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March 2015 Archives

10 Years After the BP Explosion, Refineries Continue to Pose Major Safety Concerns for Employees

Monday, March 23, 2015 will mark 10 years since the horrific BP explosion in Texas City, which took the lives of 15 people and injured approximately 180 others. The BP explosion is to date one of the worst refinery explosions. The lives of those involved and their families may never be the same after this disaster.

New Federal Fracking Regulations Aim to Protect Water Supply

In an effort to protect the country's water supply, the Obama administration released new federal regulations on Friday that will affect all hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") operations on federal lands. These are the first federal regulations related to hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped into rock seams at a high pressure in order to gain access to oil and gas that are not reachable by more conventional methods. This method has increased the United States' production of oil and gas and led to a boom in the economy. However, there is a fear that this type of fracturing could cause contamination in the water supplies.

Sanitation Worker Seeking Over $1 Million for Severe Injuries Sustained in Auto Accident

On June 30th of last year, Dennis Montgomery, a sanitation worker in Longview, Texas, was working his usual route down Alpine Road. While he was working, a car driven by Susan Skinner slammed into the rear of the garbage truck, pinning Montgomery between Ms. Skinner's car and the sanitation truck. Emergency rescuers from the Longview Fire Department were forced to use air bags and the Jaws of Life to rescue Mr. Montgomery from between the vehicles. Upon searching Ms. Skinner's vehicle, police found open cans of beer and a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine.

Is Workplace Safety Being Hurt by Falling Oil Prices?

As oil prices decline, are producers cutting safety expenses? It may be too early to tell, but the death of three oil field workers last week in West Texas is troubling.

Trial Set in Lawsuit Against MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont

Over four years ago, Gregory Fleniken was found dead in his room at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont, Texas. For a while, police were baffled as to the cause of death and the curious circumstances garnered national attention. The coroner initially thought the cause of death was a heart attack. After considering additional evidence, the coroner concluded that he was somehow beaten to death. Only after extensive investigation by police and private investigators was it revealed that Mr. Fleniken was killed by a gunshot.

Big Insurance Companies Short-Change Drivers and Repair Shops to Pad Profits

When someone is injured in an auto collision, getting healthy is the first priority. Also important, however, is repairing one's car, often the only way to get to the doctor, physical therapist, and work. Drivers frequently look to the collision coverage from their own insurance company, to whom they dutifully send a sizable check every month, to handle the repairs. After all, that's what they're paid to do. Yet as The Dallas Morning News reports, insurers often secretly short-change their customers and the repair shops who service the cars by insisting on so-called "after-market" parts, which are often inferior to what the car owners had before. (Terry Box, "Some area body shops fighting insurance companies over repairs," The Dallas Morning News, March 14, 2015, available here.)

Children's Liquid Medicine Contained Metal Particles

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, faced federal criminal charges that it sold infant's and children's liquid medicine containing metal particles. They pled guilty.

Ice Cream Linked To Deaths

We buy ice cream to enjoy a little treat. It should bring pleasure, but now it appears that it has brought death. Blue Bell ice cream has been linked to multiple deaths.

Lawsuit Filed Against Fort Worth Catholic Diocese for Alleged Prior Sexual Abuse of A Seventh Grader

A Washington state man has filed suit against the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese for the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest while he was a student at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls. The victim alleges that his seventh grade history teacher, the late Father John Sutton, repeatedly abused him during school hours beginning in 1990. In order to keep the victim from reporting the abuse to the authorities, Sutton repeatedly threatened the victim and lied to him, telling him that the abuse was a "penance" for the victim's sins.

Fiat Chrysler Recalls Over 700,000 Vehicles Due to Faulty Ignition Switches

Another car manufacturing is facing recall troubles due to defective ignition switches. Fiat Chrysler announced Friday that they will be recalling 703,000 minivans and SUVS with the faulty ignition switch that can rotate out of position. Vehicles included in this action are the 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Journey. This defect can cause vehicles to stall, lose power, and disable their airbags. Fiat Chrysler previously announced recalls in 2011 and 2014 due to this defective ignition switch and attempted to fix the defect.

Texas Supreme Court Ruling Expands Protections for Insurance Companies

Recently, the Texas Supreme Court expanded protections available to insurance companies facing lawsuits from injured workers.

When Even Forbes Sees the Folly of "Tort Reform," Who's Left to Defend It?

Forbes Magazine, usually a mouthpiece for Chamber of Commerce agitprop, recently ran an article online acknowledging the failure of the so-called "tort reform" movement (available here). That conservative canard, long a pet project of big business and the insurance industry and a prominent plank in the GOP platform, blames plaintiff's lawyers and supposedly frivolous lawsuits for everything from spiraling health care costs to the exodus of doctors from the practice of medicine due to malpractice premiums. "Those myths," the author writes, "have now been completely dispelled."

Settlement in Case Involving Defective Golf Cart

The Houston law firm of law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend announced the undisclosed settlement of a lawsuit brought by the family of a woman grievously injured when she was thrown from a golf cart. Bonnie Herndon and her husband were taking advantage of a golf cart to return to their parked car after the Toby Keith concert held on opening night at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in early 2013. When the driver of the cart made a quick left turn, Ms. Herndon was thrown from the cart, landing on her head on the pavement of Reliant Stadium. She has been in a coma ever since.

Patient Sues Device Maker Over Scope that Spreads Bacteria

Aaron Young has accused a major healthcare device maker, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, of negligence for selling a medical scope prone to spreading deadly bacteria.

Houston's Transit Options Increase

Houston has received significant media recognition over the past year as the new it city. Professionals young and old have flocked here. Construction companies have been unable to keep up with the demand. But what has been most pronounced has been the focus on Houston as a livable city. Publications highlighted Houston's restaurant and art scene and its relative affordability. To the extent that the articles highlighted any negative aspects to Houston it's been transportation-Houston is a commuter city built around the automobiles with a traffic problem. And while true to an extent, the future looks much more diverse.

Did Injections Cause Death?

Recent news accounts from Dallas report that family members suspect that a 34-year-old woman died after receiving injections to improve the appearance of her buttocks. The incident highlights the rights-or, rather, the sharply curtailed rights-Texans have when a procedure turns fatal.

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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