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May 2013 Archives

Cadillac Recalls 2013 SRX - Potential for Wheels to Fall Off

On May 15, 2013 General Motors informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they are recalling the 2013 Cadillac SRX. The defect, present in 2013 Cadillac SRX vehicles with 18-inch wheels, arises from the loosening of wheel lug nuts. If this problem goes unnoticed or is ignored, one or more of the lug nuts could detach, which can cause the wheels to fall off.

Fracking Spill Causes Water Contamination In Colorado Stream

Water from Parachute Creek is no longer safe to drink; it contains more than five parts per billion of cancer-causing benzene after a 241-gallon spill at Williams Energy caused liquid natural gas to seep into the ground and into the water system. Interestingly, the fracking plant has been tasked with overseeing its own cleanup after causing the fracking-related water contamination.

Hospitals Push Staff to Wash Hands

According to the New York Times, North Shore University Hospital on Long Island uses motion sensors every time someone enters an intensive care room. The sensor triggers a video camera, which transmits its images halfway around the world, where workers are checking to see if doctors and nurses are washing their hands.

Construction Accident Results In Fatal Injury In College Station

A College Station construction site was the location of a fatal workplace accident yesterday when a shifting of the walls serving as the foundation of the project pinned a worker between two 1,500 pound shoring panels and the ground below. Forty-nine year old Armando Gonzalez was trapped inside a 30- to 40-foot hole when he became the victim of the fatal construction site injury.

Apple Settles $53 Million Class Action for Failing to Uphold Warranties

Apple Inc. has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a class-action suit associated with warranties for iPhones and iPods, according to lawyers representing plaintiffs in the litigation.

Runaway Semi Truck Kills 4 On I-20 In Central Texas

A truck driver from Denton, Texas lost control of his big rig on I-20 earlier this week, passing over a concrete divider, rolled over and hit at least two passenger vehicles before coming to a stop in the ditch. The truck driver, 22-year-old Edward Hallahan was driving a 2006 International Truck at the time of the fatal truck accident; he was taken to a Fort Worth hospital for treatment.

Pool Safety Measures Could Save Almost 400 Children Each Year

Summer is almost here and as the temperatures soar many will be seeking relief in city swimming facilities or in backyard pools throughout the Houston area. But parents, children, homeowners and city pool employees should beware, close to 400 children are fatally injured in a swimming pool accident each year. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 16 children in Texas have died already this year in swimming pool accidents.

$19.6 Million Settlement for Church Sex Abuse Victims

On Tuesday, it was announced that six men reached a settlement with the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus for a total of $19.6 million. According to the attorney for the victims, the average amount recovered by each individual makes this the largest settlement per person in the history of the U.S. Catholic sexual abuse crisis. The settlement arises out of a lawsuit against the Chicago Jesuits that alleged that the church knowingly concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years. During that time, it was alleged that the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually molest and abuse multiple children around the globe while the church concealed the crimes and allowed McGuire to remain in his position.

Court Upholds Star Quarterback's Suit

According to The Wall Street Journal, a federal appeals court recently said that Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) can be sued by a former college football player who alleges that the video game designer stole his likeness for its NCAA football series. The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a lower court which decided that the depiction of college athletes in the video game was protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.

South Texas Truck Accidents Prompt Safety Measures By Oil, Gas, Truck Companies

As the shale boom continues to draw truck traffic to the South Texas oil patches, the increase in these large workhorses on rural farm to market roads present new dangers of serious and even fatal commercial vehicle accidents. The Consumer Energy Alliance, along with several oil and gas companies and truck associations, recently launched a road safety campaign to help promote safety for truck drivers and other who drive through the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale Play.

East Texas School Bus Crash Fatal For Driver Of Other Vehicle

The driver of a Toyota Camry was killed in a fatal bus accident when he drifted across the center line and collided with a Wills Point Independent School District school bus. Three students as well as the school bus driver were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Golf Cart is Possible Cause of West Explosion

On April 17, 2013, a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas left fourteen people dead and at least two hundred injured. Houses, businesses, and lives were shattered and the small town west of Waco suffered an unimaginable catastrophe. Since the blast, many have filed lawsuits against the plant-Adair Grain Inc.

Ways to Stop the Killing by Drunk Drivers

On May 14th, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new regulations to the states that would curtail the rampant problem of alcohol-impaired driving. Among the many suggestions, the NTSB recommended that states lower the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for criminal prosecution from .08 to .05. A .05 BAC is roughly the equivalent of one drink for most people in an hour. Research cited in the press release by NTSB indicates that alcohol related impairment can occur after just one drink. This impairment expresses itself in a decline in both cognitive and visual function on the part of the driver. Lowering the BAC standard to .05 would bring the United States into agreement with the majority of countries who also use the .05 standard.

Johnson & Johnson Phasing Out of All Metal Hip Devices

The orthopedic unit of Johnson & Johnson recently announced that it was phasing out production of all-metal hip replacement, a move reflecting an industry wide trend to abandon the once widely used implants because of high early failure rates.

Another Motorcyclist is Killed

A motorcyclist was killed yesterday in Houston traffic. The 49-year-old rider, whose name was not immediately released, was involved in a collision with a pickup truck. The wreck occurred on the Southwest Freeway near West Belfort. After impact, the rider was ejected and thrown over a retaining wall, landing on the service road below. He died at the scene.

Fatal Accidents In The Eagle Ford Shale Total At Least 13

At least 13 people are known to have been killed in work-related accidents on the Eagle Ford Shale play, but that number is expected to increase as information about fatal shale field accidents surface via OSHA reports. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates fatal oil and gas injuries but often their reports take months or even years to be completed and made public.

Lawsuit Against Ford Claims Defect in V-6 Ecoboost Engine

Ford Motor Co. is being sued by three vehicle owners in Ohio because of alleged defects in the automaker's six-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Two of the plaintiffs, a married couple, claim their 2010 Ford Taurus SHO lost power and stalled several times. Another plaintiff says he lost power while accelerating his F-150 pickup.

Injured Workers Should Encourage the Employer to Fight OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently been cracking down on U.S. construction sites for health and safety violations. When a worker is injured, an OSHA citation may seem like a justified response. However, this citation may result in the injured worker getting less compensation for his or her injuries in civil cases. The lawyers of Abraham Watkins have the experience and expertise to reverse this effect.

Runaway Elevator Lawsuit

Recently, two women filed suit against Chevron U.S.A., Inc. after being trapped in an elevator in Chevron's building located at 1400 Smith Street in Houston, Texas. The lawsuit alleges that the two women were trapped in the malfunctioning elevator for approximately 40 minutes near the 39th floor of the skyscraper before the unthinkable happened. Apparently, the elevator then accelerated upward and crashed through the top of the elevator shaft at the 50th floor.

Fatal Workplace Explosion Kills 1 Contract Welder

An oil storage tank belonging to Newfield Production exploded last week, killing one man and injuring another. The 400 gallon tank was undergoing routine maintenance when the fatal workplace explosion. A 28-year-old contract welder from Boren Construction was killed in the blast.

Many Hurdles for the Public to Obtain Risk Information

According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman, Texans who want to learn more about the risks posed by chemical plants in their communities receive their instructions: no photocopying or cellphone pictures of the provided documents, which sketch out the worst-case scenarios at individual facilities and the safety measures company officials have taken. A sign warns those who enter the Environmental Protection Agency's federal reading room, "You are being monitored." The sign is superfluous: an EPA staffer remains in the room for the duration to ensure the strict rules are followed.

Fatal Head-On Collision Of Two Trucks Ignites Fire On U.S. 277

A man from Texas and another from Oklahoma were killed in a fatal truck crash southwest of Wichita Falls on U.S. 277. Investigators believe that Jerry Jones of Noble, Oklahoma, veered into the path of an oncoming truck, causing a fatal head-on collision that resulted in an explosive fire.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

As Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month gets underway, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding drivers to look out for and share the road with motorcycle riders. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative designed to encourage drivers of all kinds of vehicles and motorcyclists to "share the road" with each other.

Liability Insurance Coverage Not Required for Fertilizer Plants

In an interesting article from the Dallas Morning News, the paper noted that the state of Texas makes bounce house operators actually carry liability coverage, but there is no similar requirement for fertilizer plants like the West Fertilizer plant that exploded. In the West Fertilizer case, the plant had ammonium nitrate that detonated leveling the area surrounding it, causing extensive damage, injuries, and deaths. Yet the early indications are that this plant only carried $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

Congress Looks to Strengthen Regulation of Compounding Pharmacies

In the wake of a recent deadly meningitis outbreak, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will consider ways to strengthen regulation of drug compounding.

Fatal Construction Site Accident In Eagle Ford Shale

A 25-year-old oil and gas worker on the Eagle Ford Shale was fatally injured this week when he was struck by a falling pipe. James Dean "Jimmy" Burnett was employed by Victoria Maintenance Inc. and was working on a BHP Billiton Petroleum construction site in Karnes County when the Eagle Ford Shale fatal workplace accident occurred.

Another Death Caused by Driving While Intoxicated

According to various news accounts, the driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash three days ago was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.

Natural Gas Leak Leaves Worker With Serious Burn Injuries

While working to repair a gas leak in an aging natural gas pipeline in East Toledo, Ohio, a gas worker received serious burns on his face when the leak exploded. The worker was in a four-foot-deep hole when he was injured by the gas fire ball. He was part of a crew from Columbia Gas of Ohio tasked with repairing the gas leak, a job that a Columbia Gas official noted as, "risky business [even] under the best of circumstances."

Tour Bus Causes Chain-Reaction Crash On I-35 In Lytle, Texas

Approximately 30 passengers were aboard a Leo's Tours bus headed to Mexico when it crashed on I-35 in Lytle, Texas. At least one person was seriously injured when the bus driver crashed into the car ahead of it, pushing that car into another and triggering a chain-reaction crash on the interstate.

Jury Awards Millions Against Helmet Maker for Failing to Warn of the Dangers of Concussions

A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit originally brought against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches over brain injuries suffered by a teenager in 2008.

Temp Workers At Higher Risk Of Fatal Workplace Accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is turning its focus to workplace safety for temporary workers after a rash of fatal workplace accidents indicated that training and oversight was seriously lacking. Temporary workers are at greatest risk of a serious or fatal workplace accident during the first few days on a new job.

NHTSA Investigates Dodge Viper, Ford Crown Victoria and Porsche 911 Due to Crash Hazard

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently opened three separate investigations due to vehicle defects which pose serious crash hazards. The investigations cover the Dodge Viper, Ford Crown Victoria police cars, and the Porsche 911. The NHTSA classifies these investigations as preliminary evaluations which could be upgraded to a more serious engineering analysis or a recall if investigators find reason for concern.

Shots Fired At Houston International Airport

Initial reports claim that a man who tried to bring a loaded weapon through a security checkpoint at Terminal B of the Houston International Airport is now dead. The man fired two shots into the air before an air marshal returned fire. The air marshal is said to have missed the shooter, who grabbed a second gun and turned it on himself.

Lawsuit Against Brain Surgeon and Hospital for Operating on Wrong Side of Brain

Just last Friday, a lawsuit was filed against SSM Health care-St. Louis and neurosurgeon, Dr. Armond Levy, for medical malpractice in Missouri state court. What is so shocking is that the brain surgeon operated on the wrong side of Regina Turner's brain. Turner was scheduled for "left-sided craniotomy bypass" on April 4, 2013 at St. Clare Health Center in Fenton, Missouri. Instead, Turner received a "right-sided craniotomy surgical procedure" the lawsuit alleges.

Employees Injured in Fire at Chevron Facility in Port Arthur

Contract workers were injured over the weekend while working at the Chevron Phillips Chemical Place in Port Arthur. A fire broke out at the facility around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning sending seven employees to Christus Hospital St. Mary. "There was some smoke inhalation, there was some trauma...apparently some of the guys were working at some sort of a height, so they jumped off scaffolding or ladders to evade whatever it was," said Dr. Kyle Peterson, emergency room director at Christus Hospital St. Mary who helped to personally treat six of the injured workers.

Law Allowed Regulators to Keep West, Texas Residents Clueless of Dangers

According to a recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News, West residents were clueless about the extreme dangers they were living next to until an April 17 explosion killed 15 and devastated a 35-block area. This was not an accident this information was never shared, but on purpose. A little-known section of Texas law allows agencies to withhold information they regard as confidential concerning the handling, storage and transportation of extremely hazardous chemicals. Not only can state agencies claim the right under the law to ensure that the public remains in the dark, they can assert the right to not even explain why they will not release data.

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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