December 2014 Archives

Commercial AirAsia Jet Crashes

On Sunday, December 28, 2014, a commercial AirAsia jet disappeared in the Indonesian airspace with a total of 162 people on board. As of yesterday, December 30, 2014, the media reported that 40 bodies have been recovered. Additionally, debris of the aircraft has been found in the Karimata Strait between Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Air traffic controllers for AirAsia lost contact with the aircraft at 6:24 a.m. on Sunday (Indonesia time). The plane was flying from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore when it went missing as it flew over the Java Sea, between the islands of Belitung and Borneo. The jet vanished from radar screens on Sunday morning approximately 40 minutes into a 2 hour flight. The company reported that on board the Airbus A320-200, Flight QZ8501, were 155 Indonesians, 3 South Koreans, 1 British, 1 French, 1 Malaysian, and 1 Singaporean. Among the passengers were 18 children, including 1 infant, and 7 crew members.

AirAsia QZ8501 Still Not Found - Time for Real Time Flight Tracking?

Sunday's disappearance of AirAsia flight QZ8501-which has not yet been located as of the time of this writing-has left the families of its 162 passengers and crew in anguished suspense. These families are surely devastated by the certain knowledge of the loss of their loved ones, yet the ongoing search for the airliner's wreckage cruelly allows at least some to cling to the likely vain hope for a miracle. This is to say nothing of the families of those lost in Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, who have now been waiting more than nine months for their loved ones to be fund.

Chemical Spill Taints Drinking Water

In January, a chemical company spilled a coal-cleaning agent into a West Virginia river, leaving 300,000 people without safe drinking water. Six executives of the chemical company were charged by federal authorities for violating the Clean Water Act.

General Motors Recall and the Massive Cover-Up

February of this year, General Motors (GM) notified the National Highway Traffic Safety System (NHTSA) that it was recalling vehicles because of a defective ignition switch that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle. GM knew about faulty ignition switches in its various vehicle models for more than a decade but did not issue a recall until February 2014. The ignition switches can slip out of the "ON" position, which can cause the vehicles to stall, disable power steering, and turn off the air bags. This is a serious safety issue that should have been addressed immediately.

Top Chemical Safety Official Confirms Failures in Equipment Design and Poor Safety Standards Caused DuPont Chemical Leak

Speaking before a Senate committee, U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso confirmed that the deaths of the 4 workers at the DuPont chemical plant in La Porte, Texas were the result of broken plant equipment and lax safety practices. A clogged pipe from the methyl mercaptan, a key ingredient in pesticides, caused the deadly chemical to enter vents designed to carry waste gases. The CSB added that instead of depositing the toxic gases into a closed system, the unit's ventilation system leaked 23,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan into the building.

Attack by Pit Bulls Severely Injures Man

As most families are going shopping for Christmas gifts, and planning for holiday events, one man and his loved ones hope that he does not have to endure an amputation of his leg. The 59-year-old man was attacked on Wednesday by two pit bulls. He was rushed to Ben Taub General Hospital, and later listed in stable condition. Animal control authorities took the dogs into custody.

Federal Judge Says Mesh-Implant Manufacturer Could be Liable for Billions

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin recently said that juries may find C.R. Bard, Inc. liable for billions of dollars in damages due to injuries consumers suffered from Bard's defective vaginal mesh-implants.

Things to Keep in Mind While You Are Traveling This Holiday Season

With the holiday season in full-swing comes an increase in traffic as more people hit the roads to visit family and friends, finish their holiday shopping, and attend holiday parties. The increase in people on the road also increases the chances of traffic accidents caused by distracted, aggressive, or impaired drivers.

Uber Required to Provide Insurance in Houston, but What About Taxis?

During the debate over the new Houston city ordinance allowing "ridesharing" apps like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to operate in Houston, there was a great deal of discussion regarding insurance coverage issues. Last month, I discussed some of those issues and how they were addressed by the Houston ordinance. However, given the vociferous objections raised by the taxi industry, perhaps we should examine how their own insurance standards measure up to those they've sought to impose on ridesharing services.

Justice for Cyclist Killed Over a Year Ago

This past Thursday, December 11, 2014, jurors decided the fate of Margaret Meyer, a 35 year old Houston woman accused of hitting cyclist Chelsea Norman with her truck almost a year ago. After running over Norman, Meyer failed to stop and render aid. Instead Meyer fled the scene, leaving Norman helpless in the road. Norman died from her injuries sustained in the accident, specifically head trauma and swelling of her brain. According to Meyer's testimony, she believed she had struck a tree branch and not a person.

Deadly DuPont Leak Killing Four And Leaving Thousands Potentially at Risk Exposes Plant's Emergency Response Failures

It was reported on November 15, 2013 that a deadly disaster killing four workers and seriously injuring a fifth, occurred at the DuPont chemical plant in La Porte, Texas. The plant is approximately 25 miles from Houston.

Fracking Bans Complicate Oil and Gas Landscape

Fracking, an oil production process that involves injecting pressurized water, sand and chemicals to break up shale rocks underground to release gas and oil, has been responsible for oil and gas booms in Texas and other states where shale oil exists. However, fracking also appears to cause earthquakes and to possibly contaminate ground water, making it a controversial process in many parts of the country. Residents say that odors from the process create health problems.

Chemical Industry has a "Safety Crisis"

Last year, fifteen people were killed by a sudden explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Last month, four more people were killed at a pesticide plant in La Porte, Texas. Mr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, the Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, characterized the present situation as a "safety crisis."

Supreme Court Rejects BP Appeal of Spill Settlement

The Associated Press reported today that the Supreme Court of the United States is leaving in place BP's multibillion-dollar settlement with lawyers for businesses and residents over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - dealing another blow to BP's efforts to derail the settlement BP originally signed off on. Consumer lawyers throughout the country hailed the Court's decision as a victory for those adversely affected by the gigantic oil spill.

The Federal Government Changes the Program that Rates Nursing Homes

The federal government utilizes a five-star rating program for nursing homes, a consumer tool that has been criticized for its reliance on self-reported, unverified data. Recently, the government announced it is implementing several changes to that program.

Hydrogen Sulfide In Texas Oil and Gas Production

One of the lesser known danger of oil and gas production is hydrogen sulfide. This deadly gas is a common by-product of energy operations in West Texas. Exposure to the gas can stop a person's breathing at levels of 500 parts per million. At 700 parts per million, it can make people unconscious. It is also a corrosive, making it more likely that oil storage tanks where hydrogen sulfide is present will leak. Moreover, according to a story in Environment and Energy Publishing, the gas deadens the sense of smell, so people exposed to hydrogen sulfide are less likely to recognize the danger they face.

Lyft Car Service to be Leaving Houston

Houston's transportation options have shrunk. On November 20, Lyft, a car service competitor of Uber and taxicabs, ceased operations. The cessations comes after both Lyft and Uber worked for months to get Houston's city council to legalize their ride sharing platforms in the face of stiff opposition from taxi companies and drivers. Now, however, Lyft has decided that the regulations that the city put into place are too onerous and aren't worth the cost associated with compliance.

Ignition Switch Defect Leads to GM Recall

The Detroit News reported that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just urged owners of nearly 1 million General Motors (GM) vehicles recalled for ignition switch problems to get them fixed immediately.

Toxic Gas Leak in La Porte Much Larger than Initially Believed

American chemical manufacturer, DuPont, has recently stated that 23,000 pounds of toxic gas have leaked from the company's La Porte chemical plant, resulting in at least four deaths. This is a substantial increase over the initial estimate of 100 pounds reported earlier last month to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The substance leaked at DuPont's La Porte facility, methyl mercaptan, can cause nausea, vomiting, and fluid buildup in the lungs or other symptoms.

Brain Injury Testing

An estimated 10 million people a year suffer from a traumatic brain injury. One of the leading causes of brain injuries is sport-induced concussion. Many times the athlete does not realize he or she has had a concussion, is not diagnosed properly, and continues playing in the game.

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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