March 2016 Archives

Inadequate Headlight Illumination

The result from a report by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has shown that headlights of many vehicles did not perform as well as expected. The IIHS is well known for crash-testing vehicles to evaluate how well passengers are protected in a collision. Headlight illuminations of 31 new 2016 midsized vehicles from various models were tested at dusk and night. According to the IIHS nearly 50 percent of all accidents occur during this time period. Overall 82 different headlight configurations were tested and more than half of the variations received a "poor" rating at best.

Who Is a Jones Act Seaman?

Because the Jones Act provides special protections and damages for injured seamen, many injured people wonder whether they qualify as a "seaman" under the Jones Act. That determination should be made by a competent maritime attorney because the law controlling seaman status can vary slightly based on where the accident happened and where the lawsuit is filed. In general, however, a Jones Act seaman is a person who spends a significant amount of time working as a crewmember or captain on a vessel "in navigation."

Pool Covers Recalled Due to Drowning Risk

On March 10, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall by Anchor Industries, Inc., of Evansville, Indiana, of safety pool covers due to 20 reports of snap hook failures. No injuries have been reported, but the snap hook failures present a risk of drowning, which the pool covers are marketed to prevent.

No Truckers Left to Keep on Trucking

The current long-haul trucking industry is facing a severe crisis as an alarming number of long-haul truckers have grown tired of the low pay and poor working conditions. This is due to the fact that the long-haul truckers are not subject to normal labor laws. Typically, employees have laws and regulates from the Department of Labor to protect their rights, such as pay, time-off, sick days, vacation, working condition, and many more. However, long-haul truckers are regulated by the Department of Transportation, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Uber Crash Leaves Couple with Significant Injuries

A lawsuit was filed against Uber after one of its drivers caused a collision in Miami Beach, Florida. The suit was brought by Richard Day, M.D. and his wife Jean Day. Dr. and Mrs. Day were in town for a medical conference in December of 2015. The couple requested an Uber ride, and driver Ingrid Parra picked them up from the Eden Roc Hotel. Ms. Parra immediately crashed into another car after turning into traffic along Collins Avenue. Ms. Parra was issued a citation for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

Texas Right to Life Will Continue Legal Challenge Barring Hospital from Stopping Treatment

The family of a critically ill Pasadena man who died while awaiting a court hearing likely will continue to pursue its legal challenge of a Texas law authorizing hospitals to discontinue treatment in cases deemed hopeless. Chris Dunn had been hospitalized since early October for a number of serious conditions including end-stage liver disease and pancreatic cancer. In mid-November, doctors told his family that unless another facility could be found to treat him, life-sustaining treatment would be discontinued in 10 days. This was in compliance with a 1999 law in the Texas Health and Safety Code that addresses advance directives regarding desired medical care in life-threatening situations.

Bumble Bee Tuna Recall

Bumble Bee Foods has issued a nationwide voluntary recall of over 30,000 cases of its 5 oz. canned Chunk Light Tuna. Bumble Bee, which is owned by U.K. private equity firm Lion Capital, made the announcement upon the discovery of improper sterilization at a third-party packing facility. Deviation from the proper sterilization process commonly results in inadequate sanitary conditions. Inferior sanitation in food production environments can create a perfect breeding atmosphere for spoilage organisms and/or pathogens. Ingestion of any contaminated products could possibly lead to a life-threatening illness.

What Damages Are Available for a Seaman's Wrongful Death?

When a seaman passes away while working offshore, one of the last things that families should have to concern themselves with is who will pay for funeral expenses and take responsibility for the financial contributions that the deceased seaman would have continued to make to the family had the accident and death not occurred. Unfortunately, many vessel owners and employers try to avoid paying the family of deceased seaman the proper amount of damages.

Toyota Seat Belt Recall

Toyota, already troubled with the 24 million Takata car airbag recall, is now issuing a recall in nearly 3 million sports utility vehicles over another safety issue. Toyota crash studies have shown that in serious accidents the seat belts of the second row seat could come in contact with the seat's metal frame and be severed, resulting in a failure to restrain any passengers against momentum.

Tragedy Strikes Family

Three of four family members died, and the other was seriously injured, in a rollover accident this week. An elementary school student, her 42 year old mother, and her 76 year old grandfather were all killed, and her grandmother was critically hurt, when their SUV was involved in a crash on U.S. 62. If she survives, the heartache this unfortunate elderly woman will endure for the rest of her life is incalculable.

Uber Sued After Nurse Sustains Brain Damage in Crash

Dr. Richard Day and his wife, nurse Jean Day have sued Uber after one of its drivers crashed while leaving a hotel in Miami Beach. The accident caused massive brain damage to Mrs. Day, who was visiting Florida from South Carolina.

VW Admits Cheating in the U.S., but Not in Europe

Volkswagen's system to "defeat" pollution emission tests, which the company admitted installing in millions of vehicles globally, "is not a forbidden defeat device" under European rules, a company spokesman said in a statement to the The New York Times. The company's determination made by its board runs counter to regulatory findings in United States and Europe, where the majority of affected vehicles were sold.

Nestle Issues Recall for Glass in Food

The Switzerland-based food giant Nestlé has issued a voluntary recall of about three million boxes of products because of the possibility they might contain small pieces of glass. Nestlé USA, located in Glendale, California, took precautionary action after receiving several consumer complaints. The company immediately removed all potentially hazardous products off store shelves. The voluntary recall includes a limited number of DiGiorno pizzas, Lean Cuisine pizzas, paninis and raviolis, and Stouffer's lasagnas and souffles. The company has traced the glass hazard to spinach used in the products which is a common ingredient in the recalled products. It is unknown if the recall is limited to only products made or shipped to the United States.

Parents Often Catch Hospital Errors

A study found that families may be a source for improving hospital safety and avoiding mistakes, as parents often catch errors that doctors miss. The study involved two pediatric units at a hospital in Boston. Analysis of safety incidents found that approximately one in ten parents found mistakes that physicians did not.

Google Self-Driving Car Hits Metro Bus

In February, Google's self-driving prototype sideswiped a bus while trying to turn right amid sandbags blocking the road. There have been about 17 wrecks involving the self-driving car and this wreck is one where the Google car was labeled at fault. With the bus going 15 miles per hour and the self-driving Lexus RX450h vehicle only going 2 miles per hour, no one was harmed in the accident and the crash was described as minor. The accident occurred in Mountain View and the California-based project leader has already said changes in the software's algorithm have been made to avoid future accidents.

Police Chase Involves Property Damages

Monday morning, local police pursued a driver of a white automobile for about 30 minutes on the Southwest Freeway. In the process, the fleeing suspect hit several other vehicles. Although ambulances responded to the scene, early reports do not indicate any injuries. The chase apparently started near Bellaire, and it ended shortly before noon on the freeway near the split of Highway 59 and I-45. The driver was ultimately arrested.

Traffic Fatalities on the Rise

According to the Traffic National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities increased by 9.3 percent in the first nine months of 2015. More than 26,000 traffic deaths occurred during this time, compared with only 23,796 traffic deaths in the first nine months of 2014.

Maritime Accident Reporting

Vessel owners and employers are required to report any maritime injury that requires more than basic first aid and makes the injured seaman unable to perform his work. Oftentimes seamen and offshore workers are directly or indirectly told by their supervisors not to fill out an incident report. This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, many employers and ship owners give bonuses to crews and captains that demonstrate a low number of accidents. Unfortunately, some supervisors attempt to suppress accident reports for these and other reasons.

Texas Supreme Court: Texas Court Has Jurisdiction in Gloria Trevi Defamation Suit against TV Azteca

In a decision handed down last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court held that Texas courts have jurisdiction over Mexican television network TV Azteca, along with two other defendants, in a suit by defamation suit filed in Hidalgo County by Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi. This is an important case in the development of the law of personal jurisdiction in media cases in Texas and, perhaps, the country.

Archdiocese Settles Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The Archdiocese of Hartford agreed to pay $500,000 to settle sexual abuse allegations against a Roman Catholic priest, Reverend Stephen Bzdyra. The victim, William Dotson, was abused by Bzdyra from 1985 to 1990. Dotson never spoke of the abuse he suffered from Bzdyra, until 2010 when he filed suit. Prior to the lawsuit, Bzdyra bribed Dotson with lavish gifts to keep him quiet. Dotson's decision to file was prompted after Bzdyra "friended" Dotson's son on Facebook.

Another Airplane Crash Resulting in Fatalities

Firm Partner Benny Agosto, Jr. is currently investigating an airplane crash in Navasota, Texas, that resulted in the death of the pilot, the instructor, and two children. The two children left their home Sunday morning on February 28, 2016, with their mother's boyfriend, who owned and piloted the plane that day. The man's instructor was also on the plane when it took off that morning. The man had just purchased the plane, a model Cirrus SR-20. Reports state that the crashed plane was discovered approximately an hour after it took off by another plane in flight. The National Transportation Safety Board is currently conducting its investigation.

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

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  • $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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