December 2012 Archives

Oil Refineries Present "Perfect Storm" For Explosions

A fire only needs three things to ignite: oxygen, fuel and heat. All three can be easily found at any oil and gas facility. Isolating these fire-starting elements and preventing them from mixing with each other must be a key safety priority for every employer, well or refinery owner, in order to protect employees, people nearby and expensive equipment used in the oil and gas industry.

More Must Be Done To Control Fatal Workplace Fires In Refineries

In the last 10 years, dozens of workers have been injured by explosions and sudden fires at refineries - from oil refineries to sugar refineries - across the United States. Three such explosions took place right here in Texas:

Toyota Settles Claims in Sudden Acceleration Cases

The Los Angeles Times reported today that Toyota Motor Company has announced an agreement worth more than $1 billion to settle a lawsuit involving unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles. Under the terms of the settlement filed yesterday in California, Toyota will install a brake-override system in an estimated 3.25 million vehicles and compensate car owners for the alleged reduced value of the vehicles.

New York Police Department Accused of Violating Civil Rights

A New York Appellate court recently reinstated a class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department. The lawsuit claims that hundreds of thousands of people were stopped and frisked by New York police. Though those individuals were never convicted of a crime, the New York Police Department still maintained personal information about those persons in their databases.

GM Recalls More than 145,000 Pickup Trucks for Safety Concerns

On Thursday, December 20, 2012, General Motors announced that the company is recalling more than 145,000 pickup trucks due to a defect in the truck hoods which could cause hoods to fly open unexpectedly. GM informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that if the hoods were to open unexpectedly, blocking a driver's forward vision, it would possibly lead to crashes or injuries.

Toyota Camry Receives "Poor" Rating in New Crash Test

According to the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested a group of new family sedans, including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion. The Toyota Camry performed poorly in the new crash test and failed to get the best safety rating from the auto safety group. Incidentally, the Toyota Camry is the best-selling and most popular car in the United States.

Truck Rollover Fatally Injures 4, Critically Injures 1

A late night rollover on Eastex Freeway took the life of four young Texans and critically injured another. The driver of the blue Ford pickup truck hit a curb and sent the truck rolling, causing the fatal accident.

Be Careful of Toy Recalls This Holiday Season

During this Christmas season, it is more important than ever that parents are very careful of what toys they buy their children. Most recently, a small toy that absorbs water and expands to up to 400 times its original size has been voluntarily recalled after a report that baby ingested one of these toys and needed surgery to remove it.

Republican Supreme Court Produces Lopsided Results

The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court issued rulings during the first decade of this century which overwhelmingly favored insurance, business interests, and government, at the expense of individual citizens. This is the finding of a report recently issued by Texas Watch, an organization which monitors governmental activities, including the Supreme Court.

250 Foot Flames Shoot From West Texas Gas Pipe Explosion

During a routine pressure test earlier this month, a 16-inch natural gas pipeline exploded, sending flames shooting up to 250 feet in the air at a West Texas Gas site. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Houston Chain-Reaction Crash Traps 1 Under METRO Bus

Five people were injured and one killed in a four-vehicle pileup in Northwest Houston over the weekend. A driver was stopped in the roadway on I-45 North with a flat tire when another driver slammed into the rear end of his disabled vehicle. The rear-end crash triggered a chain-reaction collision involving two more vehicles.

California Surgeon Infects Patients during Heart Procedure

According to the Los Angeles Times, a heart surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center inadvertently infected five patients during valve replacement surgeries earlier this year, causing four of the patients to need a second operation.

Honda Recalls More than 800,000 Vans and SUV's

As reported by the LA Times last week, Honda is recalling more than 800,000 minivans and sport utility vehicles in the United States for a problem with the vehicles' ignition system, and this is not the first time for similar issues with Honda vehicles to be reported. The company, which has its North American headquarters in Torrance, California, is recalling 318,000 Honda Odyssey minivans and 259,000 Honda Pilot SUVs made in 2003 and 2004. Other vehicles also being recalled are the 230,000 Acura MDX SUVs made from 2003 to 2006.

FedEx Sued for Civil Racketeering

A recent lawsuit accuses FedEx of systematically overcharging business and governmental customers on a wide scale. The class action lawsuit claims that FedEx charged the higher residential rate for packages that were being sent to many businesses and governmental offices at the higher residential rate. The suit alleges that FedEx overcharged these customers by as much as $3 per package, with millions of packages having been overcharged. Many of these charges were made for delivery to addresses that were obviously not residential addresses including banks, courthouses, and governmental offices. It is alleged that FedEx even charged the residential rates to packages sent to its own corporate offices.

Texas Landowner Wins Temporary Delay Against Pipeline Hazards

When individuals like Texas landowners go up against massive oil companies, the odds are often stacked against them from the very beginning. This week, however, one former Marine from an East Texas town north of Houston won an injunction against an oil company's construction plans. The injunction will delay the company's attempts to build part of its transcontinental pipeline across his land.

Parents Beware: Nap Nanny Blamed for Multiple Infant Deaths

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an administrative complaint against Baby Matters, LLC, for its Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill infant products. CPSC announced this step after failed discussions with the company regarding a voluntary recall of the infant recliners.

Texas Looks at Tougher Rules for Fracking Safety

Innovations in "fracking" processes have driven Texas' ongoing oil boom. Fracking refers to methods of injecting chemical-laden water into shale deposits that lie far below ground level - this forces oil and natural gas to the surface where companies can process and sell it.

Judge Orders Construction on Keystone XL Pipeline Stopped

According to the Houston Chronicle, a Texas judge has ordered TransCanada to temporarily halt work on private property where it is building part of an oil pipeline designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Texas landowner Michael Bishop filed his lawsuit in the Nacogdoches County courthouse, arguing that TransCanada lied to Texans when it said it would be using the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil. Tar sands oil - or diluted bitumen - does not meet the definition as outlined in Texas and federal statutory codes which define crude oil as "liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures," Bishop said. When tar sands are extracted in Alberta, Canada, the material is almost a solid and "has to be heated and diluted in order to even be transmitted," he told The Associated Press exclusively. Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz signed a temporary restraining order and injunction Friday, saying there was sufficient cause to halt work until a hearing Dec. 19. The two-week injunction went into effect Tuesday after Bishop posted bond. David Dodson, a spokesman for TransCanada, said courts have already ruled that tar sands are a form of crude oil. He said the injunction will not delay the project.

Texas Officials Investigating Nightclub Linked to Cowboys Crash

On Monday, Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), confirmed that the TABC is investigating a nightclub where Dallas Cowboys football players may have been drinking before the one-vehicle car accident in which Cowboys player Jerry Brown Jr. died. The accident occurred early Saturday morning when a vehicle in which Brown was a passenger rolled over and caught fire near State Highway 114 and Loop 12. Brown was transported to a Dallas hospital where he was pronounced dead a short while later. According to police reports, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle, Josh Brent, was the driver of the vehicle in question. Brent has been charged with intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Recent Ford Motor Company Recalls

In another safety related recall, Ford Motor Company is recalling over 73,000 Ford Escape compact sport-utility vehicles, as well as over 15,000 Ford Fusion midsize sedans. This recall involves the 2013 model year and it is reported that these vehicles can have overheating problems that causes engine fires. This recall closely follows Ford's recall of certain 2013 Escapes which reported having fuel leaks, coolant leaks, and carpet that interfered with the gas and brake pedals.

Jack-Up Rig Collapse: 89 Construction Workers Injured

While numerous hazards surround workers in the oil and gas industry, a large construction accident this week served as a reminder that the kinds of heavy machinery involved in this industry are inherently dangerous from the very beginning. Eighty-nine workers at a construction yard in Singapore suffered injuries when a jack-up rig partially collapsed underneath them.

Crashes and "Medical Episodes": Who Is Accountable to Victims?

After a shuttle bus crashed into Houston's Texas Medical Center last week, police announced that the accident may have happened because the driver suffered a "medical episode." One woman died and 11 other people suffered injuries, raising questions about who bears liability when a medical problem plays a role in a crash.

Deaths at Texas Railroad Crossings Are on the Rise

According to figures compiled by the Associated Press, deaths at railroad crossings in Texas have doubled in the last year, renewing questions about whether the thousands of miles of track in the state are being safely maintained and monitored.

NFL Again in Spotlight for Potential Devastating Side Effects of the Game

Jovan Belcher, an inside linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, recently killed his girlfriend and later killed himself in front of the general manager and the coach of the Chiefs. Many of the people close to Belcher were shocked by his recent actions and had not noticed any previous behavior which would indicate any underlying problems. Others, however, are looking to whether he acted as a result of depression caused by a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). An autopsy will be able to determine if in fact Jovan Belcher suffered from this disease.

The Need for On-Board Computers and Black Boxes for Heavy Trucks

"Black boxes," commonly known as electronic data recorders (EDRs) or electronic on-board recording devices (EOBRs), are capable of recording and keeping safe all data regarding the events surrounding an automobile crash, including seatbelt use, vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration rates, and vehicle trajectory before, during, and after the crash. In 18-wheelers, they also have the capability of recording data regarding the driver's hours of service, a truck's total driving time, total driving distance, trip driving time, trip distance, average driving speed, and maximum recorded speed.

Thanksgiving Morning Brings Massive Pile-Up on Texas Highway

On Thanksgiving morning, several people were injured as a result of a string of accidents that led to a massive pile-up on I-10, just southwest of Beaumont, TX.

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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