June 2016 Archives

Three Still Missing After Texas Train Collision

On Tuesday, two BNSF freight trains collided head-on while travelling on the same track near the town of Panhandle, Texas near Amarillo. The collision left a heap of charred wreckage that burned for hours, fed by the trains' diesel fuel. One crew member managed to jump from one of the trains prior to the collision and escaped with non-life-threatening injuries, but three other crew members remain missing.

Texas Man Covered by Asphalt in Explosion

A normal day at work ended tragically when an asphalt tanker exploded at a refinery, covering Darrell Allen, a Texas truck driver, with molten asphalt. One year later, the truck driver is suing the Shreveport-based oil company, Calumet Specialty Products Partners, and its affiliate companies for damages after enduring third-degree burns covering over 90 percent of his body. Mr. Allen spent over three months in intensive care, suffering through debridement treatments that can only be described as being "skinned-alive" daily.

Fatal School Bus Crash

Last Thursday morning, a three-vehicle collision claimed the life of an area motorist. One of the vehicles was an Aldine Independent School District bus that was headed towards Nimitz High School. The bus driver was not injured, and no students were on board. Another vehicle was an suv. The female driver was taken for treatment. The third vehicle was a pick-up truck. Its driver was transported by Life Flight to a hospital in the medical center, where he later died. The wreck occurred between about 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on FM 1960. Traffic in both directions was snarled afterwards. Evidently, the truck and suv collided, knocking the truck into the path of the bus.

Overcoming Owner Controlled Insurance Programs and the Exclusive Remedy Defense After the Texas Supreme Court's Holding in Tic Energy and Chemical, Inc. v. Martin

On June 3, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion in Tic Energy and Chemical, Inc. v. Martin, overturning a Corpus Christi Court of Appeals' decision that recognized an apparent conflict within the Texas Labor Code that seemingly eliminated the exclusive-remedy defense for non-employer subcontractors with coverage under an Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP) under certain circumstances. In doing so, the Texas Supreme Court held that there is no exception to the exclusive remedy defense when a non-employer subcontractor covered by an OCIP policy operates as an independent contractor, even when the subcontractor has entered into a written agreement with the general contractor that assumes the responsibilities of an employer for the work performed.

Lawsuit Filed Against Starbucks

Last week, I filed a lawsuit against Starbucks Corporation and one of its employees on behalf of Katherine Mize, who suffered extensive second degree burns when the Starbucks drive-through employee spilled hot coffee in her lap. This case has received some attention from local, national, and now even international media.

Construction Site Injuries

The construction industry is one that is vital to our society as it continues to expand. This necessity does not come without a cost though. Every day construction workers are risking their lives in order to accomplish their jobs. According to various studies the construction industry is currently ranking high with the number of accidents and injuries that arise, in fact they are often in the greatest danger because of their work, even when using the proper safety equipment and techniques.

Another Airbag Failure Resulting in Driver's Death

Firm Partner, Benny Agosto, Jr., successfully settled an airbag defect case last month against General Motors, one of the world's largest car manufacturers. The lawsuit resulted in a combined, confidential settlement for Mr. Agosto's clients. As many are aware, General Motors has come under scrutiny in the previous years, which has led to the recalls of hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles.

Jeep that Killed Actor was Set to be Recalled by Chrysler

Anthony Yelchin, an actor known for playing Chekov in the new Star Trek films, was killed when his own car struck him after rolling backwards down the steep driveway at his California home.

Third Child Dies After Ikea Dresser Tips Over on Him

Last July, IKEA, in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), announced a recall of 27 million chests and dressers with their MALM collection because they can tip over and crush children if they aren't property anchored to the wall. The recall came after a year year-old boy from Pennsylvania died after a MALM chest tipped over and fatally pinned him against his bed. A few months later, a 23 month-old from Washington died after he became trapped beneath a 3-drawer MALM chest that tipped over. There were also 14 other reports of tip-over incidents leading to four injuries, and three additional deaths since 1989.

"Sixth Sense" Interrupted When Texting and Driving

The Scientific Advances Journal published a study on distracted drivers on May 13, highlighting the dangers of texting specifically. The study surrounds what they coin as a "sixth sense", the trigger that brings us back from the catatonic state many enter in long drives, sometimes referred to as "zoning out." This zone allows us to change the radio station or daydream while staying within the lines on the road, and the sixth sense triggers when something abnormal happens. This sense however is distorted when eyes are taken off the road and focused on a tiny screen. It causes a glitch that keeps that sixth sense from being present, and results in delays in reaction time, even after our eyes return to the road until that sense 'resets'.

What to Look for When Searching for a Maritime Injury Lawyer

It is easy to be overwhelmed by how many different law firms claim to have expertise in representing injured maritime workers. Injured seamen are looking for the right lawyer while simultaneously dealing with the medical bills and stress of worrying about where the next paycheck will come from. It is important that you hire the right maritime injury lawyer. At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, you will be represented by a staff of professional, knowledgeable, respected attorneys who have a track record of proven success.

Exercise Band Blinds Woman

In March 2015, Stella Nicolosi of Brooklyn, New York was working out with the Bellfit Resistance Band she had purchased three years earlier. According to her lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court, she was working out "in compliance with the instructions provided."

More Automobile Recalls Announced

As automobile recalls become a more and more common occurrence, it is important to stay up-to-date. Please check the NHTSA website regularly to verify that your vehicle is not currently affected by a defect or recall.

Fire Burns Worker

Thursday night, a fire at a local scrap metal facility injured a worker and damaged property. The fire occurred between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. at 9400 Rhonda. According to reports, the fire erupted when fuel tanks were being drained.

Three Dead in Airplane Crash Near Hobby Airport

Three people were tragically killed after their airplane crashed into a car Thursday afternoon. The crash happened just after 1:00 p.m. in the 6800 block of Telephone Road, approximately three blocks north of William P. Hobby International Airport. The Cirrus single-engine SR-20 crashed in the parking lot of an Ace Hardware store crushing an employee's car. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft was attempting to land at Hobby Airport. The plane was registered by Safe Aviation LLC in Moore, Oklahoma. The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the crash investigation.

Just When You Thought Waterparks Were Safe

A waterpark should only illicit fond memories. However, this was not the case on August 9, 2014 when not one but two individuals were severely injured while attending the same event, an organized function benefitting special needs children. 83-year-old Irudayam Yeddanapalli ultimately died in the wading pool preceding the fall of a deaf 2-year-old girl to the bottom of the pool. While the 2-year-old child survived, she was taken to a hospital in serious condition.

Drivers at Risk Due to Concrete Bridge Posts

People on today's roadways are constantly confronted with hazards. Whether it is a distracted driver, an improperly maintained vehicle or weather conditions, the danger of a serious accident is ever-present. Fortunately, there are state and federal guidelines designed to help reduce the risk of serious injury and death in a crash. For example, Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) guidelines suggest that guardrails should be installed at certain locations. Guardrails are designed to flex and catch cars, redirecting them into the roadway, which can often reduce the likelihood of serious injury and death.

Jury Awards $11M Verdict in Fatal Bus Crash

On May 2, 2016, after nearly four days of deliberations, a Dallas County jury awarded Plaintiffs nearly $11 million dollars in damages for a fatal charter bus crash. The two week trial was in the 193rd Judicial District Court before the Honorable Carl Ginsberg.

Traffic "Accidents"

Fatalities caused by drivers in traffic collisions, crashes, and other incidents have risen to a rate not seen in fifty years. Estimates from the National Safety Council reveal deadly crashes rose by nearly eight percent in 2015, claiming the lives of roughly 38,000 people. However, many groups, which include federal officials and state and local leaders, do not want these incidents referred to as "accidents" anymore. These groups feel the word trivializes the most common cause of traffic collisions: human error.

Expert Reports No Longer Required for Texans Suing for Medical Malpractice in Federal Court (At Least for Now)

On May 19, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which oversees Texas and neighboring states, held that the expert report requirements for medical malpractice claims required under Texas state law do not apply to cases filed in federal court. The Texas law requires that plaintiffs in a health care liability case serve an expert report within 120 days after the filing of a defendant's original answer. The Texas law limits most discovery until the expert report is served, and yet the law simultaneously requires that the expert report provide a summary of the standard of care, the manner in which the healthcare provider violated the standard of care, and the causal relationship between the failure and the injuries sustained by the claimant. If the injured person does not file a timely expert report or if the expert report does not meet the expert report requirements, then the claim may be dismissed.

Superbugs and Antimicrobial Resistance

Every year, an estimated 700,000 deaths are attributed to superbugs, microbials that are resistant to antibiotics due to overuse. These numbers are expected to only grow - towards 10 million a year, or 1 every 3 seconds, with comparisons of medicine being sent back to the Dark Ages by 2050. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance has come forward with steps hoping to prevent this, such as setting up a global fund for early stage research, campaigns to alert the public, and incentives for companies who find new antibiotics. Steps would also need to be taken to prevent the root cause: the unnecessary prescription of drugs as a first response rather than the last. This profit-driven practice has allowed for the microbials to develop an immunity, and allows for themselves to evolve into a stronger, more lethal version of themselves.

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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When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

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