths

Another high-speed chase leads to death, this time of two people in one vehicle. A crash on Monday, April 30, 2012, after a chase by a Fort Bend County Sheriff's deputy, claimed the lives of a man and a woman, and severely injured another young woman in the car. In addition, a separate high-speed chase lead to the death on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 of a man in north Houston.

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