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May 2014 Archives

GM Fined Over Safety Lapses

Federal regulators recently imposed the biggest punishment they could on General Motors and condemned it over its failure to promptly report a defect that has been linked to 13 deaths. GM will pay a $35 million dollar penalty, which is the maximum allowed and the largest fine ever imposed on an automaker. GM will be required to make a wide range of changes to its safety practices that will be supervised by the government, which is another first for the automaker. David Friedman of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the investigation of GM found "deeply disturbing" evidence over how GM treated safety concerns. Friedman also cited an internal presentation from 2008 that was used to train employees to obscure some problems.

Jury Awards $20,000 in Nuisance Suit Against Energy Company

In February of 2008, Chesapeake Energy, an Oklahoma City-based energy company, purchased a 5 acre lot of land in Fort Worth, Texas. By 2011, natural gas was flowing from what would eventually become three wells on the property. Unfortunately for nearby resident Sam Crowder, this drill pad is a mere 165 feet from his property line.

BP Continues Fight Against Claimants

According to Fuel Fix, BP said last Wednesday that it will take the courtroom fight over the settlement agreement it previously reached with plaintiffs to the United States Supreme Court. The company has argued that the settlement agreement reached with plaintiffs' attorneys in 2012 is being misinterpreted and BP is being forced to pay meritless claims. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday denied BP's request for a rehearing before the entire court. BP said Wednesday it will ask the appeals court to not issue a mandate on the matter until the Supreme Court reaches its own judgment. The move would keep billions in liabilities in limbo as it holds in place a court mandate to stay business economic-loss claims. The company said the appeals court's ruling would redefine the settlement's requirements for oil spill claimants and draw more companies to enter the class-action settlement or sue the company "in protracted litigation that would delay compensation for true victims." "No company would agree to pay for losses that it did not cause, and BP certainly did not when it entered into this settlement," the company said in a written statement. "BP will continue to fight to return the settlement to its original, explicit, and lawful purpose - the compensation of claimants who suffered actual losses due to the spill."

Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft Settlement Ends Well For Victims

Recently, 950 plaintiffs settled with Medtronic a company that manufactured the "Infuse Bone Graft" for $22 million. A further $140 million is estimated to also settle about 3,800 additional claims.

Two Dead, Nine Injured in Permian Basin Oil Well Explosion

A high-pressure explosion at an oil well in Loving County, Texas killed two contractors and injured nine more on Wednesday, April 30. The two workers, identified as Amos B. Ortega, 46, and Roberto Andrade Magdaleno, 41, both of New Mexico, worked for Ameriflow Energy Services, a subsidiary of Crescent Services, an oilfield services company working under contract with RKI Exploration & Production, the owner of the well.

Family Sues After Baby Dies

In March of 2013, Katherine Wagner presented to Carolina Community Maternity Center in South Carolina for her 39 week checkup. At that time, she was experiencing contractions. She was told to "relax, take a walk, and eat some food" according to court documents. Mrs. Wagner did as instructed and returned to a birthing room where the contractions continued for another hour. Upon examination, the midwife could not detect a fetal heartbeat. At that point, Mrs. Wagner's husband took her to the hospital where the baby died after a cesarean section.

Veterans Affairs Hospitals Under Intense Scrutiny

According to the New York Times, a VA hospital in Jackson, Miss. has been accused, by a retired doctor who worked at the VA for over 30 years, of misreading or failing to read X rays and CT scans. This VA has also been accused of failing to maintain proper sterilization in the hospital and inadequate oversight of its nurse practitioners with regards to them prescribing narcotics without a proper license.

2.7 Million Cars Added to GM Recall

General Motors has recalled another 2.7 million cars, bringing the troubled automakers total for the year to about 10 million. GM has been under fire for its botched recall of millions of vehicles with an ignition switch problem that the automaker had known about for 10 years. The Department of Justice, Congress, and federal auto regulators are currently investigating the decade long delay. The majority of the newest recall applied to cars with a wiring problem that has been tied to at least 13 accidents. The wiring problem could cause the brake lamps to fail to light up when the brakes are applied or to light up when the brakes are not engaged. Cruise control, traction control, and panic braking assist can also be disabled.

The Wolf of Kickstarter: Washington Attorney Consumer Lawsuit Highlights the Risks of Crowdfunding

Last month, Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson filed suit on behalf of the State of Washington against a man and a business who raised $25,146 backers on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The lawsuit alleges that Ed Nash and his company, Altius Management, failed to deliver promised "rewards" to his 810 backers. This is the first known consumer protection suit brought by a state government involving crowdfunding, and highlights some of the risks for all participants in this new form of investment.

New Remington Rifle Recall

Remington Arms Co., the nation's oldest firearms company, announced in April that it would be conducting a nationwide recall of its Model 700 and Model Seven rifles equipped with the X-Mark Pro trigger. According to Remington, "excess bonding agent" could cause some of the rifles to accidentally discharge. This recall applies to all of the rifles that were manufactured between May 1, 2006 and April 9, 2014.

Customers Frustrated with Long Waits for Recall Repairs

According to the Associated Press, GM will need over 9 million parts to repair millions of cars it has recalled. With parts slowly arriving at dealers, frustrated drivers are forced to wait weeks or months while driving cars they fear are unsafe.

Study Shows Manufacturer Was Aware of AlloDerm Complications

AlloDerm is a type of skin graft used mainly for reconstructive breast surgery and hernia repairs. Patients are reporting adverse effects on their health including infection, abscesses, pain and soreness, and inflammation and swelling. These side effects are extremely painful, and in some instances have been life threatening. The injuries have required further surgery causing additional expenses and undue trauma to the patient.

Two Texas Oil Field Workers Die in Explosion

Two oil well workers died and nine others were injured after a high pressure explosion occurred at an oil wellhead in west Texas. The two bodies were found about 20 feet from a well head that was being replaced. The Loving County sheriff identified the dead as Amos Ortega of Artesia, New Mexico and Roberto Andrade of El Paso, Texas. The explosion site is about 12 miles from Oria, Texas and six miles south of New Mexico. Abraham Watkins is currently handling cases involving oil field explosions.

Graco Car Seats Recalled

Earlier this year, Graco recalled over 4 million forward-facing child seats due to a faulty buckle. The recall was a result of a safety agency investigation that was prompted by complaints from parents, specifically those who complained they had to cut the straps to remove their children from the car seat.

Harris County District Attorney Launches Elderly Abuse Prevention Campaign

Unfortunately, our community experiences more than its share of elderly abuse. While our law firm has long focused on elderly abuse in nursing homes, assisted living centers, rehabilitation units and hospital, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has just launched a new countywide, bilingual elder abuse prevention campaign in honor of Elder Abuse Prevention Month. The campaign is designed to educate the community about the signs of abuse against senior citizens.

Child Killed by Driver Suspected of Intoxication

Family members are painfully mourning the death of an 8-year-old boy. He was riding on his bike yesterday when he was struck by a pickup truck that was traveling at a high rate of speed. Law enforcement officers detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the driver, and he was arrested at the scene.

Avoiding Alcohol-Related Injures This Summer

Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a very prevalent problem in Houston. A DWI is defined as a person over the age of 21, driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. If you are below that age of 21, driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system constitutes a DWI. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Harris County suffered 2,809 alcohol related vehicle accents in 2012. Harris County and the City of Houston ranked number 1 in the State of Texas for alcohol-related vehicle accidents.

FedEx Truck Crash Results in 10 Dead

On April 10, 2014, ten people were killed in northern California when a commuter bus was struck head-on by a FedEx truck. The commuter bus was transporting high school students to visit Humboldt State University. The mother of Jennifer Bonilla, a seventeen-year-old student who lost her life in the crash, filed suit on April 22 seeking $100 million in damages.

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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