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September 2012 Archives

Not All Hospitals Apply the Improved Methods of Tracking Surgical Items Used in Patients' Bodies During Surgeries

It is estimated that there are 4,000 cases of "retained surgical items" reported in the United States on an annual basis. And many think that this number is way too low. In a recent article, the New York Times analyzed the method used by surgical teams to avoid leaving surgical instruments and sponges in the patients' body following surgery. Items left include clamps, scalpels, scissors, and suturing devices. The most common retain surgical item is a sponge. These sponges (or towels as they are sometimes referred to) are often used by surgeons to soak up blood. During longer operations, doctors may use dozens of these inside a patient to control bleeding. But keeping track of the number of sponges going in and number of sponges going out can often be difficult in a chaotic environment of the surgical suite.

How It Could Happen Here

A headline in today's newspaper asks, "How Could It Happen Here?" The article refers to the recent hpd shooting death of Brian Claunch, a mentally challenged double amputee. One reason it could happen here is that courts have removed accountability from those who have been given power.

Most Dangerous Jobs, Those in the Sky: Windowwashers, Helicopter Linemen and Pilots (Part VI)

A few weeks ago, we posted the third part in our dangerous job series. It focused on the dangers involved in fishing and farming. In this post, we're going to take a closer look at three dangerous jobs for workers who work in "the sky": window washers, helicopter linemen and pilots.

Microwave Popcorn Flavoring Caused Denver Man to Develop Chronic Lung Disease

Last Wednesday, a jury awarded a Colorado man $7.2 million in damages for developing a chronic condition known as popcorn lung from a chemical used in flavoring microwave popcorn. Wayne Watson, a 59-year-old native from Denver, filed suit in a U.S. District Court. Mr. Watson proved that the downstate Illinois popcorn manufacturer and the supermarket chain that sold it were negligent by failing to warn that the butter flavoring, diacetyl, was dangerous.

Texas Ranks Number One in the Nation For Workplace Deaths

Across the nation, fatal accidents in the workplace are on the decline, but that pattern has not carried over in the state of Texas. A recent article in the Dallas News noted that workplace deaths remain "stubbornly high in Texas."

Like a Good Neighbor

The Travis County DA's office has launched a criminal investigation of State Farm, the massive insurer, regarding its handling of thousands of insurance claims following Hurricane Ike. Now, Senator Rodney Ellis is demanding that the Texas Department of Insurance ("TDI") reopen its investigation of State Farm and its Texas subsidiary, State Farm Lloyds. "Given that law enforcement is now investigating State Farm for the exact same concerns I raised with you eleven months ago, this problem can no longer be ignored," wrote Senator Ellis in a letter to TDI's Commissioner, Eleanor Kitzman. Kitzman responded by drafting a public letter to the Texas Legislature. "Given the severity of the accusations made by the District Attorney, TDI is carefully considering its options for further regulatory action in this matter," wrote Kitzman.

Texas Property Owners Seemingly Have No Choice When the Pipelines Roll Through

Eminent domain has always been an issue for property owners across the country. In Texas, it is not uncommon for the government to use eminent domain to acquire private property for public use, such as railroads, bridges, highways and public utilities. But it is not common for non-government entities, such as commercial enterprises, to be able to take advantage of landowners.

Recent Study Suggests Link Between BPA and Childhood Obesity

According to a recent nationally-representative United States study, children that had higher levels of the chemical bisphenol A in their urine were more likely to be overweight or obese. While chemical biphenyl A, commonly known as BPA, has been banned from baby bottles, it is still found in aluminum cans and other types of food packaging.

Lap-Band Surgery Lawsuit

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Michele Pelter has filed suit against 1-800-GET-THIN (a marketing firm) and the health care providers who performed a 2011 Lap-Band surgery on her sister, Paula Rojeski. Rojeski was 55 years old when went in for the Lap-Band procedure in September 2011 at Valley Surgical Center. This is a West Hills, California clinic that is affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign. In one of her allegations against the marketing company, Pelter alleges they failed to warn her sister about the risks of Lap-Band surgery and neglected to recommend alternatives to her. This company promotes the surgery on billboards, as well as on television and radio. In their marketing campaign, they use the catchy jingle, "Let your life begin, call 1-800-GET-THIN."

ABC News Sued Over Defamation

Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News, Inc. for defamation over its coverage of a meat product that critics called "pink slime." Beef Products is claiming the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the meat product was unhealthy and unsafe.

Supreme Court Rules that Case against Doctor Fondling Female Patients Might Fall Under Medical Malpractice Statute

Recently, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the claims of two female patients against a doctor who fondled them may be entitled to the protections provided by the statute that governs medical malpractice cases.

New Data Shows Too Many Fatal Truck Accidents Involve Alcohol

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released their annual statistics related to alcohol consumption and traffic accidents. One of the arguably most alarming statistics involves professional and commercial truck drivers.

BP Agrees to Pay $13 Million for Texas Refinery Penalties

Oil giant British Petroleum (BP) has agreed to pay an additional $13 million to settle charges of failing to fix safety violations at its Texas City oil refinery after a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers. The settlement announced last month its latest move toward resolving hundreds of violations at the plant found by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). BP had already paid $50 million in 2010 to settle some of the OSHA violations. The government had been seeking a total of $80 million in penalties, the largest fine in its history.

Is Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

The controversy over fracking (a popular method of fracturing rock layers with pressurized water in order to extract natural gas) rages on. Much discussion has been had in regards to the health effects of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling process, but there has not been as much discussion about the environmental effects such a process could have - until now.

Brain Diseases Linked to NFL Player Deaths

It now appears that former NFL players are more susceptible to dying of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease. Last week, a study in Neurology, a widely read peer-reviewed neurology journal, reported that former NFL players were unusually prone to death from degenerative brain diseases.

BP Still Dragging its Feet Paying Claims

According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express, thousands of claimants damaged by the 2010 oil spill will have to decide soon whether to participate in a class action settlement without knowing what the offer will be. The Deepwater Horizon Claims Center was created by a federal judge overseeing the BP litigation. The purpose was apparently to coordinate claims under the settlement. As of last week, it was reported only 3,347 or 5% of the 60,000 businesses and individuals who filed claims have gotten settlement offers.

Supreme Court Rules Against Injured Customer of U-Haul

On August 31, 2012, the Supreme Court once again overturned the decision a jury reached in a case after the jurors heard and evaluated all of the evidence at trial. The decision occurred in U-Haul International, Inc., et al. v. Waldrip, et al., ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2012)(8/31/12).

Is Texting While Driving One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Multitasking?

The discussion of distracted driving has grown in the last few years - from state billboard campaigns to national public service advertisements. But along with the discussion comes a lot of statistics and perhaps a fair amount of misconceptions.

Mr. Coffee Single Cup Brewers Recalled

In a voluntary recall (along with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada), Jarden Consumer Solutions is recalling a total of 600,000 Mr. Coffee single cup brewers because of a potential burn hazard. Of the 600,000 units being recalled, 520,000 were distributed in the United States and 80,700 were distributed in Canada.

Poll Shows Patients Worry about Medical Errors

According to a Wolters Klewer Health poll, which surveyed 1,000 American adults, nearly three-quarters of patients say they are concerned about the potential for medical errors. Three in ten patients said they had experience with a medical error, either personally or through a close friend or family member. Twenty-one percent reported to have been misdiagnosed by a physician.

Family Sues Distributer of Synthetic Marijuana

Parents of a teen from Georgia have filed a wrongful death suit against the distributers and manufacturers of a synthetic marijuana alleged to have killed their son. Chase Burnett, 16 years old, drowned in a hot tub on March 4, 2012. This suit is believed to be the first against a manufacturer or distributer of synthetic marijuana.

BP's Lack of Preventative Maintenance Likely Lead to Thousands of Texans Being Injured

In 2010, BP negligently released airborne health-altering chemicals in the state of Texas. The chemical release was believed to be one of the worst releases in history. It resulted in nearly 50,000 people filing lawsuits for injuries they blame on the pollution.

Texas Still Ranks High For Traffic Fatalities

Although there has been an overall decrease in the number of fatal car accidents nationwide, a comparison of national and Texas state statistics reveal that the pattern has not held true in Texas. There still appears to be a disproportionate number of people seriously injured or killed in car accidents on Texas highways.

Benny Agosto Hosts Reception for Senator Menendez

On Friday, August 17, Benny Agosto, Jr., Partner of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, and National President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, hosted a reception and fundraiser for United States Senator Robert Menendez. Senator Menendez has been legislating on behalf of the State of New Jersey since 2005, and is running for reelection this year. As the sixth Latino to serve in the U.S. Senate, Senator Menendez represents the interests of the Latino community nationwide. Additionally, he serves on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Finance and Foreign Relations committees.

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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