March 2013 Archives

Flares Dot Landscape, Pollute Air In Eagle Ford Shale Region

The stars at night may be no longer be big and bright in South Texas as industrial flares dot the Eagle Ford Shale Region, lighting the night sky and serving as a constant reminder of the gas boom that has taken over rural South Texas.

NHTSA Probes 725,000 Ford Vehicles for Engine Flaw

Claims Journal recently reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating 725,000 Ford Motor Co. sedans and crossover vehicles after receiving reports of possible fuel system problems that could cause a sudden loss of engine power. According to NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation (ODI), "consumers have reported incidents of electronic throttle body failure...resulting in sudden reduction of engine power." The electronic throttle body is part of the engine's fuel delivery system.

Red Light Crash On Texas 3 Kills Young Houston Woman

Two drivers were making protected left turns in opposite directions when a the driver of a tan GMC envoy ran a red light and caused a three-vehicle crash. The multi-car collision took place at the intersection of Edgebrook and Texas 3 (Old Galveston Road).

Energy Drinks May Increase Blood Pressure and Change Heart's Rhythm

According to a recent study presented at the American Heart Association's 2013 Scientific Sessions, energy drinks may increase blood pressure and change the heart's rhythm. Researchers conducted a two-part analysis in which they reviewed data from seven previous observational and interventional studies. The participants in each of the seven studies were all healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 45.

Oil Rig Deaths Caused by Safety Hazards

Julio Barrera was a derrickman working in Webb County when he was killed on September 2, 2009. According to his wife, Claudia Hernandez, she recalls him telling her over the phone that the tower he was working on was not stable, but he would lose his job if he did not climb the tower. The very next day, Barrera climbed 25 feet up the derrick owned by Coastal Drilling Land Company to fix a locking pin in the metal frame. While he was on the tower, the structure began swaying, tipped over, and fatally crushed him. Barrera and his wife had two sons, and she was pregnant with their third child when he died. Even though she reached a confidential settlement with the companies responsible, she said they would not be able to give her what her kids lost.

Oil Rig Deaths Caused by Safety Hazards

Julio Barrera was a derrickman working in Webb County when he was killed on September 2, 2009. According to his wife, Claudia Hernandez, she recalls him telling her over the phone that the tower he was working on was not stable, but he would lose his job if he did not climb the tower. The very next day, Barrera climbed 25 feet up the derrick owned by Coastal Drilling Land Company to fix a locking pin in the metal frame. While he was on the tower, the structure began swaying, tipped over, and fatally crushed him. Barrera and his wife had two sons, and she was pregnant with their third child when he died. Even though she reached a confidential settlement with the companies responsible, she said they would not be able to give her what her kids lost.

New Guidelines on Head Injuries Suggested to Coaches

An international panel of neurologists, updating their recommendations on concussion care, now recommend that any athlete eighteen or younger who is believed to have sustained a concussion during a game or practice should not return to the playing field the same day.

Rig Malfunction Fatally Injures Oilfield Worker

A oil rig worker from New Mexico was fatally injured after a rig malfunctioned at a Patriot Drilling site in Southwest Texas. Brian Callicoat was only 22 years old and was expecting his second child with his wife when he was fatally injured in the oilfield workplace accident.

South Texas Oil & Gas Boom Leads To More Traffic Fatalities

Seventy-one more people were killed on South Texas roadways in 2012 than in 2011. The majority of those who were involved in a fatal accident were men driving between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., presumably traveling to or from work.

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Over Genetic Drug Maker Liability

The Supreme Court has agreed that it will hear a case regarding whether a generic drug maker can be held liable in product-liability lawsuit claiming a design defect.

Cestos de Ropa Representan Peligro Emergente

El equipo de noticias de KHOU 11 en Houston recientemente hizo una investigación en "pop-up" cestas con base de que varias personas siguen siendo gravemente heridos por estos cestos de ropa. El equipo encontró que este tipo de lesiones son más comunes porque estos cestos contienen alambre de metal que está bajo presión de resorte constante para mantener su capacidad de "pop-up". Un pedazo largo de tubo de vinilo generalmente rodea el extremo de los resortes de alambre para evitar que se rompa a través de la tela, pero no siempre es eficaz.

Remembering The 1937 New London Natural Gas Explosion

Two days and many, many more years ago, the town of London, Texas witnessed what might be considered the worst school gas explosion in the history of the oil and gas industry. The local school, powered by 72 natural gas heaters, exploded, killing 295 children and adults.

Jury Awards $8.3 Million Verdict in First DePuy ASR XL Hip Implant Trial

On March 8, 2013 a Los Angeles jury awarded $8.3 million in compensatory damages to the Plaintiff, Loren "Bill" Kransky, in the four week jury trial against Johnson & Johnson's DePuy subsidiary. The jury concluded that DePuy was liable for the design defects in its DePuy ASR XL product and the damages it caused to Mr. Kransky. The jury announced its verdict after six days of deliberation.

Increased Fracking Increases Water Supply Concerns

According to a recent article from the Texas Tribune, in South Texas, where the land is sometimes too dry to grow crops, the local aquifer is being strained in the search for oil. The reason is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling process that requires massive amounts of water. "We just can't sustain it," Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County bison rancher who serves on the board of his local groundwater district, said last month as he drove his pickup down a dusty road. From 2009 to 2012, water production from one well on his ranch fell by two-thirds, a problem Mr. Fitzsimons linked to nearby wells pumping water for fracking operations. A study commissioned by his groundwater district found that in a five-county area that includes Dimmit, fracking reduces the amount of water in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer by the equivalent of one-third of the aquifer's recharge. Recharge means the amount of water an aquifer regains from precipitation and other factors.

Fracking Fluid Spill Prompts Evacuation Of Nearby Homes

A broken drill at a natural gas drilling site resulted in a leak of thousands of gallons of fracking fluid and prompted the evacuation of nearby homes as concern grew over the possibility of a natural gas explosion. At one point, fracking fluid was flowing from the drill site at a volume of 800 gallons per minute.

Improved Training For Forklift Operators May Reduce Workplace Accidents

Tactus Technologies has created a video game of sorts for training forklift operators. The company received a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop a virtual reality simulator for training purposes with the intent that the improved training would help reduce the number of serious and fatal workplace accidents attributed to forklifts each year.

FDA: Popular Antibiotic May Cause Fatal Heart Rhythms

According to a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a popular antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm. The drug, azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax), is commonly sold in what is called a Z-pak. The FDA reports that in 2011 alone, approximately 40.3 million individuals in the United States received an outpatient prescription for the macrolide azithromycin.

Foreign Objects Often Left in Bodies Following Surgery

A recent article highlighted the significant number of medical malpractice incidents when foreign objects are left in patients following surgeries. Peter Eisler, on behalf of USA Today, wrote the informative article discussing how these medical mistakes cost victims unnecessary pain, suffering, and sometimes even their lives. Number wise, Mr. Eisler indicated that dozens of times a day throughout our country patients leave the operating room with surgical items, instruments, and equipment in their bodies. Medically, however, all healthcare providers recognize these mistakes are truly preventable, and in the medical field they are often referred to as "never events."

Robosurgery Suits Detail Injuries

According to a review by the Bloomberg News, robot systems made by Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) are linked to at least 70 deaths since 2009. The lawsuits being filed in the last 14 months are now adding new details about dangerous complications involving the da Vinci robots made by Intuitive.

5 Texas And 6 Ohio Teens Killed In Fatal SUV Accidents

Four teens riding in an SUV in the Texas panhandle were fatally injured when their SUV collided with a gas tanker truck. The driver of the truck was seriously injured in the fatal crash; he was taken to the burn center in Lubbock and last listed in critical condition. The gas tanker ignited after the collision, engulfing both the semi and the SUV in flames.

Anheuser-Busch Accused of Watering Down Its Beer

Anheuser-Busch has systematically cheated consumers and violated Texas law by watering down Budweiser and its other beers to reduce alcohol content below advertised levels, a federal lawsuit filed last Thursday in Dallas alleges. The lawsuit states that the alcohol content is mislabeled on the brands Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, and Bud Light Lime.

Call 811 Before You Dig!

Between 2000 and 2009, excavation damage was the leading cause of all significant pipeline incidents. These damages resulted in 38 fatalities, 158 injuries, and $196 million in property damage. While excavation damage is no longer the leading cause of significant pipeline incidents, it is still a major cause, and is still the second leading cause of serious accidents (those that cause death or injury requiring hospitalization).

No Place To Play Or Smoke - Texas Oil And Gas Sites

Between 1983 and 2010, 44 people have been killed and 25 others have been injured on oil and gas sites throughout the country. These sites aren't just dangerous places for workers; they are attractive nuisances for teens and young adults who mistakenly believe the oilfields or refinery areas are safe places to hang out or meet up with friends.

Wrong-Way Crash Kills Aggie Cadets

On Sunday, March 3, 2013 in the early hours of the morning, a wrong-way crash claimed the lives of two Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets freshmen and injured another. According to the Houston Chronicle, the head-on collision happened on U.S. Highway 290 as the freshmen were returning back to College Station after a weekend home in Houston. The three corps members had returned to Houston the Friday prior to judge a high school JROTC competition. Amy Pacheco, Cesar Chavez High School graduate, and Miguel Hernandez, Northbrook High School graduate, both died in the crash. Both were just 18-years-old. Francisco Campos, also a Cesar Chavez graduate and also 18, was injured in the crash. All three corps members were graduates of Houston-area high schools.

Child Survives Fatal Rollover Crash, Found Walking Nearby

A 3- or 4-year-old toddler miraculously escaped a fatal rollover crash in Conroe with only bruises and scrapes. He was found walking near the crash site on Old Houston Road after the early morning/late night crash.

80% of North Dakota Oil Field Injuries Happen to First Year Employees

According to a story from KMOT-TV in Minot, North Dakota, over 80 percent of oil field injuries happen to employees who are in their first year on the job. This information comes from the North Dakota Workforce Insurance and Safety department. The signs show that new workers might not be receiving the on-the-job training they need. "It goes down dramatically after that first year. 80 percent is the highest of all major industries in the state", says Dakota M.E.P Director Randy Schwartz.

First Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson in Vaginal Mesh Cases

Last week, a South Dakota jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a woman $3.35 million for failing to adequately warn her doctor of the potential dangers of a vaginal mesh implant and for misrepresenting the product in brochures. The verdict marks the first among 1,800 vaginal mesh cases currently pending in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon.

Dangerous Cast-Iron Piping Criss-Crosses Texas

Federal regulators began making oil and gas companies aware that cast-iron pipelines should be phased out and replaced because of their tendency to corrode and create leaks as far back as 1973. Fast forward almost 40 years to 2011 to a Texas family being critically injured when a natural gas-fed explosion destroyed their Oak Cliff home.

Three Young Texans Killed In Head-On Collision In Harris County

Two 18-year-olds and one 21-year-old were fatally injured after colliding head-on with each other on Highway 290 last weekend. The 18-year-olds were freshmen at Texas A&M involved with the Corps of Cadets. Amy Pacheco and Miguel Hernandez were driving an SUV when they collided with a Mustang driven by Katie Thomas. Thomas was going the wrong way on 290, causing the head-on collision.

Appellate Court Rules Against Victim of Train Collision

The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week against the victim of a train-truck collision in the case of Brown v. Illinois Central Railroad Company.

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

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  • $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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