July 2015 Archives

Speeding in Texas

According to a report by the personal finance website WalletHub, Texas is listed dead last among all states and the District of Columbia on a combined score of punishment for speeding and reckless driving. To compose its report, WalletHub collected data on twelve different measures and then totaled the points. The states with the highest number of points were deemed strictest.

New Efforts to Reverse the Decline of the Jury Trial

A new project at New York University Law School is studying and promoting public discussion of the continuing decline in the number of civil jury trials in American courtrooms. The school is giving voice to the sentiment of countless lawyers who view the phenomenon of "the vanishing jury trial" with dismay, believing it disserves clients and the broader citizenry, whose right to a jury trial was codified in the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Citibank's Deceptive Marketing

Citibank, the consumer division of Citigroup Inc., has been ordered by the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay $700 million to their borrowers for illegal credit card practices. As many as 7 million of their clients have been affected by the financial service company's "deceptive marketing". According to international news agency Reuters, some of the illusive practices were misrepresenting costs and fees as well as charging for services they did not render. For the deceitful marking or retention actions, Citibank was ordered to provide $479 million for consumer relief for about 4.8 million accounts. However, only about $196 million was paid to 2.2% of consumers who purchased the option of monitored credit.

Blood Thinner Can Cause Death If Not Monitored

Coumadin, a blood thinner, can cause death if it is not properly administered and monitored. This drug must be carefully adjusted; if a patient is given too much, bleeding cannot be controlled. If enough is not given, clots can develop. According to government inspection reports from 2011 to 2014, more than 165 nursing home residents were hospitalized or died after dosing errors of Coumadin were made. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine estimated that nursing home residents experience near 34,000 fatal, life-threatening, or serious events related to the blood thinner annually.

Uber Settles Wrongful Death Suit

The family of a 6-year-old girl killed when she was struck in a crosswalk by a car settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the popular "ridesharing" service Uber. According to the lawsuit, the driver was logged into the smartphone app for "Uber X"-a "peer-to-peer" version of the service-indicating that he was available to pick up passengers. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Another Death Caused By A Golf Cart

Many people do not realize the number of fatalities caused by golf cart accidents; golf carts are seen as a mere leisure tool and are also thought to be harmless. In 2007, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System conducted an analysis of golf cart related injuries from 1990-2006. The results showed an estimated 147,696 people being treated in the Emergency Department.

New Data Connects Popular Acid Reflux Medications with Potential Heart Risks

According to a study by Houston Methodist and Stanford University, certain acid reflux medications are being linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. Researchers scoured over 16 million records from nearly 3 million patients through data mining in search of a linkage between gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, medication, and frequency of heart attacks. The study found that patients taking drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid, had a 16 to 20 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who took H2 blockers, a drug class including Zantac and Tagamet. At this point these studies can only find associations so more conclusive studies are needed to prove if the drugs actually caused these illnesses.

New Trucking Technology Looks to Diminish Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents

Business is booming in the trucking industry, but it has come at a price. Trucking fatalities are on the rise as fatal crashes increased by 3.1 percent from 2011 to 2012 with driver fatigue being the clear leading cause. The use of paper logs to register hours of service and duty status has become outdated and easily manipulated so new federal legislation has hoped to remedy such practices by mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). When the final ELD rule is published at the end of 2015, the over 3 million truckers currently using paper logs to record duty status will have until the end of 2017 to comply with the ELD mandate.

DuPont's Chemical Leak and Its Failure to Follow Safety Protocols

On June 29, John O'Conner took over the DuPont Chemical Plant in La Porte, Texas. He is the 5th to take over in the past 6 years, following a string of DuPont accidents. The most recent accident was the December tank spill, and the most notable accident was the gas release that killed four last November at its Lannete Unit in La Porte.

Virginia Jury Awards Patient $500,000 After Doctors Ridicule Him While Sedated

A patient in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Reston, Virginia, was just awarded $500,000 by a civil jury after a trial in which it heard evidence of the patient's doctors mocking him during a colonoscopy. The male patient had recorded the doctor's post-operative instructions on his cell phone as he was being prepped for the surgery. Listening to the recording on the drive home, however, he discovered that he had forgotten to stop the recording and had inadvertently captured the entire procedure-including a series of disparaging remarks the doctors made at his expense while he was under anesthesia.

Uber Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Uber has settled with the family of six-year-old Sofia Liu who was killed by one of their drivers on New Year's Eve in San Francisco. At the time of the accident, the driver was logged into the Uber app on his phone, but he was not currently carrying any passengers. Uber originally tried to argue that this meant they were not liable since the driver was not providing services at the time of the accident. The court disagreed with Uber and found that they could be held liable for the negligence of one of their drivers even if that driver was not currently transporting any passengers.

Texas Family Files Lawsuit Against Hospital Where She Died After Having Three Seizures

The family of Kristy Stingley filed a lawsuit against Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, an ER doctor, and a neurologist for medical malpractice. The plaintiffs allege that the hospital committed gross negligence after misdiagnosing Kristy Stingley's brain aneurysm. As a result of the misdiagnosis and subsequent discharge, Kristy passed away leaving a husband and two young children.

Point-Of-Sale Malware Responsible for Credit Card Breaches

Across the United States, a Denver based company, Service Systems Associates (SSA), functions as a credit and debit card processing system for many zoos and other cultural centers. According to Brian Krebs of KrebsonSecurity, this past week the company acknowledged that there has been a breach in some of their processing systems. Customers that have used their debit or credit cards at certain facilities between March 23 and June 25, 2015 may have had their information compromised. CBS Detroit reported that SSA is investigating a breach that may involve point-of-sale malware. The processing company is working with law enforcement officials as well as a third-party forensic investigator, Sikich.

Latino Construction Worker Fatalities Reach a New High

According to new Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the rate of Latino construction worker fatalities on job sites has continued to rise from 2010-2013. This alarming rate has coincided with a declining fatality rate for non-Latinos. This disproportionate rate of fatalities to total industry population has leaders searching for answers.

Defamation and Medical Malpractice

A 2013 lawsuit in Virginia resulted in a man being awarded about $500,000 for medical malpractice and defamation. The case, which is progressively growing notoriety, was brought to light when the anonymous man discovered that he accidently recorded his entire colonoscopy procedure. Only minutes after taking the anesthesia, the physicians and surgical staff were recorded saying a myriad of offensive things about the patient. From telling other medical personnel in the room he had a rash from syphilis, to telling the unconscious man that he made the doctor want to punch him in the face during pre-op just from hearing him speak, the man was insulted and humiliated throughout the procedure without ever knowing it until after.

Automatic Braking System Issues

Around a dozen complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from drivers of Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and General Motors Co. vehicles regarding their cars automated braking systems. The complaints were due to various vehicles' automated braking systems activating for no reason.

Product Liability: Accountability for Pharmaceutical Companies

In the United States, there are a significant amount of prescription drugs in the marketplace. As a result, it is critical to ensure that each drug is thoroughly tested for safety. Defective medication can produce severe side effects with some even being fatal. In June 2014, the Center for Disease Control estimated that more than 700,000 Americans a year are seen in hospital emergency rooms for adverse drug effects.

Could There Be Civil Liability for the Cardinals in the Astros Hacking Scandal?

Normally, baseball talk in June is all about personnel moves leading up to the trade deadline: Who needs to pick up a starting pitcher to make a run at the post-season? Who is going to give up on their season and trade away their superstars to stock up their farm system?

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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    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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