April 2013 Archives

Oil & Gas Workers Take A Substantial Risk Going To Work Each Day

According to a recent study published in the Centers For Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the oil and gas industry is seven times more deadly than other industries in the United States. According to the report, as many as 16 oil and gas workers are fatally injured while on the job each year.

Misdiagnosis is the Most Common Error in Medical Malpractice Claims

The New York Times recently wrote on a blog report identifying what kind of medical error accounts for most malpractice payments. As it turns out, it is not surgical mistakes, medication errors or labor and delivery mishaps.

Study Finds Voice-to-Text Apps Do Not Increase Driver Safety

A new study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that using voice-to-text apps to send and receive text messages while driving do not increase driver safety. The study is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device on the road.

Barge Explosion Demonstrates Hazards

The night sky near Mobile, Alabama was illuminated with a burning reminder of the continued hazards of the maritime industry, and the need for the highest standards of safety.

Two Lawsuits Filed after Plant Explosion Destroys Single Mother's Home and Leaves a Man Permanently Blind with Severe Burns Across Body

A single mom, who with her young son "lost all their worldly possessions" in the fertilizer plant explosion that devastated West, Texas, is among the first people to sue the plant's owner. Andrea Jones Gutierrez filed a lawsuit against Adair Grain on Monday. She is seeking up to $1 million.

Memorial Planned To Honor Those Killed In West, Texas Explosion

Baylor University will host a memorial service for those killed in the West Fertilizer explosion. The 10,000-seat arena in nearby Waco will provide a venue to remember those who lost their lives in the fatal explosion; the event is being organized by the Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force.

Chrysler Recalls Pickups and SUVs

Chrysler, for the second time, has recalled hundreds of thousands of pickup trucks and SUVs because their rear axles can lock up unexpectedly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a nut in the rear axle can come loose because of a missing adhesive patch, resulting in the axle locking and the driver losing control of the vehicle.

Driver Error Cited As Preliminary Cause Of Fatal Bus Crash

The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a preliminary report as to what they believe went wrong in the now triple-fatal bus crash in the Dallas area: driver error. There was no alcohol or drugs detected in the driver's system after the crash, but investigators have cited the driver's failure to maintain control of the bus and inattention as the reason for the fatal bus crash.

Johnson & Johnson & DePuy Orthopaedics Win Hip Implant Trial in Chicago

On April 16, 2013, a twelve person jury Cook County, Illinois jury rendered a verdict in favor of DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, in a lawsuit brought by Carol Strum for personal injuries. This is the second case to go to trial regarding the DePuy ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant that was recalled back in August of 2010.  The first case resulted in verdict against DePuy for over $8 million back in March of this year, while this case resulted in a verdict in favor of the hip manufacturer. Over 93,000 of the DePuy ASR XL hip implants were recalled in August of 2010 due to an extremely high failure rate. Over 10,000 lawsuits are pending in the U.S. against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy for injuries sustained as a result of this hip implant failure and the defective design of the medical implant.

Halliburton Settlement Talks in Advanced Stage

According to the Associated Press, Halliburton, who was BP's cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 announced that it is trying to negotiate a settlement over its role in the disaster. Halliburton CFO Mark McCollum said during a conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings that talks were at an "advanced stage." The Houston-based company says it hopes court-facilitated negotiations will resolve a substantial portion of private claims it has faced since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. "We are working hard to come to a reasonable settlement that would be in the best interest of our shareholders," Halliburton president and CEO Dave Lesar said on the same call.

Scores Of Texans Injured, Others Killed, In Fertilizer Plant Explosion

The town of West, Texas, about 80 miles south of Dallas, was rocked this week by a huge explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. At the moment, emergency responders and investigators know that people have died in the explosion, others are missing, and more hundreds were hurt - many with burns and other serious injuries - and sent to local hospitals.

Deadly Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Kills 15, Injures 160

On Wednesday evening, at least 15 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured after a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas. Volunteer firefighters had been battling a fire at the plant for approximately 20 minutes before the blast occurred. According to reports, the explosion was so powerful that it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake with the United States Geological Survey, and the massive plume of smoke could be seen up to 45 miles away. Officials said that the blast destroyed between 60 and 80 homes in the five-block radius around the plant. Nearly half of the town's 2,800 residents have been evacuated, including 133 patients from a nearby nursing home.

Increased Regulation Needed for Trucking Companies in Texas

As recently reported by Scott Braddock, there is a growing momentum that Texas needs to find a way to regulate and/or go after trucking companies that are routinely running oversize loads on our highways. Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, and Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, are currently carrying bills that would substantially increase fines for truckers found to be carrying oversize loads.

Explosion At Texas Fertilizer Plant Shuts Down Entire Town

At least two people have been confirmed as fatal victims of an explosion at West Fertilizer in West, Texas that happened in the late evening hours Wednesday night. The small Texas town, just 20 miles outside of Waco, was completely evacuated. All 2,600 residents were asked to find a place to stay and schools have been shut down for the rest of the week.

Avandia's Safety to be Reconsidered by the FDA

Once again the controversial diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia) will be the subject of a 2 day Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking the unusual step of re-evaluating the evidence of safety risks from the once popular diabetes drug Avandia, whose sales were sharply restricted by the federal agency three years ago because of cardiovascular risks. The re-evaluation is to better assess the drug's safety.

Beaumont Texas Refinery Fire Suddenly, Seriously Injures At Least 3

The ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas was the scene of a flash fire Wednesday morning in one of its processing units. Three workers were severely burned in the oil refinery fire, according to first responders. Three additional workers were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

First Lawsuit Filed Against Bus Company For Dallas Bus Accident

A 74-year-old woman who received serious injuries in a bus rollover accident on the George Bush Turnpike in Dallas has filed a lawsuit against the owner and operator of the tour bus, Cardinal Coach Line. The woman broke several ribs in the commercial bus accident that killed at least two passengers and injured dozens more.

Family Settles Lawsuit Against Minneapolis Police for $225,000

James Keten and his family sued the Minneapolis police department following a 2011 raid of their home during which the police shot and killed two of their dogs. The city recently settled the lawsuit for $225,000.

Defective Airbags in another Line of Cars

Airbags provide silent, invisible protection for front seat passengers of modern automobiles. At least, that is what they are supposed to do. Now, it appears that a defect-of which most consumers would only become aware when it is too late-necessitates the recall of millions of vehicles.

Toyota Settles Two Sudden-Acceleration Cases

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has reported that Toyota has settled two high-profile cases involving sudden unintended acceleration that had been set for trial in February. The two cases involved in the recent settlement were a lemon law claim brought by a retired police officer in Los Angeles and a wrongful death claim by the family of a driver and passenger killed when their 2008 Camry accelerated and crashed into a wall in Utah. These settlements came a few weeks after Toyota agreed to the $1 billion settlement in which it installed a brake-override system in over 3 million cars, created a $250 million fund to compensate owners who aren't eligible for the override system, and created a separate $250 million fund to compensate owners who lost value in their vehicles due to bad publicity.

Bus Bound For Oklahoma Rolls On Dallas Turnpike, Killing 2

Two people were killed and at least another 40 were injured when a tour bus headed to the Choctaw Casino rolled over on the President George Bush Turnpike, State Highway 161, in Irving. At least three to four of the bus passengers are in critical condition following the single vehicle commercial bus crash.

Charter Bus Crash Kills 2, Injures Dozens

On Thursday morning, two people were killed and more than three dozen were injured when a private charter bus in route to Choctaw Casino Resort in Oklahoma overturned along the President George Bush Turnpike in Irving, Texas. According to officials, the bus was traveling northbound when it went off the right side of the road and struck a barrier before swerving left across several lanes of traffic and flipping over. A representative for Cardinal Coach Line confirmed that one of the company's buses was involved in the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it has sent a team of investigators to gather information regarding this morning's deadly bus crash.

State Farm Hit with Verdict in Whistleblower Suit

On Monday of this week, a federal jury returned a verdict finding that insurance giant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) shifted windstorm losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for one of its policyholders. The Associated Press is reporting on this jury verdict and the potential impact it will likely have on thousands of claims that State Farm adjusted following Hurricane Katrina.

Student Sues Fraternity After Falling

According to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, a University of Idaho student was injured after she fell from a three-tiered bunk bed at the Delta Chi house following a party two years ago. She is now suing the national fraternal organization for incurred medical costs and other damages. The allegations are that the injuries are the result of falling out of a third-story window.

School Stabbing Tragedy Hits Texas College Campus

On the Cypress campus of the Lone Star Community College just outside Houston, a man armed with a knife went on a stabbing spree, injuring as many as 14 students. At least four of the injury victims had to be airlifted from campus for medical treatment.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a new survey shows that Americans continue to use electronic devices while driving, despite warnings that it causes their own driving to deteriorate and can lead to crashes, injuries, and even death. The survey shows that at any given time, there are more than 600,000 drivers using a cell phone or manipulating some other electronic device while driving. The survey results are being released at the start of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Supreme Court Rules against Homeowner

Even though a company's employee stated the foundation repair it performed was the "worst" job he had seen, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company and against the homeowner in the recent case of Gonzales v. Southwest Olshan Foundation Repair Company, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2013).

Fatal Oil Well Blowout At Anadarko Lease Site In Barstow

Two oilfield workers, Juan Rios and Olegario Rios, were fatally injured in an oil well blowout in Barstow late last week. The well has been shut down since the explosion and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating what went wrong that lead to the deaths of the two men as well as serious injuries to two other workers.

Traffic Accidents Increased in Eagle Ford Shale Region

A recent report has found a 40% increase in fatality traffic accidents in the Eagle Ford shale region in 2012 as compared to 2011. This report was done based on an analysis of data released from the Texas Department of Transportation. The numbers revealed 248 deaths in 2012 versus 177 the year before.

Older Ford Models Can Suddenly Accelerate

Ford Motor Company was sued recently by numerous consumers seeking compensation from the second-largest United States automaker for an alleged defect within vehicles made throughout the past decade. The lawsuit claims that the Ford Motor vehicles contain a "design defect" in the electronic control of the gas pedals, making them susceptible to sudden, unintended acceleration. The lawsuit also states that the vehicles in question do not have brake override technology. This technology stops the car if both the brake and the gas pedal are activated at the same time. Ford began installing this feature, known as "brake over accelerator," in all vehicles made after 2010.

Utah DOT Immune from Wrongful Death Lawsuit in 2011 Road Collapse

A Utah Judge recently ruled that the Utah Department of Transportation ("UDOT") is immune from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Justine Barneck who died in 2011.

470% More Commercial Vehicle Accidents In Eagle Ford Shale Area

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety's 2013 projections, the Eagle Ford Shale is likely to see a continued problem with serious motor vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles. In the three south Texas counties that contain over half of the active Eagle Ford Shale wells - Karnes, Dimmit and LaSalle - the number of commercial vehicle accidents increased by 470 percent in a three year period. The number of crashes overall was up by 98 percent.

Occupational Illnesses Given Short Shrift By OSHA

Illness and disability caused by long term exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace carries a $250 billion price tag but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may be doing little to help the 40,000 workers who die each year due to exposure-related workplace illnesses. OSHA has been careful to regulate arsenic, asbestos and lead exposure in the workplace, but thousands of other chemicals, like n-propyl bromide, or nPB, exist unchecked leaving many U.S. workers paying dearly to collect a paycheck.

Jury Awards $4.2 Million Verdict in Nissan Altima Faulty Roof Case

An Essex County jury has ordered Nissan to pay Larry Clanton $4.2 million for his injuries and damages suffered after a run-away tire fell off a pickup truck and struck the roof of Clanton's Nissan Altima. The verdict was just announced last week. As Clanton was driving to meet friends at the Jersey Shore in July of 2006, a 73-pound tire bounced onto the roof of Clanton's Nissan Altima, cracking and collapsing the roof. The roof collapse caused Clanton's head to push forward and fracture his cervical spine.

Honda Recalling Another 76,000 Vehicles

According to the New York Times, Honda is recalling about 76,000 2004 to 2008 Acura TSX models in the United States because of a stalling problem. The recall covers only vehicles sold or registered in so called salt-belt states. Those states are Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. That is what is called a regional recall, and for years consumer advocates, like the Center for Auto Safety, have objected to such limited actions. The basic criticism is that the tactic saves automakers money, but in a fluid society some vehicles could be missed. Automakers and N.H.T.S.A. have defended the strategy as practical and safe.

Increased Border Security Has Lead To An Increase In Fatal Accidents

A pursuit by Kingsville police ended when the truck that law enforcement was after crashed while trying to bypass the security checkpoint on the Naval Air Station. The driver of the GMC Sierra pickup crashed head-on into pop-up security barriers that were activated when he or she failed to stop at the initial checkpoint.

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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    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.

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    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.

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

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

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