July 2012 Archives

Safety at the Construction Site

The construction industry is the largest industry in the United States and unfortunately construction site accidents kill and injure thousands of workers each year. Numbers show 1 of 10 workers suffers some kind of on-the-job injury, making a construction site an accident waiting to happen. Every day we see federal reports that reveal an increase in accidents on construction sites. Seven percent of all work-related accidents occur on construction sites, but sixteen percent of all deaths on the job result from construction site fatalities.

Most Dangerous Jobs: Logging and Construction Workers (Part II)

In a post a few weeks ago, we blogged about the dangers of mining. In this post, we'll examine two more inherently dangerous jobs that often result in on-the-job fatalities: loggers and construction workers.

Hyundai Recalls Sonatas and Santa Fe

Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 22,500 Sonata sedans from the 2012 and 2013 model years because their side air bags can go off without warning. Hyundai is South Korea's top automaker and is simultaneously recalling 200,000 units of its Santa Fe sport utility vehicle.

Ford Escape Fuel Line Defect and Fire Hazard

Last week, Ford Motor Company recalled thousands of its 2013 Escape models for a hazardous risk of fire. Ford recently filed documents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicating that the cause of the recall was due to defective fuel lines that resulted from a manufacturing defect at a supplier's plant. Ford's part maker, TI Automotive, apparently has a flaw in its manufacturing process at its plant in Ashley, Indiana. The fuel lines manufactured by TI Automotive are incorporated into Ford's Escape models at Ford's assembly plant. The recall specifically concerns 2013 Ford Escape models with the 1.6-liter engine.

BP Settling Violations After 2005 Texas Refinery Explosion

Seven years after a deadly explosion at a refinery in Texas City, Texas, the oil company BP Plc has settled most of the safety violations uncovered in a follow-up inspection after the explosion.

Texas Department of Insurance Accused of Intentionally Blocking Emails

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman, the state advocacy group for insurance customers, Texas Watch, is claiming that the Texas Department of Insurance intentionally blocked nearly 900 emails which were being sent to the agency's commissioner Eleanor Kitzman as part of a mass email campaign. Texas Watch had organized a mass email campaign for July 13th to make it possible for hundreds of Texans to send emails directly to Ms. Kitzman. The purpose of the emails was to have Kitzman address homeowners' insurance rates. According to the reports from Texas Watch, the first 334 emails went through but more than 900 were rejected. Texas Watch then attempted to send the emails to Cassie Brown, the department's deputy commissioner for regulatory policy, but those were also blocked.

Supreme Court Removes Protection for Injured Workers

For almost 25 years, the law protected injured workers by allowing them to pursue an action against workers' compensation insurance carriers when they act in "bad faith" during the handling of workers' compensation claims. That protection no longer exists for those who are most vulnerable: workers whose ability to earn a living has been interrupted by an occupational injury.

Record $31.5 Million Verdict Against Caltrans

A Superior Court jury in San Bernardino, California awarded a severely injured man and his wife over $31.5 million in a ruling against Caltrans. The jury found that the state agency was responsible for a dangerous roadway condition on a section of California State Route 138 in Pinon Hills, California. As a result, a motorcycle accident occurred on April 29, 2009 at Highway 138 and Mountain Road.

Leaked Document Shows Insurance Companies Concerned About Fracking Effects

A leaked underwriting document from a major insurance company has helped strengthen the health debate over fracking - suggesting that exposure to gases and chemicals used during drilling process is hazardous to one's health.

Star of A&E's "Flip This House" Sues Brother

The San Antonio-based businessman, Armando Montelongo Jr., who gained fame in 2006 as a star of the A&E show "Flip This House," is suing his brother and co-star David Montelongo and David's wife, Melina. One of Armando's companies, Real Estate Training International LLC, accuses the brother and sister-in-law of trademark infringement, damage to business reputation, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment by having a business model too similar. The similar business model even has similar websites and a three-day real estate training bus tour that looks close enough to Armando's that he says they are likely to be confused.

More Trouble Brewing for Penn State in Wake of Sex Abuse Crisis

Although former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been convicted of child-sex-abuse crimes, several civil investigations continue, including whether the university violated a federal campus-safety law, the Clery Act. The Clery Act requires prompt public alerts of safety threats and annual disclosure of crime statistics.

Jeep SUVs May Be Prone to Explosions

According to ABC News, various models of Jeeps are designed in a way that could be fatally dangerous in the event of a rear-end accident. The fuel tank is located behind the rear axle, and if the vehicle is rear ended the axle could puncture the fuel tank. This rupture can cause deadly fires. It has been reported that 15 people have burned to death as a result of rear-impact crashes.

Dangerous Occupations: A Look at Some of the Most Deadly Professions (Part I)

Some jobs are inherently dangerous, like deep sea fishing, oil and gas drilling and mining. And while the dangers of working on the seas or in the energy industry are readily apparent, that is not the case with all jobs. In fact, many people would likely be surprised at the injury and fatality statistics in rather unusual jobs.

Shell Could Face $5 Billion Fine

According to an article from the Dow Jones Newswires, Royal Dutch Shell PLC could face a record $5 billion fine from Nigerian authorities. The proposed fine follows an oil spill off the coast of Nigeria last year. Approximately 40,000 barrels of oil leaked at Shell's Bonga offshore facility. Shell is pushing back hard against the proposed fine saying it amounts to around $125,000 a barrel. In comparison to the fines BP could face in America from the Deepwater Horizon spill, the fine Shell is facing is nearly 100 times greater/barrel spilled.

Jury Awards Over $36 Million for 18-Wheeler Crash

In Riverside County, California, a jury awarded Jaishree and Prakash Sheth over $36 million for an 18-wheeler crash that left Jaishree Sheth with a fractured spine. According to the evidence at trial, Mrs. Sheth suffered fractures at C5-6 and was completely paralyzed upon admission to the hospital. She underwent two emergency surgeries, suffered respiratory failure and was hospitalized for over two months subsequently. According to the pleadings, she still requires 24-hour attendant care. The Sheths filed suit against Schneider National, a multi-national trucking company, for the negligence of its driver in causing the catastrophic collision.

Property Owner Makes $1M Settlement for a Wrongful Death Claim

According to the Florida Times Union, the estate of a 19-year-old woman slain in the crossfire of a drug-related attack last year has received a $1 million settlement from the apartment complex property owner for a wrongful death claim. The beneficiaries include her 2-year-old twin toddlers.

Number of Traffic Deaths and Injuries Increases in Eagle Ford Shale Areas

The Houston Chronicle recently reported that there has been a significant increase in traffic deaths and injuries in the Eagle Ford Shale areas. In an article published Monday, July 9, 2012, it was noted that in the last six months alone in Karnes County there have been 12 people killed in traffic accidents. This is 12 times the number of fatalities reported by the Texas Department of Transportation in 2008.

Fatal Truck Accidents Skyrocket in Eagle Ford Shale Area

Six months, 12 traffic fatalities. That's 12 times the number of motor vehicle deaths in Karnes County that were reported a mere four years ago. It is no wonder, then, that Texas Route 239 - near Eagle Ford Shale - has been dubbed "the death trap."

Family of Couple Killed in Train Derailment Files Lawsuit

On what would have normally been a happy Independence Day holiday spent with family, July 4, 2012 proved to be a fateful day for Zorine and Burton Lindner. A train hauling coal from Wyoming to Milwaukee hit a kink in the tracks that afternoon, causing a derailment that left 28 rail cars piled up on a bridge. The bridge was not made to handle heavy weight for long periods of time. As a result, the bridge fell, crushing the Lindners. It was first believed that no one was injured in the accident, but a cleanup worker spotted the car's bumper, leading to discovery of their bodies.

Supreme Court Rules Against Hospital Worker

In the case of Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012), the Texas Supreme Court ruled last month against a hospital worker who was injured on the job. The Court determined that he failed to comply with the extensive and expensive procedures for medical malpractice cases, dismissed his claim, and permitted the hospital to impose its attorney's fees upon him.

Medical Malpractice at Juvenile Detention Center

The family of a special-needs teenage girl who died earlier this year while in the custody of the Jackson County juvenile detention center filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week. The suit names the Jackson County Family Court's detention center, Children's Mercy Hospital, and several medical personnel and detention center employees as defendants.

Crane Collapse Caused Death of Crane Operator

A crane operator recently died at a construction site while working to rebuild the Garden Ridge on I-45 and Highway 242 in the Woodlands. According to the reports, the crane was lifting a wall piece for a new store when the crane collapsed pinning the operator in the cab under the weight of the crane. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the cause of the death of this worker and the safety of the worksite.

Harris County Jury Hits Drunk Driver with $2.26 Million Verdict - Is it Enough?

On June 20, 2012, a Harris County jury returned a $2.26 million verdict against a drunk driver that caused a 2010 crash that killed one and  severely injured another. Houstonian, Angela Maxwell, was driving home with a friend from church on August 25, 2010 when her vehicle was hit by a SUV driving by Gina Wiggins. Hermalinda Rico was the passenger in Maxwell's vehicle that died from her injuries as a result of the collision. Although Maxwell survived the incident, her injuries have forced her to walk with a cane, and she has not been able to return to work.

State Agency Sending Complaints Back Without Investigating

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman by Andrea Ball, 36% of complaints received by the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services filed by psychiatric hospital patients are not investigated. Those in charge of the agency claim the cases involve medical care, hospital policies or patient rights which are areas they do not investigate. However, mental health advocates say the agency is miscategorizing cases in order to avoid investigating the allegations.

Is 85 Miles an Hour Too Fast? The Texas DOT Doesn't Think So

Texas could be the first state to have a posted speed limit of 85 miles per hour. But what impact would having the highest posted speed limit in the nation have on traffic safety and auto accidents? Legislators think it would actually make the roadway safer.

Kolcraft Recall

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with Kolcraft Enterprises Inc., announced a voluntary recall of strollers due to fingertip amputation and laceration hazards to children and adults handling the stroller.

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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  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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