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October 2015 Archives

Workplace Deaths in Oil Fields on Rise

Texas crude oil production had hit 2.9 million barrels per day in July of 2013, roughly equal to Brazil's daily production this past year. The boom caused a large influx of workers, resulting in more work-related accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, nearly half of the nations' oil field deaths were in Texas. Most of the fatalities occurred at Eagle Ford Shale in La Salle County. There have been eight reported deaths, including three workers in a single explosion last year. There is speculation that Texas fatality numbers are higher than reported. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently has investigations open regarding hazardous incidents, but their findings are not available to the public yet. OHSA often levies citations and fines to companies that fail to follow regulations that could create a hazardous work environment.

The Bottom Line About Drunk Driving Accidents

drunk-driving-808790_640.jpgTexas led the nation in the number of drunk driving deaths in 2013, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). There were 1,337 drunk driving fatalities, or almost 40 percent of all traffic accident deaths that year, according to the MADD website. This represented an increase of 3.6 percent over the previous year. Moreover, Texas frequently leads the U.S. in the number of drunk driving accidents and fatalities.

Toyota Recalls 6.5 Million Vehicles Worldwide

Toyota has announced that it is recalling 6.5 million cars worldwide because of a potentially harmful defect in the operating mechanism of the driver's side power window switch. The mechanism was supplied to Toyota by Rokai Rika Co. The recall represents approximately two-thirds of Toyota's annual production.

Kia Recalls Over 400,000 SUVs

Kia will recall over 419,000 sport utility vehicle (SUV) crossovers in the United States and Canada due to a problem with the gear shift lever. The defective gear shifts affect 2011 to 2013 model years of the Kia Sorento. As a result, Kia will notify owners to bring in their SUVs to dealers to have their brake-shift interlock mechanisms replaced.

Houston Construction Incident Leaves Worker In Vegetative State

Firm partner, Benny Agosto, Jr. has filed a personal injury suit against Burton Construction Company of Harris County on behalf of the wife and children of Juan Cuevas for the October 5 scaffold failure which resulted in the severe head injuries of Mr. Cuevas.

Cheerios Recall

In early October the food manufacturer General Mills stated that they in the process of doing a voluntary recall for about 1.8 million boxes of its Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios. The recall is due to the possibility of wheat flour exposure to products labeled gluten-free. This can prove to be problematic for individuals that have a gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, or celiac disease. Krisite Foster, a company spokesperson, said, "There have been reports of illness by consumers online. Two complaints of illness have been reported directly to General Mills related to the affected products."

Injured at Work in Texas? You May Have Trouble Getting Treatment.

hand bandage-37364_640.jpgThis blog has previously reported statistics about workplace injuries and deaths in Texas, statistics collected from state sources such as the Texas Department of Insurance. But how accurate are these statistics? According to at least one source, many injuries in Texas caused by workplace incidents in particular go unreported. Others are described incompletely by employers and insurance companies. As a result, it sometimes appears as if an injury never occurred or that it occurred very differently from the way it was described. 

The New Face of Compensation for Injured Workers

Recently in Texas and other states there has been a new trend emerging where employers are choosing to "opt out" of the traditional Worker's Compensation benefit scheme. By opting out of the Worker's Compensation scheme companies are self-insuring themselves and foregoing protections that Worker's Compensation provides to the company when an employee is injured on the job. However, what many feel the companies are betting on is that injured workers will not retain the services of an attorney, and will rely on their employer to provide them the medical care and benefits they need and deserve. This reliance can lead to issues of proper coverage and adequate benefits to the injured worker.

Pipeline Explosion Reported Near Encinal

It has been reported that a large pipeline explosion occurred at an oil and gas facility near Encinal, Texas at approximately 4:15 this morning. The facility's operator, Lewis Energy Group, has issued a statement that no injuries were reported. Photos taken show an orange glow from several miles away, and nearby residents were evacuated to a truck stop further away from the explosion site. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Volkswagen's Woes Continue with California Class Action

A class action lawsuit has been filed in California against Volkswagen petitioning for an immediate buyback of all diesel Volkswagen (VW) vehicles that fail to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards. The suit was filed in response to the recent Volkswagen emission scandal uncovered last month; a whopping 482,000 diesel vehicles in the USA have allegedly been equipped with software designed to manipulate pollution emission results in order to comply with EPA regsulations. In reality, these vehicles have been emitting nearly forty times the acceptable EPA emission standards and have been met with public discontent ever since Volkswagen confirmed that the allegations were true.

Tom Brady's "Deflategate" Win Part of a Bad Month for Sports Arbitration

If you follow sports at all, you have undoubtedly heard about the "Deflategate" scandal that has embroiled the NFL throughout the offseason, in which New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended by the NFL for four games after being found complicit in a scheme to deflate game balls to suit Brady's preference before the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. You probably have also heard about last week's ruling by a federal judge overturning the suspension and ordering Brady reinstated.

Is the Pesticide Roundup as Safe as Monsanto Says?

field-flowers-yellow-agriculture.jpgIf you work in agriculture, you have almost certainly been exposed to herbicides. Although chemical companies like to say that herbicides are harmless to humans when used properly, the truth may be quite different. If lawsuits pending in California are successful, chemical companies and their allies in agriculture may be forced to weigh the short-term economic benefit of using herbicides such as Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto Inc.

Texas Workplace Injuries Underdocumented

The Texas Tribune just released an article concerning the vast number of injuries suffered by Texas workers every year. The Tribune focused on the poor documentation of those injuries, noting that poor documentation doesn't just mean poor paperwork - it often means the difference for a worker on whether the worker gets proper medical coverage covered by insurance, as opposed to being forced to rely on government aid and public programs. This means the taxpayers are often picking up the tab while the business responsible for the bills gets off free of charge. The article can be found here.

Doctor Charged with Prescriptions Involved in Deadly Crash

In an unusual criminal prosecution, a doctor is blamed for improperly prescribing pills that were involved in a quadruple-fatality collision.

Abraham Watkins Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off September 15 and runs through October 15. This is a special time to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. As a city with a large Latino population, Houston kicked off the celebration with the annual Fiestas Patrias parade. For more information on events in the Houston area in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit www.hispanichouston.com.

Man Killed by Another Car While Pumping Gas

Wednesday September 30, 2015 at 8435 Tidwell Rd., a black Chevrolet Camaro swerved from the road to avoid slamming into another car. Instead, it smashed into a Ford Escape while the owner was pumping gas into it. This caused the Ford Escape to strike the owner and suffer many injuries. He was quickly taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Monday October 5, 2015, the owner of the Ford Escape, a thirty-seven year old man, died at the hospital from the injuries experienced. No charges or suits have been brought against the Camaro driver but investigations are in progress. The driver and his insurance company, however, should be prepared to pay for the damages. Although the victim has died in the above case, surviving family members have the right to bring a wrongful death suit on his behalf.

Mother Files Suit for Death of Her Son

Estelle Jordan, the mother of Amos Pierce, filed a lawsuit against the 17-year old driver who struck and killed her son. Ms. Jordan alleges Alyssa Shunkweiler was negligent when she caused the accident that resulted in Mr. Pierce's death. Mr. Pierce was walking along U.S. 290, east of Paige, Texas, at 8:30 a.m. At that time, Ms. Shunkweiler hit Mr. Pierce with her 2000 Dodge Ram. Ms. Shunkweiler stated she did not see Mr. Pierce walking on the side of the road. He died at the scene of the accident.

Volkswagen Deceit: The Effect on the Air in Harris County

Harris County has retained three Houston area law firms including our firm, Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, to lead the effort in the suit filed against the Volkswagen Group of America and Audi of America, LLC. Firm partners, Benny Agosto, Jr. and Mo Aziz, will be working on this issue to ensure that the residents of Harris County are protected.

Liability for Criminal Acts at Apartment Complexes

If you have paid attention to the news in Houston recently, then you have seen reports of a wide range of criminal activity at apartment complexes throughout the city including home invasions, sexual assaults, or shootings. Often times when these events occur the apartment complex can be found liable for not adequately protecting its residents. When these unfortunate events happen, there are certain things you need to look for in order to establish liability.

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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