October 2013 Archives

Penn State to Pay $59.7M in Sandusky Sexual Abuse Settlement

This week, Penn State officials announced that the university will be paying $59.7 million to the 26 sexual abuse victims of former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. This settlement is "another step in the healing process" for the young men who were abused by Sandusky, as well as the university itself says Penn State president, Rodney Erickson. However, despite the school's costly recovery, many of its former faculty members still face criminal charges for covering up the scandal for nearly a decade before it went to the press.

Study Offers Insight into Health Effects of Fracking

As reported by the Associated Press, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project has been attempting to help people who feel they have been sickened by natural gas drilling or processing for about 18 months in a southern Pittsburgh county where nearly 700 natural gas wells have been drilled in the past six years. The study conducted, although not a full survey of the area, did uncover 27 cases in which people in Washington County believed they were hurt by nearby drilling. These injuries included skin rashes, eye irritation, breathing problems, headaches, and dizziness. These findings challenge the industry position that no one suffers but also suggests the issue may not be as wide spread as some critics claim.

Marijuana Investment Scammers Look to Bogart Your Money

Obligatory pun aside, this post deals with a serious issue for many retail investors-scam artists who use hot news items to cheat you out of your money. On August 20, 2013, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published an Investor Alert warning of potential scams involving marijuana-related stocks. In today's economic environment, and particularly after so many Americans saw their retirement savings evaporate in 2008, an investment tip promising big returns in a hot new business can be very tempting.

Causation and Medical Malpractice Claims

It is always difficult when you or a loved one is hurt by medical malpractice. Unfortunately, in addition to losing your health, your remedies are limited by legislation that was passed in 2003.

Eagle Ford Drilling Linked To Air Contamination In San Antonio

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to set air quality standards pursuant to the Clean Air Act. For ozone, the EPA has set the standard for ambient air at 75 parts per billion (ppb). San Antonio registers an ozone level as high as 87 ppb, well over the EPA's set limit.

Are Arbitration Provisions Corporate America's License to Steal?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been leading the charge to eliminate corporate accountability in the legal system. One of the methods the organization has been using more recently is forcing arbitration on as many people and other companies as possible. The Chamber's legal reform front group is known as the Institute for Legal Reform, and there is plenty of corporate money behind the group to assist in their ultimate goal - to limit the courtroom remedies of everyday Americans. And what the group can't do in the legislative process, they are trying to do by inserting arbitration provisions (often in small print) in contracts that affect every aspect of our lives.

School Fire in Kitchen Serves as a Reminder

Students at Claughton Middle School in Spring Independent School District are likely enjoying an unexpected day off as their parents figure out what to do with them. Their school is closed today due to fire that occurred shortly after midnight last night. Evidently, an electrical fire at a food warming station was the root cause. At that hour of the night, no one was in the school, so no students or school employees were injured. Also, news accounts reported no injuries to fire fighters.

First Guilty Plea in BP Oil Spill Proves Disappointing

Last Tuesday, Anthony Badalamenti became the first person to enter a plea of guilty for crimes associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the most devastating offshore oil spill in petroleum history. Badalamenti, technology director for Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, was charged with destroying key evidence that shielded Badalamenti, his former employer, and other companies involved from potentially billions of dollars of blame. Despite damage estimates that currently exceed $40 billion and the substantial loss of life in this explosion, Badalamenti's guilty plea can only amount to a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

New Dangers Found in Popular Sports Supplement

New reports surrounding the sports supplement Craze have caused concern throughout the athletic arena. Tests by scientists in the United States and South Korea have found, what they report to be, a chemical similar to methamphetamine in the popular sports supplement. According to the reports, researchers informed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May that the chemical in Craze was very similar to methamphetamine which is a highly addictive, very powerful illegal stimulant drug.

Ex-Halliburton Manager Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence

According to the Associated Press, a former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty to destroying evidence following the deadly Deep Water Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Anthony Badalamenti, 62, of Katy, Texas, faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in U.S. District Court. His sentencing by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey is set for Jan. 21. Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton. Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out Macondo well.

Tyler, Texas Oil Storage Facility Up In Flames

A storage facility owned by Vess Oil Corporation burst into flames earlier this week, summoning emergency responders to put out the sudden blaze. There were reports of flames reaching as high as 50 feet in the air and visible from three to four miles from the explosion site.

NHTSA Upgrades Safety Probe of 2005-2007 Corvettes

As reported by Claims Journal, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has upgraded an investigation of 103,000 older Chevrolet Corvettes following reports of low-beam headlight failures. Model years 2005 through 2007 are under investigation, but NHTSA has also received complaints from drivers of the 2008 Corvette.

Reservation-Based Payday Lender Accused of Illegal Loans, Claims Immunity from State and Federal Law

On September 3, 2013, Western Sky Financial, a payday lender based in the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, shut down amid lawsuits by several states alleging Western Sky engaged in usury and other illegal practices in making loans to their citizens. Maryland's commissioner of financial regulation, for example, found that some Western Sky loans carried as much as 1,825% interest! In press releases and court filings, Western Sky claims that this is a case of regulatory overreach, and that it is immune from federal and state law due to tribal sovereign immunity. This would include federal and state law enacted to protect consumers and to regulate consumer debt collection, interest rates, and other lending practices.

18-Wheeler Accidents and the Federal Laws that Protect Other Motorists

Everyday people share the road with the logistical giants of the highway, the 18-wheeler. Because of the necessity of providing the populace with its food, fuel, and other logistical items, 18-wheelers are seen every day on our nation's highways. With their presence on the highways comes responsibility, a responsibility to transport goods safely. This responsibility to provide safe logistics is extended to those who drive, those who own, and those who hire the 18-wheelers.

Recovery When a Loved One is Lost

In the most unfortunate of circumstances, a loved one is lost due to the negligence of a third party. Remedy or recovery for such a loss is addressed by bringing forth a Wrongful Death action which is addressed in Section 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

One Man Seriously Injured In Eagle Ford Shale Blast

A safety check went all wrong this week, sending a man to a San Antonio hospital with serious injuries. Investigators initially believe that static electricity is to blame for an explosion that involved diesel and salt water storage tanks in Karnes City, part of the Eagle Ford Shale play.

Number of Surgical Errors Higher than Expected

A new study just released in the Surgery journal reveals that prevalence of "never events" in hospitals is much higher than previously thought. The analysis was done in hospitals looking at national malpractice claims, and examiners observed that over 80,000 "never events" occurred between 1990 and 2010.

Fans Injured After Crash at Houston's Grand Prix Race

After a six year absence from the City of Houston, Grand Prix racing made its return to the Bayou City last weekend. What was meant to be a family friendly event turned into shock and concern when a crash caused debris and part of the safety fence to fly into the viewing area surrounding the racetrack. Thirteen audience members were injured from the flying debris and two of those thirteen had to be taken to the hospital for further observation and treatment.

Abraham Watkins Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off September 15 and runs through October 15. This is a special time to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Hispanics make up almost 40% of the Texas population and their influence to this state is evident in Texas history.

Family Electrocuted in Hilton Hotel Pool

A Labor Day family reunion turned deadly last month when a swimming pool unexpectedly filled with live electrical current leaving four severely injured and one dead. The surviving family of 27 year-old Raul Hernandez Martinez has filed a lawsuit against the major hotel chain after investigations revealed that the pool at Houston-area Hilton Westchase had been out of code for years.

Radioactive Wastewater From Fracking?

It's no secret that a byproduct of hydro fracking is wastewater. Hyrdraulic fracturing is, at its simplest level, the use of pressurized liquid to split rock, allowing the extraction of oil and gas from the earth. What may be a surprise are the results of a study recently released in the Environmental Science journal.

Radiation in Creek Caused by Fracking

According to a recent story by Bloomberg, naturally occurring radiation brought to the surface by gas drillers has been detected in a Pennsylvania creek that flows into the Allegheny River. Sediment in Blacklick Creek contained radium in concentrations 200 times above normal according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The radium, along with salts such as bromide, came from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility about 45 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Dallas ISD Discontinues Use of Vans for School Transport

Dallas Independent School District and its transportation provider, Dallas County Schools, discontinued the use of private 12- and 15- passenger vans for student transportation beginning Monday, September 30, 2013. This came after a parent outcry following a local news investigation concerning the safety of these vehicles.

Workplace Discrimination and the EEOC

Work Place Discrimination is wrong. The United States and the State of Texas governments have provided different means to correct these discriminatory actions. In employment related discrimination there are many options available to provide relief to those harmed. A good option is to reach out to an attorney to explain the overall situation. The attorney can then asses the best manner in which to proceed. From that the attorney may be required to utilize the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to assist in the lawsuit. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on the employee's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 and above), disability or genetic information.

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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When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

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