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September 2015 Archives

Apple App Security Breach

In early September there were hundreds of legitimate apps in the iOS App Store infected with malicious code. Apple is well known for strict security checks that rarely allow any negative damaging software into their merchandise. The technology giant is in the process of shutting down the first large-scale software breach that runs from iPhones and iPads via apps.

Houston Leads U.S. in Red-Light Accidents

traffic-light-876047_640.jpgAccording to a report last spring from the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR), Houston is the most dangerous city in the United States when it comes to drivers running red lights. The report states that 181 people are dead because someone did not stop at a red light in Houston between 2004 and 2013. The other nine cities that ranked poorly were Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, Tucson and Denver.

Volkswagen Under Fire for Deceptive Emissions Practices

Volkswagen, the largest automaker in world, has recently come under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for installing software in its vehicles to manipulate emissions tests. Volkswagen has been utilizing this software to trick regulators into believing that their vehicles comply with emission standards when in truth, their vehicles emit pollutants up to 40 times admissible EPA standards. Meanwhile, the Justice Department opened a criminal probe to discover the individuals responsible for the misconduct. Volkswagen and any other culpable executives or individuals may be charged with fraud and conspiracy, amongst various other criminal charges. Foreign regulatory agencies are also expected to open investigations.

Newlywed Killed by Driver Fleeing Sheriff's Deputies

The family of Heather Cater, a 22-year-old newlywed, filed a wrongful death lawsuit after Mrs. Cater was struck and killed by 19-year-old Deonte Jones, who was fleeing from the sheriff's deputies. A settlement agreement has been reached. Mr. Jones is currently facing charges of capital murder, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, delivery of a controlled substance and fleeing. His trial is scheduled for February of 2016.

Medical Errors Made in Hospitals

It is clear that hospitals are dangerous places. Sixteen years ago, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences published a study, "To Err is Human," and concluded that at least 44,000 patients were killed (and many more injured) in hospitals each year because of medical errors. This was a shocking number then. But the numbers got worse.

Proposed Legislation Could Lead to Bigger and Heavier 18-Wheelers on Texas Highways

Top 10 posts.jpgRecently, there have been a myriad of well publicized, severe accidents along Texas highways that have involved motorists and 18-wheelers. In that vein there have been recent proposals in the United States Congress that could have an effect on the safety of the driving public throughout the Country and more specifically, Texas. There is currently a push by the trucking industry to change transportation regulations and allow bigger and heavier 18-wheeler trucks to travel the highways.

Insurance Companies Complicate Hazardous Spill Cleanup

tanker truck.jpgIt seems that insurance companies get in the way of resolving problems. For example, cleanup of a chemical spill that shut down U.S. Highway 287 was delayed by insurance company concerns earlier this month. The issue: Who is paying for the cleanup? The accident, which occurred when a tanker truck overturned on 287 between Memphis and Childress, spilled 2,640 gallons of a toxic mixture of lead, calcium-zinc and Rea Tin 4435 onto the highway and adjacent ground.

Motorcyclists Fights for Life After Wreck

On September 17, 2015, a 22-year-old motorcyclist rammed into a Ford pickup truck as the truck was making a U-turn on Loop 1604 in San Antonio. The young man flew off the motorcycle, slammed into the Sea World 151 sign and severed both of his legs. He was flown to the hospital. Fault has yet to be determined, but preliminary details released by the police department indicate that the truck may have made an unsafe lane change and cut in front of the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist, who is still in critical condition, is lucky to have survived the crash.

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.

Uber Drivers: Employees Not Independent Contractors

In August, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) determined that Uber drivers are employees of the company. Uber has previously claimed their drivers are merely independent contractors, however, after the EDD found a former driver in Southern California was an employee, an administrative law judge and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board upheld the decision.

Kraft Recall Expansion

The Kraft Heinz Company did a voluntary recall in late July for their individual wrap Kraft Singles American and White American cheese slices. According to NBC News, the recall was due to the possibility that a thin strip of plastic film may stay attached to the slice after wrap removal, potentially causing a choking hazard. There have been twelve consumer complaints about the defective product, five of which were reports of choking.

Dangers of the Recovery Filter

The Recovery filter, a medical product used to prevent blood clots, has come under fire recently for being responsible for at least 27 deaths over the course of 10 years. The filter, a device inserted in the largest vein of the body, is prone to fragmentation and detachment, resulting in severe injuries and even death.

Record Rise in Motor Vehicle Deaths

Since 2007, auto deaths have not exceeded 44,000. According to the National Safety Council, in the first 6 months of this year alone there has been a death count rise of 14%. Last year the 6-month death toll reached 16,400, but by June of this year 18, 600 deaths were reached. In 2013 the death toll was down 3.1% from the previous year, with about 32,000 deaths in the whole year. The present increase is due in part to a better economy all across America. As a result, there are more drivers on the road annually due to an increase in the job market, as well as lower gas prices. Combine more drivers with the steadily increasing amount of distracted driving, and the dangers become even more apparent as society becomes more addicted and dependent on electronics. Surprisingly, drunk driving fatalities are down 30% and seat belt use is up, with a 90% usage rate in Texas. However, the risk involved with the rise of speed limits and more aggressive driving is more than making up for it.

Oil Train Disaster Preparedness

train oil and gas tankers.jpgIn recent years, the amount of crude oil shipped by rail in the United States has grown by a factor of 50. Oil trains carried around 500,000 cars of crude in 2014 compared with 9,500 in 2008. Traveling to refineries and ports on the nation's coasts, oil trains carrying 100 or more cars pass through some of the country's largest urban areas. The result is that cities are rushing to develop emergency preparedness plans to deal with the disasters that could occur if a train derailed, caught fire or crashed.

New Laws Affecting Lawyers Effective September 1, 2015

On September 1, 2015, approximately 700 new state laws became effective. Below you will find a brief summary of six new laws that are relevant to the legal profession. For more information on any piece of legislation, please visit http://www.legis.state.tx.us.

Huffy Bicycle Recall

Huffy has recalled approximately 500 of its bicycles, model year 2014 Huffy TR 745 and TR-S 740, because of a hazardous defect. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the front disc brakes unexpectedly stop the front wheel and could cause the entire wheel to detach from the bicycle. These bikes could have been purchased at Walmart.com, Sears Puerto Rico, and The Northwest Company (Cost U Less) from September 2014 through May 2015. Huffy encourages consumers not to buy the product although no reports of injury have been made.

E-Cigarettes More Dangerous Than You Might Think

Electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, have been touted as a way to smoke without damaging the respiratory system. E-cigarettes and their variants, one of which is known as a vapor pen, work by vaporizing nicotine, giving users both the feeling of smoking and the nicotine that longtime smokers need without the tar and smoke that cause cancer and respiratory illnesses. These cigarettes have the added benefit of not causing smokers and their home and office environments to smell like tobacco.

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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