April 2016 Archives

Hospital Settles Claim of Dumping a Patient

In December 2014, Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles allegedly discharged a homeless person in Echo Park without obtaining the patient's consent to be transported somewhere other than a residence. Additionally, the hospital allegedly did not prepare a proper discharge plan which caused the patient to be discharged to a place where the patient's health was endangered. The hospital agreed to a $450,000 settlement.

Lyft Sued for Its Driver's Negligence in Causing Fatality Collision

The life of 24-year-old Shane Holland was abruptly cut short on a rainy night eighteen months ago by a driver for Lyft, a San Francisco based ride company similar to Uber. Shane and his friend were on the way home from a Halloween party when they called Lyft for a ride. While driving the vehicle with Shane as a passenger, the Lyft driver abruptly swerved to avoid a disabled vehicle, causing him to lose control of the vehicle, smash into two trees, and kill Shane Holland.

Toxic Fish Pose Threat to Valley Residents

The Donna Reservoir and Canal System has long been a popular fishing spot for residents of the Rio Grande Valley. However, the fish from these waters pose major health risks to those who consume them. Federal environmental regulators and Texas health officials have known of this danger for twenty-three years.

Safety Standards in the Tree Care Business

In Gastonia, North Carolina last December, 19 year old Mason Scott Cox was pulled into a wood chipper and killed. Mason had no prior experience in the tree care business, and on his first day at work he mistakenly tried to kick a limb that was stuck into the machine. It is speculated that his clothing caught onto either the limb or the chipper's belt wheels and dragged him in. His coworkers realized too late what was happening, and hit the power switch only after he'd been pulled waist deep in, prompting family members to question whether he was being adequately supervised.

Volkswagen Accused of Deleting Data Showing They Cheated on Emissions Test

Daniel Donovan, a former information manager at Volkswagen in Michigan, has filed a whistleblower claim against his former employer after allegedly finding that his coworkers fudged data in their emissions tests. Donovan believes his employment was terminated because his superiors predicted that Donovan would report the spoliation of evidence to the Department of Justice.

State Standing in United States v. Texas Could be Key Issue

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a suit in which Texas along with twenty-five other states are challenging the Obama administration's initiatives, announced back in November 2014, deferring removal of millions of unauthorized immigrants. The policies in question, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+), raise numerous questions about immigration law. However, one of the most important issues in the case - whether Texas has standing to challenge these initiatives at all - transcends immigration law and could be the deciding factor in this high-stakes dispute. So while the decision in United States v. Texas will be monumental within immigration law, it will also allow the Court to settle major questions about the role of the states in monitoring federal law enforcement policies.

Man Dies After Tugboat Sinks on San Jacinto River

On April 19, 2016, at around 9:00 a.m., a tugboat with a crew of five people onboard became submerged underwater on the San Jacinto River. At the time of the incident, the tugboat was located about a half mile south of the I-10 bridge, just outside of Houston, Texas. Four crew members were rescued from the river, but a fifth crew member was unaccounted for. Traffic was restricted along a stretch of the San Jacinto River during the search, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office along with the United States Coast Guard recovered the fifth crewmember's body a short time later. The tugboat is identified as the Ricky J Leboeuf.  A Coast Guard spokesman says salvage crews were on the scene Wednesday to try to locate and raise the tugboat.

One Dead, Eleven Injured After Apparent Chemical Suicide in Austin

Last week, the Austin Fire Department responded to a reported gas leak in an Austin apartment building linked to the University of Texas. Instead, they found an apartment door with a sign reading "Danger: Watch out, hydrogen sulfide," behind which they found the body of a young man who had apparently died of exposure to the poisonous gas. Six others were taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and five others were injured but refused treatment. AFD's initial investigation determined that the deceased individual had released the gas in order to commit suicide.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Finds State Law Product Liability Claims Not Preempted by Federal Law

On April 19, 2016, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion finding that state law product liability claims for defective aircraft are not preempted by federal law. The Third Circuit's opinion holds that neither the Federal Aviation Act or a federal agency's decision to issue a certificate approving of an aircraft design preempt state law product liability claims. In doing so, the court found that the presumption against preemption applies in the context of aviation accident claims. The court also found that the FAA contains a savings clause that expressly reserves state law claims. In reaching these conclusions, the Third Circuit recognized that most other courts and jurisdictions, including the United States Fifth Circuit Court of appeals that oversees federal district courts in Texas, reject preemption of product liability actions for aviation accidents. The Third Circuit noted that "[b]esides preserving principles of federalism, this conclusion avoids interpreting the Federal Aviation Act in a way that would have 'the perverse effect of granting complete immunity from design defect to an entire industry that, in the judgment of Congress, needed more stringent regulation.'" The Third Circuit's decision is a positive step toward universal recognition of an injured person's right to seek recovery for injuries caused by airplane and airplane part manufacturers who place unsafe products in the marketplace.

Jury Awards $51.5 Million to Woman Injured in 18-Wheeler Accident

In 2012, Connie Jones Marable was injured in a Lowe's Home Improvement parking lot after her husband's 2007 Freightliner truck moved even though the emergency brake was on. Ms. Marable was pinned under the Freightliner's wheels and dragged. According to one of her attorneys, Ms. Marable was left with "crushing physical injuries and a severe brain injury" and has been in a "minimally conscious state under 24-7 nursing care."

Foul Ball, Fair Suit?

On April 20, 2015, a woman attending a Cubs-Pirates baseball game suffered a traumatic brain injury after a ball was tipped behind so hard it hit her head, despite the protective net. The woman was on her way on her first-row seat, right behind home plate. With her back turned to the action, the ball was fouled, and hit her on the back of the head. She suffered from a traumatic brain injury, concussion, and continues to suffer from migraines, sleep disorders, vertigo, neck pain, and several other injuries. The woman has brought a case against Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and a municipality organization.

Jury Awards $14.9 Million to Crash Victim

On April 30, 2012, Marcia Gray was driving on Interstate 580 in Oakland, California. A car accident in front of her vehicle caused Ms. Gray to break suddenly to avoid the wreck. As a result, a Chevrolet pickup truck struck her 1995 Mazda Protégé from behind.

Two Killed in Motor Vehicle Wreck

Family members are mourning the deaths of two people in a crash last night that is blamed on street racing. It occurred in northwest Harris County about 9:15 p.m. The intersection was North Sam Houston Parkway West at Bammel North Houston.

Two Major Houston Area Plant Fires

On Thursday, April 7, 2016 around 4:40 p.m., a massive fire erupted at the Baytown ExxonMobil facility located along Bayway Drive near West. This 3,400-acre Baytown complex includes the nation's second-largest refinery and a sprawling petrochemical plant. At this time, the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Reliable Drug Pharmacy Recall

The FDA has announced the voluntary recall for Reliable Drug Pharmacy compounding products due to mislabeling. Many of these products have been distributed to medical professionals, patients, and veterinarians in California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Michigan. As a result, this group has been put on alert to check their supplies for any products labeled as Reliable Drug or Reliable Compounding Pharmacy.

Texas Supreme Court Expands Appellate Review of New Trial Orders

In an 8-0 decision handed down last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court set aside a district court's order granting a new trial in a Hurricane Ike insurance case. This opinion continues the high court's trend since 2009 toward sharply limiting Texas courts' discretion to grant new trials in civil cases.

Punitive Damages for Failure to Pay Maintenance and Cure Benefits

The employer of a Jones Act seaman is required to pay maintenance and cure benefits to a seaman who has been injured while at sea. Maintenance provides for the seaman's day-to-day living expenses. Cure provides for the seaman's medical costs. Employers of injured seamen are required to pay maintenance and cure until the seaman is fit for duty or has reached a point where additional medical treatment will not be beneficial to the seaman.

Bus Driver Admits to Fatigue in Fatal Crash

A Greyhound bus driver was fatigued while driving when he plowed into safety barrels on a Northern California highway and flipped the bus on its side, killing two women and sending at least eight other people to the hospital.

Hospice Owner Directed Nurses to Overdose Patients

Brad Harris, 34, founded Novus Health Care Services, Inc. in July 2012. An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant that Mr. Harris regularly directed nurses to give hospice patients overdoses of drugs such as morphine to speed up their deaths and maximize profits. The FBI went on to say Mr. Harris instructed a nurse to overdose three patients and asked another employee to increase a patient's medication to four-times the maximum allowed. Lastly, the FBI has written in the warrant that Mr. Harris told other executives that he wanted to "find patients who would die within 24 hours."

Family of 7-Year-Old Killed by Collapsed Table Files $10 Million Lawsuit

A lawsuit was filed against an elementary school in New Jersey for $10 million. The suit was brought by the family of 7-year-old Brendan Jordan, who died on January 7, 2015. According to authorities, during indoor soccer practice at the school gymnasium a 108 pound bench that was folded vertically against a wall collapsed and fell on Brendan. Local newspaper, The Record, reports those named in the suit include the police department, school officials, Borough, a school janitor, and Brendan's soccer coach, Bryan Mone.

Crash Kills Local Motorist

A wreck on Highway 249 killed a man today. It happened in the early morning hours, at about 2:30 a.m. Investigators from the Harris County Sherriff's Office report that a pickup truck was braking for a red light in the 12,000 block of Highway 249 at Mosielee. While doing so, a Chevrolet Impala slammed into it from behind. The crash was so violent that the pickup truck was knocked into a ditch. The driver of the Impala was killed. The driver of the truck was hurt, but apparently his injuries are not life-threatening. Yet, because it seems that he was intoxicated, he may face charges of DWI. Weather was not a factor in the collision. Local traffic in both directions was disrupted for several hours afterwards, but the roadway has since reopened.

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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